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Old 01-21-2013, 02:44 PM   #21
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1600-1700 sf ranch max for us. Keeping it one level for the future is what I'd think about. Good layout, you could go to 1300-1400 easy.

2br / 2ba minimum and decent single large room for entertaining and small back yard w/garden...but then I'm living like a gypsy right now; this is for down the road a bit.

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Old 01-21-2013, 03:02 PM   #22
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I grew up with a family of 4 in a house with barely 1000sqft so my current condo with 860sqft seems like a lot for just me. I would be content with 500sqft but, as W2R said, a little extra space for a sound barrier is nice. If I have the physical ability to walk up and down stairs I may even like to have a finished basement because of the reduced noise(lawn mower, snow blower, screaming kids, barking dogs...).

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Old 01-21-2013, 03:27 PM   #23
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We are definetely going to downsize in the next five years . Our house is 3600 sq.feet with a pool and it is waterfront which adds to the maintenance . My last home was 1800 sq.feet and this is just about ideal as long as it has a large garage . IMO moving is hard work and it gets harder as you age .
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Old 01-21-2013, 03:46 PM   #24
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Currently in retirement community single family home 2100SF Chicago area. We like the home (ranch style new 2006), community amenities (golf, indoor/outdoor pools, clubhouse etc.) and outside lawn care and snow removal. We like to winter in Florida, and travel. We rent a third/top floor 1bd/ba condo in Florida +800SF with double balcony overlooking treetops and gulf. Find living in the first to be too big (and with winter absentee liabilities) and the condo to be too small. Ideally would like maintenance free town home/condo (something with parking/garage) in the range of 1000-1400SF. Have owned (8) homes ranging from 1200SF to 3800SF. All have had their likes and dislikes, but find smaller maintenance free to have been ideal, and still preferred in retirement. We plan on selling the home in 1-5 years, and moving into something +/-1200SF (preferably retirement community) to allow us more freedom to travel with less space burden. See this also as ideal for when we can no longer get around easily later on (we are 62/60).
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Old 01-21-2013, 04:46 PM   #25
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We're happy with our 1,350 sq ft ranch in the Chicago suburbs. It's very low maintenance (all brick), laid out fairly well considering that we designed it almost 35 yrs ago without thinking about retirement needs. It accomodates our needs without major issue.

It is sitting on a 1,350 sq ft basement which houses my shop, a laundry area, my ham radio hobby area, general storage and a 600 sq ft finished area with fireplace, entertainment center, etc. Without the basement, the first floor living area might feel tight.

There's also an attached 2.5 car garage that is big enough to accomodate a workbench and tool cabinet, landscaping supplies and do-dads and still get our truck and car inside.

When answering questions about the size of our home, I'm never sure whether to include the basement space or not. According to the township tax records and what realtors tell is, only the first floor counts. But if our 1,350 sq ft were a condo with no basement, I don't think we'd be happy. Long RE'd, having places for hobby activities, a shop, watching a Cubs/Bears game without needing a coaster under my beer, etc., is important to me.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:00 PM   #26
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I have come to believe that deciding to have only 1 retirement home may be a mistake. DH fairly strongly wants to have only 1 and we are planning that at this time, but I could see things changing.

We decided to downsize when he retired even though we still have 2 kids at home (at an earlier time we had 6 people at home so just having 4 is major downsize). We looked for a house that could hold 4 of us now but wouldn't be too big later.

Our current house is 2800 SF and we use every inch of it. One thing is that DH and I both spend a lot of time on our computers so having our own office space for each of us is important. We've shared it before and could again but it is really nice to not have to share. (We live in an area where people don't have basements).

The prior house was 4500 SF.

Before we bought this house we were planning to build and I spent months working on a house plan. We kept wanting to design something 2400 SF or so and kept ending up around 2800 SF...

If I was alone I would need much space, but I'm not alone.

However, I could see 20 years from now wanting something much, much smaller with less upkeep.

One thing DH and I did agree on was that we didn't want to climb stairs so this house is a one story.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:41 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Lsbcal View Post
Right now I am lord of the manor. But I don't have any help and so this lord does the gardening, mowing, house chores, painting, and even does battle with the rodents and wild turkeys that want to take over. DW wants to keep her largish art room.

Maybe at age 75 we will do a move. Am thinking of a romantic Tasha Tudor style bungalow in the country that still has easy access to all the city services -- probably a pipe dream.
Outfitted with it's own Corgis of course, to make it the perfect home.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:53 PM   #28
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For me, the "sweet spot" is around 750 sf per person. That seems to allow for a great balance between communal space and quiet space. Having a study or den that can be closed off allows for one person's enjoyment of music or TV to not invade the peace for someone who is reading. I also am a big fan of multipurpose rooms, and see no persuasive reason to have a guest room that doesn't do double duty. I read about people who seem happy in truly tiny spaces and know I would not enjoy living in less than 500 sf.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:00 PM   #29
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Although a decade away from retirement, I have given this some thought. One consideration is that the wife loves horses (one reason I will be working until I am 60), and she will want to have a couple of horses around. I also enjoy hunting and driving around on my tractor, so I would hope to find a nice 25-50 acre parcel for her horses and for my outdoor work/fun.

The house we are in now is about 2500-sq. ft., + an unfinished basement, on 9 acres. This size should be good for us, give or take a 100 sq. ft., as long as the wife gets a bigger closet.

