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The Retirement House
Old 11-13-2012, 03:52 PM   #1
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The Retirement House

There's a difference between what we wanted/liked at age 57, and today, in our 77th year. It changed slowly but surely over the years but one of the major differences is that of the house in which we live. It's all a process... a work in progress. We still have a mobile home in Florida, and a camp on a lake, nearby, here in Illinois... but that will soon be changing as the upkeep, cost, and work involved is becoming more difficult to handle and control.

That said, the purpose here is to pass on, and listen to other thoughts as to the house... the next-to final resting place. Perhaps a check off list of what to look for in a retirement house. Everybody doesn't like vanilla, but here's what we found.

Lower middle income town, but in the better section. Small town...17000, at a transportation hub for travel Fed routes 80 and 39 junction. Two stoplights, 2nd best hospital in Il, low taxes, extremely low electric rates, central shopping/eating for a 50 mile radius, all major stores, low crime rate. Could walk to farthest store... Walmart... 1 1/2 mile.

We live in a unitary senior community (complex) of houses, apartments, assisted living, nursing home rehab center and Alzheimers unit... all built since 2000.

So, NO... not for you, at least today.
.................................................. ......

....But... the Retirement House...

1500 sf. More would be too much
Services provided .... lawn, shrubs, trees and snow removal.
Exterior... Brick and Siding... no maintenance.
As close to zero upkeep as we've ever seen
Lightposts and front entrance lights provide community lighting.
Energy efficient... vaulted ceilings.
Two + car garage. Build in wall storage.
Gas Fireplace... a 100% necessity
Modern Kitchen, Glass top range, large refrigerator, dishwasher, disposal microwave... and much sotrage
All kitchen and bathroom cabinets have wood roll-out shelves
Levered door handles, not knobs
Single levered faucets, temperature controlled shower
An excess of electrical outlets... all at 2 ft. from floor or waist high
!2 outlets in Kitchen
Emergency pulls in four rooms
No stairs
No door sills anywhere in the house...
Carpeting throughout house (hardwood is nice, but not for a fall)
Shower with seat and multiple handholds... can be wheelchair accessible
Two baths... one with tub
B-i-i-g double walk in closet in master bedroom
Pre wired for TV, phone and internet in living room, bedrooms and den
All wide (wheelchair wide) doors throughout the home.
Large Pantry in kitchen - for fewer trips to store.
Separate laundry room.
Open kitchen/dining/great room
Ceiling fans all rooms
Walk out Barbecue integral outside deck
Energy efficient windows all rooms
Senior Tax Freeze
Homestead exemption
Our choice interior all white
Small, but perfect for us


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Old 11-13-2012, 04:46 PM   #2
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Sounds very nice, imoldernu.

Another elderly-friendly feature that my house has, is that the washer and dryer are in a laundry closet less than 10 feet from my clothes closets, dresser, and bed. Very convenient and no need to lug laundry from room to room as I grow older. An alternative might be to use some sort of cart for laundry as one grows older and weaker.

Also, while my house is only 1600 square feet, I do have a large dedicated home gym room (formerly a dining room or parlor) which may be handy when I can no longer drive to the gym. All I have in there right now is my exercycle, TV, Wii Fit, and a few dumbbells, but I have determined where in that room I could fit a treadmill, universal gym, Concept2 rowing machine, and so on, if/when I think I would use them at home.

Living close to grocery store, restaurants, and medical offices would be convenient when one no longer drives, too. I am 0.5 - 1.5 miles from such places but wish I was closer.

I have thought a lot about perhaps living in my present house until my final days, because I just love my house. I think I could do it, possibly with a few upgrades and changes as needed later on (re-doing my bathroom to make it wheelchair accessible and with more handicap friendly features would be the main upgrade). If my vision ever failed me in old age, I think I could learn to get around my house very easily because I know every square inch of it so well.
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Old 11-13-2012, 04:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
...(snip)...
That said, the purpose here is to pass on, and listen to other thoughts as to the house... the next-to final resting place. Perhaps a check off list of what to look for in a retirement house. Everybody doesn't like vanilla, but here's what we found.
From your post I'm guessing that this is on your list as a top choice and the decision has not yet been made? Just trying to clarify.

It looks very neat and comfortable!

