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Time to Downsize: Tips for Seniors Looking for a New Home

Time to Downsize: Tips for Seniors Looking for a New Home

For senior citizens, moving to a new home isn’t necessarily about more living space or a bigger yard. In most cases, seniors are downsizing to a more accessible home, one that’s easier to clean and maintain. Mobility is often an issue with seniors, so a house that’s easy to move around in is also important. Modifications may be needed, and space for a nurse or live-in aide could become necessary as well. It’s important to think through your needs and identify features that can help make the aging process easier. Knowing exactly what you’re looking for can help you avoid overspending for something you don’t need.

Affordability

For those on a fixed income, buying a new home can feel a bit overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Square away your financial situation first so you know what you have to work with, whether it's taking stock of savings, selling your current home, taking out a loan or all of the above. By assessing what you can afford, you'll be in a better position to plan for a mortgage payment. When shopping for mortgages, consider a conventional mortgage. With this type of loan, you won’t have to take our private mortgage insurance if you put 20 percent down, but you will need good credit and cash reserves of at least two months after closing. If you've got equity in your home and not much left on your current mortgage, you can do a cash out refinance to access equity to put toward a down payment. There really are plenty of options as long as you do your homework and go through a reputable mortgage company.

Accessibility

When you begin house hunting, take the time to find a place with as few impediments as possible, such as stairs. Look for a single-floor plan and a no-step doorway entry space. The interior should feature nice, wide halls and doorways that are wheelchair-friendly and allow plenty of space for a walker or other mobility aid. You may not need that much space to get around, but it could become an issue as you grow older. 

Bathroom safety

Showers and bathtubs are among the leading causes of slips and falls in the senior population.  Look for a home that has a walk-in shower or bathtub with grab bars. Being able to sit while bathing and walking in and out of a shower without having to negotiate a wet surface can give you peace of mind and eliminate the need for assistance. Seat-height toilets can also help prevent falls caused by commodes that are too low for seniors to sit down and stand up easily.

Location

Resale value should be a factor in your decision to buy a home, so you should always consider location. For seniors, there are other reasons to think about location. Is there a grocery nearby? If you don’t drive, can you get to a bus stop quickly and safely? If you’re undergoing treatment for a condition, buying a home near your doctor’s office or other healthcare facility may also be a consideration. It’s also beneficial to be in close proximity to a senior center, or even in a neighborhood that has a sizable senior population. 

Modifications

As you consider your housing options, bear in mind that you may want to make modifications as the years go by, and these alterations can help you maintain a degree of independence. Assess a home’s potential based on whether it can accommodate additions such as a wheelchair ramp or stair lift. If you do purchase a home with two stories, make sure you can convert the first floor to permanent living space if you’re no longer able to climb stairs easily. And make sure that the front of the house can accommodate a stair lift in the event you become wheelchair bound.

Custom Homes

When you can’t find a home that fits your needs, you can always build. By choosing a custom home, you have the freedom to decide on the floor plan that’s right for you. Cascade West Development offers many options to help you age in place safely without compromising quality of life. Wheelchair-friendly hallways, handrails in the bathroom, and ADA-compliant faucets are just of few features that can be added from the start. Other options include wheelchair-accessible baths and showers and integrated accessories, such as a lazy susan, that make your cabinets and countertops more accessible. Ask your builder about other innovative ways they can tailor your home to anticipate your current and future needs. 

Moving

If you’ve opted to move as a way to downsize, make sure you’ve done ample research to find a reputable moving company in your area. Hiring movers will take the burden off of you and your family, and will result in less stress and a quicker move. 

Part of downsizing also means winnowing down your belongings. This can be a tough and often emotional task, so take your time to get rid of what you don’t need. Ask a friend or relative to help you go through your belongings and identify what can be thrown out, given away, or donated. Getting down to what you really need will make it easier to find a smaller home and enjoy a new life free of unnecessary encumbrances.  

Moving into a smaller home can be a boon for seniors. With less upkeep and maintenance, you’ll have more time (and money!) to enjoy retirement to its fullest. If you take a smart financial approach and weigh your options carefully when house hunting, you’re sure to set yourself up perfectly for the next chapter in your life. 


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