Diana Walters: A Boomer's Ruminations - Where To Next?

  • Wednesday, April 17, 2024
  • Diana Walters
Diana Walters
Diana Walters
Like many boomers, Rich and I are considering where to go from here. We’ve lived in this house for over 20 years. When we bought it, we were able to hang wallpaper, install cupboards, and do the myriad of tasks associated with purchasing a fixer-upper. When we bought it, we had no problem navigating the stairs leading into the main living area. When we bought it, we were a lot younger!

When Rich became ill last year and ended up in the hospital, we knew it was time to consider where we would live in the future.
After many years in this home, it’s overwhelming to consider moving, but climbing those stairs will eventually seem like ascending Pikes Peak. Upkeep and maintenance on this old house is already problematic. Although we’re attempting to stave off decline with daily physical and mental exercise, we expect we’ll need to make a move one day.

According to a Zillow report, the average age for people to downsize is 55. There are a number of websites dedicated to helping with the decision, but it appears many of them are connected with a senior community, so they may be biased. However, there are sites that contained unbiased helpful information, such as AARP and investopedia.com.

We are considering the following options. (If readers have other suggestions or want to share an experience with downsizing, I’d be happy to hear from you at the email below.)

Selling our current abode and buying a smaller, one-level house:
A move to a smaller home will necessitate sorting and getting rid of a lot of clutter, which would be beneficial to our heirs. But we’d still have to worry about taxes, insurance and maintenance on our home. And with rising mortgage rates and cost of housing, we financially might not do as well as think we would.

Selling and moving to an apartment:
We haven’t been renters since our first couple years of marriage, and the idea doesn’t appeal to us, but at least we wouldn’t be responsible for maintenance. The landlord would take care of a leaky water heater, etc. Of course, landlords come in all manner of responsiveness to tenant needs. Rental cost will probably be fixed for only a year and could increase after that.

Entering a congregate retirement facility:
This option is appealing to people who want easy access to socialization and activities (if they offer the kind of activities you want.) When you can no longer drive, most facilities have transportation to doctors, shopping, and activities. In addition, they offer 1-3 meals each day as part of the rent (not cooking sounds good to me,) and some housekeeping is usually included. The downside is that you’re surrounded by people you may not want to socialize with, but who could be hard to avoid when going to the dining room, laundry room, and out in the bus. If they come knocking on your apartment door, you may have to be assertive about not wanting company. The average monthly cost for independent living in the Chattanooga area is $3,200.00. There is usually a yearly cost-of-living increase.

Remaining where we are until assisted living is required:
I don’t like change, and would prefer to maintain the status quo, but eventually we may not have a choice. We don’t need this much space, and it may be better to move before the decision is no longer ours to make. If we remain where we are, we would have to continue hiring someone to handle most maintenance issues and mow our huge lawn. The stairs aren’t a problem yet, just exhausting when I carry up a week’s worth of groceries—on the other hand, maybe climbing stairs helps me stay strong.

Moving in with a child or building a mother-in-law suite onto their home:
This is the option we’re leaning toward and the one my daughter and son-in-law are encouraging. Having assistance nearby during emergencies would be a plus, especially since Jen and Dan work in healthcare. When considering this option, we must be realistic about possible issues that could arise and discuss them openly. Will living in close proximity hurt our relationship? What if we build onto their house and they need to move for a better job? What if one of their children want to move in? Do we share meals or eat at different times?

There is much to consider when planning for the future, and it can be stressful, but I’ll end with this: “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11.)

God has been with me throughout my 76½ years, and I know He will continue to be with me wherever I go.

* * *
Diana Walters has enjoyed a long career working with senior adults as social worker, activity director, and volunteer coordinator. She recently retired (at age 76) from paid employment and is now able to devote more time to her writing and her husband (in that order?) She has written devotionals for The Quiet Hour and Upper Room and been published in six Chicken Soup for the Soul books, but she is excited to be writing for and about her fellow Baby Boomers. She can be reached at dianalwalters@comcast.net.


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