MONEY TALKS - I recently attended a financial planning conference where one of the speakers made reference to the MIT AgeLab when discussing the various phases of retirement. I had never heard of the AgeLab before so I did some research when I returned from the conference. As it turns out, the Lab was created in 1999 to; invent new ideas and creatively translate technologies into practical solutions that improve people's health and enable them to “do things” throughout their lifespan. Interestingly enough, when studying the decision making process for older adults evaluating their housing needs, the AgeLab came up with a series of three simple, yet very effective questions that need to be answered. The questions are as follows:
1. Who will change my light bulbs? - While even those who are not mechanically inclined (myself included) can probably change their own light bulb, the heart of the question goes much deeper. Are you capable of performing maintenance and repairs on your home or would you prefer to live in a location where those service are included? If you are willing and able, do you have a contingency plan for 10 or 20 years down the road when you may not be capable of climbing a ladder?
2. How will I get an ice cream cone? - This question primarily centers on geography and transportation. Would you prefer to live in an urban location where you can walk to coffee shops, grocery stores, doctors’ offices, etc? Or would you prefer to live in a more rural area where these amenities are not within walking distance. If you can’t walk to the doctor’s office, is public transportation available, or are you comfortable driving or taking a ride sharing service like Uber or Lyft?
3. Who will I have lunch with? - Socialization is the crux behind this question. Do you enjoy spending time with friends and family? How important is it to you to be in close proximity to your loved ones? Would you prefer to live on your own or move in with a family member? Does living in a community where there are organized activities for you and your peers interest you? If your spouse or partner were to pass away, how would that change your perspective on your current living arrangements?
Determining the best place to live in retirement, is not a black and white question because no one knows what the future holds. Age, health, death, disability, and financial wellbeing are all contributing factors that may drive you towards one location over another. In fact, the best solution may not be one at all, it could be multiple. Believe it or not, some industry experts actually predict that retirees will move more times in retirement than they did before retiring. Upon retirement, you may stay in your home for several years, then downsize to a condo or 55+ community, and eventually relocate to a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). When determining your retirement housing needs, there is no one-size-fits-all solution because your needs will inevitably change over time. Asking yourself these three questions may provide you with some clarity so you can make a sound decision that satisfies your needs, at least for now…