4 Things to Do to Retire at Home

Some people dream of moving to an exotic location such as Panama or Belize in their golden years, but the majority of Americans end up retiring in their own homes. While it may seem like the easiest way to retire — you don’t have to sell your house or purge belongings as you downsize — it does require advanced planning. Here are five things to consider if you plan to retire at home.

1. Make the necessary changes to your home. For aging in place, you need the right floor plan. The ability to live on all one level and get in and out without too many stairs is critical. If everything can’t be moved to one floor, then seniors may want to consider a motorized chair lift or an elevator installation. Other considerations include widening doorways and hallways to accommodate a wheelchair, putting in ramps, replacing flooring with slip-resistant materials and installing an alarm system.

2. Consider the cost of home care. Pre-retirees must understand the potential costs for assistance in the home, especially for around-the-clock care. The median cost for a home health aide is $3,861 a month. The cost for homemaker services is about the same at $3,813 per month. There also needs to be a backup plan if a situation arises where one spouse is helping another, but then has a health event of their own.

3. Think about tapping home equity. Home equity is the largest source of wealth for most Americans over 65, studies say. Typically, seniors tap a portion of this equity when they sell their current home and downsize to one that’s less expensive, pocketing the difference. However, staying in your current home negates this strategy. Instead, seniors will need to consider taking out a home equity line of credit to use for emergency expenses, such as an unexpected medical event or house repair.

4. Have a plan for transportation and health care access. Retirees need to consider whether their family home is close to high-quality health care. Also important is access to affordable transportation alternatives. There may come a time when you can’t drive or don’t feel comfortable behind the wheel, which means you need a community that has a good public transportation system or an abundance of taxis.

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