Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Retirement Housing Lessons Learned
Old 01-22-2012, 04:16 PM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
Culture's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 445
Retirement Housing Lessons Learned

After 25 years of saving, my wife and I are starting our search for a retirement home (we are shutting down our business in 1.0 to 2.0 years). We are finding it much more difficult than we expected, possibly because this will only be the second home we have ever purchased. What lessons have you learned from purchasing a retirement home, both positive (we did this right) and negative (we did this wrong)? We are stuck on the normal issues, but I am sure there are others were have not even though about:

  1. Do we stay near family, if we do, does this mean in the same county or same state?
  2. New or used?
  3. Big, medium or small?
  4. If new, tract or custom?
  5. If used, remodeled or do-it-ourselves?
  6. Pool or no pool?
  7. Urban or suburban or rural?
  8. Acreage, normal lot or zero lot-line?
I realize everyone circumstances are different, but I am curious what others have found in their search. Just to give you an idea of what we are considering, our starting wish list is:


  1. On the fringes of the greater Houston area (25-35 miles to the city center).
  2. Large lot but not acreage (0.5 to 1.0 acres). I want a three car garage, separate shop building (600-1200 SF) and on-site RV storage, and that is the only way I can get these items.
  3. 2500-3000 SF. I would guess the average Houston residence is 2000 to 2250 SF in size.
  4. $300,000 - $400,000 budget, about double the average house cost in Houston.
  5. We are agnostic to new or used and are hoping looking at used homes will help us make a decision on this issue.
We will be 48-50 when we move, with no kids at home.



What is your lesson? Please no comments regarding HOAs (pro or con), that just seems to cause problems.


Thanks!
__________________

__________________
Culture is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 01-22-2012, 05:18 PM   #2
Moderator Emeritus
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 32,221
As you point out, these decisions are highly personal and individual circumstances vary widely, as do preferences. FWIW, here's information on what we did when I retired 7 years ago (DW retired 3 years prior to me). I was 58 and DW 56 at the time

Quote:
Originally Posted by Culture View Post
Do we stay near family, if we do, does this mean in the same county or same state?
We stayed near our two married children, in the same community with one and a 5 hour drive from the other. While this has both pros and cons, we are happy with our decison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Culture View Post
New or used?
Big, medium or small?
If new, tract or custom?
If used, remodeled or do-it-ourselves?
Pool or no pool?
Urban or suburban or rural?
Acreage, normal lot or zero lot-line?
We purchased five acres in a rural subdivision located 25 miles from the Alamo. Five years prior to retiring we had a 2,400 SF custom home built, no pool (way too much work to maintain for my tastes).

An big lesson learned was no matter how well you think you've planned things out, circumstances can change. We had no grandchildren when we signed the contract to build the house - less than nine years later we had five. The house we once thought maybe a bit big for just the two of us was very snug when all 11 of the family visited for the holidays. We ended up converting a 350 SF screened porch into a gameroom for the grandkids - and my sanity .
__________________

__________________
Numbers is hard...



REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 05:43 PM   #3
Recycles dryer sheets
Brdofpray's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Upstate SC
Posts: 209
We left Chicago so fast it would make your head spin. We purchased an unincorporated, 1.5 acre wooded ravine that runs down to a very large lake in SC. We built a custom home, no pool. The DW always wanted to build our own home and have the chance to create, and live in our own dirt. The home is larger than we thought we might actually need, but after a few family reunions, we are very glad we have the space. The cost of living in SC is so much less, our budget didn't even feel it. We do have an HOA. For the most part it is fine, although there are a few issues we are dealing with.

As far as family, both our kids were anxious to know where we would end up. Both wanted to follow us. (Go figure!) Our son and his wife (and now our first grand daughter) ended up moving 30 minutes away! Our daughter wants to move to the area as soon as she can find a job here. (Not so much for us, she and her brother are very close.)

All in all we feel very blessed, and are enjoying life to the fullest.
__________________
Don't sweat the small stuff! And realize, it is all small stuff!
Brdofpray is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 06:28 PM   #4
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
pb4uski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 6,168
We demolished and rebuilt our summer home but it is smaller than our former home (~1,900 sf vs ~3.700 sf). No pool (on a lake) and very rural on .7 acres.

