Since, as we’ve often heard, location is everything, let’s start by thinking about where you would like to live in your “Next Chapter.” Once we have a general idea of your ideal setting, we can move on to the type of home you want.
Sometimes we are blissfully happy with our neighborhood, but not our house. There are always a few homes nearby that seem just right, even though we may never have seen inside. But if one ever became available, we tell ourselves, that would be the home to downsize to.
For many people, “home” has become the community we live in, if not the specific house or neighborhood. Whether our plan is to downsize or to rightsize, we see ourselves moving within the city or town that we currently call home.
Living in an urban setting, with all of the sports and recreational venues close at hand, tends to be ideal when we are in our child-rearing years. However, escaping to the peace and serenity of a country setting is the dream of many Baby Boomers, who spend endless weekends touring country property open houses in the hope of finding just the right one that fits their dream and their budget.
Living by the water can be a wonderfully calm and soothing lifestyle, although the infinite demand seems to outstrip the finite supply of affordable properties as the prices for decent homes have continued to rise. Waiting until a market correction brings these prices down may be longer than most of us have to wait. Only the unabated growth in waterfront property taxes seems to have been able to pry some of these wonderful settings away from the families that may have owned them for generations.
What began as a modest cabin when you bought this piece of paradise years ago slowly evolved into a lovely cottage, and finally what could be a pretty elegant year-round home. When asked where they plan to retire, cottagers will almost invariably say “right here!”
Yet, after spending several winters in the relative isolation of the offseason, many of these retirees find these months longer and more tedious than they had expected. Although the pristine silence is interrupted only by the snowmobiles, ATVs, and the wind in the pines, with relatively few neighbors to visit, it can be too quiet.
There’s just something about aging that doesn’t mix well with cold, damp winter weather. Even if it is a “dry cold,” it can still feel uncomfortable as we get older. The flight to warmer destinations has been growing for more than 50 years and has now exploded with the graying Baby Boomers.
Ongoing changes to out-of-country health insurance plans and shrinking retirement portfolios are making this dream less achievable for many than it was 10 years ago. However, even if we can’t manage three or four months, we still try to fit in three-to-six weeks just to get away for a break.
Quieter street or cul-de-sac Noise and congestion seem to increase as urban life speeds up and our community keeps growing larger. The longing to be on a quiet cul-de-sac or crescent where only local traffic passes our home can seem very appealing. Yet, depending on your circumstances, you may find that these streets are also the #1 choice of young families with smaller children.
If living in a neighborhood with other downsizers and Boomers like ourselves is one of your criteria, then you will want to determine who lives around that ideal home nestled in a serene cul-de-sac setting. Before you rush out to put in an offer, consider parking on the street at 5:00 pm or 7:30 am to see who comes and goes. Feel free to knock on the door of homes on the street and chat with the owners. They will be glad to tell you about their neighborhood and the street so you can determine if this would be a good fit for your lifestyle expectations.
One of the common themes among many Baby Boomer couples today is the desire to downsize and share a home with one of their children or extended family. They see this as an ideal opportunity to share expenses and be close to the grandchildren they love so much. This can be an ideal solution, where the parents have their own discrete living space, perhaps an apartment downstairs or in the loft above the garage. Should they decide to be away for the winter, they can just pack up and go, knowing that everything is looked after.
This great community lifestyle allows seniors to live in and own their home, to socialize with their peers, and to enjoy amenities geared to their mobility and interests in a safe, friendly, and mutually supportive environment. Most, though not all, adult lifestyle communities are land lease-based, and equity growth in the value of these homes will tend to be less rewarding than it would be for a freehold or condominium property. One of the attractive features of this lifestyle choice is the opportunity for downsizers to more affordably own two seasonal residences, thereby allowing them to enjoy the best weather, all year round.
We recommend thoughtful financial planning, and a discussion of optimal financing, before becoming emotionally engaged in a decision to buy one or more of these properties. Consult with your Downsizing & Real Estate Coach to review the market for these homes, and ask them to advise you on the market value growth over the past several years for homes of this type in a land-lease community in your area.
After a life of suburbia or country living, some downsizers are attracted to an urban condo as their primary residence in the “Next Chapter.” Others may choose to purchase a smaller unit, such as a studio apartment, that gives them a “place” in the heart of the city where they can go for a change of pace.
Due to the cost of land, and associated increases in maintenance costs, the size of these apartments continues to get smaller. Many units, for example in downtown Toronto’s Theatre District, have no available parking and bicycle lockers are extra.
Preference is almost always to be within walking distance of major attractions, restaurants, theaters and shopping, yet have 24/7 public transit literally at the door. New options such as “ZIP Cars” provide small rental vehicles on demand and these can be picked up from a dedicated parking spot near your condo – just call ahead for an access code, charge it to your credit card, and go!
If you’re interested in international travel, owning a downtown condo also provides an excellent opportunity to arrange home exchanges, in which people visiting your city stay in your home and you stay in theirs. Alternatively, there’s the potential for short-term rental income whenever you’re not staying there.
TollFree: +1 855 755 2665.
TollFree: +1 855 755 2665
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