Retirement is an exciting time for us, independent adults with its endless possibilities for travel, entertainment and new friendships. But when it comes time to decide where to live during those later years, it’s important to take all options into consideration.

Some folks choose to buy or rent a home for themselves during retirement. Others opt for the more maintenance-free lifestyle provided by “active adult” or independent living communities. Let’s take a moment to discuss the pros and cons of each, so you can get a sense for which senior living option is right for you.

Buying or Home or Taking Our a Mortgage After 55

Buying a home after 55 is a major decision that is sure to impact your retirement. While some financial companies will give out loans to older buyers, they are wary of this for several reasons.

According to personal finance expert David Ning, it’s unwise to get a new 30-year fixed mortgage in your 50s. “Whether you are buying a new home, refinancing your existing mortgage, or you simply want to take out equity from a home that you own free and clear,” he writes, “getting a 30-year mortgage when you are in your 50s is quite dangerous.

If you are 55, for example, do you really want to be making payments until you are 85?” It’s important to first examine all the possibilities before sinking yourself into such a large investment.

Investopedia suggests that when deciding to buy a home after 55, you should first consider other mortgage options that would work better, and determine if paying off the mortgage is more important than maximizing your retirement savings.

Carolyn Dunlavy, owner of Jade Tree Retirement Planning in California, says that “Buying a new home, and taking on the costs of a new mortgage loan for the next several decades, can eat into your retirement savings.”

“Older buyers risk depleting their future retirement funds even more if they are both saving less for retirement and withdrawing from their IRAs to fund buying a home,” Dunlavy says. “That can be a double whammy.” In other words, it’s vital to weigh your decision to buy a new home carefully so that financial instability doesn’t become a problem during retirement.

Renting a Home After 55

On the other hand, renting a home after 55 provides flexibility for older adults who anticipate traveling or moving again in the future, or who simply want to save their nest egg for other expenses rather than buying a house.

Financially, renting is much simpler and requires less forethought than buying a home. Finding a home or apartment to rent takes a fraction of the time it would take to purchase, and leaves you free to spend your money on other things that matter to you – like traveling to visit friends and family or starting a new hobby.

Choosing Independent Living

Independent living communities designed for active older adults provide the kind of maintenance-free lifestyle that may be more desirable as you age. Often in these communities, housekeeping, laundry and meal services are provided on-site to make your life a little easier.

Furthermore, these communities often feature media rooms, gyms and swimming pools that act as thriving communal spaces for recreation, socialization and celebration.

When you want to retire in comfort and style, surrounded by a community of peers, independent living provides the ultimate senior living experience.

Choosing Assisted Living

Many adults aged 55+ opt to age in place in independent-style communities that offer the same amenities and medical support of an
assisted living community. These communities, known as continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs, provide a way to age in place comfortably, with additional support available down the road as medical needs increase.

For example, residents may begin their community experience by living in their own condominium or apartment, complete with all the amenities they need to thrive independently. And, eventually when they decide they need more assistance from community staff or desire a more maintenance-free lifestyle, they can seamlessly transition into another part of the community.

For some, CCRCs offer the perfect balance of independence and stability to support the aging process for years to come.

In conclusion, there are many housing options to choose from when it comes time to decide where you will live. The choice will depend partly on your financial situation and retirement goals – but should ultimately be the option that best supports lifestyle you desire during your golden years.

Before jumping into a decision that will surely impact the rest of your life, educate yourself on all the choices available to you. It’s never too early or too late to start!

For more information or to start your search for senior living options today, visit Seniorly.

Do you think that you will end up buying another home in the years ahead? Or do you prefer to choose assisted living or to rent instead? How have you navigated the decision-making process? Please join the conversation and add your perspective.

Jacqueline Hatch is the Content Manager at Seniorly.com, a company that provides free resources for families in need of senior care services. Her goal is to produce educational articles that help families navigate the complicated world of aging options. She does this through managing the Seniorly Resource Center, where families can search for relevant articles based on topics and keywords.

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