Do you have a retirement plan for your home?

Gioenne Rapisarda
March 9, 2016

A plan for your home or where you choose to age is an important consideration as you get older.

What once seemed like a lovely, quiet location by the sea could create problems in future with proximity to amenities. That wonderful freestanding bath - a slipping hazard waiting to happen! Those corner cupboards that make everything down the back oh so hard to reach!

Have you planned to combat these issues? Is 'ageing in place' something you're thinking about, or is it too soon?

Aging In Place · More Info

Comments (31)

  • Tribbletrouble44152k7 Trek

    Yes, we certainly do. Now just need to win Lotto to implement it!

  • haephestus

    With stairs, I'm hoping for Star Trek teleporter style technology to be widely and cheaply available in 40 or so years. If not, then the ground floor garage will need to be repurposed as a bedroom and bathroom (which should be fine since everyone will be using community driverless cars by then).

  • Tribbletrouble44152k7 Trek

    Haephestus, what about a rope pulley slung over a beam, with a partner called Scotty hauling it up? What do you say to him when you're ready?

  • haephestus

    Sling me up Scotty?

  • jmm1837

    Been there, done that. I saw how my parents struggled a bit in their later years, and had some idea of how we'd need to be living when we hit our 70s and beyond. Last year, we made the decision it was time while we still had the energy (barely, as it turned out!) to go through one last move. We left a two and a half storey house on a very big block in a small and somewhat remote little town (pop 2,000) and moved into a single storey house on a tiny block a couple of hundred metres from Main Street in a bigger town (pop 25,000) with all the facilities we anticipate needing.

    We now have ticked most of our boxes: level streets (we're getting the bicycles out for the first time in years), easy walking distance to shops (we have two supermarkets in walking distance, plus several butchers,
    bakeries, a fish shop and
    that weekly market for fresh produce) plus a dentist three doors down and medical centres galore within 300 m. And we're only about 15 minutes on foot to the beach. We have a very small garden, a comfortable but not huge single level house (the only step is the one from the deck down to the tiny lawn in back), open space living, easy access walk-in showers, wide hallways and good space around benches in kitchens and the ensuite. Storage space in the kitchen is terrific and flexible. Big, easy-to-use laundry. My better half recently commented that it was the easiest house he'd ever had to live in.

    Oh, and the cafes and restaurants are pretty decent too! That wasn't top of our list, but it's a very nice bonus.

    Nobody can future-proof everything, but we think this house will suit our needs for a very long time.

    Gioenne Rapisarda thanked jmm1837
  • Vy

    we are hoping this is our forever home..we are in an apartment close to all mode of transport..Cafes line our street..apartment is on top of our business so very convenient ..if when we can't drive anymore we can catch the train to Box Hill for groceries..bus to Chaddie..train to city..tram to Richmond for Viet food..with a great nursing home down the road..doctors and dentists across the road..as for the stairs I made sure there's room to install a lift (carport) to go up to the deck and enter into the apartment from there..

    if we retire down the coast our place there is 10 minutes walk to the shops..10 minutes walk to the beach and 5 minutes walk to the river..trouble is for views we are in a tri level town house lol need one of those lift thingy and the driveway is very slopey..

  • bigreader
    Yep. If I ever get to do my renovation it will suit until I leave in a pine box. Shops, health care, snr cits, bowls club, library, cafe and beach all close by. House is too small currently but I cant give up location.
  • Vy

    bigreader not a cardboard box? hehehehe your location sounds lovely..

  • Vy

    although I'm not holding my breath..our last house was suppose to be our forever house..kids were suppose to go to private schools..out popped the third so off to public schools they go..and since needed to be in the zone to go to the good ones we uprooted..nothing ever goes according to plans..

    at the moment I'm working at the hospital near our beach place so that if we do live down there I've got a job to keep me out of mischief but then who knows lol

    sometimes it feels like someone up there is playing with us to their amusement when we plan too far ahead lol

  • jmm1837

    @bigreader - location is everything. We looked at some very nice houses in our two year or more search, but in the end, we decided that, if we had to get into a car or on a bus to get to shops and medical facilities, it wasn't going to work for us long term. We made compromises with the house we now have (incredibly small block, orientation isn't ideal) but the location and the layout of the house work for us. If you can get your layout right, don't even think of moving.

