Growing older (not old-shh) gracefully takes some planning. One of the most important areas of planning is home ownership, having a home set up, examining renting instead of buying, and looking at eventual possibilities of long term care.
Granted, we are not retirement material, as yet, but life happens. The reality for us was that we did not want to reach full or even partial retirement and not be prepared. We lived in a two story, single family home. All of the bathrooms and full bathrooms were upstairs. This left a half bath as the only main floor source. To move all living to the main floor would cost more as renovation would have to be made in the bathroom and dining room. This would also leave a very small amount of living space and no home office or studio. The upstairs would be a lot of useless space. It also housed the laundry room, so that would be another issue. We decided to evaluate further and came up with a list of needs for planning ahead.
We started with a list of what we desired for home ownership or renting. These were the considerations:
We took a long, hard look at home ownership vs renting. Here are the pros and cons we came up with, as well as some areas in common:
Since we love being close to nature, we started with a search near a nearby lake, close to our community. We fell in love with this type of setting, having lived with a ravine and wooded area behind us. We just needed to be certain, so we checked out a few places, before narrowing them down. This was a major change and, although we could always move again, that is a rather tiresome process. We found some interesting, scary and stinky places. We saw various pricing and lots of “glitter.” We explored high rises, but the thought of using elevators in an emergency, such as a fire, was scary. One manager told us that they would be sure to get us downstairs. I could visualize a scenario that scared me. There was also no washer and dryer connection and one small laundry room per floor. Storage could be rented, but that is not convenient for our lifestyle.
We ended up with the first apartment community that we toured. The view is outstanding and it is walking distance from the pool and a lovely lake. We can watch wildlife from the window. Our home faces northwest and there is very little sun, except a small amount at sunset. The trees offer so much shade that we barely see the sun. That benefits us for utilities. Being in a second floor walk in with a ramp, we have the advantage of being sandwiched between the first and third floors and a side wall to the back and end neighbors. This is a great utility saver. We didn’t have to turn on the air conditioner until mid June and the winter was very pleasant. We did a comparison of the electric and water bills from when we owned the house and renting and found amazing savings!
One of the other requirements was to have no maintenance. Other than cleaning and minor things such as hanging pictures, we wanted to be able to call for help whenever something went wrong. We have been very fortunate that when we ask for maintenance, we have issues resolved quickly. If there has been any urgent concern, they will come right away. I have had experiences with renting that were not so pleasant, so I was, naturally, concerned. So far, so good. They are upgrading all of the units as tenants move out, so we moved in to discover we had new appliances, fresh paint and new carpet. There are several exteriors upgrades, as well. We just got a brand new roof, exterior painting and more to come. Of course, we have to wonder if the lease renewal will reflect any of these changes, let’s hope not.
Since the time we moved, there has been some criticisms from people who own homes, such as how we should go ahead and buy something else, how home ownership is an equity boost, and how apartment living, at it’s best, needs to be in the swanky parts of town. We have long term goals that include retiring. With debts wrapped up in homes and costs of upgrades, repairs, maintenance, we just could not see going there. I am not saying it won’t happen, but right now this renting thing is working out rather nicely. Who knows if we may need to be in a retirement community or need expensive health care? It seems wise to be prepared. And we would love to do some traveling.
Don’t get me wrong. The idea of having a home where you can do anything within legal code, is very exciting. You can have man and woman caves, recreation rooms, built in wet or dry bars, decks, yards, neighborhoods with opportunities with meeting neighbors. Ideally, though you can have many of these things in an apartment community. Clubhouses, fitness rooms, pools, tennis and other courts are common. While you are enjoying amenities, you get to meet neighbors and build friendships. And that is another plus, with more leisure time. We don’t have a man or woman cave, but we are fine with our rustic setting and have plenty of space for a nice home office and studio.