When the kids are grown and retirement is just ahead, it’s time to make some tough choices. Should you stay in the family home or move somewhere smaller and cheaper?
Organize your thinking. Break the decision down into these broad categories: family accessibility, lifestyle and financial. Look at each separately.
Family accessibility. Location is key. Do your children and grandchildren nearby or across the country? Consider how often they visit. How often do you travel to their home? When you are elderly and may need their help, how easy will it be for them to come to you? Talk to your kids. Those conversations should help you with whether staying or moving makes better sense.
Lifestyle. What about the house itself? Can your current house accommodate your kids and grandkids when they visit? Will they visit enough to justify the upkeep, taxes and utilities of a larger house? Be honest with yourself.
Will the house be navigable as you age and become less mobile? You can remodel, but a second story will become a liability with declining mobility, and remodeling can’t change that. A one story is better for aging in place.
Do you like the neighborhood in which you live? Are your neighbors near the same age and season of life? Or have you aged while new generations of buyers moved in around you? Remodeling to update a kitchen or bath makes a home more sellable. However, remodeling for aging in place in a neighborhood of mostly younger families may narrow the field of buyers.
Would you consider moving to a 55+ community with amenities catering to your season of life?
Financial. Sorting through the family and lifestyle questions should help you decide where you want to be, and the costs associated with the choice.
If you stay, you may want to update the kitchen and bathrooms. Aging in place means you should plan for widening doorways, smoothing out thresholds and changing handles of faucets, cabinets and doors. You could use the equity in your home to finance the renovations. Most remodeling costs won’t be recovered in a home sale within the first few years of the work. It takes many years and general value appreciation to recapture renovation costs.
If you decide to move, weigh the cost of the move itself in addition to the cost of the new home. Will the sale of your old home pay for the new house or will you need a mortgage? Is that a wise financial move?