The 3 Most Important Factors For High-Quality Homeownership As A Senior

By: Laura McBride

The 3 Most Important Factors For High-Quality Homeownership As A Senior

Tags: Senior citizen, homeowner, old age, accessible living, lifestyle, staying in home, selling, buying, home, real estate, quality of life, ajax, pickering, whitby, markham, scarborough, toronto, sutton group, laura mcbride, inspired realtor, senior real estate specialist




By Laura McBride “Your Inspired Realtor®” SRES®

Have your daily routines at home become more difficult? Do you find yourself avoiding tasks or
activities because it's hard to get around or access the things you used to do so easily before? Is doing the laundry, cooking, or going out so difficult now, that you skip doing them altogether? If so, it may be time to consider making a change - either modifying your existing home or finding a more accessible place to live in and enjoy. 

You may have lived in your home for decades, immersed yourself in your community and experienced countless family milestones within every nook and cranny of your walls, but the home is just not working for your lifestyle anymore. You're not alone. Many 'Baby Boomers' and those from the 'Silent Generation' before, are not experiencing the quality of life they deserve in their homes. If you're not sure if your home is limiting your lifestyle, jot down a note each time you choose to avoid doing something in your home because of how you feel physically or have a fear that prevents you from doing what you want. After a month or two of making notes, review and decide if you need a change.

The three main areas to ensure you have a high quality of life in your home are: 1. Are you Financially Viable? Can you afford the home and the lifestyle that goes with it? 2. Are you able to complete all of your Personal Care needs? And lastly, 3. Are you getting outside, going on outings and staying connected with friends and other people in your community?

Financially Viable

When your bills for mortgage, taxes, utilities, maintenance and repairs come due, are you able to pay them with enough left over for food, transportation and a little bit of fun? If you find that money is tight each month, there are some options that may help you feel a bit more comfortable financially.

Financial Options

Downsizing - There are a couple of different ways you can downsize a property: 1. Size and 2. Money. You could sell you current home and buy something physically smaller in the same area that is easier to manage (and usually less money too). Or, you could choose to move to a slightly different area, perhaps with the same amenities, where property values are lower to reduce costs further. Downsizing offers you the option to use hard earned equity for daily living expenses, while still owning an appreciating asset. Another option if you just don't want to own, brings us to the next option, Rent.

Rent - Renting has some pros and cons, just like anything else. So, if it comes to selling a home you've owned and loved for decades to renting something from someone else, you need to have an open mind on things that will be out of your control. Some apartment buildings have centralized heating systems, so adjusting the temperature may not be as available as you're used to. The curb appeal of some rented properties may not meet your previous pride of ownership expectations and it is often out of your control. Rent is often an affordable option for many and there are many lifestyle friendly buildings out there if you choose to go that route.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) - If you are still working, even part time, you may qualify for a Home Equity Line of Credit. This product has no age restriction and is available at most major financial institutions. It is essentially a loan which is tied to, or uses the equity in your home as collateral. Like any loan, this option has a monthly cost. It is a simple way of gaining access to some of your home's equity (up to 65%) to assist you in your daily living if you can afford the interest on the amount you borrow. Later on when you go to sell the property the amount owing will be paid in full.

Reverse Mortgage - Unlike a HELOC, a reverse mortgage is not available at major financial institutions. It is available in Canada through CHIP by HomeEquity Bank. There are no monthly repayments, but is limited to homeowners ages 55 and over. Reverse mortgages are becoming very popular, as homeowners are living longer and want to remain independent. A reverse mortgage can be used to live on by extracting the value of your equity in a lump sum, monthly or yearly. There are limitations on how much you can receive based on age, but no limitations on how you use it (pay off debts, go on trips, give family early inheritance), so it may be something to consider. 

Home Share/ Joint Tenancy - Home Sharing might be an option for homeowners who perhaps live alone and have close friends or acquaintances who live alone and may wish to pay rent as part of a combined household with someone they know and care about. In some European countries, the concept of Home Sharing is a bit different. It is not uncommon to see older accesibly isolated homeowners living with younger students needing a place to reside. It has proven to be successful and mutually beneficial. Joint Tenancy, with the specific goal of cost sharing, could be an option if another interested party assumes a percentage of the property with the expectation of splitting expenses and daily tasks. It is becoming a more popular option as the population ages and the cost of living increases.

Personal Care

Think about your daily, weekly & monthly routines starting from the moment you wake up in the morning until the moment you go to bed at night. Are you able to get to the bathroom, bathe, get dressed, cook meals, do the laundry, access the things you need to use when you want to use them in a safe and efficient way? If your struggle is simply because of the physical characteristics of your home, like stairs, high cupboards, narrow doorways, high bathtub, etc., there are companies that will come in and adjust your home to accommodate your current and future needs. If the challenges you experience are ones with your own physical ability, such as pain, mobility, memory, etc. there are resources that will assess your needs and provide a list of services available to you.

Personal Care Options

Modify your current home

ReliAble Independent Living Services®?- is a company established in 2003 to provide complete access solutions for residential and commercial environments. Often less than moving, companies like this can renovate your current home to be more comfortable and accessible for you.

Continuing Care Retirement Community

Continuing Care Communities are designed to give residents independence while they are still active and mobile, yet offer easy transition to stages of higher care once needed. These communities can be costly, but an important consideration for many when deciding what the next step is.

Getting Out

It gets harder to manage the interior and exterior upkeep of your home as your lifestyle changes and your body (and often budget) chooses not to cooperate. Cutting grass, bringing out and in the garbage bins, shovelling snow and the many other tasks on a homeowners list, become increasingly more difficult and expensive. Beyond chores, however, is an even larger problem facing people today. Getting outside for health and enjoyment, grocery shopping, meeting with friends and doing the activities once enjoyed, is often lost. If you are feeling isolated and find that you are not getting out as much as you'd like because of stairs, fear of falling or just not knowing what to do or where to go, there are community resources that might be a great start.

Book Clubs - Your community library, local bookstore and the internet are great places to seek information about book clubs in your area.

Walking, Swimming & Other Active Groups - Community Centres, independent sport shops and churches often have pin up boards with local groups looking for members.

Day Trippers - Municipal program guides often include programs designed for Seniors that want to discover new places. 

Knitting/ Quilting Clubs - Most local churches have programs that benefit the community, such as knitting hats for newborns, blankets for homeless and quilts for families in need. If you have the ability to knit or sew, there are many groups you could join in every community.

Community & Church Groups - If you are just looking for somewhere to go during the week and be with other people, there are many local programs designed for just that. 

Local Theatre Groups - Independent small theatre companies, run by volunteers and local community members, are an affordable, fun night out on the town...and it's usually really great acting too! 

There are so many things to enjoy as you get older, the first step is making sure you have the essential elements of a high quality lifestyle and then go get 'em!

Laura is an experienced Realtor in the Greater Toronto Area who has helped many Senior clients since 2005, find their best options to stay inspired where they live. She is always happy to take on new clients and help those who need advice.