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Sal Puglisi’s Guide to Buying a Retirement Home

With your days of staff meetings, traffic-packed commutes and parent teacher conferences behind you, retirement is full of possibility and promises for days of relaxing by the pool and working on your golf game.  Now it’s time to find a home to fulfill those retirement dreams in. The market is crowded with homes at every price point, so how do you know which one is right for you?  But before you start searching property listing and dreaming of gourmet kitchens, you need a plan.

Set your budget for buying a retirement home

Your working years may have held the possibility of bonuses and overtime. However, many retired people need to live within a finite amount of money already in their retirement plans and savings. Setting and sticking to a monthly budget for your retirement home is critical, especially if you plan to finance. The price in the listing for your dream home might not give you sticker shock, but there are always other costs of homeownership to consider, including maintenance, insurance, home owner association fees, repairs and eventually upgrades.

Choose your community

When you bought the home you raised your family in, you probably considered its proximity to schools and the commute to work.  Location is no less important when it comes to buying a retirement home, but the qualifications are a little different.

Whether you are buying your retirement home at 55 or 75, you are probably hoping to spend the rest of your years there, happy and healthy. However, there may come a day when proximity to hospitals and doctors becomes very important. When looking at communities, carefully consider what health care facilities are nearby.

After long years working late at the office and chasing after children, retirement is the time to indulge in the hobbies and activities you enjoy most. Retirement communities are much more than collections of houses; each one offers a unique set of amenities and recreation opportunities. You’ve traded in your daily commute to work, so forget driving too far to play a round of golf or get to the fitness center. There are plenty of communities that offer all that and more. Popular facilities include tennis courts, fitness centers, clubhouses with social activities and dining, pools, hiking trails and golf courses. However you hope to fill your days, be sure to choose community that has it onsite. But, keep in mind that some communities come with additional price tags, such as golf and club memberships, so be sure to build those into the budget it they are important to you.

Consider the location within the community

Don’t assume that just because you love the community you will love every location within it. Every neighborhood, no matter the amenities offered, will have some home sites that are more suited to you and your lifestyle than others.

Our area boasts plenty of golf communities, which can make perfect retirement locales, whether you like to hit a few balls on the weekend or are serious about your game. Homes situated along the course offer beautiful views of the fairways. For some, it is living among that landscape that calls them to golf community. However, sitting on your patio, sipping your morning coffee and enjoying the view might be nice, until a stray ball plops into your latte. Not all golfers make par, so homes next to the course often have balls launched into their lawns. That makes a difference to some people, while others don’t mind.

The other downside to a home that rests along a golf course is limited privacy. With golfers playing through all day and whizzing by on carts, some homeowners become uncomfortable using their yards as they would otherwise. While some people feel right at home along the course, if you like to leave the blinds open all day and walk the dog in your PJs, it’s something to consider.

Select the size

Many people assume that, with the kids grown and it their own homes, retirement is the time to downsize. That may or may not hold true for you. While the number of bedrooms may have been a primary factor in considering previous homes, many retired people opt for more flexible spaces. It all comes down to lifestyle, so if you like to cook gourmet meals, tinker in the garage, work on hobbies or entertain and host parties, look for a home with space for the things that make you happy.

Remember, larger homes are not only more expensive upfront, they are also more costly to maintain, so look for options that are realistic on your budget.

Get started

Planning for the purchase of any home comes with plenty of questions. With home values and prices ranging widely, even between different communities in the same area, the process of finding the right fit can feel confusing. Knowledge is power and there are plenty of online tools to help you browse properties to get a feel for what is available in your price range.  A realtor, who is an expert in the local area, will be your most valuable tool in finding your perfect retirement home.