Practical Advice for Seniors on the Move
Seniors choose to move for a number of reasons. Better weather, less home maintenance, and being closer to friends and family often top this list. But before you pack, there are a few things you should know. Moving into a new home in your retirement years means considering your options carefully.
Where to live
As an independent senior, you have many options on where to live after you retire. A few of the most popular include a single-story home, townhouse or condominium, or apartment in a senior-oriented community. Regardless of which type of dwelling you choose, make sure you have access to medical care, recreational opportunities, and other services and activities that are important to you.
Financing your future
As you get serious about your new home search, it will be necessary to decide how you will pay for it. If you own your current home outright, you may have enough equity from the sale to completely cover the cost of your new house. If this is not the case, you will either need to pull from your retirement savings or finance the purchase. Keep in mind that if you decide to make a withdrawal from your 401(k) or employer-sponsored retirement plan, you may be hit with significant penalties. This calculator from Wells Fargo can help you determine your potential losses.
If you choose to finance, it pays to spend a little time getting to know your credit score. The Lenders Network explains that your credit score should be at least 500 to qualify for an FHA loan, although you will be subject to a 10-percent down payment and less-than-favorable loan terms. If you’re a veteran, many lenders offer VA loans with a credit score is low as 580. A VA home loan is a great option if you are a former service member or the surviving spouse of someone who passed away because of a service-related injury. PennyMac USA notes that VA loans come with the additional benefit of no PMI. Further, you won’t be required to make a down payment, and you will likely enjoy a more favorable interest rate compared to an FHA or conventional loan.
There is a good chance that your move will require you to get rid of some of your personal belongings. If you are downsizing, this can be challenging, since it is difficult to determine what you’ll need or want during the next chapters of your life. Long Term Living Associates recommends contacting a senior relocation specialist, who can assist you throughout the process and help you determine what to do with your excess belongings.
Your new home
While you may be in excellent health, it’s wise to consider your future health and abilities, especially if you have arthritis. It’s likely that this will be your final home, and you want to be comfortable for the long haul. Look for a house that incorporates at least a few aspects of universal design. As This Old House explains, universal design is simply the concept of making a space safe and comfortable for everyone. Things to look for might include lever-style hardware, a single-story floor plan, and handrails on stairs, if applicable. Plenty of natural light, a senior-friendly bathroom, and non-slip flooring are all also beneficial.
Finally, as moving day draws near, make sure to get the help of your friends and family. Even if you’ve contracted with a senior moving specialist, you will want all hands on deck to help you pack. Further, allowing your adult children and grandchildren a few final moments in the home they likely grew up in will help them better accept your decision, which is especially important if you are moving away.
Congratulations on your upcoming move. It is sure to be an exciting time. But before you pack your bags, make sure you know what you need, and have the right financing in place. Not doing so can prolong the process, and you have adventures waiting and don’t want to be hung up because of paperwork.