Quite happy with the result but still getting used to being in a more rural area and less space.
__________________
pb4uski is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 08:25 PM   #5
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Ed_The_Gypsy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
Posts: 4,579
If you are open to buying an already-built home, we found that you could buy one with a pool for the same price as without.

Consider a condo. They will take care of the poo.l for you. And fish the snakes out of it for you.
__________________
"Ain't got no money for no old-age pension;
I'm so broke, I can't pay attention!"

"I started out with nothin' and I still got most of it left."
Ed_The_Gypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 08:32 PM   #6
Administrator
W2R's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 27,083
Right now I'm really glad that I have a home with low property taxes and low maintenance. That leaves me with some extra time and money for fun in retirement.

Which is not to say that I won't change my mind and buy a more expensive home one of these days. Changing her mind is a woman's prerogative, right?
__________________
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.”
- - Lao-tzu
W2R is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 08:36 PM   #7
Recycles dryer sheets
Culture's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
Consider a condo.
If I could get a condo with six car garage (three for cars and three for a shop) I would consider this. We expect to travel extensively and the condo seems idea for this. Lock the door and leave.
__________________
Culture is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 08:38 PM   #8
Recycles dryer sheets
Culture's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
An big lesson learned was no matter how well you think you've planned things out, circumstances can change.
I know this is true, but the engineer in me wants to plan for every contingency anyway :-).
__________________
Culture is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 09:23 PM   #9
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 687
I have lived in my current home (2500 SF)for 25+ years now. I am 59 and plan to stay as long as possible. Just across from my development there is a 55+ community should this home become too much to maintain. My neighbor just moved there.
Around the corner from that is an independent living facility with assisted living.

I think that I will stay in the area.
__________________
FreeAtLast is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 09:24 PM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Brat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 4,888
Proximity to family I found very important.

We moved to a co-op which has a 'community' feel within 20 minutes drive to one of our kids. The advantage over a condo is that residents must pay cash to buy (no foreclosure issues) and there is the some screening of new residents. The building is older, parking spaces were designed to accommodate big sedans of the late 60s.

Our first retirement home we build to accommodate visitors in a magnificent town. Well, parents became to ill to visit and the kids were too busy. Our co-op is smaller and we can accommodate guests in a nearby hotel (our 2nd bedroom we changed to a study).

Our home is close to a beautiful park on the west and the city center to the east. Within 4 blocks there is are 2 grocery stores & 3 pharmacies & high-end deli, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sanoma, Cost Plus, Restoration Hardware, and a Goodwill. I can actually do without a car when that time comes.
__________________
Duck bjorn.
Brat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 09:35 PM   #11
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,827
My parents spent 2 years locating and procuring their ideal retirement home. Then another year or two renovating to their liking. They use it as a destination for family get togethers, so adequate space for parties and visitors was important to them and they did this very well. They planned for extensive storage, but even so now wish that they had planned for more.

One thing they missed in their renovations was how use of the place changes if mobility becomes an issue. They could have incorporated more mobility accommodations: larger hallways and adequate door widths, easy to use handles, planning for usage patterns that avoid stairs, accessible bathrooms, and the like at the time of their original renovations very easily. Instead they went through several additional projects as these became more important to them.
__________________
growing_older is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 09:53 PM   #12
Moderator
Alan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Houston
Posts: 14,804
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat View Post
Proximity to family I found very important.
We thought so as well. Jan 2010 we ER'ed and moved to Texas, same town as DS and 3 hrs drive from DD. Last year we went to England on vacation and while we there DD moved to Seattle.

Oh well, it was good while it lasted....
__________________
Retired in Jan, 2010 at 55
Now it's adventure before dementia
Alan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 10:05 PM   #13
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Onward's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,434
Quote:
Originally Posted by Culture View Post
we are shutting down our business in 1.0 to 2.0 years
Wild guess: you're an engineer?

My US$0.02:

1. Don't buy a condo, especially if you think you would ever need to rent it out. Condo associations can make your life very, very frustrating. I have learned this the hard way.

