Cost-wise, what’s the better choice? Aging in place at home? Or moving to a senior living community? You’ll need to crunch the numbers for your own particular situation, because the cost of living varies all across the country. March is a great time to conduct a careful review of your expenses. Begin by gaining a clear understanding of what you do and don’t get in your home vs. a retirement community. And in the end, if you’re like most people who consider a move to an independent living community, you’ll discover that the costs of community life can compare favorably to the costs of aging in place at home.
Living at home isn’t free.
As a homeowner, you know the costs. There’s insurance, taxes, property maintenance and improvements. There are utilities and groceries and, possibly, landscaping or cleaning services. Every so often, there’s a new hot water heater, new faucets and fixtures, or new appliances. Once in a while there’s a new roof, carpeting, painting, HVAC, sewer lines to clear, and water where it shouldn’t be or not showing up where it should. How much does all this home ownership cost you? Well, add it up – including any mortgage payments you’re still obligated to make. When you have that set of numbers in hand, you’ll have a good starting point for understanding what it costs to live at home.
And then there’s more. Because when your plan is to age in place, you’ll also want to think about the modifications your home may need to keep you safe and life simple. These can range from small – get rid of those liable-to-trip-you throw rugs and install grab bars near the tub and toilet – to mighty, like widening doorways, remodeling a bathroom or two, installing lifts or ramps, and even replacing doorknobs with handles. While these are mostly one-time expenses, they can add up to a major price tag. It’s part of the price you pay to age in place at home – all those home ownership costs, plus the costs of ensuring your home is an even safer, more secure place for the years ahead.
And then there’s even more. Aging in place at home also means being prepared to bring into your home the service providers who can help if you have a health care need. You can (and probably should) research the costs for in-home care in your neighborhood, but national averages have Home Health Aides at $19 to $20 per hour and Home Health Care at $135 per visit. What’s more, you may want to wire your home with smart technologies that can monitor your behavior or medications and alert health professionals when you have a need. Beyond the thousands required for installation, monthly monitoring fees run about $40. And if – heaven forbid – the day comes you must move from your home to assisted living or skilled nursing, those levels of care average $3,600 and $6,600 a month, respectively – on top of the continuing costs for that home you’ve left behind. Add it all up and it’s clear: Living at home isn’t free.
It’s absolutely true that all the costs of aging at home are worth it for some people, who consider the value of staying in their home to be beyond reproach. But if you’d like to consider an alternative, take a closer look at senior living. Compared to the true costs of home ownership outline above, a retirement community can provide a surprisingly affordable alternative.
Independent living communities generally have a monthly rate that could range from $1,500 to $6,000, and may make certain hospitality and care services available for an additional monthly fee. To know your actual costs, you’ll need to visit with the community sales counselor.
Shaker Pointe is what’s known as an entrance fee community. An Entrance Fee is an upfront cost most people handle with proceeds from selling their houses. Entrance fees range from around $172,000 upward, depending on floor plans and residential contracts, or the region where you reside.
In addition, most communities typically have monthly service fees, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 or more. Again, to understand your actual costs, you’ll need to visit with the community sales counselor.
Remember that when you make your home at a senior living community, those home ownership costs for taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs and so forth are all covered by your monthly service fee. Even broken-down appliances (and burned-out light bulbs!) can be replaced, at no additional cost – and those replacements typically happen immediately.
Likewise, Shaker Pointe includes a robust recreation and entertainment calendar, fitness center, a library, beauty salon/barbershop, Activities Studio, scheduled transportation – and it’s all covered by your monthly fee. In fact, all the services and amenities of a community that make everyday living simpler – it’s all made possible by the monthly fee.
Independent living community services include full calendars of life enrichment programs and events, plus transportation, wellness opportunities, trash removal, maintenance and repairs.
Average cost of independent living: Because independent living communities are so varied, pricing ranges. On the lower end of the spectrum are rental communities. If the community is a stand-alone, 55+, multi-unit, senior apartment community with few benefits and services, monthly rental prices may be comparable to conventional apartments. Add more services and amenities, and costs rise.
Homework’s required. Calculate your home ownership costs and estimate what care will add to your monthly expenses – before you conclude that aging in place at home is a cheaper alternative. And find out the actual costs of living in a retirement community before concluding it’s too expensive.
To help you get started and compare the costs, try using this handy value compare worksheet by clicking here
Find out more about senior living costs, visit Genworth Financial’s 2016 Cost of Care.