For those who are considering retirement, you may be exploring retirement properties. Whether you are in the market to purchase a retirement property, or are just looking to rent in a community, we have all the answers you need to make the right decision.
What is a Retirement Property?
A retirement property is any place you relocate to for enjoyment of the seniors years. Houses, condos and apartments located within seniors communities with age restrictions fall into this category as do homes outside of the confines of a designated community; these are often homes within short distance to major hospitals, shopping and entertainment facilities. Some retirement communities are all-inclusive and provide meals, daily activities, medical assistance, transportation and luxury amenities, while other retirement properties are located near golf courses and private beaches that charge use fees.
How Much Do Retirement Properties Cost?
Costs for retirement properties vary significantly depending on a number of factors, including location, size, home features and community amenities. When selecting a retirement property, ask to see all current fees for the community, as well as fees from the last five years. This allows you to evaluate not only the current costs but also how costs may increase in the years to come. If you are relocating to a new state, consider the property and estate taxes. Budget for homeowner association dues, insurance, and costs to maintain the property.
Across the United States, monthly fees for homes in independent living communities range from around $1,500 to $10,000 monthly. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, seniors owning retirement homes outside of designated retirement communities pay average mortgages of $2,172 in New York City, $2,134 in San Francisco, $2,105 in Honolulu, $906 in Austin, $1,444 in Miami and $1,238 in Phoenix.
Buying a Retirement Property
Buying a retirement property is enticing to many seniors because home ownership is an investment that affords more independence and control over the property. You will be able to make desired modifications to the inside and may or may not be able to alter the outside, as many communities have rules limiting decorating, painting and landscaping. As buying a retirement property is a big investment, one of the most important considerations is the home's features and the maintenance required for upkeep. Consider how your needs will change as you age. Although you may be spry now, a single-story with walk-in bathtubs, wide hallways and bathrooms and small yards may become necessary as eyesight, mobility and stamina decrease with age.
Renting a Retirement Property
For seniors used to owning their home, renting a retirement property can be an adjustment, but it also has advantages. Renting gives you a chance to try a new area before fully committing, which is important if you are moving away from friends and family who you might miss more than expected. On the flip-side, it is also an advantage if you are moving to be near family; if your children move, renting allows you to more easily move again to be near them. Renting frees you from the responsibility of home maintenance and repairs, but it also makes you subject to the rules of the property owner.
Types of Retirement Properties
Waterfront and Coastal Retirement Properties
For seniors who love walks along the ocean or boating on the lake, waterfront and coastal retirement properties are great choices. These properties may include access to private sections of the beaches reserved only for residents; this creates a cleaner, quieter, more serene experience as beaches are not crowded with loud tourists and children. Generally, waterfront properties are worth twice as much as landlocked homes; however, insurance costs are higher and insurance for floods, windstorms and earthquakes may be necessary. For cost and features, CBS News suggests the cities of Port Townsend, Washington; Oak Island, North Carolina; Boynton Beach and Fort Myers, Florida; Bandon Beach, Oregon; Eureka, California and Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Properties in Golf Communities
Selecting a retirement property in a golf community is about more than the selection of well-maintained courses. Consider the amenities off the green, including the clubhouse and nearby access to shopping, entertainment and medical facilities. When looking at costs, consider what is and isn't included, such as cart rentals, meals at the club and course membership fees. Golf communities designated for senior living may have special tournaments, dances and holiday events for residents, while also renting out of the facilities to non-residents for occasions like proms and weddings.
Properties in Retirement Villages
Retirement villages help seniors remain in their homes while receiving affordable access to assistance services. A retirement village is simply a neighborhood of people who have pledged to help their senior neighbors with transportation, home maintenance and simple tasks that may come up, such as taking out the garbage or even changing a light bulb. Group outings to movies and museums are common, and some helpers volunteer while others are paid staff. Villages may be organized by the members themselves or run by a larger organization. Over 20,000 people belong to such villages across the US. Most are in major cities with several in Boston, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
International Retirement Properties
International retirement properties give seniors a chance to explore new countries and often save on housing costs. While many parts of the world offer lower home-ownership costs, other living expenses may be higher, such as gas and food. Setting up home in a new country can come with some unexpected delays, so it's important to plan far ahead. In some countries, for example, you may wait a month before your phone is set up and your internet connection may be slower. Make access to health care a top consideration. You cannot use Medicare overseas, and while some countries have excellent national health care systems, as a non-citizen, you may not be eligible for benefits.
How Do I Search for a Retirement Property?
Once you decide what kind of retirement property is for you, there are many tools to assist your search for a new home. Check International Living for overseas homes. AARP offers guides of the best retirement cities in the country. Village to Village Network will help you find a retirement village or create your own.