As more and more people retire, the prospect of downsizing is becoming a more illusive option. Answering the question where else would I want to spend the rest of my days comes with a price tag. Many save as best they can, work as long as they can and then find out they can not afford to move. I call it being stuck in place as many retirees do not even want to consider the timed honored tradition of snow-birding it south where real estate prices are cheaper. Most people want to live in the same community where they have made connections with out having to care for larger homes that may be aging out faster than they are.
The surprise comes when people realize that the options for smaller sized senior independent living are limited. Big price tags for small condos and the serious scarcity of smaller rancher and cape cod style homes means trading all your chips for a fraction of the space you had before. Often there are also are high HOA fees or even higher taxes that make moving a financial drain. What has happened to paying off your house, cashing in its equity for some sweet cottage with change to spare?
As with all things real estate; it depends on location location location. Having recently attending an affordable housing fair in my local community, it is evident that the value of the land dictates who wants to build on it. A smaller clusters of patio homes or senior accessible apartment building will not bring in the return on profit that mega homes do. Any such projects are being fought inch by inch, dollar for dollar. Having forty seniors and/or young families living economically in a well planned apartment/ condo complex, somehow does not over shadow the return on investment of 2 or 3 mega homes stuck close together.
As always I look up to Canada as an example. Their government is planning on spending a billion dollar on housing over the next ten years to accommodate their senior population (which is not aging any faster than the US). Many localities are doing this in advance of the age wave by combining federal/ state/investment funds and are not waiting for a housing crisis to occur.
In general there is a huge gap between the income level cut offs for moderate income housing and what people need to pay for these premium homes. In terms of grants and loans for repairs and upgrading older homes to safer age friendly places, the waiting lists will only get longer. Builders meanwhile are concentrating on providing upscale living concept at even higher prices. So if you are in the middle, there is simply no place to go.
Find out what you own local planning commission is doing about increasing housing options for all seniors. Find out if you have a housing rehab services funding source through your state or county that provides a sliding scale for fix it-keep it services for those firmly rooted to their original homes.
Get involved, become informed. Is your community facing this dilemma head on with building the right type of housing options and supportive services?