Providing financial and physical shelter
Where to locate, in what kind of home, and with whom
Home Topical Index to all subjects
Food, Clothing, and Shelter – the three traditional necessities of life – are not terribly confusing and difficult, usually. Except for Shelter. For most people, whether they rent or own, their living space represents their single biggest expense. For many home owners in particular, it represents their biggest asset (and often their biggest debt as well). And there are so many choices to make: what region, state, county, or municipality to live in, what kind of home, what specific location, how to furnish it, whether to pay for improvements, and perhaps who should live there with you and what they should pay or how they should otherwise contribute. And if you, or someone else close to you, has become physically or mentally infirm, what can you do to keep them home (assuming that’s the preference), how do you know when that’s no longer feasible, and what do you do next?
Home is the symbol and the physical embodiment of security, but with all these questions, and with all the dollars that are tied up with it, sometimes home becomes a major source of insecurity.
In this section we raise the issues that are most likely to bedevil you about your home, and refer you to resources that can help you resolve them. And if you're not bedeviled, maybe you should be: can you truly take for granted that where you've been living is still the place you ought to be living? There's a world of opportunities out there for something that might suit you better, save you money, or both.
Your Home relates to other areas of Security:
- Managing risk, because where, how, and with whom you live affects your ability to cope with adversity. And because excessive home expenses increase your exposure to financial and life risks. And also because home equity, if you have it, can serve as a financial resource of last resort.
- Managing money, because where you live, and with what kind of style, depends on your financial resources. And because the equity in your home (if you happen to be a homeowner) can itself be one of those resources.
Your Home relates to other areas besides Security:
- Spirit, because hearth and home naturally tie in with our deepest beliefs and feelings about who we are, and how we want to live.
- Purpose, because where we live affects our options for remunerative, volunteer, and civic activities.
- Love, because our proximity to family and friends greatly affects the quality of our relationships. And because where we live also affects our ability to form new connections with people.
- Avocation, because our ability to engage in leisure pursuits will be enhanced or constrained depending on where we live.
- Health, because good health gives us more options about where to live, while bad health may force us out of our homes and into institutional living. And because our living environment itself can support (or undermine) our health, as can our access to places where we can get good food, exercise, and medical care.
Your Home Sub-Topics and Resources
- Where should you live? Our first instinct is often to stay where we have always been – is that really the right choice?
If you have not thought seriously yet about whether relocating to a different area, or to a different home in the same area, would be a good idea, you probably should at least give it a few moments’ reflection. The reasons you originally moved to where you are now may no longer be as compelling as they once were, and there are many possible benefits to moving, including: being closer to people you care about, saving money, living in a community that better suits your retirement lifestyle, having better access to health care, avoiding maintenance chores, and so on.
Some of the books listed under “Other resources,” below, can be the better place to start, because they will help you think through the issues relating to what kind of retirement life you want to have, and what kind of place would work best for you. But once you have that figured out, some of the Free resources provide more thorough and up-to-date information to help you nail down a specific plan. If you are limited to assisted living, nursing or hospice care, use the “See also” references to link to the Retirement Readiness sections that deal with those options.
- Free resources:
- The U.S. News & World Report “Best Places to Retire” page provides lists of good places to live for different kinds of retirees (rating = A-). Also see the “Retirement Ranger” from TopRetirements.com (registration retired, rating = A). Since mobility and transportation can become issues as we age, you might also look at the “Housing + Transportation Affordability Index” at the Center for Neighborhood Technology website (rating = A). If you are thinking of living outside the U.S. – for the adventure, or to get more lifestyle for the buck – check out “Living Abroad” at TransitionAbroad.com (rating = A).
- Kiplinger’s “State-by-State Guide to Taxes on Retirees” is an excellent place to start, if you want to get a feel for whether your state taxes will go up or down if you move (rating = A).
- If you are reasonably healthy and want to move to a community where you can stay as your needs for care increase, you want a “Life Care Community” / “Continuing Care Retirement Community [CCRC].” For general information, see “Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) and Lifecare” from SeniorResource.com. To locate CCRCs in your preferred area, use the “Gilbert Guide” (rating = A).
- Don’t want to tie yourself down? “RV-Dreams.com” is a website with all kinds of information and connections for people who are, or may be, interested in living out on the road (rating = A).
- If you live in a cold state (or Canadian province) in the summer and a warm state in the winter, or want to, you might want to check out “SnowbirdHelper.com”, which offers a wide variety of relevant information (rating = A-).
