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The true costs of homeownership …

We recently held several events focused on de-cluttering your home.

It’s amazing how much stuff we can accumulate over the years so de-cluttering can be important, particularly as people age.

At the same time, some of that “stuff” often is what may make a home special to us. It makes the home “ours.”

According to industry data, nine out of 10 adults—and not just older adults—say they want to remain in their homes as they age. Typically, they want to stay close to family and friends, are satisfied with their current home and find comfort in their community.

Finances come into play, too. After having lived in a family home for decades, many older adults are comfortably mortgage-free and have no desire to go back to paying one. Living in a home you already own is much more affordable—right!

Maybe. But maybe not.

Certainly, when you start looking at the costs of senior living communities—particularly Continuing Care Retirement Communities, sometimes called CCRCs—the price tag can make you pause. Not only is there a monthly charge, but CCRCs also have an entrance fee that must be paid to become a resident.

However, after you review those initial figures, you may be surprised—and a little shocked—at how affordable a CCRC can be when compared to traditional homeownership. Let’s use an example.

Retired for several years, Peggy and John are in their mid-70s and have owned their current family home for more than 25 years. The home is paid off. However, they’ve been thinking about the future and wondering whether staying in their current home is the right choice.

The costs of homeownership

Because their home’s mortgage is paid off, the couple no longer have to make a monthly mortgage payment. However, they still have to pay utilities (gas, electricity, sewer, water and cable). They also have to pay property taxes each year, as well as homeowner’s insurance. They also set aside money each month as “repair” funds. Their furnace is 25 years old, and although they’re hoping they can squeeze a few more years out of it, they know it could quit on them at any minute.

They’re also dealing with the everyday expenses of life: Grocery shopping, paying for lawn maintenance, health care costs and other things here and there. And that’s just the necessities. Pre-pandemic, they both enjoyed spending an evening out with friends, or heading to special events or simply enjoying a meal at a nice restaurant.

Despite their paid-off house, they sometimes have been surprised at how much they spend each month. While they know they could save some money each month doing things on their own (such as housecleaning; currently they hire a cleaning service), they no longer have the desire or interest to do chores they’ve handled for many years.

While both are in relatively good health, they know that won’t always be the case. They’ve already started looking into how much it would cost to convert their current home to meet changing physical needs in the future. They also are dealing with the fact long-time friends and family members have moved away because of jobs or other factors; their social circle is starting to shrink. Although they are still currently active and have some friends nearby, they do worry about what will happen down the road.

The cost of a CCRC

By contrast, Sally and Ken just moved into a CCRC. They were able to cover the cost of the one-time entrance fee through the sale of their family home (with money left over).

Between their Social Security income, pensions and investments, they can comfortably cover the community’s monthly fee and will still have plenty left to travel, go out with friends and generally enjoy life.

They currently live in independent living with their own stand-alone home. It’s just like traditional homeownership—but better!

They no longer have to worry about home or lawn maintenance, plus they receive housekeeping and laundry services. And although they enjoy preparing meals in their own kitchen, they also take advantage of their senior living community’s dining venue, relieving them of the need to cook when they don’t feel like it.

Their community offers activities, events and scheduled outings in which they participate, with safety precautions in place. Plus, they have had many opportunities to meet new people and try new hobbies. They have made good friends because there are so many people ready and eager to enjoy life and who no longer have to deal with the tedious chores of homeownership.

Best of all, as they face the challenges of underlying health concerns, they don’t have to worry about whether their home can accommodate them or if they’ll be able to receive the help they need—because they are already living in a CCRC.

They can therefore quickly receive the assistance they need without ever having to leave a home they love. They are truly able to age in place without worry.

For them, that situation is priceless!

Matt Petrauskas
Corporate Director of Sales Training and Support