A friend of mine recently helped his parents downsize and relocate their home. After going through the somewhat overwhelming experience he took some time to write about some things he thought might help others and was gracious enough to share it with me to share with you.
What Seniors Should Avoid When Buying a New Home
Seniors making a big move have a lot to consider. If you’re buying a new home late in life, there’s a good chance that you’re doing so because you want to make independent living – aging in place – possible. You may want to move closer to your family or friends. You may simply want a change of scenery. Whatever the reason, here are some things you should probably avoid.
A major fixer-upper
Even if you ignore the fact that home repairs to things like the foundation, structure, roofing, and exterior composition can become extremely costly, buying a fixer-upper can be a real headache for seniors looking for a new, easier-to-manage home. That’s because you have to think about construction time as much as money – do you want to live in a construction zone for months, maybe years? How does that mesh with your plan to simplify your life by moving to a more manageable home? You don’t have to buy a so-called “cream puff” home (one where everything is 100% perfect from day one), but you should avoid the other end of the spectrum as well. If you do want to opt for a home that needs a little bit of work, here’s how to avoid it turning into a money pit.
A giant yard
One of the main things seniors must consider when buying a new home is how it will accommodate their needs not only now, but in the future as well. As you age, one of the most burdensome aspects of a home tends to be a large and unruly yard (front or back). While many seniors enjoy gardening and the scenery of a backyard, copious amounts of yard work (mowing, raking leaves, etc) can become a strain very fast. And when it does, you’re forced to either move, pay someone to do it, or simply let it fall into disrepair. None of those are great, long-term options. Stick to houses with small, manageable plots of land – maybe where most of it is covered by low-maintenance plants, stones or pavers, or a patio.
Lateral moves in terms of size
One thing that almost universal for seniors is that moving into a new home should involve a good bit of downsizing. As you age, you’re going to want less square footage to have to manage, and you’re going to want to have to deal with less clutter around the home. Don’t move to a large home that’s the same size as the one you’re selling. Take the opportunity to make your life much, much easier. Take steps to downsize and declutter your belongings as early as possible. This will help you to figure out exactly how much space – both in terms of actual living space and storage – you require in a new home. Read this for tips on decluttering your home room-by-room.
Don’t spend more than 30% of your income on your new home. That’s a tried and true rule. Another thing to be mindful of are all the ancillary costs associated with buying and owning a home other than the mortgage. When calculating what you can afford, remember that you need to set aside funds for insurance, taxes, home repairs, and any modifications you may need to make if you have a disability, illness, or a mobility issue. Try a simple calculator to give you a good baseline.
In the end, the new home you buy as an senior should be a home you can envision yourself living in for the rest of your life. When considering which home to buy, always have this question in mind: Will this home make it easier for me to live independently as I age? If the answer is no, move on.
Image Credit: Redfin
Article written and provided by: Jim Vogel