Questions Seniors Must Ask Themselves When Shopping for a New Home


Buying a new home shouldn’t be done on a whim – it should only be done after careful consideration, and only when you are 100 percent sure what you want and need out of a new living space. More than any other age group, seniors have specific requirements for any new home they move into. Most seniors buying a new house are looking to age in place, and they will need to ensure their new home is equipped to be a forever home. Here are some questions you must ask yourself when shopping around.

How much space will I really need?

Before you begin looking for your new home, you should take some time to seriously downsize and declutter your belongings. As we age, we accumulate a lot of stuff – and we certainly don’t need all of it. Start going through the outer reaches of your home, like your basement, attic, and guest room closets. Sort things into keep, throw away, and donate piles. Get rid of any duplicate items (two toasters, for example) and any clothing that you haven’t worn in over a year. If you get overwhelmed or can’t quite let go of a lifetime’s worth of memories, consider renting a storage unit for a few months until you’re ready. In the San Diego area, there are 10’x10’ storage units available for $75 a month at StaxUp Storage – San Ysidro.

By downsizing before you start shopping around for a new home, you’ll have a better idea of exactly how much room – both for living and storage use – you’ll need in a new house. Check here for some solid downsizing tips.

How much can I budget for modifications?

Many seniors have disabilities, health issues, and mobility problems. If you fall into this category, you must consider how your new home will accommodate these issues. Get a thorough view of your finances and figure out how much you’re willing to spend on modifications. If you can’t spare a lot of extra cash for home mods, you’ll need to find a home that is already set up to accommodate you. If you don’t have the money for a stairlift, for example, you’ll probably need to buy a one-story home. If you can’t afford to knock out walls for greater mobility, you’ll need to find a home that already has an open floor plan, especially in rooms like the bathroom, where it’s downright dangerous for seniors who don’t have adequate space to move around. Given that bathroom remodeling isn’t an inexpensive or quick-turnaround project (it’ll likely run you between $10,389 and $24,196 in San Diego), you’re better off finding a home with bathrooms that already meet your current and future needs. While there are a handful of funding programs available for home modifications for the disabled, more than likely, you’re going to have to foot most of the bill yourself, so it pays to shop wisely.

Can I handle the upkeep of the yard?

Handling the day-to-day cleaning and upkeep of the inside of a home can be difficult, but a large or even medium-sized yard can be nearly impossible to handle for many seniors. Strongly consider how much yard you can handle when looking for a new home. You may want to look for a house with less actual green space. Yards with porches, patios, pavers, stones, and decks require much less upkeep. You may love to garden as a hobby, and yards with more ground cover as opposed to grass can be better suited for seniors (here are a few simple and low-maintenance yard ideas). Of course, you may need to hire someone to help you keep up with the yard, so be sure to factor this into your budget. It generally costs $30 – $45 to mow the average lawn (sized at one-fifth an acre).

The right home

Seniors can live long, happy, healthy lives in their own homes as long as they find housing that accommodates any disabilities, falls within their affordability range, and doesn’t require a lot of upkeep. Make sure that you find the right house for your unique needs before making any financial commitments. The right home can mean a world of difference in the success of aging in place.

Michael Longsdon

Michael Longsdon is the founder of ElderFreedom, which advocates for the rights and support of seniors. Through his site, he provides tips to seniors on how to downsize and age in place.

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