You can see the “R” word as a light at the end of the tunnel. You are not there yet, but you can see it! The question is “Do I want to wait until I retire and then buy a retirement house, or do I want to buy (or build it) now so it will be in place when the “R” word arrives? The answer for many buyers in the Central Texas Hill Country is to buy now and be ready. Some buy homes; some buy land to build the perfect retirement home on when the right time comes. Whether you buy or build, here are some things to consider as you make your decisions.
Overall, prices tend to be less today than they are tomorrow. Not always in the short term, but almost always over the long term. Interest rates are still at attractive lows and with elections coming up, who knows what will happen?
Think about mobility in the house. Most retirees like single floor homes that are easy to get around in. Multiple-level floors or stories may be a challenge at times if you get a knee or hip replacement. Strongly consider placing the Master Bedroom and Bath on the lower floor! If possible, eliminate steps from the street or driveway to the front door.
Hallways- The fewer and the shorter the better. “Wider” is good. Some floor plans flare out wider at the end of the hall where rooms go off at 90 degree angles. Think about moving furniture in or out. Narrow halls with hard 90 degree angles are very difficult to manipulate furniture-moving for items such as large beds, armoires, and entertainment centers.
Doors – Wider is better! You want to roll a wheelchair down the hall and turn into any room without bumping knuckles or scuffing up the door frame.
Energy efficiency – Our best guess is that energy will not get any cheaper in your retirement years. Consider putting more into insulation (yes, even though the one- time cost is more today) rather than being at the mercy of the utility companies once you are on a fixed income.
Showers and tubs – Make sure you can get in and out with ease, even if you suffer some limited mobility, and you may want hand-rails for extra balance and support. In a dream shower, you can roll a wheelchair into the shower and hose off, no doors to open or close as you go.
Size of the home – Consider smaller rather than larger for several reasons. The larger the home, the more there is to maintain, insure, and pay taxes on. You may be able to save money by building a separate “out building” for storage which could also serve as an office, hobby or exercise room, and provide extra sleeping accommodations. And of course, when you are in the dog house…………
Yard and landscaping – Strongly consider tree placement to take advantage of the shade in summer and if you have a deciduous tree, it will lose it leaves in the fall and let the sun shine in during the cooler season. While you will have more time working in a yard during the retirement years, in general, having a lower maintenance yard is better and will allow more flexibility with your time. Low water usage and small mowing areas are preferred. If you have to sell down the road, a high-maintenance yard may be a sales deterrent.
Light – Let there be light! It is hard to put in too much light. Use natural light as much as possible, but where needed, especially in showers, closets, and reading areas, focus on getting plenty of light. LED lighting is the way to go.
Floors – Carpets are out! Concrete, tile, and woods are in. If walking on a hard floor is tough on your joints, consider a floating wood or wood laminate floor which may be easier on your joints.
We hope these points give you a jumpstart in defining your preferences in a retirement home. We look at houses and we look at the market every day. We can point out the good and the challenges in any home as you look into the future so you can make an informed decision. Whether you are ready to sell a home today and build your retirement home, or whether you want to buy the perfect existing home for when you reach the “R” word, we can help. Please let us know and we will go to work!