If you are happy with your current home, why wouldn't you want to live in it for the rest of your life? Many seniors and soon-to-be seniors have taken this approach and plan to "age in place" in their current domicile instead of moving into a smaller home or an assisted living/retirement community.

Living in your familiar and comfortable surroundings can be an appealing concept. Although it may always be familiar, it may not always be comfortable – or practical – to stay in your current home as you age and your life circumstances change. Consider these five points as you ponder the pros and cons of aging in place.

1. Does Your Current Home Meet Your Future Needs?

Sure, everything is perfect in your home now, but what about in the future when you have trouble handling basic home repairs and lawn care – not to mention navigating stairs, or even safely getting in and out of the shower?

Think about how your home will need to be renovated over time to accommodate your aging self, and lay out a rough plan for when these changes may be necessary. You may save money by renovating before the need arises.

2. Will Your Support System Be in Place?

As you age, you are likely to need occasional help no matter how independent-minded you are. Do you have family nearby, and are they likely to stay nearby in the future? Do you have transportation options if you become unable to drive? Are you near suitable medical facilities that can handle likely health conditions?

It's difficult to assess your support needs in advance realistically, but it's important that you do so. That way, you can be better prepared in case a change in plans is required.

3. Are Your Finances Adequate?

Your regular home expenses such as maintenance/repairs and property taxes will continue increasing, while your retirement income will not. In addition, you will need to invest money to make your home safer for you as you age. An in-home caregiver may eventually be required. Does your current rate of retirement saving allow you to afford the costs of aging in place, and how do they compare to assisted living options in your area?

You may receive pitches for a reverse mortgage as a way to bridge any gap. In a reverse mortgage, you are effectively selling the equity on your home back to the bank while you live there. If you don't plan to leave your home to any heirs, a reverse mortgage may be a good choice for you – but make sure that you understand the terms and potential pitfalls.

4. What Are Your Other Retirement Goals?

Make sure that your current home and location don't conflict with the remainder of your retirement goals. For example, if you have family spread throughout the U.S. and plan to visit them regularly, is your home close to a major airport or other accessible transportation?

If your other retirement goals involve increased spending compared to your pre-retirement spending, revisit the previous question.

5. What Is Your Plan B?

Eventually, despite your best planning, a medical condition or other issue may make it unrealistic for you to live in your current home. Consider your backup plans, and make sure that your loved ones are aware of your wishes.

Aging in place is a perfectly sound strategy for your retirement years, but it requires planning. Lay out your strategy for aging in place well before retirement, and you will have a greater chance of fulfilling your retirement wishes.

Let the free Retirement Planner by MoneyTips help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle.


Photo ©iStockphoto.com/kali9

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