8 Issues You Must Address if You Plan to Retire in Place

Among the most popular features of retirement websites are the articles and lists of top places to retire, domestically and internationally, which tempt you with new possibilities for exciting, exotic, yet affordable places you can live after you retire.

While it’s fun to imagine what living in those places would be like, most people don’t actually follow through. According to an AARP study on aging in place, nearly 90% of people over 65 want to stay in their home for as long as possible, and 80% believe that their current residence is where they will always live.

Just as there are good reasons to move after you retire, there are several compelling reasons to stay right where you are. You may love your current home and have a strong emotion connection to it. Perhaps you want to remain close to your network of family, friends, and support systems rather than start over with making new friends, learning a new area, and finding new doctors and other service providers. If you are planning to start a business, you will need the network you have built up over many years. Sometimes moving is not financially feasible. Or perhaps it boils down to inertia and it’s easiest just to stay put.

If you want to remain in your current home for the rest of your life, here are several considerations that will help you decide whether this is the best choice for you.

1. Does your current community have good infrastructure for supporting seniors?

This includes good public transportation or perhaps the availability of city-sponsored transport vans, good health care, and a strong senior center that provides activities as well as support services. You should also consider whether you live close enough to public transportation and whether the places you visit regularly are on transportation routes.

2. Is your house adaptable to meet your needs as you grow older?

A one-story floor plan, or at least a floor plan with a bedroom and all necessary facilities all on the first floor, will make it easier if you should require a walker or wheelchair during your later years. You might need to make other adjustments, such as replacing door knobs with lever handles, adding ramps and retrofitting your bathroom with handrails. If you or your spouse should someday require a wheelchair, you should evaluate whether doorways are wide enough and if countertops, cabinets, closets and bathroom facilities will still be accessible.

3.  Are your house and yard small enough to maintain as you get older?

This concern can be managed if you have nearby family members who are willing to assist you or you can afford to hire people to help you with cleaning and maintenance. Keep in mind that family members may move.

4.  Is your current house in good condition and energy efficient?

Depending on your house’s age and condition, you may incur costs to repair or replace an aging furnace, air conditioner, carpet, appliances, or roof. Occasional home maintenance tasks such as repainting or removing dead plants may become things you can no longer do yourself.

Retire Fabulously Snowbirds Crowded Freeway Heavy Traffic Retirement

5.  Are most things you need available within a reasonable distance?

Driving all over town and maneuvering on high-traffic freeways will become more challenging as you get older.

6.  Are the amenities you wish to enjoy during retirement close by?

While you worked, you were probably most concerned with living a reasonable distance from your workplace. After you retire, your work commute will be replaced by trips to play sports, take classes, hike, and participate in other activities that you select to be part of your retirement lifestyle.

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7.  Will your neighborhood still be safe?

As you get older, safety will become an increasing concern. While it is impossible to know what transformations your area of town may undergo in the coming years, you may be able to assess whether your surroundings are improving, holding steady, or declining.

8.  Does your area have good assisted living or nursing homes that you would want to live in?

It may be decades before you need them, and a lot may change over the course of those years. When you reach the age where you will need to move into such a facility, your search will probably be limited to your current area. Try to determine whether your local facilities are pleasant and affordable for you and whether there is a long waiting list for spaces.


After considering all of these questions, you may still conclude that remaining in your home is the right choice for you. Hopefully this article has called attention to steps you can take now in order to ensure that your home will continue to serve you well as your needs change.

Of course, you can remain in your current city and downsize to a smaller home. That way, you’ll retain your familiarity with the area, proximity to your social and support network, and your preferred medical professionals.

If you anticipate moving locally, it will probably be to your advantage to do that sooner rather than later while you have more stamina for a move. Downsizing will probably reduce your housing costs, leaving you more money to enjoy your retirement in other ways.

Please feel welcome to share your thoughts in the comments below.

For additional considerations and resources for living alone, visit this article on FamilyAssets.com.

Reprinted from my blog on U.S. News – On Retirement.
© 2017 Dave Hughes. All rights reserved.

Photo credits:
Yellow house: David Sawyer. Some rights reserved.
Underground sign: NadinLisa.
Door lever handle: MoneyBlogNewz. Some rights reserved.
Crowded freeway: Thomanication. Some rights reserved.
Retirement home: Joanne C. Sullivan. Some rights reserved.

3 Responses

  1. William DeyErmand says:

    These are the factors I did not consider when I first started planning my retirement. I know it is better I relocate before retirement, whether renting or buying.
    Relocating to a new area takes a lot of visit/vacation time before making the decision to leave years of familiarity. I have known many retirees that have returned to what they know, after using their whole pension or the sale of their home to buy a retirement dream. Moving where you know people is probably a better decision, if you are not independent in nature.
    Amenities and weather is very important factors to your future choice. Better weather provides more opportunity to join in the community especially with transportation options. Hospital and Nursing home State ratings is also worth checking out.
    Downsizing to a smaller home is not easy. Even if I stay in the area, the choice of a smaller one story homes or starter homes is slim. Homes can cost more per square footage, the further south or west you move. Then you have the costs of remodeling and changing the home to fit your personal needs. Also the further you move, the higher the moving expense.
    Talk to people. Read all you can on retirement. Look at everything from all angles… Finance, Medical, Transportation and Personality type.

    • Dave Hughes says:

      William, these are all good points. Deciding where to live during retirement, whether it is your current domicile or not, involves many interdependent factors.

      It seemed like it was so much easier when we were younger and our main concern was living reasonably close to where we worked and we had the reassurance that we could always move again if we need or want to. When you are thinking about your last home (either your current home or one that you will move to), that’s a heavier psychological burden.

      Thank you for the tip about looking up hospital and nursing home ratings!

      • William DeyErmand says:

        I look forward to reading your open and upbeat articles. It helps take the fear out of retiring. I bought my current home after spending a career traveling, and I thought it would be my final home. I will move again for retirement and amenities purposes. I know realistically a good local Nursing Home and Cardiac Hospital is important. The thought of not being able to get outside to do things due to stairs, weather or transportation is something people do not foresee usually until too late. Thanks for pointing these things out.

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