It’s important to fully understand your retirement home options, whether you’re looking for a place to move into immediately or simply trying to make a plan for the future.
Here are some of the most important questions to ask when researching those options:
1. Where do you want to be?
This question is really several questions wrapped up into one. Where does your family live? How close to them do you want to be? Do you want to stay near the place where you’ve lived in recent years?
As for the actual location itself, what do you want it to look like? Do you want to be near a river or lake? Do you want to retire to a rural area or live in a big city?
All of these questions should be answered before you start looking at retirement homes. This will speed up the process of choosing viable candidates once you start looking.
2. What kind of care do you expect to need?
Do you already have health problems that you can expect to get significantly worse as you age? Are you going to need access to extra medical care? Help with basic tasks? Or do you expect to be relatively healthy and independent well into your senior years?
You can’t predict exactly what condition you’ll be in, but you can make an educated guess based on your current health and lifestyle. This can help you decide whether you’re looking for a retirement home or a full nursing home.
3. How much do you need to get out of the community aspect?
Do you have a strong network of connections already, people you can count on to visit you when you’re in the home? Clubs or events you can rely on for your social fix? Or are you going to rely on the retirement community for most of your social interaction?
Every retirement home offers some opportunities to socialize with other people, but the types and number of opportunities vary greatly from one home to the next. Take a close look at the itinerary of activities, and make sure there are enough for your needs—and that they’re actually things you’ll enjoy.
4. What learning opportunities would you like to pursue in your senior years?
What are you interested in learning now that you have time? Do you want to learn it in your retirement community or are you happy to do it off site? How many courses do you want to be able to take?
Continuing to learn is one of the most important aspects of living a fulfilling life, and most senior homes now offer educational programs. These are often run in conjunction with other organizations, and may be facilitated away from the actual home.
If your ideal retirement home is in a city, you may also be able to access other local education programs for seniors. These are often free or heavily discounted.
5. What can you actually afford?
This is the hardest question for a lot of people, both to ask and to answer. The only people who like talking about money are the people who have a surplus of it. But this is something you need to know before you start looking.
There are several free retirement calculators online, both to help you determine how much you need to save for retirement and what you can afford based on your current retirement savings. They consider factors like how many years you can expect to live, when you expect to retire, and a rough estimate of your expected monthly budget during retirement.
Once you’ve answered these questions—and you should answer them early on—you can begin searching for the place where you intend to live out the last of your days. Be aware that you might have to make some compromises based on your budget and what’s available. That’s not ideal, but it is completely normal. Just make sure you know what truly matters to you and what you’re willing to sacrifice—before you’ve sacrificed the wrong thing.