- To find specific housing opportunities of various kinds (homes to buy, rentals, manufactured homes, golf course or lakeside lots, RV communities, continuing care retirement communities, etc.), try “SeniorOutlook.com” (rating = A) and/or “SeniorHousing.net” (rating = A).
- Other resources:
- America's 100 Best Places to Retire, by Mary Lu Abbott and Annette Fuller, rates places based on a wide variety of criteria. At the least, this book can help you figure out what's important to you (rating = A-).
- The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life, Jan Cullinane and Cathy Fitzgerald, discusses many aspects of retirement, but focuses the majority of its attention on helping you decide what kind of place you want to live, and the benefits of many specific possibilities (rating = A-).
- Where to Retire is a magazine that comes out six times a year, dedicated to helping you find the best places to live in retirement. You can get a free trial issue at their website (rating = A).
- Find the Right CCRC for Yourself or a Loved One, by Ruth Alvarez, helps you identify, in considerable detail, what you should be looking for when considering buying into a CCRC (rating = A).
- Retire to an RV: The Roadmap to Affordable Retirement, by Jaimie Hall Bruzenak and Alice Zyetz, is an excellent guide for considering this possibility (rating = A).
- See also:
In retirement, most of us who are well enough to live independently, or partly independently, live with a spouse or partner, or alone. But there are many other options. We can live with other family – perhaps with a child, or with an elderly parent, or with one or more siblings. Or we can live with friends, an increasingly common choice that provides companionship along with reduced expenses. Or we can live with strangers (“friends we haven’t met”) through new-fangled community living set-ups, or through traditional rental or boarding arrangements.
The reasons that individuals or couples may want to share living space with others usually boil down to some combination of: (1) the financial need for someone else to help cover household expenses, (2) the desire for companionship (especially if a family member or close friend is involved), (3) an attempt to help a relative or friend, and/or (4) the need for someone to provide assistance with chores or activities of daily living (such as dressing, food preparation, transportation, etc.). In the end, only the people involved can decide whether these benefits are worth whatever inconveniences and perhaps clashes of personality that living together would entail.
In this section, we look mostly at identifying some of the options, and weighing their social and general financial impact. In the following section, we refer you to sources that deal with the more specific legal and financial arrangements that are required to follow through on some of these choices. “New Lifestyles - The Source for Senior Living,” is a magazine as well as a website, and offers ideas and information on both aspects of your decision. (rating = A)
- Free resources:
- Moving in with the kids is a choice many older parents deliberately avoid, and there certainly are pitfalls. But there are also benefits, where both parties can save money, deepen their mutual relationship, and provide help to each other (grandparents can make great babysitters, for example, even though they may need some help themselves at times). For an overview of this option, see “When a Parent Moves in With the Kids,” by Kathryn A. Walson at Kiplinger.com, (rating = A-), and “Combining Households: Moving In with the Kids” from the University of Missouri Extension service (rating = A+).
- “Shared Living Residences” are for people (usually unrelated) who are interested in living cooperatively with others in a large dwelling, sharing expenses and sometimes helping one another in other ways. The “National Shared Housing Resource Center” [NSHRC] can help you find such programs across the country, or provide information that will help you start up your own (rating = A).
- Another “shared living” possibility is for a person who owns or rents a home to share it with someone who will either pay rent or provide other services (help with transportation, cooking, housekeeping, etc.), or some combination of rent and assistance. Programs marked “MU” in the “NSHRC Directory” help match up people who have space in their home with people who need space (rating = A).
- Intentional Community, to quote the “Fellowship for Intentional Community,” is an inclusive term for ecovillages, cohousing communities, residential land trusts, communes, student co-ops, urban housing cooperatives, intentional living, alternative communities, cooperative living, and other projects where people strive together with a common vision. Check out their website for more information about such options (rating = A+).
- Other resources:
- Under One Roof Again: All Grown Up and (Re)learning to Live Together Happily, by Susan Newman, deals mainly with relationship issues that arise when you live with your adult children – whether they move in with you, or you move in with them (rating = A).
- Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates, by Annamarie Pluhar, is a very practical book about living with others, in your home or theirs - suitable for people of any age, but highly applicable to those of us who are older (rating = A).
- If your home just seems too big and/or too expensive to take care of, take a look at Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home, by Linda Hetzer and Janet Hulstrand (rating = A), and Rightsizing Your Life: Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most, by Ciji Ware (rating = A).
- Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community, by Diana Leafe Christian, tells you how to find intentional communities that might be right for you and, when you do, how to fit in (rating = A).
