The perfect house for anyone is the house that best suits their needs, lifestyle, and price range. As a senior, it may have been a long time since you’ve gone through the homebuying process. Though some things have changed, some have stayed the same. You still want to focus on finding a house that meets your requirements and won’t require too much modification. Here are things you should consider when hunting for a new home.
Is the size right?
This question may mirror the question why am I moving at all? For many seniors, a move to a new home is a way to maintain independence - to get away from a large home that requires too much upkeep for them to handle. When searching for a new home, you must think about whether it’s the right size for your lifestyle. Most seniors will need to downsize for their move. We accumulate a lot of stuff as we age, and decluttering is vital if we’re going to manage on our own. You should start the downsizing process early so that you can know exactly have much stuff you have to move - and thus you’ll know exactly how large of a home you’ll need.
Is the house right for my mobility issues?
If you are a senior with no mobility issues, that’s great. The fact is, however, most of us develop some sort of mobility issue as we age. It’s vital that you buy a home that suits your particular disability. Ranch style homes are good for seniors, as everything is located on one ground floor. Stairs are a struggle for many seniors - not just those that spend time in a wheelchair. Speaking of that, you need to make sure the home is wheelchair-friendly if this applies to you. You can install ramps between rooms and over short staircases and make other small modifications once you move in, but you probably need a pretty open floor plan to maneuver in a wheelchair. You want a house that you can live in for the rest of your life.
Is the price right?
Unless you buy your home with a reverse mortgage or pay for it outright, you’re going to have a monthly mortgage payment. Some retired seniors without a steady stream of income other than social security may overestimate their ability to handle a monthly payment. A conservative strategy would be to keep your mortgage payment under 25% of your after-tax income. If you have savings or steady streams from investments, you can obviously bump up that percentage if you want. Click here to see how much house you can really afford.
When thinking about how much you want to spend on your new home, don’t forget about all the hidden costs! You will owe taxes and homeowner’s insurance at the very least. You may need to pay even more for a comprehensive insurance plan - depending on the condition and location of the home. Also consider repair costs. How much will you need to spend to fix things? Install mobility aids like handrails and ramps? What if you need to replace the air conditioning unit or the roof? Be smart and don’t spend above your means.
Buying a new home is an exciting prospect at any age, but as a senior it could be your key to aging in place and living a long, independent life. Mobility issues, disabilities, and financial constraints may make it more difficult for someone who is aging, but it doesn’t prohibit them. Be smart when choosing your new home, and take into consideration how it will mesh with your lifestyle.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
Author: Jim Vogel (ElderAction.org)