I am actually really looking forward to the process of looking for a home to retire to, which I will begin to do in 9 years. Low tax state, reasonably near modern amenities, it should be fun.....assuming that our health is good and the retirement plan goes as planned.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:17 PM   #30
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DW and I have just been talking about needing more space.

We have 2100 sq ft but would be looking for more storage, first floor master bedroom, and some upstairs bedrooms for visitors. Kind of backwards. More room for DW's quilting hobby, and garage space for my cars.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:31 PM   #31
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I bought a 900 sq ft brick ranch house when I relocated for retirement. My DD is with me now and it's OK, but I could use her room as the study I intended it to be! It will be soon when she goes away to college. I'll have a futon in there for visitors but will mostly be happy to have the place to myself.

I also have a full semi-finished basement which I thought I'd use as living space eventually, but I really like the feel of the upstairs as my space. Currently the basement is full of my "stuff". I plan to clear it out and have it be a reasonable storage space, laundry, and utility area.

More important to me is my garden space. I've ripped out all the grass, my front garden is about 5 years old (small trees and perennials) and looking really good. In the back I've put in a slate patio and a shade garden under a row of cedar trees. I am just getting ready to concentrate on rest of the landscaping in the sunny area out back.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:59 PM   #32
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We're in a quandry about what to do with our housing situation. We bought here three years ago, gutted the house (built 1991) and remodeled it. It's 2080 sq ft air conditioned space plus 250 sq ft screened lanai. 1/4 acre lot. One of the things I like about the location is the space around the house. I've lived in too many homes that were almost on top of each other. I need some space. The back yard backs up to an environmental area and directly across from that is a golf course. Lots of room. And it's quiet. Retirement community provides a lot of quiet due to age of residents. Median age is 75. No loud parties, no kids, loud cars, etc.

Wife wanted to move now into a more expensive area of the community where they are building new houses. I'm telling her it's a mistake because within three to five years there could be major changes in our lives. I will be 80. At that time we may be looking at an assisted living facility or worse. By real estate estimates it would cost $20-25k to sell our house and move to a smaller but same size house. Why spend that money? We have decided to stay put for another 5 years and then make the decision. If one of us should die within that 5 year timeframe, the decision might change again. It's hell getting old.
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:20 PM   #33
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Johnnie, good idea to wait. Your present home sounds lovely, and you have only been there three years. She may like it better once settled in a little more. Besides, who knows what the future may bring.
"You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." - - - C. Columbus
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:20 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by JOHNNIE36 View Post
It's hell getting old.

'til we consider the alternative!
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:22 PM   #35
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Our 2br 2ba condo at 1330 sf works for us. But I would prefer a 2 car garage instead of the small 2 car one that we have.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:49 PM   #36
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We built our home with early retirement in mind. DW wanted lots of space inside for her hobbies, and for the the kids to be able to come home with the grand kids, all at the same time. I wanted outdoor space, so we have a 4300 sq ft home on 2 acres, with the master suite on the ground floor (yes we have a big garden tub, and we have a two-person walk-in shower, no glass to clean, with a very low threshold...both are used regularly). I do not see this as a "forever" retirement home - it is too far from town, at about 8 miles from an 18,000 population community, and it will be too big for us to maintain when we are somewhere in our 8th decade of life. That said, we believe we have at the very least a good ten years ahead of us here, if not 20. Beyond that we will most likely sell and downsize. I would be fine with 1200-1300 feet, but DW will want a big family room, so minimum will be closer to 2000, I think. We'll see when the time comes, I suppose.

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Old 01-22-2013, 06:07 AM   #37
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We plan to stay put in our ~2000 sq ft townhouse but if we moved I would probably opt for a 2 bedroom with maybe 12-1500 sq ft. I would like all the amenities that the OP mentioned but I would also like some features that I doubt are available. I like the social aspects of a 55+ community (at least my imagined activities and socializing) but I also want the vibrant, diverse mix of a city center. And I want restaurants, libraries, etc within walking distance. I doubt I can do better than where I am for all of that. And I hope the "village" organization I am a member of and volunteer with will offer the social advantages I think I would like when I am older. Right now the majority of members are 10+ years older than me so I don't do a lot of socializing with them. But in a decade...?
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:49 AM   #38
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As DW and I look to downsize from ~ 4200 sq ft, we are looking for something in the 2000-2500 range. Probably more than is needed, but I want DW to have the dedicated library (with office space) she has always wanted, and I still would like to retain a media room. Hard to accommodate those in anything smaller.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:34 AM   #39
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We had a 4/2.5, 2250 sq ft house in Houston and it was too much house.

We now have a 2/1, 1150 sq ft house here and it's not enough house.

So I'm starting to think a 3/2 (or at least 3/1.5) with about 1500-1800 sq ft will be the sweet spot for the next place we buy (which may not be until retirement).
"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)
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It all depends on the people who will live there
Old 01-22-2013, 02:00 PM   #40
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It all depends on the people who will live there

A youngish couple who are my friends and who plan ER have always lived in one bedroom apartments, even though they are quite well off and could afford much more.

Neither of them is into remodeling or space requiring hobbies, and even less into ostentatious housing. So when they quit moving around for his work, they plan to live in a 2 bedroom condo in a very nice part of town.

So I don't think there is an ideal size retirement home. It depends on so many factors, maybe most of all the people who will live there, their relationships, tolerances and tastes.


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