Is it time to downsize?
Have you been thinking that it might be time to downsize and move to an adult community, either a 55+ or 62+ neighborhood? Do you have these thoughts and feelings on your mind? If so, you just may be ready to make that move!
- You no longer want to take care of your yard and the outside of your home. In most adult communities, most or all yard maintenance and street care such as snow shoveling are included in your monthly fee.
- You’re starting to feel the strain of going up and down stairs. Homes in 55+ communities are often single story. Multistory homes may have elevators or at the least, a first floor master bedroom and laundry area.
- You prefer to be around people your own age virtually all the time. Like the name says, adult communities are, with some exceptions, restricted to people 55 or older. One common exception is that at least one, but not all residents/owners must be 55 or older and no children under 18 may permanently live in the residence.
- Your children have left the nest and show few signs of returning. That’s important to consider, because in some adult communities, underage guests are limited in how many days they can stay. If you think an adult child may want to live with you (and you are okay with that, of course!) be sure to check the community rules and regulations.
- You feel strongly it’s time for a change in the direction of retirement. You want to sell your current house and move on to an entirely new way of living.
What are some of the things you should consider before making a move to an adult community?
- What amenities does it have, and do those amenities meet my needs and interests? If the community boasts tennis courts and everyone plays in the weekly league but you don’t even own a racquet, it may not be right for you. Look for amenities that mesh with your hobbies such as an indoor or outdoor swimming pool, fitness center or fitness classes, walking paths or clubhouse. Often times, these amenities - and more - are included as part of your monthly association fee.
- Does it make sense for me financially? It makes financial sense to pay for what you will use, so if you’ll take advantage of the pool and fitness center and won't need to pay for a gym membership, you'll get your money's worth. But if you have no interest in golf and your community boasts sprawling greens, it may not be right for you (unless you like a pretty view or you’re interested in the golf course to boost your home’s resale value). Keep your financial goals in mind, too. If your mortgage will be so high that you can’t take a vacation or go out to eat, then you may need to look at a more affordable community.
- How are the community’s finances? Make sure the community is in good financial health. You don't want to invest in a community that has a lot of homeowners in arrears, or is battling a lawsuit. Fing out if there have been any recent special assessments for items that weren't budgeted for, or for emergencies. The reserve fund should be healthy with a good financial plan in place. Look at the grounds and buildings to see if see if any major renovations, such as a new roof for a clubhouse, have been put off. Ask for a copy of financial statements, budgets, condo or Home Owners Association documents and the minutes from at least the past 3 homeowner meetings.
- Are there any age restrictions? Maybe you have young grandchildren who spend summer weekends with you. But if they can’t use the pool, you will have some sad faces. Or what if your daughter wants to move in with you after college graduation so she can save for her own apartment. Each community will likely have its own rules, regulations and restrictions. Don't be so excited to buy that you forget what the future might hold!
- What rules will you need follow? Every community has its own rules, and some communities may more strictly enforce them. Don't get off on the wrong foot by doing something wrong, or get frustrated when someone calls you out on your error. It's imperative that you read carefully through all documents before signing on the dotted line! You may have to paint your home’s exterior a certain color or landscape a certain way. Maybe you can’t have pets or are restricted on the number of pets you can have or how much the pet weighs. You may have to park in the garage and not leave a car in the driveway overnight.
Research and consider these things first, or you can make an expensive mistake!