  • LouieT

    This is such a loaded question, given the choice, it is without a doubt a move closer to the ocean, smaller home near facilities & convenient to doctors etc. Unfortunately the price of this real estate skyrockets due to demand & I worry whether we can afford to buy or rent there. Recently Hubby suggested that we travel for a couple of years when we retire & I wondered whether to sell/cash up & worry about it later or keep the home & rent out for income, or even airbnb or the likes. Uncertainty about whether we want a permanent residence in an unknown location is a prime consideration too. Maybe rent to try first?

    If we can start downsizing now & getting rid of all the unnecessary baggage while still in our home I think we will try to move on taking just what we think we will need. MIL has all this stuff which she is now trying to offload while she can, trouble is it is just "stuff" i.e. all unnecessary items collected, not heirlooms at all & we don't particularly want any of it due to planning for our future downsizing. She has sold some of it & barely gets half of its original value???

    The world has changed & our kids don't want any of our furniture/items as they too have decided very early to only use what they need & travel rather than buy real estate. So far from traditional values instilled in us & rather an attractive option as we age & still have our health & enough funds to travel when we retire. Maybe just store what we want to keep & see the world could be a plan until we need to settle for health reasons.

    Such a loaded question for us at the moment;)

  • jmm1837

    @LouieT - it's a tough one, isn't it? Our own working lives involved a lot of travel, a fair bit of working abroad, so the travel bug wasn't as much an issue for us. The first couple of years after we finished working we explored a fair bit of Australia (I was pretty new to the country at that point) and we've got slightly longer range plans to do a couple of things on the bucket list, but we really wanted to have a home base, so that's what we did. It wouldn't be the right choice for everyone, though.

    That said, it's important to be realistic about finances. I do think it's critical to avoid a situation which requires retired folk to be paying a mortgage, so if you want the travel you might have to forego the house by the sea. There are worse fates.

  • Vy

    LouieT a compromise would be to sell up? downside to a smaller place so that when you come back you'd still got a roof over your head?

    in the mean time the kids can house sit? or you rent it out through a reputable realestate agent ?

    either that or one of those tiny house on wheels ? they are so cute wouldn't mind one of those..

    we've been travelling every two years..only nearby places..can't wait til the day we can go for months at a time and not only for 2-3 weeks..

  • Vy

    jmm1837..you've done it all I've told my kids I don't want grandkids for another 6-7 years so that we can still travel

  • LouieT

    Yes jmm1837, now more than ever we have travel opportunities which are not always chosen ideals but either work or opportunities we can take. As we reconfigure our future including needs & wants there is a conflict due to not knowing exactly what our desired outcome will be. Fortunately we have set up for a comfortable enough retirement plan & health is good but we have witnessed the devastation ill fortune can bring upon plans & finances.

    Makes you think about what you sow & then reap from the seeds of life and experiences can be great in theory...and expectations for what type of retirement lifestyle appeals are not a given for any of us. I can only hope that we will be in a situation of choice & with our best efforts planning for financial freedom to do the things we have had to put on hold until retirement. That said I have no desire to live in a retirement village & wait out the rest of my years. Independent living for us could be anywhere we choose or could be driven by circumstances beyond our control.

    Until then we're happy with our lot & feel very lucky to be in the position to be able to consider our choices ;)

  • LouieT

    Yes Uyenvy it would be a compromise atm as we still work & we love our home as our sanctuary. Our kids are adults but see our home as theirs still (place to store their stuff while they travel or explore life, huh!)

