The centuries-old rules that dictated how past generations were housed once they reached "a certain age" have disappeared or been rewritten, even though our language may still be seeded with out-of-date terms like "retirement."
Use the word "retirement" and most people will not ask what you mean, but they should. The problem here is the illusion of communication, an illusion that causes too many to miss out in ways they may not even realize.
Retirement, as it existed in the last century is over -- it's no longer the end of everything, of anything. The word lingers on as a source of confusion rather than intent. Discussions on redefining "retirement" continue, but participants have missed the point. It's not the word that needs our attention, but the out-dated stereotypes associated with retirement that must be left behind.
In this transitional time, some people continue the 20th Century style of retirement while others embrace label-free extended living. The professionals and organizations that serve them similarly fall into "retirement" and "extended living" camps. What's your preference?
Forget chronological age, and concentrate on how you want to live now and into the future:
- Where do you want to be and why?
- What must an independent, fulfilling lifestyle include for you and those you love?
- What do you want to accomplish through real estate ownership?
- How will your real estate be involved in long-term income earning and extended living?
- How will you achieve those goals?
These are issues that should be addressed when selecting the right neighbourhood, the best style of home, and the most feasible financial equation to achieve lifestyle sustainability over the years ahead. With decades of active, involved living ahead at 65 and at 85, re-write the old-fashioned "rules" that dictated past generations lived out their lives on the sidelines. It's time to move your future into the mainstream:
- No Age Limit There is no chronological age at which you should or must move out of your home, or allow someone to bully you into a "retirement home" or anything else "because I worry about you." Dependancy is not an automatic outcome of aging. Preserving independence, whatever happens to you physically, does not mean doing everything by or for yourself. Just decide to remain in charge of where you live, and when you move and where.
- Up-Size Is a Choice If you decide to move, there's no rule that states you have to downsize, and dump a lifetime of beloved furnishings to squeeze yourself into a smaller space. You can move to a similar sized or even bigger house, townhome, or condominium suite, and keep the things that matter to you. A less expensive neighbourhood or community, or sharing with a friend may be viable alternatives if finances are an issue. You can't take it with you in the end, but you can take it all with you until then if you want to enjoy the treasures of a lifetime.
- Indulge Yourself Even if you have a home that is serviceable, there's no rule against indulging in your dream of living in something with a stunning view, a palatial master suite, custom kitchen, or waterfront access. Perhaps you'd love a more urban or rural setting than you have now. Settle for less while you build your career and raise a family, but stop that once you're free of those responsibilities. There are always a number of ways to achieve any real estate goal, just ask a real estate professional.
- Improve to Your Standard Over-improvement, or spending more on renovations than can be recouped on resale, has no relevance if you renovate or build a home that will enable you to stay for decades, whatever happens. When resale value is not an issue, your prime concern is knowing how much you can afford. Architects, interior designers, and contractors offering universal design services can ensure your money buys successful aging in place even if physical challenges arise.
- It's Your Home, Not a Nest When the kids move out to gain their freedom, there's no rule that says your house or condominium unit turns into an "empty nest" that they have a life-time right to return to when it suits them, on their terms. When the kids first move on to live their adult lives, your home remains your home, so enjoy it. If the kids need a boost financially, don't let their first choice be to live off and with you. Instead insist all housing alternatives are explored, including renting with friends to maintain their independence, rather than disrupting your hard-won freedom.
- Go Label Free There's no rule that says housing labelled "retirement" or "seniors friendly" has anything to do with you, or that it lives up to its label for those attracted to 20th Century standards and stereotypes. I've always advocated shared housing with staff who know they work in residents' home, and do not treat residents as if they intrude on the staff's workplace.
- Never Because "Everyone Else Is" This never-before-in-history time means there is no one to follow. There are no rules. Following others was OK in the 20th Century, but it's a waste of opportunity and freedom in the 21st to follow those old-fashioned patterns.
Stop calculating your chronological age, and worrying what you must do "at that certain age." There are no rules, except the ones you'd like to set for your own enjoyment of life and home.