If you’re finally approaching retirement age and are ready to settle into the home you’ll have for the rest of your life, you may have plenty of options to consider.
First, there’s the choice of which city or region to live in. As we’ve written before, retirees often choose to relocate to cities or areas with warmer weather, easy access to medical care, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy themselves and their newfound leisure time.
But beyond regional considerations, you’ll have to choose an actual home type.
Deciding early on what type of home you want to commit to for your second act will enable you to enjoy it to the fullest — without worrying about moving in the middle of your retirement years.
Modern seniors can enjoy a wide variety of housing options. Do any of the following home styles fit your retirement dream?
Going Small in a Tiny Home, RV or Houseboat
Many seniors are choosing to go small for their retirement living accommodations.
Choosing to live in a smaller home means embracing a sense of minimalism and calm, rejecting the piles of clutter and “stuff” that has taken over their lives and the headaches that come along with them.
Choosing a small home also means embracing a sense of freedom and mobility — and choosing the kind of lifestyle that prioritizes enjoying the outdoors and exploring the world around you over time spent inside or in front of the TV.
In fact, these values have drawn people of all ages, including many young people, to the lifestyle that comes with being smaller and more mobile. You can see it for yourself by scrolling through hashtags like “vanlife” or “tinyliving” on social media.
If your budget is limited, living tiny can also be a great way to stretch your budget. However, in some cases, investing in a smaller, more mobile home can cost as much as a small house.
Here are just a few options for seniors who want to scale down:
- Tiny Homes – You may have seen the “tiny homes” featured on popular TV shows and Pinterest boards. A growing number of manufacturers are making these homes available for everyday consumers. Although there’s no strict definition of a “tiny home,” many people define it as any home under 600 feet. Some of these homes can easily fit on a trailer so people can move them from one part of the country to another throughout the year. This page has a great summary of the rise of the tiny home movement.
- Mobile Homes or RVs – The RV life has long been a dream for many who want to travel across the country, bringing the comforts of home along with them. There are dozens of options for luxury RVs that can cost as much as small homes, with features like full-sized refrigerators and walk-in closets.
- Houseboats – Those who love life on the water might consider moving into a houseboat full-time. According to this New York Times article, communities of houseboat owners form in the marinas where they dock, and docking fees can be very affordable.
There can be challenges with these small homes, though — beyond the obvious challenges presented by more limited space. Living mobile may require emptying your own septic tank, for example. Repairs can be expensive and tricky compared to a traditional home. Inclement weather can present extra threats. And there may be extra mobility challenges as you age. For example, maintaining a boat may require walking across a slippery dock, and getting into your mobile home or a lofted bed may mean climbing stairs.
Moving into a “Vacation Home”
If you’ve always dreamed about living by the beach or the mountains full-time, you may finally have a chance to actually do so in your retirement.If you’ve always dreamed about living by the beach or the mountains full-time, you may finally have a chance to actually do so in your retirement. Click To Tweet
There are plenty of beautiful coastal and mountain communities that you can enjoy that also feature mild winters and lovely downtown areas, as we explored in our post 5 of the Best Places to Retire in the Southeastern U.S. They may also present opportunities for a bit of extra income if you want to rent your home out for the months of the year you’re elsewhere.
However, some seniors may hesitate to permanently locate to areas that are more remote and have less access to health care, or whose properties come with extra responsibilities and headaches.
For example, homes near the beach can be damaged by saltwater and face special risks during hurricane season. Mountain homes may be prone to erosion and landslides, and roads may become dangerous or even impassable in cold or wet weather. Power outages are also more frequent with remote, mountainous properties.
Prioritizing Accessibility in a Cozy Ranch-Style Home
Moving into a lovely cottage or ranch-style home might not be as glamorous as “vanlife” or a beach house, but it might also offer perks that those other types of living can’t offer.
For one thing, you’ll probably live in a more permanent community instead of a tourist destination where neighbors may come and go. But more importantly, you can choose a home that reflects scaled-back needs for space and prioritizes accessibility with universal design.
As we wrote in our post on choosing a home for your retirement years, modern designers follow universal design standards that include things like safe thresholds, minimum widths for door frames, and minimal steps that can keep your home safe for visitors of all ages.
However, many of these homes are located in traditional suburban neighborhoods, which have lost their appeal to some seniors. For example, some retirees may chafe at having to spend more time and energy landscaping and caring for a large yard. Seniors may also feel more isolated in the suburbs and more dependent on driving to get around.
Townhouses, Condos, and Rowhouses
Townhouses, condos, and rowhouses can give seniors the scaled-down flexibility of smaller living while still providing the amenities and security that can benefit all of us as we age.
Especially in buildings that have been constructed recently, design that prioritizes safety and accessibility may be observed.
Plus, these types of homes are usually located in more urban areas or mixed-use neighborhoods, which can provide plenty of health benefits because they encourage walking and discourage the kind of isolation that can lead to health problems for seniors.
Seniors who are hoping to enjoy their retirement years by frequenting amenities like museums, galleries, and fine dining establishments may also appreciate how easy it is to visit these places in a more urban neighborhood.
If you’re in the market for a new home in an exciting, accessible neighborhood, don’t miss the homes of Upper East River. Located in historic downtown Savannah, the area features mild winters, beautiful beaches within a short drive, and world-class educational and cultural institutions.