    We run a business & are in the throws of getting our 2-IC to step up & run without us. So far we are off OS twice through this year so baby steps atm ;)

  • Vy

    LouieT..looks like you've got your priories straight ..meanwhile we are looking forward to our daughter graduating in a few years and hopefully after that another few to train her to take over our business ..we don't have ICs like you do as can't afford to..all our staff are part time..that is if she wants to follow our path..if not need to think of plan B lol

  • emma_kay84
    I'm in the process of buying my first home in a town that we are not local to. we don't have the medical in this town that we need. We currently live in rural NSW with a population of 3000. The house i picked is in a town of 95000 and far better medical facilities. The house is single story and is going to be renod by me to accommodate my parents who I care for and then will be good for me as my health deteriorates. I have spinal problems that will eventually paralyze me. The house will accommodate well till my parents have past and I go beyond reasonable home care.
  • LouieT

    Oh emma that's a big step for you all!

    Congratulations on buying your first home & taking on a reno with parents to look after too makes my plans look meek in comparison. Take care of yourself & good luck with it all.

    I'm sure that if we are proactive in our decisions & learn along the way we can ask for nothing more. So sorry to hear that your health is sending you down that path & I hope that medical technology can come up with a better outcome for you in the future. All the best, Louie ;)

  • Tribbletrouble44152k7 Trek

    Best wishes in your new home, Emma!

  • emma_kay84
    Thank you, that's very kind. Wè all deal with the hand we are delt. I enjoy the aspect of design so this will be an enjoyable challenge to embrace. This site is great for that. Bathrooms that could function for people with disabilities but don't look like the typical disability bathroom lol
  • jmm1837

    Hi Emma - good luck with the new house. I'm sure you've been researching accessible homes and know the kinds of things you'll want to build in - and it can certainly be done without ending up looking clinical. And technology is advancing so fast and in so many ways, that who knows what will be available when the time comes that you really need it. Anyway, while you're planning for the future, don't forget to make a home that's fun as well as functional to live in right now..

  • Vy

    how exciting ..best of luck Emma..it will be all worth it in the end..enjoy the design process..that's the best bit figuring out what to do..like working out a great big puzzle

  • PRO
    DecoR Stone

    Having been fortunate enough to be in a position to buy our 3/4 acre block and 50's house some 30 + years ago and change it into the dream home today, it's now time to instal a lift so that we can continue to enjoy our upstairs bedroom and beautiful patio without the problems of carrying our 25 kg cases downstairs when ever we embark on our (frequent) holidays

  • Barbara

    Different post, same scenario, the dreaded old age thing!

    I have commented before that hubby and I are building our own home and I have put "invalid access" at the top of the list even though no one in our family nor any of our friends are incapacitated in any way.

    Single storey first and foremost, brick exterior, aluminium windows and doors, wide passage, stepless shower, invalide size toilet, entry into the master from outside incase of an emergency and wheelchair space around the island in the kitchen.

    We have a ramp for access into the home as well as steps but very wide and minimum tread over doorways for wheelchair access.

    I've covered as many bases as I could think of even though I'm not quite 60 and hubby 72.

    We have also got an indoor pool and will use it whilst we can access it on our own steam.

    We should be able to live out our twilight years very comfortably I'm hoping!!

  • oklouise

    our most important preparations include making sure that all potential failure points are in perfect condition so, as well as installing the obvious grab rails etc we have replaced and/or upgraded our roof, wiring, plumbing, insulation, bathrooms and kitchen as well as installing double glazing, new floor and window coverings, screened in porches, replacing all fences, creating wheel chair friendly paths, steps and outdoor seating areas, removing all potential garden hazards and having the whole house repainted and then, we're planning to forget about house maintenance and age gracefully along with our lovely refurbished old home

