Housing in Retirement: Matching Home with Lifestyle

Gary Silverman, CFP® |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

My wife and I moved into a new residence a few months ago. As I’ve been discussing here, the original idea was to move into a nicer but smaller home. When we started looking, we wanted one that would cost about the same as our then-current residence, but one that would be easier to maintain. One we could live in as we grew older. 

As my wife and I were considering our options one idea was to rent one of the newly renovated apartments in historic downtown Wichita Falls, at least a few years, as a bridge to the next house. A carefully built spreadsheet showed that our net costs of being in one of the larger house-sized apartments might not be any more expensive than buying a home of the same size.

But that wasn’t the deal-breaker. We also had to consider whether our lifestyle and personalities would fit. That part of the decision process is a heck of a lot more involved, not to mention more subjective, than the rather involved budget question. After examining realistically (rather than dreamily) how our lifestyle and personalities would fit…we decided that they just wouldn’t. While there are some objective aspects to this, a lot of the decisions here were very subjective and personal. That doesn’t mean it is any less important than the budget or other considerations.

But part of the process in looking into the downtown option was looking at what would be an even trade-off, budget-wise, between renting and owning. Frankly, the amount I could spend on a rental without falling behind money-wise was a lot higher than I thought it would be. Which got me to thinking…

You see, I figured that eventually owning a house would become too much of a burden for me. I loved landscaping three different homes (even won some awards—yes, I’m bragging), but as I was getting older it was becoming more a nuisance than an enjoyment. I’m not all that handy, and houses do age and need repairs. The idea of moving into a retirement community appealed to us. My parents lived at Rolling Meadows for over 25 years and while I was not yet ready to play Bingo Monday nights, their cottages were very appealing.

So, we began retirement community shopping. No, we didn’t only consider Rolling Meadows. There are other retirement communities in town that have cottage-like housing available. We closely considered Presbyterian Manor. It is a lovely place with excellent facilities. I wouldn’t mind living there at all. But for us, Rolling Meadows was a better fit with the added advantage of being familiar to us.

Here it is good to back up a little and remind you that this is MY life and MY circumstances. The purpose of these articles is to discuss the thinking and planning process that should be taken in considering your particular retirement housing needs, which may not look anything like mine. More on that when I wrap this up next week.

Gary Silverman, CFP® is the founder of Personal Money Planning, LLC, a Wichita Falls retirement planning and investment management firm and author of Real World Investing.