Where you choose to spend your retirement years is an important decision. Retirement can be great, and aging in place in your own home can be a wonderful experience spent relaxing in your garden or on your front porch. But spending your retirement years in the same big, and now empty, house you raised your family might not always be the best decision. Here are the pros and cons of aging in place.

When a House is a Home

Staying right where you are once you punch that time clock for the last time often feels like the easy choice for retirees. Many decide to age in place because of the emotional attachment to a beloved family home. You’ve built a life for yourself, and you’ve worked hard to make it the best home for you. It’s been there for you for decades — why pull up tent stakes now, when you’ve finally gotten the time to truly enjoy yourself?

It’s this emotional component that often compels people to stay where they are. Staying in a place where you’re already happy is a major motivator, and rightly so. And for good reason, considering it’s familiar, both inside and out. You know your house like the back of your hand. Not only that, but you know the neighborhood, thanks to living there for years. When your house is a home, and not just a place to keep your stuff, the argument for aging in place becomes strong.

More Pros of Aging in Place

Besides the emotional componentthere are other circumstances when staying right where you are for retirement can be a good idea. For one example, if family members live nearby, that can be a major advantage to aging in place. Being able to see children, grandchildren, and other relatives whenever you want is a serious benefit.

Other excellent reasons for sticking around include the convenience of access to other relationships you’ve already established. One of the best examples would be medical care. If your house is close to an excellent doctor, one that knows you and your specific medical needs because you’ve been seeing them for years, relocating and having to start all over someplace else can be stressful and inconvenient. Retirement is supposed to be relaxing, after all!

But other living options may also be close by. And again in place carries some disadvantages you may not even be aware of.

Cons of Aging in Place: It Can Be Costly

While there are plenty of advantages to aging in place, sometimes staying in your family home can be more trouble than it’s worth, especially when it comes to the financial burdens of maintaining that home. When you combine those burdens with the fact that you’re most likely now on a fixed retirement income, the costs that come with owning your own home can quickly become a major burden.

Maintenance costs can add up to more than you might realize. Even houses in good condition require upkeep, and having to pay for heating, electricity, trash removal, landscaping, and other utilities like cable television add up in a hurry.

Even if you own your home, you still need to pay property taxes, which can be a drain on your resources. That money could be better spent somewhere else, and financial constraints are one of the biggest reasons that retirees move out of their old homes.

Other Disadvantages to Aging in Place

There are additional cons with aging in place as well. Just as having family close by is an advantage to staying in your old home, there’s not much reason to stay where you are if your children and grandchildren live in far-off towns or even in different states.

In fact, many retirees choose to move out of their long-time home specifically to be closer to family, in order to preserve those all-important bonds and to enjoy their golden years surrounded by the love they deserve.

Many older Americans also find that it’s inconvenient to live in a large house, needing to climb stairs, needing to mow the lawn or shovel snow. The older you get, the less your body will want to do any of that, and the more confined your house suddenly becomes, paying for upkeep and taxes on a house you only use a portion of.  

“Downsizing” is a trend for a reason — you don’t need such a large home anymore, so you downsize to one more convenient and more consistent with your preferred post-retirement lifestyle. 

The Alternatives to Aging in Place

After reviewing the aging in place pros and cons, we know what you’re going to say: well if I’m not going live at home, where will I go? There are a number of answers to that question, all of which are excellent options depending on your circumstances. The first is to have family move back home, as this provides you with companionship as well as help around the house.

If your home isn’t really appropriate for your circumstances anymore, though, you can conversely leave your home and move in with family instead, though this requires there to be available space for you to do so.

Because these alternatives aren’t always feasible, moving to a retirement community is a timelessly popular option. Many retirees will downsize and move by putting their old home up for sale and using the proceeds, plus their retirement income, to pay for an apartment, cottage, or semi-detached home in a retirement community.

Doing so makes your dollar stretch much further, as you are no longer responsible for paying upkeep and maintenance on a big, expensive house like you were before. It surrounds you with similar people to your situation, and comes with added perks like clubs and activities, pools and fitness centers, restaurant-style dining options, and other benefits.

Learning More About Retirement Community Living

Moving to a retirement community might not be right for everyone, but it’s still an attractive alternative to aging in place. Whether you choose aging in place or retirement community living, you need to make an informed decision. That’s why it’s important to learn about the advantages of downsizing in retirement as well as the benefits of aging in place. Remember: retirement is all about enjoying yourself, so choose what’s best for you!