2. Wherever you go, rent for at least 6 mos before buying.
__________________
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don't know.
Onward is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2012, 11:47 PM   #14
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Katsmeow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,447
Quote:
  1. Do we stay near family, if we do, does this mean in the same county or same state?
  2. New or used?
  3. Big, medium or small?
  4. If new, tract or custom?
  5. If used, remodeled or do-it-ourselves?
  6. Pool or no pool?
  7. Urban or suburban or rural?
  8. Acreage, normal lot or zero lot-line?
Coincidentally we are currently looking for a house in the general area you are mentioning. So I can discuss that area a bit and give my thoughts on the above.

We still have adolescent kids and decided to stay in the same general area although we may switch counties.

On the new or used, we've had, well, a saga. DH retired about a year and a half ago. At the time we had bought an older house and planned to do major remodeling. We were downsizing from about 4500 SF to a house that was about 2000 SF but we planned to add on 200 or 300 SF.

Anyway - long story short - the needed things to remodel the older house were going to be very expensive and we would still have a 30 year old house. We loved the lot and the location and most of the value was in it really so we decided to tear down and build new.

In the meantime, it took a long time to sell our existing large house. Sold it several months ago and have been working on a design for the house we planned to build.

Currently we have about decided not to build. Yes, we liked the idea of getting a house to our exact design. But in the current market you pay a huge premium for building new. I worked out that the net cost to build new would end up being a lot more than buying existing. Currently we haven't totally made up our mind but are leaning toward buying an existing house and doing minor remodeling only. That is, we would buy a house that might need new kitchen counters or might need a fence or barn (we are looking for 1 to 5 acres), but we would add on or doing major remodeling.

We had a pool at our last two houses and DH is adamant about no pools. I'm not quite as adamant but do agree they are a lot of upkeep. One factor is how wooded your yard is. Our last yard was very wooded and leaves constantly dropped in the pool making maintenance a hassle. At our house before that we didn't have that problem and taking care of the pool was much easier. We will probably get a hot tub though.

We have pets and need subdivisions which are pet friendly so we are mostly looking in the counties surrounding Houston. We rejected Brazoria and areas close to the Gulf (don't want hurricane hassles). We briefly looked in the Crosby area and there were some nice houses but we didn't like the area. We like Fort Bend County but there is not much that is pet friendly and it tends to be more expensive. Montgomery County and Waller County remain on the short list. Tomball is possible as well. With Waller County if it is too rural then you can't get cable internet or DSL and have to do satellite and that is a deal breaker for us.

Our basic location criteria (other than internet) is it must have a convenience store, gas station within 6 minutes, a grocery store within 15 min and a hospital within 30 minutes. This mostly leads to west of I 45 although the Lake Houston area is nice but houses on the east side of the lake fail the grocery store criteria.
__________________
Katsmeow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2012, 05:08 AM   #15
Moderator
MichaelB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: I'm not sure anymore
Posts: 13,527
One needs to make trade offs when making housing choices, and it is very important to be brutally honest with oneself and spouse before doing that. The issues here: new vs used, pool or not, bigger, urban vs rural, are all personal to each of us. My greatest need is a office, otherwise DW and I are in each other's way. Her greatest need is to have lots of shopping options nearby, so we got that. Everything else about the choices we made require give and take, and there was no perfect option. For me the most important thing is to be able to live with the choice you make.
__________________
Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo
MichaelB is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2012, 05:19 AM   #16
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Ronstar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Somewhere between Chicago and Phoenix
Posts: 2,943
Quote:
Originally Posted by Culture

If I could get a condo with six car garage (three for cars and three for a shop) I would consider this. We expect to travel extensively and the condo seems idea for this. Lock the door and leave.
I'm looking into 2 condos- a two bedroom with a 2 car garage, and a separate industrial condo for my workshop. The workshop would have to be within 10-15 minutes of the home. I haven't found an industrial condo in my area smaller than 1900 sf. I'm looking for around 1000 sf.

