Dear Baby Boomer: Aging in your current place may not be such a great idea

David Restic
Published on February 1, 2023

Dear Baby Boomer: Aging in your current place may not be such a great idea

I love my home. But, when it comes time for me to bring in the shingle and I contemplate what life will be like as I age (even more than I have, that is), like many Americans, I’m not sure that I will be able to remain in my home.

As much as we’d love to, as comfortable as we are, it may not be practical.

There are around 78 million baby boomers and, according to the AARP, most of them want to age in place. Whether it’s because the kids and grandkids are nearby, because they’re so solidly entrenched in their current communities, or because the thought of leaving a home they are deeply in love with breaks their hearts.

There are those who do want to move

Thirty million boomers left the workforce “… at the height of the pandemic,” according to Pew Research Center.

With retirement comes many decisions, chief among them is whether or not to stay in the current home.

The majority of the cohort, 66%, say that they plan to age in place, according to a Freddie Mac Consumer Research survey.

When we reach a certain age, however, we’ve had more than enough time to learn that sometimes what we want doesn’t mesh with reality. Mick Jagger warned us about this nearly 50 years ago but he also promised that “… if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, composers)

Thus, the results of a National Association of REALTORS survey that shows us that baby boomers compose the largest group of home sellers, at 42 percent. That is nearly twice as many as the nearest cohort, Gen X.

When asked what they want in a new home, they’re all over the map. Some want larger homes while others want to downsize.

Then there are the aforementioned who want to remain right where they are. All well and good until you consider that who you are today, with all your pep and energy, may not be who you are a decade from now.

Thinking of a remodel to allow yourself to age in place?

This could get quite expensive. If you are or will be in a wheelchair, you’ll need to widen the hallways in your current home. Average cost? To widen a home’s hallways with structural changes will cost between $30,000 and $40,000, according to the pros at fixr.com. If you’ll need to widen an entry door, expect to pay between $200 to $7,000.

“Falls are a leading cause of death and injury for older Americans. Many of those injuries — about one-third — take place in the bathroom,” according to retirementliving.com. The author goes on to suggest that a homeowner can reduce the chances of slipping or falling by replacing “… the floor with a nonslip surface.”

Dig deep for this one: between $6,400 and $11,000

Again, if the home has more than one floor of living space, it becomes even more expensive to make it a safe and comfortable living space as you age.

Consider taking all that remodeling money and buying a home that meets your needs

“Average Home Equity in the U.S. Just Hit a Record High of $300,000,” blasts s September 2022 headline at money.com. Keep in mind that the figure represents the average.

Older Americans have typically lived in their homes for far longer than younger Americans, often up to 30 years or more. Their equity is, naturally, much higher.

If you’re among that group, consider taking all that money tied up in your current home and do something SMART with it: shop for a home that already has the features you think you’ll need in the future.

It’s time to stop thinking that a home with your bedroom located up a flight of stairs and a laundry room on the ground floor is going to work for you in the future, that narrow hallways will accommodate a wheelchair and that yard work is something your body will always tolerate.

We’re happy to help you find that just-right home where you can truly age-in-place.

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