  • wuff
    @jmm1857, we have nearly done exactly as you have, we traded large suburban home on large sloping and terraced block for a small house on a small plot inner (regional) city, pop approx 30,000. The house was a renovator and has cost a bit to tweak but we have another 5-7 years hopefully in the workforce. I love having my tiny north facing courtyard flat garden, so easy and enjoyable to manage. Close to all amenities...walking distance shops, GP (though I still drive out to much loved GP), nature walks, beach, restaurants...restaurants and cafes fabulous and my wait line has noticed!!!!! Our only concern is have more accessible shower toilet if the need arises, we still have a combined laundry to re do, so that will need to be in our plans. Both our parents are into 80s and fit and well, I guess I am hoping we will be the same (that is why we need to stay in work force). My father and father in law both still do a bit of farm work and my dad swims in the ocean most days. My mother who is actually the youngest at only 79.6 is just starting to struggle with stairs.
  • jmm1837

    Wuff - We're a bit older than you I suspect, well past our working years and far beyond any wish to renovate! :) So, we took the easier route (for us) with a land and house package from a small local builder with a good reputation in a town we wanted to live in. Most of the build took place while were were 700 km away (which, in a way, was a good thing, because we couldn't obsess over detail - we did one visit down to pick flooring, tiles, appliances, kitchen sinks and shower fixtures, but left a lot up to the builder). Maybe, if we'd been on hand we'd have made a few changes, and of course there were compromises (yard is very small, orientation isn't ideal).. That said, after looking, over the years, at what I guesstimate to have been several hundred houses in half a dozen towns, the one we now have ranks ahead of all the ones we looked at for comfort and practicality. We might have to rejig the en suite in future years to make it wheelchair friendly (but there's space to do it). Otherwise, I think we're pretty well set. And, at our age, not having to worry about the house or location we live in is a very big plus.

  • Paula
    Declutter , and that includes the young adult " children" .

    Please God , a new kitchen with an external window for light and light colored floors so I don't feel like I'm in a dark room ( current kitchen is an inside kitchen with dark jarrah floors ) eyes aren't so good . Get rid of back stairs of 15 ,to 4-5 across ways instead of 15 down .
  • Jeannie

    We're already at the "old age" with problems stage, so have gradually adapted most areas to suit our limitations. What has amazed me is how suddenly the body changes have seemed to come all at once. We have a 4x2 on a quarter acre close to amenities, and I would hate not to have it. I love having all our varied fruit trees and raised garden beds, but admit I have a strong young man to help for 2 hours a week. Had spinal and knee ops last year which has limited what I can do. Bad part of getting old is the mind staying young - tells the body to do something beyond it's present state. Example is lifting a huge bag of fertiliser out of car boot. Result was spinal surgery, and being told that lifting heavy objects will put me back under the knife.

    The 1 thing left to do in the bathrooms is install higher toilets, as the knees don't bend so well any more. Walk in showers, bidet toilet seats, and heated bathrooms are a boon, and grab rails are well used.

    We have a small step to the patio, but have installed a ramp for that, otherwise we have no other steps. Rugs and carpet have been replaced with tile which is easier for using walking frame. Installed more and brighter lights for OH,s fading eyesight, and replaced our t.v. with a larger one.

    Have enclosed part of our huge patio to create a sunroom off the family room. This brings more warmth into it when the sliding doors are open, and we can vent the heat in the hotter summer months.

    Our next project is to replace our [only] 4 years old kitchen so we don't have to bend or stretch so much to reach what we need, especially all my appliances and gadgets.

    Now all we have to do is hope we live long enough to enjoy it lol !

  • Jennifer Bradley

    We've just spent three years trying to find something that meets our living habits in a suitable location for ageing. What we found is a townhouse smaller than our current 4bed/2bath on a largish block, but most importantly close to a decent shopping centre and a good bus route, in case we can't drive. It's not brilliant, and a few years old, but the layout gives us the spaces we need and a garden outlook from all windows (and not all ours - we have a courtyard with enough room for outdoor living and veges/herbs) and nothing else we saw, even at much higher cost, was as good. The house has two levels with three steps, which we're sure we can manage. The main bathroom is not really suitable for ageing, but is original with a new vanity ... so we could change it happily, when we get the right design. It's a nice area, with pleasant neighbours and many trees, so we're hoping it works. (We actually lived there - in a different unit - from when it was built for ten years, so are pretty familiar with its advantages and disadvantage.)