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What is your preferred Home in Retirement? SF, Condo, Townhouse, APT?
Old 08-06-2017, 02:18 PM   #1
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What is your preferred Home in Retirement? SF, Condo, Townhouse, APT?

We are at the stage where we want to downsize, we have a SF quite large home. It does have a lot of upkeep but nothing unmanageable. I am wondering what other folks think about this subject. What would your ideal retirement home be?
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Old 08-06-2017, 02:32 PM   #2
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We are at the stage where we want to downsize, we have a SF quite large home. It does have a lot of upkeep but nothing unmanageable. I am wondering what other folks think about this subject. What would your ideal retirement home be?
Isn't this pretty much up to you?

There will be those who might say that they prefer any of these, and for the most part they will have little or no experience with many of them, and even more certainly they will have no experience with trying any of these at various older ages and with differing health and impediments.

I used to live on an island. Often fine for a young person, but not too good when somebody gets cancer and needs chemo. Not pleasant to thing about, but it should be fairly obvious that one can become marooned by negative health changes in a condition of little or no public transportation and meaningful distances to quality medical care.

I knew people who mainly spent a lot of painful time back and forth on the freeway to big city, and all they had wanted was what they envisioned as a pleasant retirement change from hard charging work life.

Ha
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Old 08-06-2017, 02:36 PM   #3
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We are on a waiting list for a SF home in one of the Homewood communities. They have several types, varying from apartments to SF houses or duplexes, some with and some without garages. Admittance is pricey though. We are open to considering other locations, we are not mentally "locked in" to that organization.

What I like about the SF houses is that all the maintenance (except decorating of course) is done by the CCRC. So if the furnace dies or the roof leaks, they fix it. They also do all the exterior maintenance (again, except for decorative things like a flower or veggie garden) such as lawn care and snow removal. FIL was at the Williamsport, MD nursing home for ~10 months and we were impressed with the care he received.
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Old 08-06-2017, 03:40 PM   #4
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We had owned and lived in houses since 1985 and last summer bought a condo for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoy condo living and no outdoor chores (other than wash the outside of the windows and entry door).

As much as I enjoy condo living, I don't see us selling our lakefront home anytime soon. Similar to the OP, the maintenance is very managable and at some point we'll just hire it out... for what I pay each year in condo HOA fees I could easily have our lakefront home taken care of but at this point it gives us things to do and we still enjoy it.
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Old 08-06-2017, 03:52 PM   #5
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We're now in a two-story townhouse condo: kitchen and dining/living room on ground level, two bedrooms on the upper level, about 1380 square feet in all. There's an unimproved full walk-out basement should we ever need more space, but what we've got is just about perfect for the two of us. I can keep up with it. I could never keep up with the big vertical place we used to own.
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Old 08-06-2017, 03:56 PM   #6
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At this point, SF for sure. I like my privacy and I like quiet. I don't mind upkeep, and if it gets too much for me I'll go with a smaller SF and/or get help with it.

My parents live in a condo-type retirement center. It's good for them because they can no longer drive, and they just take the elevator and a short walk inside to get their meals and have their social interactions. It's also well-built and seems very quiet inside their unit. Someday I might be in something similar and that will be fine, but it's not my preferred home.
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Old 08-06-2017, 04:04 PM   #7
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I moved around a lot as a single, so I was usually a renter. But on the few occasions when I had long term assignments, I bought condos. So I knew I liked that housing style.

When we got married, DW owned a nice home so I sold my condo and moved there. Great neighborhood, but high maintenance house. We subsequently moved into two other great houses and each had its charm, but I knew someday I'd have enough of the maintenance and want to bail out.

Kept looking and two years ago found a condo that looked perfect. We bought it and now we are still giddy with happiness that we actually did find the perfect place for us. Think W2R with her Dream Home and you get the idea.

So I would say that the key is to know what you want. If you've never lived in a condo, you may not even know the right questions to ask. So if that interests you, then talk to people who live in condos.