Maybe a similar 2 condo arrangement is a consideration in your case also.
__________________
Ronstar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2012, 06:16 AM   #17
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Midpack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 8,537
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
One needs to make trade offs when making housing choices, and it is very important to be brutally honest with oneself and spouse before doing that. The issues here: new vs used, pool or not, bigger, urban vs rural, are all personal to each of us. My greatest need is a office, otherwise DW and I are in each other's way. Her greatest need is to have lots of shopping options nearby, so we got that. Everything else about the choices we made require give and take, and there was no perfect option. For me the most important thing is to be able to live with the choice you make.
+1. My answers probably wouldn't apply to anyone else, these are all questions we have to answer for ourselves.
  • We haven't lived near family in over 30 years, though an understandable priority for most,
  • we've had new and used homes, both were fine though building was a PITA (not a given though),
  • have 2300 sf, next house closer to 1500 sf but high quality finishes/details,
  • had a pool, never again,
  • always lived in suburbs, want more urban (will probably rent to confirm before buying),
  • small lot, .25 acres or less (want some garden, not grass so much),
  • $250-$350K, lowish property taxes,
  • we will plan for future mobility, 1 story most likely, doors, flow, etc.
__________________
Nobody will look after your money/health/life better than you.

Retired Jun 2011 at age 57
Target AA: 55% equity funds / 40% bond funds / 5% cash
approx 20% SI (secure income, SS only)
Target WR: approx 2.5%
Midpack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2012, 06:30 AM   #18
Moderator Emeritus
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 32,221
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
With Waller County if it is too rural then you can't get cable internet or DSL and have to do satellite and that is a deal breaker for us.
Kats, you might be stuck with satellite for TV, but there may be another alternative for internet. We live too far out in the sticks for DSL but have two companies offering over-the-air internet service. Not sure what's available in Waller County but here's a company based out of Houston that may service the area: Broadband Internet | High-Speed Wireless Internet Service Provider Throughout Texas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
Our basic location criteria (other than internet) is it must have a convenience store, gas station within 6 minutes, a grocery store within 15 min and a hospital within 30 minutes.
Interesting criteria. We are 5 miles from the nearest convenience store/gas station, 12 miles from the nearest supermarket and 15 miles from the nearest hospital.
__________________
Numbers is hard...



REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2012, 07:12 AM   #19
Recycles dryer sheets
Culture's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by growing_older View Post
One thing they missed in their renovations was how use of the place changes if mobility becomes an issue.
We are limiting ourselves to single story houses for this reason. If we build custom, we will go full ADA.
__________________
Culture is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2012, 07:22 AM   #20
Moderator
Walt34's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Eastern WV Panhandle
Posts: 7,284
If there is a next time we will buy an existing home. In the end it worked out fine, but the builder's delays were more than I'm willing to put up with again. We ended up moving from the old house, putting most of our stuff into storage, and living with FIL for a month. Never again. FIL was okay (harder on DW than me) but the two moves were a PIA. If the next house isn't in move-in condition right now I don't want it.

A bit smaller home next time. This one is not grossly over sized but we don't use much of the space. We'd be just as happy with a smaller place with a similar layout. It's a rancher style because I've had knee surgery once and that is going to happen again so we needed everything on one floor. And I was going to use the large workshop area a lot more than I do. Apparently getting lost in building R/C airplanes was the major stress reliever from my old job. I've built one here and have yet to fly it.

A major criteria was to be within an hour of DW's family. In this regard it's a smashing success; the drive is an easy 30-35 minutes and traffic is never an issue.

We also have a hospital, grocery stores, and a small shopping mall within ten minutes. Both DSL and cable internet are available.

The main thing I don't like is winter weather. Upon retiring I had hoped to never see snow again. Oh well, can't have it all.
__________________

__________________
I heard the call to do nothing. So I answered it.
Walt34 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Are You Saving Too Much for Retirement? cscott711 FIRE and Money 22 01-09-2012 07:49 AM
GAO Report on Retirement Income Purron FIRE and Money 5 07-17-2011 02:27 PM
Mid 40's looking for soft retirement in 8yrs, 9 months and 23 days sspribyl Hi, I am... 0 07-17-2011 12:34 PM
New York Times Article addressing the Housing Slump nico08 FIRE and Money 14 07-12-2011 02:20 PM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:41 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Early Retirement News right to your Email!

Stay up-to-date with all the latest news to your inbox!

unsusbcribe at anytime with one click

Close [X]