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last house before retiring .. or condo?
Old 09-19-2018, 01:50 PM   #1
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last house before retiring .. or condo?

I am facing retiring within 2 years, my DW within 4 yrs. We'd like to downsize one more time to something that we can live in another 20 yrs ... until we go to a CCRC.

Our dream house would be a modest size 1-level house (ranch?) with small, flat yard for easy entry and flat driveway. We want to minimize stairs as much as possible as we age. We've been looking all summer and the only things that come up are either old houses in bad shape or, expensive new construction.

So now I'm thinking maybe we give up on a 1st floor Master and prioritize a flat yard. Another thought is look for a decent attached or free-standing condo. We're considering that as well.

Anyone else face this choice?? .. what have you found and settled with?

BTW, we are in New Hampshire and plan to stay in the area. Our current house is worth $475K and we owe $330K on it. We'll carry a mortgage into retirement but, don't want that to increase.


thx
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Old 09-19-2018, 02:04 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by albireo13 View Post
I am facing retiring within 2 years, my DW within 4 yrs. We'd like to downsize one more time to something that we can live in another 20 yrs ... until we go to a CCRC.

Our dream house would be a modest size 1-level house (ranch?) with small, flat yard for easy entry and flat driveway. We want to minimize stairs as much as possible as we age. We've been looking all summer and the only things that come up are either old houses in bad shape or, expensive new construction.

So now I'm thinking maybe we give up on a 1st floor Master and prioritize a flat yard. Another thought is look for a decent attached or free-standing condo. We're considering that as well.

Anyone else face this choice?? .. what have you found and settled with?

BTW, we are in New Hampshire and plan to stay in the area. Our current house is worth $475K and we owe $330K on it. We'll carry a mortgage into retirement but, don't want that to increase.


thx
My house is just as you describe and I think those are great criteria for us as we grow older. At my house there are 1-2 steps getting into the side door or the front door, but the back door only has a bump about an inch high that would be easy to navigate with a wheelchair (if I ever needed to be in a wheelchair). It is a one story house built on a slab with a large detached garage just a few feet away, out that back door. It was built in 1965, is in very good shape, and cost me less than half of what you are budgeting. I also like that the interior is elderly/disabled friendly, which will help as I grow older. You know, grab bars, wide doorways, and so on. The prior owner was a very old lady in a wheelchair so she had all the modifications done already.

There are lots of houses like this in the US. I have never been to New Hampshire, though, and have no idea of what is available and not available there. Still, I would urge you to continue your search. It took me 4 years of browsing realtor dot com and driving around my target neighborhoods and going to open houses and so on, before I found the perfect house for me. When I did, I jumped on it and managed to buy it.
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Old 09-19-2018, 02:15 PM   #3
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We got lucky and bought a brand new house in WV that is a ranch style. I'd already had surgery on one knee and I'm sure it'll happen again so we made sure to buy a house that one could live on one level. It does have a basement that is ~1/3 finished off and that makes a big downstairs "2nd family room". The unfinished (workshop) area is huge - there's room to build a small cabin cruiser in there if one could figure a way to get it out when done without tearing down a concrete wall.
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Old 09-19-2018, 02:19 PM   #4
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Does what you want just not exist in your area, or is it simply that none are on the market? If the latter, just be patient and keep a vigilant watch, like W2R did. If it doesn't exist, you have to be the one to decide what to compromise on. Condos and townhouses usually have less privacy and shared walls that can be noisy, but some are set up with just a garage as a shared wall, or maybe that and a spare bedroom not often used. Or maybe a not-so-flat lot works as long as you have easy entry from the garage. Not sure what other reasons you have for wanting a flat lot. You can have someone else care for it if it's too much for you.
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Old 09-19-2018, 02:29 PM   #5
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I think stairs are good for you. We bought a house with stairs when we retired. We plan on moving to stair-less when we are forced to, or maybe in our 80's.
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Old 09-19-2018, 02:34 PM   #6
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Condominium living is not for everybody. It can be a good lesson in the town-hall politics of majority rules. One gives up certain rights to avoid some of the work of owning a home, and to share the expenses of certain luxuries such as a pool, workout room, gardeners, etc.

I live in a town home community and I enjoy it. But, I must admit one of my pet peeves is people who move in, usually did not bother to read the rules and regs, and then are shocked than they can't paint their front door bright purple, park their brother-in-law's junker car for weeks and months on the property, and grow their own vegetable garden on common ground.