- See also:
This section deals with the financial and legal implications of various living arrangements, as well as issues relating to buying, selling, and renting, whereas the previous section deals mainly with identifying your options and considering their social aspects (though taking some account of broad financial considerations, too).
The following resources are specifically geared to people entering (or already in) their senior years. General information about real estate transactions, renting out property (or looking for a rental property), roommate situations, moving, and the like are readily available at any bookstore or library, and all over the internet.
- Free resources:
- Other resources:
- The Pocket Guide to Senior Housing: What they Don’t Tell You and What You Need to Know, by Pamela Pierson, provides handy, useful information for people looking for low-cost senior housing (rating = A).
- “The National Association of Senior Move Managers” can help you locate a specialist to consult with you on the physical and emotional demands of downsizing, relocating, or modifying your home (the search is free, but the services are not; rating = A).
- Just Pencil Me In: Your Guide to Moving & Getting Settled After 60 (The Best Half of Life), by Willma Willis Gore, can help make your move an enjoyable adventure, or at least not a complete horror show (rating = A). Also: Moving for Seniors: A Step-by-Step Workbook, by Barbara H. Morris (rating = A).
- The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community, by Janelle Orsi and Emily Doskow, deals with many of the benefits of shared living, but is especially strong in helping you identify where problems might arise, and in constructing an arrangement that will head them off (rating = A).
- Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities, by Diana Leafe Christian, provides step-by-step practical information dealing with structural, interpersonal and leadership issues, decision-making methods, vision statements, and the development of a legal structure, as well as profiling well-established model communities, if you want to create your own intentional community (rating = A+).
- See also:
- Aging in place Adapting your home and yourself, so you can live at home as long as possible while you get older.
“Aging in place” is a relatively new expression that represents what many of us hold up as the ideal: living in the same residence (maybe our current one, maybe a new one) for the rest of our lives, until we are ready to die in our own beds.
- Free resources:
- “The National Aging in Place Council” website provides basic information about this concept, and connects you with local chapters and with product and service providers (rating = A).
- “Aging in Place,” at ParentGiving.com, links you to a variety of helpful articles on this subject, as does the “Aging in Place” page at SeniorResource.com (ratings = A-), and “AgeInPlace.com” (rating = A-).
- The “Aging in Place Workbook” is offered free by the MetLife Mature Market Institute. It presents checklists and self-survey tools to help you assess your situation, and information and resource links to help you make any changes you need (rating = A). “Home Remodeling for Disability and Special Needs: What You Need to Know,” from Expertise.com, provides additional information and links to help you with design, funding, legal and other options (rating = A).
- To keep an eye on new technologies that help people who are older and/or disabled continue to live in their own homes, check out the “Aging in Place Technology Watch,” (rating = A).
- The “American Red Cross,” provides info on making homes safe for seniors (rating = A-), and the “Fire Safety and Disabilities Guide” from CraftJack/ImproveNet addresses fire safety issues related to a variety of disabilties (rating = A). For general information about home adaptations for people with disabilities, see “Home Modifications to Promote Independent Living,” from AARP (rating = A), and for links to information about transportation for the disabled, go to Disability.gov's “Guide to Transportation” (rating = A).
- Other resources:
- The Senior Solution: A Family Guide to Keeping Seniors Home For Life! by Valerie VanBooven-Whitsell, though no longer the newest book on the subject, is still considered one of the best (rating = A+).
- Aging In Place, Safely Living in Your "Home Sweet Home" until You’re 100 Plus, by Donna Christner-Lile, is a very practical self-help book, with worksheets to help you organize what you need to do (rating = A).
- Residential Design for Aging In Place, by Drue Lawlor and Michael A. Thomas, is an excellent book to read if you have the opportunity to have a home built from scratch that you will want to stay in for the rest of your life (rating = A). The National Association of Home Builders offers a “Directory of Professionals with Home Building Designations,” including Certified Aging in Place Specialists – select “CAPS” as the desired designation when using their database look-up page (rating = A).
- Is This Thing On? A Friendly Guide to Everything Digital for Newbies, Technophobes, and the Kicking & Screaming, by Abby Stokes, might be worth your reading, if you are not very comfortable with current technology. Many aging in place techniques rely on the use of such technology (not rated).
- To purchase products that will help you with your “aging in place” goals, check out “AIP at Home” (rating = A).
- ITNAmerica offers transportation services for seniors in a growing number of localities across the U.S. (rating = A-), though you should also check with your local area Agency on Aging to see what services are available (whether for free or at cost) in your area.
- See also:
©2016 Still River Retirement Planning Software, Inc. / RetirementWORKS, Inc.