We are just kids on the threshold of Medicare coverage (next year). So I don't have specific thoughts but will be interested how this thread develops.

Since we moved from a 1500 sq ft up to 3000 some years ago, we'd have a devil of a time giving up all that room plus deciding how to part with all the neat stuff we enjoy (art room fully equipped, all things out in my garage, my Dad's tools I still use, etc.). Occasionally we talk about what's next in the misty future.
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:25 PM   #4
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Our "problem" is having a fantastic location with quiet, low traffic, and decent neighbors.

Our house is way bigger than our needs, but any attempt to downsize is likely to make us unhappier about noise, traffic, & neighbors.

Besides, the yardwork will keep me exercising for the rest of my life...
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:30 PM   #5
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Our "problem" is having a fantastic location with quiet, low traffic, and decent neighbors.

Our house is way bigger than our needs, but any attempt to downsize is likely to make us unhappier about noise, traffic, & neighbors.

Besides, the yardwork will keep me exercising for the rest of my life...
What's the plan at age 77?
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:39 PM   #6
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It's beautiful! I just love it. Hope you are very happy and comfortable in this place.
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:40 PM   #7
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Carpeting would be easier for a fall I suppose. However, I will always have either laminate or hardwood flooring because it's cleaner/much easier to clean. I also assume it would be difficult to roll around in a wheelchair over carpet.

Some folks say a floor without carpeting or rugs is cold. House shoes with a good grip on the bottom will take care of that problem.
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:44 PM   #8
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What about hardwood floors with area rugs (Oriental carpets)? That's what we have in several rooms including the kitchen.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:06 PM   #9
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What about hardwood floors with area rugs (Oriental carpets)? That's what we have in several rooms including the kitchen.
I think that's nice too.

Rugs that don't slide around are safe. I removed most of the old small rugs from my dad's house. They were either slippery or they bunched up..I was afraid he would fall.

It's whatever kicks yer chicken I guess.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:28 PM   #10
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All hardwood floors in kitchen, living room, and dining room. I have a similar type of rug underlay as shown at this site, under every area rug and runner in the house.
Non Slip Rug Underlay Search Results | Overstock.com, Page 1
I would not trust the felt pad versions (alone) found at the bottom of the webpage.

For edges that insist on curling up, I use a sturdy type of tape rolled back on itself (sticky side out) to secure the edge to the floor.

No slip. No trip.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:32 PM   #11
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Looks great. I like the teddy bear.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:38 PM   #12
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In my original post, I mentioned a "Unitary" community. This is a fairly recent (maybe 15 years) concept. While our community is not gated, others are. The owner/builder of our "Village" has some 20 other communities in Illinois, Iowa and Nevada. I have looked and found dozens of similar communities in many other states. Am not promoting ours or any other community, but googling simplythefinest should give an idea of the kind of communities that are available.
One of the options that is meaningful to older retirees, is the "what if" factor. This could be health, death of a spouse, or loss of income. One of our thoughts was that by owning the house outright would provide a sinking fund to make the natural move into the apartments that are part of the complex.

The natural move for us would be to the onsite apartments, and the benefit would be a known cost of living. It works like this:
Quote:
What is included with the month-to-month rent?
A. The monthly rental fee includes: two meals per day, weekly housekeeping, scheduled transportation to and from shopping and other activities, beauty/barber shop, all utilities including cable or satellite TV depending on location (excluding telephone), complete building and grounds maintenance, and peace of mind for your family knowing you are in a safe environment.
On some other threads, the question came up about running out of money or a catastophic loss. If we were pushed to our "austerity plan", we figure that between SS and the income from the sale of the house, this apartment rental package would keep us safe for 20 years.

BTW the apartments and the common areas are quite elegant.

The other possibility would be the assisted living option, rehab, or nursing home all in the same community. No need to move or make new friends in the later years.

Don't get me wrong... we're not there yet, but its part of our planning. Just in case, we've picked out a similar arrangement in Florida.

Doesn't hurt to look ahead to something besides the money part of retirement.
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:11 PM   #13
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What about hardwood floors with area rugs (Oriental carpets)? That's what we have in several rooms including the kitchen.
That is what we have except for the kitchen. That is tiled .
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:41 PM   #14
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What's the plan at age 77?
Yeah, I'm gonna have to get me one of those someday. Only 25 years to go...