We are hoping to make our next move with toe tags attached, but practically we'll probably move to a CCRC eventually.
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Old 08-06-2017, 04:08 PM   #8
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We've lived in three single family homes since 1981. Not sure we could ever go back to multifamily or any variant thereof. I don't do well with HOAs and rules and... well, other people too close. We are looking to downsize at some point. No hurry though. Currently 4500 sqft on 2.2 acres with a pool and small lake. Our ideal downsize would be 2-2-2, 2300 sqft, 1 acre, trees, nice view, detached shop, and small pool.
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Old 08-06-2017, 04:11 PM   #9
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We bought a condo. Not only is it easy to maintain, but it has added lots of impromptu social interactions and new friendships which are important when social contacts from work no longer occur.
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Old 08-06-2017, 04:11 PM   #10
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We are at the stage where we want to downsize, we have a SF quite large home. It does have a lot of upkeep but nothing unmanageable. I am wondering what other folks think about this subject. What would your ideal retirement home be?
I am 69 and have been retired for 8 years. A small SFH seems ideal to me, with whatever type of landscaping requires no work on my part. That is what my dream home is, that I bought in 2015. So I'll describe my little bit of heaven now.

After the huge landscaping re-do, all it has is grass, and in this area grass needs no care at all except for mowing. No fertilizing, no watering needed ever. So, I just put out cash for my lawn guy and he mows it, and that's that. I have no trees, bushes, flowers.... nada. I do have a planter if I get the urge to grow anything, and several hanging baskets, but so far have not planted anything in any of them. We have no snow here, so no need for snow shoveling either.

Other maintenance and repairs have been pretty minimal, and I have a handyman who can do them if/when necessary. The house was built in 1965, and was built pretty solidly. Plumbing and electricity have been updated recently, and I had the HVAC replaced; otherwise, so far, so good on the repairs.

I like the fact that it is very, very quiet here. No sharing of walls with inconsiderate strangers. Also no monthly fees for HOA or whatever, and I can have repairs and upgrades done on my schedule and to my tastes, not somebody else's.

I also like that everything anyone could ever need or want is close by. Even the best hospital in the area is just 2 miles away and we are 1/2 block from a big Mardi Gras parade route. And yet, our particular street is fairly secluded and hard to find.

The size of the house is OK for me, although I think 1200 sf would probably be ideal. I don't really use the 1500 square feet that I have. It is a single story home, and the only step is at the side door. I managed to fall on that step (pretty badly) right after I moved in, so now the step has bright yellow duct tape across it and I have a sturdy handrail to hang onto. The house has many elderly/disabled modifications done by the former owner (who was both) and they make it a delight to live in.
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Old 08-06-2017, 04:20 PM   #11
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I lived in a SF home with 1.5 acres for almost 30 years. Yard was just too big. Lived briefly in an apartment and hated it - no garage, common walls, too small. Now renting a SF house with a tiny yard. It is fine, but neighbors are just too close. I think a SF with a medium sized yard and a lawn service is where the sweet spot is for us. Your mileage will vary.
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Old 08-06-2017, 04:25 PM   #12
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When we got married 10 years ago, we each had a 2 story 1800 sq ft home.
We bought a one story 1400 sq ft home in a +55 park, and sold both homes.
Downsizing and disposing the accumulation of years was a problem, but it was done.
Our home is paid for, and our expenses for space rent and utilities runs about $800/mo.
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Old 08-06-2017, 04:33 PM   #13
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I lived in a SF home with 1.5 acres for almost 30 years. Yard was just too big. Lived briefly in an apartment and hated it - no garage, common walls, too small. Now renting a SF house with a tiny yard. It is fine, but neighbors are just too close. I think a SF with a medium sized yard and a lawn service is where the sweet spot is for us. Your mileage will vary.
I agree. My yard is 50'x120', and I just put out $35 each week for my lawn guy, or every other week in the winter. I have not done one single thing outside the house since I moved in and nothing really needs to be done. My lawn guy uses his blower to blow off the front porch, patio, and driveway for me. Also he throws away any ads that end up on my lawn.

My lawn guy is also the kind of person that deserves a break. I'm glad that my money is going to him, instead of some cold, anonymous organization of some kind.
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Old 08-06-2017, 05:12 PM   #14
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We went contra to most E/R's. We went from 3500 sq. ft. on 4 wooded acres to 5200 sq. ft. in the city--SF home. It was as much an investment as a change of scenery, as the house was a foreclosure bought $100K under its appraisal. The main floor has 3 BR and 3 full baths so we can live on that floor without stairs.