One popular thing in my area are the restrictions on rentals in general and short term rentals (read AirBnB) especially. Yet, people buy condos thinking that is how they will pay for them! One young couple I know bought a very expensive Condo in a nearby big city downtown thinking they would make the payments using Airbnb. Surprise! Short term rentals under 6 months are forbidden. None of their neighbors seem to want to live in a hotel. Imagine that!

Keep in mind that most Condo boards are made up of unpaid volunteers.

Warnings aside, I like condo living, being able to lock the door and leave for weeks or months at a time and not have to worry about gardening, etc. I have served on my Board of Directors and participated on various study groups to help make decisions. Whatever time that took was far less than the time I used to spend mowing lawns, trimming hedges, clearing fallen tree branches, etc. etc. etc.
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Old 09-19-2018, 03:38 PM   #7
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Our home is similar to what you are looking for and we designed it that way. Main floor is 3 steps above grade and have kitchen, dining and living areas, guest powder room and master bedroom suite with 3/4 bath. We have a walkout basement with the walkout facing the lake. Downstairs we have two guest bedrooms, a full bath, family room, and laundry/utility room.

If/when the stairs are a burden we can easily add a ramp to the entry and convert the pantry that backs agains the powder room to a laundry and have one floor living.
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Old 09-19-2018, 03:44 PM   #8
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We don’t have to go up and down stairs to get into our house. We go though our garage most of the time, pretty flat.
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Old 09-19-2018, 04:21 PM   #9
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I think stairs are good for you. We bought a house with stairs when we retired. We plan on moving to stair-less when we are forced to, or maybe in our 80's.
Stairs are good for you, until, possibly, the early 80s. My mom came to visit me in Monterey once, at around age 75. When she arrived, she had a hard time climbing two flights. When she left, it was effortless.
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Old 09-19-2018, 04:32 PM   #10
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Stairs are good for you, until, possibly, the early 80s. My mom came to visit me in Monterey once, at around age 75. When she arrived, she had a hard time climbing two flights. When she left, it was effortless.
My dad is 85 and lives in a four-story townhouse that he and Mom moved into ten years ago. "Motion is lotion! Use it or lose it!" are his mantras. But he also still rides his bike almost every day of the week.
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Old 09-19-2018, 04:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by albireo13 View Post
Our dream house would be a modest size 1-level house (ranch?) with small, flat yard for easy entry and flat driveway. We want to minimize stairs as much as possible as we age. We've been looking all summer and the only things that come up are either old houses in bad shape or, expensive new construction.
Yup. In the New England area they don't seem to be building a lot of ranches these days.

Quote:
Anyone else face this choice?? .. what have you found and settled with?
We purchased a semi-detached two story home in a HOA within an over-55 community in Maine.

We purchased it about 6.5 years ago to be our weekend/vacation home with the potential to be our retirement home. Once my wife retires next year we'll be there full time.

The bottom floor is designed to be senior-friendly and has the master bedroom and bath along with everything we need should we want 1-floor living. The upstairs has a family room, along with 3 bedrooms and a bathroom for guests. We've been babysitting our grandchildren each Thursday night and Friday, and we have their bedrooms upstairs, and we play together in the family room when we are indoors. Other than that, we are mostly downstairs.

The HOA fees cover the outside of the house, all the landscaping and all the plowing. The neighbors are wonderful people. It's a very short walk to the beach. We love it.

Quote:
BTW, we are in New Hampshire and plan to stay in the area. Our current house is worth $475K and we owe $330K on it. We'll carry a mortgage into retirement but, don't want that to increase.
Other than the property taxes, New Hampshire is nice. Our home in Maine is about 15 minutes from the NH line. We appreciate the lack of sales taxes!

We also have a mortgage on this home with 25 years remaining at a 3.875% rate. Right now we don't plan to pay it off once we sell our primary residence and move there next year. That might change, but I doubt it.
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Old 09-19-2018, 05:28 PM   #12
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The attached photo is our retirement home. One floor, minimal steps 1400 sq ft.
We paid about $200 K for it as a manufactured home in a +55 mobile home park.
Just enough dirt to have flowers, etc, and I grow tomatoes behind the house.. The most difficult part was downsizing from 2 1800 sq ft homes we each lived in for about 30 years.
P.S. We are in Southern California
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Old 09-19-2018, 06:11 PM   #13
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Town home here for over 20 years.