I've been cutting back on the water to the backslope, which has really slowed down the growth. After that reaches diminishing returns, though, I'm going to have to go with groundskeepers. The "problem" is that I only prune the bougainvillea every 6-8 weeks, and they're going to want to make more regular visits. But something needs pruning & hauling every two weeks, so maybe they could just rotate from one growing shrub/tree to the next.

We used to have a terrible haole koa infestation on our lawn/backslope. I spent five years planting yellow oleander further down the slope (trespassing onto the gulch owner's property, but he doesn't care) to crowd out the haole koa seedlings. The yellow oleander have crowded out most of the haole koa and the California grass (which is quite an accomplishment) and they're spreading downslope. I used to have to weedwhack down there 4x/year, too, but now it's down to once every few years.

Spouse has this cherished illusion contingency plan that our daughter is going to someday want to send her kids to the same high school she attended. In that case we'd turn this white elephant over to her and move into our rental property.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:54 PM   #15
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One other item is have no step to enter the shower, or indeed go as far as a hotel I stayed in in Hannover, where the shower and the regular floor are all one, just add an additional drain. And then grab bars around the toilets as well as the shower and tub.
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Old 11-13-2012, 09:43 PM   #16
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imoldernu,
The features of the house look well thought out, and the photo looks great. Like some others, I'd probably prefer something other than carpet, but that's a small point. Other nice-to-haves might include:
-- An alarm system (is there private security in this encampment/commune?)
-- IR switches that turn on the lights automatically (can be handy as we shuffle along with a walker or full hands and eyes that don't perform as well in low light)
-- Wheelchairs, carts, walkers, etc can be pretty tough on the walls. I wonder if appropriate height "chair rails" and corner protection might be useful when the time comes. At least in heavily trafficked areas.
-- Toilets: We've already got the higher-than-standard ones, and it's nice. We also have one toilet lid with a slow-close feature. I laughed at the idea, but now I think it's convenient just to start it moving and not worry about stooping to close it quietly. Dang-, I get lazier and lazier!

I'm re-doing some walls in one of our bathrooms and taking the opportunity to install blocking for grab bars for later installation. I'm taking photos and notes, but I'm sure I'll either forget I did it or lose my records if I ever need to put them in. Maybe I should just put 'em in now.
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Old 11-13-2012, 11:41 PM   #17
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What a neat list. I never would have thought about the electric outlets being waist height, but I totally understand the need.

The house we just bought used to be a small retirement home, so we already have an extra wide hallway.

I personally don't want a glass top range, but the gas range was the main reason we moved my grandpa into a rest home, as we couldn't trust him to not burn down the house. I think the glass top range would be a lot safer.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:54 AM   #18
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There's a difference between what we wanted/liked at age 57, and today, in our 77th year. It changed slowly but surely over the years but one of the major differences is that of the house in which we live. It's all a process... a work in progress. We still have a mobile home in Florida, and a camp on a lake, nearby, here in Illinois... but that will soon be changing as the upkeep, cost, and work involved is becoming more difficult to handle and control.


I could dig that. Do you still get down to Florida to your mobile home?

My situation right now calls for me to live in a not so great neighborhood, but close to my mom so I can check on her through out the day. She's 95. I have always thought after she's gone I would sell both houses in this neighborhood and move to a nicer area. But now I'm thinking I might just sell my house and keep my mother's house for my home base. And have something like you in FL or the AL coast. Nothing fancy or expensive. Being single all I need is something to keep the rain off my head. Stay simple so I can float between the 2 locations and travel some down the road. That's my thinking as of now anyway.

Hopefully I keep my health I can stay in my home and take care of myself. One good thing about this neighborhood is I'm close to everything I need. And if I can't, there are decent assisted living housing in town. So.....time will tell how it all pans out.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:59 AM   #19
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I guess we're a bit different in our "retirement house", which we have already executed.

Our current (retirement) home isn't that big by most conventional standards (2400 sq ft, on just over an acre), but it's the first home that we designed/built with our own "desires", based upon our age, and also looking down the road a few years, to retirement and based upon the likes/dislikes of the homes we had in the past (this is our 4th home we owned - not counting rentals in our early years).