Many of our friends have sold their bigger homes in city neighborhoods and have gone to 1200 sq. ft. 2 bedroom homes in planned communities--with all yard work done by the HOA. Every one wishes they still had their original larger homes but don't miss the yardwork.

Our southern real estate market is about as cheap as anywhere in the U.S. With SF homes so cheap, there are very few condo's in the area. With 2 colleges,and 14,000 students, our rental market is relatively expensive.

Our big house is 100% brick with little maintenance (until a roof is required.) I have a commercial riding mower and can cut every inch of a 150' x 210' lot in 35 minutes with no walking. I would never pay for someone to cut my grass since I enjoy the job.

Our utilities are $350 at the highest and property taxes are $0 since my wife is disabled. It would be difficult to live anywhere much cheaper.
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Old 08-06-2017, 05:40 PM   #15
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Kept looking and two years ago found a condo that looked perfect. We bought it and now we are still giddy with happiness that we actually did find the perfect place for us. Think W2R with her Dream Home and you get the idea.
I am so happy to read that you, too, found your Dream Home! I understand COMPLETELY about still feeling giddy with happiness about it.
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Old 08-06-2017, 06:02 PM   #16
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I'm retired... and for now we're staying in our 2 story SF house that has the added benefit of a detached granny flat behind us (rental income!!!). We still have kids under roof - so it doesn't make sense to downsize yet, even though we're retired. But we do NOT have a master on the ground floor and we the maintenance/projects seem to be never ending.

We've talked about doing 1 of 2 things when the kids are fully launched:

1) move to the granny flat and rent out the main house - more income. Spend some of the extra money on a boat big enough to live aboard. Granny flat is all one level - designed for wheelchair access (roll in shower, wider doors, etc.) It isn't huge but the design is nice and it has a great canyon view.

2) Buy a single level 2 br condo... preferably in a more walkable neighborhood than where we are now. (We're at the bottom of a hill and it's about a mile to the closest bus stop and grocery store). The appeal of the condo is that it could be lock and go for travel.

But all this is at least 10 years out... no need to decide today.
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Old 08-06-2017, 06:18 PM   #17
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For now I have a 1700 sqft patio home in MS and a 850 sqft condo on the AL coast. Love having both but I'm sure I will sell the condo one day. Not sure my MS home is my final home or not. Might decide to live in an apt near family one day. Keeping my options open.
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Old 08-06-2017, 06:21 PM   #18
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I may be opposite of most, I went to a slightly smaller SF house, on 2.5 acres. Old house was 2000 sq ft on 2.5 acres, new one is 1700 sq ft, but with basement. New house will also have detached garage about 3x bigger than the old house detached garage.

I have lived in apts or condos for very little of my life, and realize that I like SF house and morso having a big yard. I do not mind yardwork.
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Old 08-06-2017, 06:49 PM   #19
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I like owning a SFH in semi-retirement (full retirement = death). I like doing the landscape maintenance for 1/3 acre:
(1) it's good exercise
(2) it gets me out of the (home) office
(3) I get to use power tools
(4) the job is done to my specs
(5) encourages 'pride of ownership'
(6) the cold shower afterwards is pleasant (it's hot this time of year)
(7) saves money vs hiring a service

Getting stung by a wasp isn't fun, but no approach is perfect. YMMV.
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Old 08-06-2017, 07:31 PM   #20
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My current house is bigger than I need but just right when DS, DDIL and the grandkids come to visit. My next step, hopefully many years from now (I'm 64) would be to move near them in a house or townhouse all on one floor, the approximate size of my current main floor (1800 sf). I'd like some lawn and a small garden. Right now I have multiple gardens and a lawn that takes 45 minutes to mow. Hiring out the mowing would be feasible if I couldn't do it but tending to that garden takes a whole lot of hands-on work- weeding, deadheading, thinning out. That would be very expensive to hire out to professionals.

I lived in a condo for a couple of years in my first marriage and don't like the idea of shared walls/floors/ceilings- if you get a noisy neighbor you're trapped. Maybe an over-55 community would have fewer problems with noisy sex and parties, but I could imagine hard-of-hearing neighbors turning their TV sets way up.
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