Jun 29, 2017
Congratulations on your retirement or countdown to it! The benefits of retirement are many, and you’ve undoubtedly been looking forward to this moment for years. Whatever you’re expecting from these work-free years, there are plenty of gratifying options. Moving to another home can be one of those options, and the whole idea of making a change in residence is exciting and, for some, intimidating. In this article, we’ll explore reasons why townhome living could add even more joy and simplicity into your new lifestyle and how to make it happen without undue stress.
Whether you’re thinking of moving far or near, you’ll want to consider some things carefully. By now, you are well acquainted with your current neighborhood, traffic, conveniences, and routine. Give yourself some time to dream a little. What’s most important to you? Would you like to be closer to family, friends and activities? Which type of setting do you envision (water, green space, large trees, new construction, a certain type of architecture, etc.)? Do you want to be close to your place of worship, medical services, volunteer opportunities, shopping or recreation?
There are townhome communities that accommodate all types of preferences, and once you understand your priorities, you’ll find the right location easier. You’ll know what to look for and which questions to ask. You will most likely choose to work with a realtor, and if you haven’t already made a connection, ask for recommendations and interview a few. You’ll have better results if you team up with someone who understands the market, home values, and any red flags that might not be obvious to you.
You’ll want to be confident that the asking price is reasonable for the condition of the home. Look for any signs that an assessment might be on the horizon, or that there might be a downside to an eventual resale. Realtors, home inspectors and neighbors can lend guidance and insights that otherwise might be missed. Buying a home is a serious investment, and you’ll want to think it through carefully and have faith in your decision.
Once retired, many people express the desire to lessen their workload at home as well. In a townhome, there is generally less square footage and less maintenance required on the part of the homeowner. The association will take care of the exterior work like lawn care and sprinkler services, snow removal if you are in the snow belt, roofing and siding repairs or replacements, and possibly pest control. You can look at one-level, multi-level or detached townhomes, depending on your preference.
You can lessen your load even further by hiring in services that you no longer wish to manage yourself. These might include cleaning, window washing, interior painting, decorating, interior repairs and improvements, and even cooking and medical services. Exterior painting, maintenance and repairs will be managed by the association. You will no longer be a slave to household maintenance if that is not your calling. If it is, you can express your creativity in a way that works within a townhome environment.
Each association has governing documents. Take some time to read and understand them. The list of restrictions and obligations that accompany townhome ownership will help you decide if it’s a good fit for you. In many ways, the standards set forth will help protect the property values and appearance of the neighborhood. Look carefully at the properties and grounds. Does the maintenance meet your standards? Can you see yourself living there and feeling relaxed and comfortable?
You’ll also want to check on the association finances to see how they are managing their resources. Check on monthly dues. Are they reasonable for the available services and amenities? How much do they have in reserves (savings)? Will it be enough to pay for replacement projects like siding and roofing or will there be assessments? This will be important data for evaluating a potential purchase.
Retirement and townhome living offer plenty of newfound freedom. With less upkeep, you’ll have time to pursue your interests (tennis, fitness, golf, hiking, hunting, biking, fishing, cards, community events, dancing, book clubs, etc.). Ask questions about each neighborhood to see what they offer or how far you would drive to participate in those activities. If you plan to volunteer, travel or entertain the grandkids, you can think about how that would fit into each property that you consider.
If you want to kick back and relax, pay special attention to the design of the home, the size of the rooms, and the patio and yard. What about your indoor hobbies? Is there enough space to accommodate your favorite pastime and the supplies you need? Also, consider your appetite for entertaining and the size of your guest list. Is the kitchen large enough and will you have seatings for everyone?
Some townhome communities are designed for seniors and others will offer more diversity. Ask people who are familiar with the area to help you uncover the personality of the neighborhood. Compare neighborhoods, home designs and community spaces to find a combination that will make your retirement most enjoyable.
There comes a time when the idea of fewer possessions and less to manage sounds delightful. You might say “been there, done that” as you decide to declutter and get down to the basics. You might be happy to keep and treasure only your favorite possessions, the ones that truly bring you joy. If you welcome the help, there are talented professionals who can offer suggestions on what to keep for your new space and help you dispose of items you no longer need. Many will also pack, unpack and help you decorate once you’re in your new home.
Life is less demanding after retirement, and your new home can be a reflection of that change. If you want a less complicated way of life, you can easily find it in a townhome community. Consider the amenities you might appreciate, such as a swimming pool, fitness room, party room, golf course, tennis courts, or walking/biking trails. If you don’t need the shared extras, you’ll save on your monthly association dues. With proper planning, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy your hobbies, stay fit or get social.
Consider your preferences about outdoor spaces and look for communities that offer more privacy or more shared spaces. You can talk with people who are familiar with the neighborhood to determine your own list of pros and cons for each property. As you view each neighborhood, picture yourself living there for greater awareness of how it would feel to be a resident. Is it a good match for your preferred style of living?
Vehicles are another consideration. Are you planning to scale back on vehicles? If so, you can check on public transportation. If you’ll have one or two cars, make sure they will fit in the garage. That sounds odd, but I’ve known several people who bought a townhome only to find out that their car didn’t fit in the garage. This is especially true with older construction. Or, if you have two cars plus other items to store in the garage space, one driver might be disappointed to draw the short straw for parking in the driveway.
One idea that captures the hearts of many is the possibility of splitting your time between two regions of the country or even a retreat from the city to the lake. This is a perk that comes with townhome living. Whether it’s climate, family, friendship or hobbies that divide your attention, you can enjoy both homes without as many worries. You can trust your association to take care of the lawn and remove the snow, and your friendly neighbors will keep an eye on your property, knowing that you are gone.
Ask questions about the location to determine how easy it might be to leave this property for weeks or months without worry. You can also have friends, family or paid professionals check in on your home while you’re away. You’ll want to feel confident while you’re gone and happy with the condition of your home when you return. Owning a townhome makes it much easier to accomplish this than while maintaining a single-family residence.
When exploring options for part-time residency, be sure to get professional advice on tax laws and residency requirements. This will help you better understand the financial impact and necessary recordkeeping to make the most of your investment.
Yes, there’s a bit of an adjustment when you make the move to a townhome, shared walls and all. The rules and regulations of an association can seem overzealous at first, but it doesn’t take long to revel in your new location, with fewer chores and more freedom and flexibility. Your simpler lifestyle can provide time to relax and enjoy life, quite possibly dividing time between your favorite locations.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these thoughts on retirement and townhome living. If you’ve found helpful insights, please share this article with a friend who might benefit from it as well.