There’s a hot new retirement destination that more and more of my clients are flocking to.
It’s not a sunny beach in Florida, or a luxurious condo complex in Arizona.
Mexico? The Caribbean? No, think closer to home.
So close to home, in fact … that it IS home!
With all the modern comforts and services available to us, it’s really not surprising that many folks are deciding to “retire in place” and spend their golden years enjoying the familiar comforts of home. Plus today’s seniors are, by and large, healthier, more active, more connected, and more self-sufficient than previous generations. That means they’re also better-equipped to care for themselves longer before turning to alternative living arrangements, such as moving in with adult children or assisted living.
But don’t retire in place because it sounds like the least amount of hassle. Adapting your current living situation for your retirement can be real work! You’ll definitely have to consider the following:
1. Upgrade your home.
That spiral staircase isn’t going to get any easier on your knees as you age. It might be time to install a stair lift. Always wished you had a first-floor bathroom? Get an estimate. Ditto the roof that needs re-shingling, that leaky boiler, and any older appliances. If you really want to retire in place, do what you can to make your home as safe and comfortable as possible.
Also consider some fun upgrades as well, like building a big new porch or swimming pool to host family gatherings or turning that patch of gravel into a vegetable garden you’ll enjoy tending.
But if your old home is just too much work now that you’re older, or too big now that the kids are grown, think about moving into a more manageable house, condo, or apartment in your community.
This might be a situation where you should talk to your financial advisor about front-loading your withdrawal plan for some early retirement expenses.
2. Upgrade your tech.
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it’s long-past time you traded in that old flip phone!
If you want to retire in place, then clear and reliable communication is going to be essential. A good smartphone won’t just keep you connected to your friends and family – it can help keep you safe. Many new medical alert buttons pair with smartphones to get you emergency help as quickly as possible. You can also pair smartphones with security systems to keep an eye on your home when you’re away.
It also might be time to upgrade your old computer, especially if you have any interest in writing or digital photography that you want to pursue as a retirement pastime, or if you’ll need accounting software to help you start up a new business.
Whatever your preferred method of accessing the internet, there are a wealth of online services that can make it easier to retire in place, such as grocery delivery and automated banking and bill pay. Just make sure you follow some of our tips on securing your online info from hackers and scammers.
And while we caution retirees against going full-on couch potato, don’t be afraid to reward yourself with some upgraded home entertainment options. The more active you are as you retire in place, the happier you’re likely to be. But there’s nothing wrong with having a nice new TV for Netflix nights as well.
3. Find a ride.
Even if you’re a younger retiree in good health, sometimes driving is just a hassle – especially if you have to take a trip by yourself. Investigate alternatives. Do you have easy access to public transportation? What ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, are available in your area? Are there cycling paths with downtown access? Do you have any friends or neighbors with whom you could start a carpool? Many communities also have volunteer organizations and senior citizen centers that offer low-cost rides.
If you’re still comfortable behind the wheel of your car, you don’t have to use these services. But if you ever do need a ride, it’s a good idea to know ahead of time who you can call or what apps you can use.
4. Find help.
As you and your spouse start to slow down, it’s going to become harder for you to do everything by yourselves. If you have family or friends nearby, don’t be afraid – or embarrassed – to lean on them.
If you’re living alone with no family close to you, look into volunteer groups that assist seniors or hire some outside help. You might be able to find some simple, creative solutions to help you with daily tasks, like slipping a few bucks to the kid cutting his parent’s lawn and asking him to do yours next. If you need more attentive care, or if your health starts to deteriorate, you might have to think about hiring a professional, like a nurse. Unfortunately, Medicare usually doesn’t cover this type of assistance, so talk to your health care professional about your plan’s specifics.
5. Take care of yourself!
If you decide to retire in place, organizing all of the above is really just step one.
Step two is continuing to live your life! You have to live independently and take care of yourself. Go to the doctor. Buy fresh food and eat healthy meals. Exercise as much as you can. Keep a full and invigorating social calendar.
And most importantly, don’t be afraid to talk to your family once retiring in place just isn’t working for you anymore. If simple tasks become too difficult, if you start to feel lonely or depressed, or if there’s a serious, ongoing health concern, then it might be time to move on to a new phase of your retirement. At Keen Wealth, we know that can be a difficult transition, but we also know how to help our clients make the financial piece as simple as possible.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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