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Post-Retirement Housing Needs
M G Warrier
 
When you set out to live a retired life it is only natural that you wish that the problem solving era be over. You would wish to start following those passions you couldn’t till then because of your job. And you could even be having the money to do it: thanks to the investment advisors, your financial planning and personal budget might already be in place.

In your post retirement days, it is natural to feel that you have grown out of that house/flat you acquired when your income was at its peak. After all, you had bought it when your children were staying with you and there were those occasional visitors who had to be accommodated for long durations. Also, the social life which existed around your vocation would have vanished -and you might find loneliness slowly creeping in. Maybe a carefully thought out change of residence could charm your life again.

Relocation
Since the compulsions of being near the workplace would be there no more, areas of concern (in addition to one’s own likes and dislikes for a particular area or city to settle in finally) would include:
  • Proximity to the person(s) you would count on in case of an emergency, and whether your promised land is within reasonable distance for them.
  • Availability of goods and services, including a hospital.
  • The social life and environment around the new location.
Creating liquidity
It would be good to put your existing asset - the house you are staying in - to best use in terms of its location and size. If the house/flat you have is bigger than you might want it, you can think in terms of adding an additional residential unit which can be let out, and earn a recurring income.

Alternatively, you can dispose of it and acquire a smaller house/flat to create some financial liquidity for important immediate needs, or for investment which will generate income.

If your house is old and needs repair or renovation, do it immediately after retirement as such things would become a financial burden later in life. Also, you may not be physically fit to mobilize the required resources and manpower then. It is advisable to keep your house in tenantable condition constantly so that if you need to go for finance under the newly introduced Reverse Mortgage Scheme, bankers may assess a higher value for your house.

The main advantage of Reverse Mortgage is that you and your spouse can continue to stay in that house/flat till death, despite having mortgaged the asset for obtaining a loan. Legal heirs can retrieve the house after both of you pass away by clearing off the dues to the financier, if they so desire. Like any coin, there is another side to this scheme: the paperwork, low valuation, financial loss (as compared to other sources of borrowing) and likelihood of getting trapped in long term liability are the negatives.
Independent stay with children
Having the best of both worlds – safeguarding your freedom and enjoying the good side of being with your children- is also possible. Get a smaller flat or house in the same colony or in the vicinity of the place your son or daughter is staying. Mutual help without interfering in either’s preferred lifestyle is the main advantage. Almost the same benefits to a lesser degree can be derived by financing for an add-on accommodation with your son’s/daughter’s house where this is possible.
Sharing Accommodation
You wake up to the realization that you don’t need separate office rooms any more, and since the children are not there any more, no separate rooms for them either; a guest room might suffice for visitors. Then, you can opt to let out either a portion or share the entire facilities with another family or individual. You can even convert your big house into a hostel-type arrangement where all expenses are shared - and you get reimbursed for the rent element too! If you are looking at any of these options, special care should be taken about passages, common areas including the garden, cost sharing for bills. These minor things can snowball into major irritants if disputes arise.

Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. Rental income, maintenance cost sharing, feeling of better security and access to help in times of emergency are some of the advantages of these arrangements. But then, you also stand to lose your privacy and would have to share your personal possessions with others who may not use it as carefully as you are used to. There could even be unwelcome guests at times you would prefer to be left alone, or those barking pets you had disliked all your life. But on the brighter side, you may come to enjoy these socializing bouts and values of sharing, which your nine-to-five job might have prevented all these years.

    
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