Aging-In-Place: It's a process
Aging-in-place takes planning with many decisions that can literally affect the rest of your life. I'll share the process which helped me to find the "perfect" situation to age in my home. There may be some tips and takeaways, which you may want to consider, as well.
It hit me at 40. I began to think about retirement, where I was going to live, what type of living arrangements I wanted, and what type of housing in which I wanted to spend my retirement.
I also thought about my current living situation at that time--I had built my first home from the ground up just three years prior.
Life was moving fast for me --- I had built a bi-level, which was great at the time, as I was raising my eight year-old daughter. My home was child-friendly, literally.
My house became the hang-out. If parents couldn't find their kids, it was a sure bet, they could find them at my house. In the lower level of my home, I had a PC, which was in 1993 when in-home computers had become commercially available for families to purchase.
I was financially able to be one of the first in my new neighborhood to have a computer. The kids played computer games in the lower-level. We had a nice sound system, an automatic Pop-a-Shot Official Home Dual Shot Basketball Arcade Game, board games, and Baylor (the dog) too!
I was at the height of my career---I felt I had the best job in the world at a major global pharmaceutical company. It paid extremely well, with exceptional benefits and retirement.
However, three years in, I was at work one day, and the thought entered my mind -- RETIREMENT! I couldn't believe it! I was only 40!
Over time, the thought of retirement continued to plague me---it was constantly on my mind.
Once I realized I had to address it, I began to think about what it might entail.
The first thing I thought about was my home. I had just built it. But, I didn't want to retire there, since it had about 20 steps from the lower- to the main-level. I didn't want to negotiate stairs during my retirement years.
My daughter was a pre-teen, and becoming more autonomous. She was approaching high school, so I was able to relocate anywhere within our township without her changing schools. She would be able to attend the high school I had chosen for her since second grade.
The community began to change, and I thought it was the right time to look for a home, where I could age-in-place.
As I thought about things that would be important in my retirement home, I began my search.
The most important thing I needed in a home was for it to be a single-family, ranch-style, with a two-car garage, on at least a quarter-acre lot (total front and back), with easy access.
Once I put my home up for sale, it sold quickly, before I could find another place to live.
My daughter and I had to move into temporary housing. It was a grueling five months, and in the dead-of-winter (from October to March).
Finally, that following February, I found my "dream retirement home;" a place where I could age--in-place. Although it wasn't a new-build, it had everything I desired, and was practically new, only eight years old.
I have been settled in my home for more than two decades, in my 40s, I have no regrets---just still doing a few upgrades.
What I discovered, while conversing with a few of my peers, they were already in retirement or approaching retirement and seeking a home, in which to age-in-place.
One of them had been seeking to sell her townhome because the stairs became too much. She and husband also wanted to downsize. But, at the time, no one was selling or building.
Another one of my associates lives in a two-story, and she had recently considered a ranch-style home----she has been retired for a few years.
After having gone through the process of planning for retirement, there are a few things to consider. We always hear about planning the financial portion. But, aging-in-place is also a big deal.
Here are a few tips to plan for aging-in-place that will make the transition a less challenging:
Be attentive to your health and maintain a healthy lifestyle --- you want to be healthy so that you can continue to live on your own
Forty-something is not too early to consider where and how you want to age-in-place
If you plan to age-in-place in a new home or location, begin that conversation with your spouse, family members, and your real estate agent
Take your time. Where you plan to age-in-place is most likely to be your home for life --- at least that's the plan
Keep your finances in check --- keep "feeding" your retirement nest egg
If you plan to move to a new location, do your home-selling and buying BEFORE you retire---your employment could make or break a new home deal
If you plan to stay in your current home, have your remodeling and upgrades done prior to your actual retirement.
Although I moved into my dream retirement home in my mid-40s, that early move afforded me the opportunity to get settled, work at least 20 more years, to plan, do upgrades, with more years to enjoy aging-in-place.