Our development is filled with older couples who sold their big house after the kids left & didn't want to have to do outside maintenance anymore.
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Old 09-19-2018, 06:14 PM   #14
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We have moved to the country , but will probably buy a townhouse in a few . Just lock and leave . No real maintenance .
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Old 09-19-2018, 06:15 PM   #15
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We’re facing the same decision, and though we could save money and maintenance with a condo and it is tempting, I am not willing to risk don’t want the potential noise, firewall, parking hassles of a condo. DW is already had it with stairs at 62, so we’re going with a ranch SFH, early next year if our current house sells. They’re not common in many cities/regions, but where we’re looking they do exist - new and recent construction. So that’s what we’ll end up with.
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Old 09-19-2018, 06:22 PM   #16
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6 years ago we bought a ranch which is common here. The younger husband has a bad knee. I actually love it too. 1400 sq ft so just the right size. Astro-turf with plants on a sprinkler system.
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Old 09-19-2018, 06:38 PM   #17
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I know I posted most of this somewhere but can't find it.

We bought into the Villa (regular home) part of our CCRC while we were still doing the snowbird bit...
Back up a bit ... we lived in a 2500sf home in Lisle Il, (close to Naperville). Moved into a park model in Woodhaven Lakes Campground, and did the 6 and 6 in Florida. 1989-2004.... bought in Liberty Village, Peru, IL.... and moved in full time in 2012.

Two reasons... One... would likely be our last house, and would be an easy transition to Independent living or assisted living or whatever.. in a complex where we were comfortable, and knew everyone.

So... the home. In our CCRC, you own the home, but become part of the community for whatever activities interest you, and are automatically first in line to move into any other part of the community.

The home is built for seniors. About 1600SF... 15 ft Vaulted ceiling, great room, modern kitchen, two BR, 2 BA, and a third BR or den. Two car garage. The interior:

Safe carpeting throughout except the kitchen and bath. Important for seniors.
Wall plugs at 2 feet, no sills between rooms or on outside doors. , levered door handles, multiple switches for lighting, doorways wheelchair wide, low sill shower, raised toilet in master BR, emergency buttons is all rooms, 6 large fixtured closets, pantry closet, all kitchen undercounter storage has slide out drawers/shelves, fireplace, all rooms wired for internet and tv.
HOA $150/mo. provides all lawn care, shrub and tree care, snow removal... sometimes three times a day, exterior lighting maintenance, exterior house trim care... painting or aluminum trim, sidewalk maintenance and flower spotting along all walkways and streets. Fans in every room and central air.
Garage has along the wall shelving and convenience racks.

our house;
https://libertyvillageofperu.com/villas.htm
.................................................. .................................................. .....

When we moved in, we never gave any of these features a second thought. Never planned for or considered what they would mean to us. Now... every single feature is appreciated like you can't know.

We've been here for fourteen years, comfortable and happy.

Thinking about the future? Yes... We know and expect that at some point we'll decide to live more simply... with meals prepared and trips and shopping provided for by the CCRC. We'll move to the apartments, or if necessary, assisted living.

This isn't everyones bag... Many, if not most people want to stay where they are forever. We understand, and at one time, that was our idea. Now we've been spoiled and a bit lazy about long term planning.
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Old 09-19-2018, 06:40 PM   #18
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I bought a townhouse 2 years ago. It is 2 stories but has a ground floor bedroom and full bath, with wide hallways and open plan for ease of getting around. The entry is fairly level. That said, I agree with what some others have said - I think stairs are a benefit to well being.
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Old 09-19-2018, 06:48 PM   #19
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No condos for me, if it’s like apartment. However, I wouldn’t mind downsizing to a small home like the one my sister has if I’m by myself. At my current home, we can live completely on the first floor. No big Master bedroom downstairs, but decent size. No jacuzzi nor bath tube on the first floor, but I can use the local jacuzzi, if I need to. But our stairs are very comfortable, not steep, not U.K. steep at least.

I like new single family homes. The yard is small here, I joke it’s like a condo because of the small yard, no grass to cut, just cactus and palms. I don’t like ranch style so much because it’s mostly older homes. I’m going to spend a lot of money on repairs if I live in one of them.
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Old 09-19-2018, 06:56 PM   #20
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We totally renovated our 1950 ranch when we bought it so nothing left to do. Personally I hate carpet. I have allergies and asthma so do better without it. Plus have pets. Carpet is impossible to throughly clean. All the new homes here don’t even have it.
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