The True Cost of Living in Your House

Our new normal has us all staying close to home and for many that can mean postponing the future.  In the early stages of the pandemic this was the wise decision, but long-term what is the cost of delaying the decision to make a move?  For many of us in our retirement years, the goal is always to age in place with the ability to live comfortably in one’s home and community both safely and independently.   According to AARP, this is the goal for more than 80% of people over the age 65.  None of us can predict where our aging journeys will take us, but what if something happens to prevent one’s ability from safely staying put?  There are two major considerations for choosing to stay in your house.  The financial decision is obvious, but less apparent is the emotional cost of homeownership and aging alone.

The Physical Cost

Many in retirement have paid off the mortgage on the house, but there are still several monthly expenses to consider in addition to the added cost of maintenance and repairs on aging homes.

Consider the following:

  • Rising Property Taxes and Utility Costs
  • High-cost Improvements and Repairs:  Replacing plumbing, electric, windows, roofing, appliances, and exterior improvements or tree removal.
  • Needing to Contract Services as you age:  Lawn care, snow removal, housekeeping, meal delivery, transportation to medical appointments.
  • Structural Modifications to Accommodate Walkers, Wheelchairs, and Changes in Mobility or Sight.

The average annual home maintenance costs are between 1-6% of the initial house price.  To give an example, if you are the owner of a $200,000 home you can expect to pay between $2,000 and $6,000 per year for average upkeep and replacements.  According to Rodney Harrell, director of livability thought leadership for AARP, there are more than 100 million homes in U.S. cities, suburbs, and rural areas, yet only 1% of them are conductive to aging in place.  This means that living long-term in your house will most likely mean making modifications and additions so that you can safely live day-to-day.  To get a clear picture of how much it would cost to live in your home and make improvements overtime.  Click To Use this Worksheet from whereyoulivematters.org.

The Emotional Cost

Until the Covid-19 pandemic no one really talked about how lonely and isolating staying at home can be.  According to an article entitled “Let’s Wage a War on Loneliness” by Nicholas Kristof from the New York Times, a quarter of Americans now live alone.  For many of us our extended families have dissolved or moved away.  Even before the pandemic memberships to social institutions like churches, bowling leagues, and neighborhood clubs have declined over the years.  Our neighborhoods have changed, and many of us don’t know the person next door.  Loneliness is THE silent killer in this age.  Research has shown loneliness to be a contributing factor to an increase in inflammation, heart disease, dementia, and death rates.  When we live alone, we are less likely to go to a doctor’s appointment, exercise, or eat a healthy diet.  The bright side to all this?  We CAN live safely in a community that supports us as we age, just ask us how Shaker Pointe supports residents.   When we are immersed in community, we gain back the tools to feel stronger, more resilient, and more optimistic about the future.  Having personal connections and a support system helps us all stay accountable and walk a healthier path.

Sources: 

Where you Lives Matters 

“Will Your Home Be Ready for Aging in Place?,Angelo Gentile: Next Avenue Contributor, May 3, 2017.

“Let’s Wage a War on Loneliness”, Nicholas Kristof, Nov. 9, 2019.

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