Building a Housing Plan for Retirement

By Rick Henderson

For many, retirement is the result of a lifetime of work and years of saving and planning. It is a time where you can start doing all those things on your “Bucket List,” and may include things like travel; spending more time on activities like golf, tennis, or fishing; volunteering; pursuing those interests that you never had time for while you were working; and spending more time with family. 

Retirees are living longer today, and that brings both opportunities and challenges. Have you taken the time to think about all of the possibilities during a retirement that lasts 25 years or more? Some of the biggest challenges that retirees face during retirement are decisions related to housing. The years spent in retirement may offer a period of good health followed by periods of infirmity. When planning for housing during your retirement, think long-term and account for potential changes in your physical health. With regard to housing planning, take a comprehensive approach that brings into consideration your social and emotional needs, your physical and medical needs, as well as your financial needs. 

Some questions that you might want to ask yourself are:

  • What types of housing arrangements appeal to you as you get older?
  • What are the primary housing considerations that will drive your housing decision?
  • What other considerations are there that will affect your housing decision?
  • Is there agreement among your family members regarding your housing priorities?

Some non-financial areas that are important for you to assess when making your housing decisions in retirement are your happiness and comfort, social support and network, location/neighborhood, access to medical care and support, security and family considerations.

Most people in retirement prefer to stay in their homes or a more traditional housing arrangement for as long as possible. However, many find their needs change as they age. They may want less home maintenance to deal with, or they may prefer a warmer or drier climate. To stay as independent as possible, they may need to modify their own home, or consider moving to a different housing arrangement that can help keep them healthy and independent. Any combination of these factors may come into play in driving their housing decisions.

When planning to live 25 years or more in retirement, decisions about housing are among the most important decisions you will make. In addition, as you go through retirement, housing is both a major financial asset on your balance sheet and may ultimately become a significant expense in your household budget. The time for planning and thinking about your housing options and plans as you go through retirement is before a crisis or health event drives an unanticipated change in your housing needs.  Becoming more familiar with housing options in retirement will help you understand more deeply how aging impacts housing requirements. We at Atlanta Financial hope we can be a valued resource for you and your family when making your decisions and plans for retirement. 

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