Part of being successful with  aging in place is putting yourself in the optimum situation to be able to financially, socially  and of course physically age safely at home. We were  in the same house for 30 plus years and started planning 5 years ago to move after quitting our full time jobs.  We wanted to move  to a place closer to family that was  less financially demanding and more age friendly in terms of less traffic congestion and more available services. You need to look at your own decision point list ( coming later  in surveys)  if downsizing/ moving is your best option.

So if your alternative to the  55 plus or buy in a long term care community  is a nice little rancher,  then be prepared for the brutal real  estate  competitive game to get that said rancher. We were fortunate to sell our former home in a matter of days  but  when we got down to bidding on  the object of our desire, we went through quite a heart pounding quest. 

Ranchers tend to be in distinct areas, many built in the 50’s and 60’s but zero barrier access is not always a slam dunk.  We looked at ranchers with step downs here and there as they were ramblers ( built on two elevations but basically live on one level).  Even looking in the real estate  websites for an advanced search- ranch versus rancher makes a difference  depending on where you are.  I am proposing a rating scale  like walk-ability percentage  for individual houses  on an age friendly scale.   You can only squint so much at the online pictures that  don’t show  the  weak points (very tight bathrooms, killer stairs to the basement etc) Couple that with  trying to figure out which homes to visit bid on in a hurry is daunting.  Know your real estate agent well and be clear about what you want.

In the end we had to pay cash (Heloc and money markets)  despite a solid  sale of our own house. We had to deal with bidding over asking and no inspection!  Yes that seems crazy…we were lucky in the end as our age in place house already  has a  walk in shower, laundry on first floor and other age friendly features.   But do not assume  finding a single family home  that is on one level with  most of what you want and need is a walk in the  park.  Look also at the Cape Cod style which usually has at least one bedroom bath on the first floor.  Split level homes present their own unique remodeling challenges.Competition  for  larger two bedroom condos in both suburban and urban areas  is also now more competitive as empty nesters compete with millennials.

The latest news is that builders have caught on and are offering a few rancher style homes within their  new built two/three story  developments. They are not all in the sunny southern states.   All the trimmings regarding  updated kitchen and finishes,  but also an  updated price tag.