Is it "too large" for a retiree? Nope. We lived with much less square footage, both in house footprint, and surrounding grounds in our early years; we're not about to give up what we desired (over many years) just because of age.

Do we plan on downsizing due to the "what if" situation of aging? Nope. While we (both retired, in our mid 60's) can currently do the upkeep, we do know that in the forseeable future, we will not be able to do so. While "senior housing" in our area is expanding, we have yet to visit a development (including the community center and all outside maintenance provided) that matches our lifestyle. Heck, none of them have "Frisbee room" in their yard for our dogs ...

We planned on the financial side to ensure that we planned and ensured we would have more than the required $$$ for others to perform the functions that we (at any time) would not be able to do. I guess you can say it's senior housing without the seniors (other than us ).

Rather than downsize the house/grounds, we took the path of covering our future expenses of having somebody else assist/do the work that will allow us to remain "in place" for the forseeable future.

There is no reason to give up a certain lifestyle, if it's what you desire, due to age assuming you planned/executed the "what if's".

Of course, we did not retire on a shoestring, but for many years of an LBYM lifestyle, along with saving/investing a good deal of our income over three decades of w*rk.

With some planning and some luck, we're fortunate to be living the life we planned for - many years ago. No reason to reduce our lifestyle since we're fortunate to have well exceeded our retirement financial goals.

We're actually living the life of our neighbors of the last two homes we owned; each of them had "their man" to do the maintenance chores (along with maid service to clean) that our neighbors could no longer do (or did not want to do). Based upon their experience/lifestyle, we will be following in their footsteps. BTW, both couples passed on in their 80-90's while "aging in place" and still in the homes they desired, when they passed on.

BTW, our first two "abodes" were mobile homes (one rented - in Florida, one purchased - our current area). Regardless of the current style, no way in h*** would you get me (or DW) back into that style of living. Been there - done that; no thanks ...

Just my/our comment on the thread.
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:30 AM   #20
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Quote:
The features of the house look well thought out, and the photo looks great. Like some others, I'd probably prefer something other than carpet, but that's a small point. Other nice-to-haves might include:
-- An alarm system (is there private security in this encampment/commune?)
-- IR switches that turn on the lights automatically (can be handy as we shuffle along with a walker or full hands and eyes that don't perform as well in low light)
-- Wheelchairs, carts, walkers, etc can be pretty tough on the walls. I wonder if appropriate height "chair rails" and corner protection might be useful when the time comes. At least in heavily trafficked areas.
-- Toilets: We've already got the higher-than-standard ones, and it's nice. We also have one toilet lid with a slow-close feature. I laughed at the idea, but now I think it's convenient just to start it moving and not worry about stooping to close it quietly. Dang-, I get lazier and lazier!

I'm re-doing some walls in one of our bathrooms and taking the opportunity to install blocking for grab bars for later installation. I'm taking photos and notes, but I'm sure I'll either forget I did it or lose my records if I ever need to put them in. Maybe I should just put 'em in now.
Excellent points... I did neglect to mention the raised toilet, and the extra grab bars which we have in the master bath. We do have the emergency alert system built in with string pulls, and fire alarms integrated, with the ability to expand for break ins, motion circuits etc... It's there, but not tied in, as the $30/mo. fee doesn't seem necessary yet.

I appreciate all the comments on carpeting. For us, the warmth of carpet is good, and we've always had it. FWIW, the quality of the carpeting that was originally installed was so good, that now, with ten years use it is almost brand new... tightly packed pile, with a smooth finish. I do the cleaning myself because it's so easy.

I would never, try to change minds about the place to live, or the house to live in, but to simply offer some of the points that were/are important to us.

I do believe that one of the things that gets lost in the telling, when it comes to the "later years", is that of being part of the community. The social and mutual help part of living, when the travel and the cruises and beaches and parties don't play as much a part of the waking hours. For almost everyone here, this is not a concern, yet.... so not to worry, but moving from a neighborhood where you've lived for a long time, is not as easy a transition, as when you are younger.

Fortunately, we have the best of both worlds now, with a super active community in Florida where we know all of the 500+ residents, and their dogs.... and are now assimilating into the lifestyle of our northern home.

BTW... 77 isn't too bad at all. It's only lately that I've felt like I'm leaving my teen years, and entering early middle age.
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