Home: Among our 10 Elements of Retirement Success
To many, home is so much more than just the physical structure where we reside. Our memories, desires and goals can all influence our housing choices. In our experience, being intentional about our home is one of our 10 elements of retirement success. This article seeks to help you assess your approach to home in retirement and set some meaningful goals.
In retirement, home decisions can be impacted by the geographic location of family members, financial goals, livable design, health, access to amenities and services, and more.
The emotional aspect of housing decisions can play a significant role in retirement—whether to fulfill a goal to move or to remain in place. Many retirees will have lived in their homes for decades before retirement. These years likely include many shared memories, meaningful relationships and even the peace of mind of a paid-off home. Others may enjoy the freedom to downsize and move to a new city or location without the constraints of living near their former place of work.
Here are three aspects of home that we think you may want to consider as you assess your situation and think about how your wealth can be used to improve this area of your life:
Home location in retirement
A location close to work could have played a significant role in your housing choices during your career. As you transition into retirement, do you still want to live in the same city or neighborhood? In retirement, your location could be flexible, such as living part-time in one area of the country, renting for an extended time or purchasing a second home.
You may choose to live in a more urban community with closer amenities or move to an independent living community with available healthcare services that could be helpful at some point down the road.
How important is living close to your family? While many retirees want to live in a warmer climate, many also want to be close to their families. If you’re considering a move to be closer to family, we suggest considering the stability of their housing situation. Could career or other changes see them move in the future, and how would that impact your decision?
Home layout in retirement
Layout is another consideration, as many retirees share the desire to “age in place”—a popular concept that emphasizes the idea of being able to live in your home even later in life. From a practical standpoint, this could include convenient floor plans, special safety features and ways of utilizing technology in your home to make it easier to manage.
Assessing the scope of needed renovations and hiring professionals who can assist with an optimal design plan can potentially increase your satisfaction and likelihood of aging in place.
Home costs in retirement
One reason that many retirees move is the desire to “downsize.” Maintaining a large home can be very expensive when you add up property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance. You typically don’t need the same square footage for a household of one or two as you did while raising a family. However, in many instances, downsizing in space is not downsizing in price, so we think it’s important to think this one through before deciding.
Depending on your timing, you may need to secure temporary financing to purchase a new home. If you are buying into a retirement community or purchasing a second home, a little bit of investment planning might be required.
Lastly, moving to another state or city could materially impact your taxes. Some states are more tax-favorable to retirees, such as providing property tax exemptions or excluding certain types of retirement income from state taxation. You may also need to factor in state-level estate taxes. So, if you’re thinking of moving, we think it’s important to understand these financial costs along with any cost-of-living changes.
If you are thinking you will want or need to move in retirement but have no idea what that will look like, you might decide that this is the year to roll up your sleeves and really figure out your plans. Or, if you’re going to stay put, maybe this is a topic you don’t need to spend too much time worrying about at this point.
Here’s a quick exercise that you may find helpful:
- Write down your current satisfaction with your home situation on a scale of 1 to 10
- Now write down what you would like that score to be one year from now
- Finally, write down the top three things you can do to raise your score
Home is where the heart is, and retirement is a time when many people follow their hearts to a new home.
Continue to explore each element of retirement success:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charlie Jordan, CPA, CFP, CeFT
Charlie is a Partner, Wealth Advisor in our Atlanta office. Previously, he led the Retiring Well Practice Management group at legacy firm Brightworth. Charlie focuses on helping clients think differently about retirement, integrating the technical and personal sides of money. Charlie is a CPA, CFP® practitioner and Certified Financial Transitionist (CeFT). He is a graduate of the University of Florida and received a Master in Accountancy from Kennesaw State University.
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