Myth: A neighborhood pretty much like the old one we have is just fine.
Truth: If you have your heart set on certain activities such as swimming, golf, volunteering, etc. choose a location where these activities are readily available. Are you a gardener who thrives getting your hands in the dirt or are you trying to escape yard work?
If you are thinking of continuing to work—part time or more—are there job opportunities available? Consider: Even if you don’t want to work now, down the road, your finances may require you resume working and you’ll want to avoid relocating for a job.
Myth: Every place has the same healthcare resources.
Truth: Good healthcare access is a necessity as we age. Make sure suitable hospitals and doctors in your health insurance network are within easy proximity to your retirement location. If you already have preferred healthcare professionals, consider whether your new home gives easy access or if you will need to find new providers. TIP: Ask your existing medical team for referrals and recommendations for professionals in your new location.
Myth: Driving is always the best way to get around.
Truth: As visions of golf carts, public transportation options, bicycles, taxis and your own car, or two, dance in your head, prioritize what your main method of commuting will be in your new location. Will these options still be viable later on in life? Don’t forget safety considerations. If you have plans to attend evening events in a big city, will you feel safe on public transportation as your only transportation choice? TIP: Reliance on friends or relatives for occasional commitments may work in a pinch, but over time, these arrangements may be fraught with problems.
Myth: When it’s time to move, I’ll just hire a packer/mover.
Truth: Long before you decide to move, start to pare down and clear out furniture and household items you no longer need or want. It’s not just for showing your home for sale; in the process you can decide what is moving with you on the next stage in your life. Be ruthless. Go through everything you own—even those unknown boxes of “stuff” tucked away, enjoying and savoring the trip down memory lane. Determine what moves with you, what gets tossed or sold and what is give-away worthy or can be recycled. Don’t be surprised how long this takes. Remember: The stuff you shed now means an easier and cheaper move later.
Myth: Better to home shop before you sell to ensure you don’t miss your dream home.
Truth: Well ahead of home shopping, determine if your finances will allow you to purchase a new home before you sell your old one. Remember: You’ll have less negotiating power as a homebuyer if your home purchase must be contingent upon your current home’s sale. To avoid having to wait for your home to sell before you buy your next one, research whether you can tap the equity in your home (say through a bridge loan) or borrow against investment or retirement accounts as a temporary loan to purchase your new home.
Myth: Paying all cash is the best strategy for retiree homebuyers.
Truth: Previous homeowners and excellent savers may have the ability to pay cash for their retirement home. It’s comforting to many retirees—especially those on a fixed income—not to have the pressure of making a large mortgage payment every month. Before you make this decision though, sit down with your financial advisor and tax professional to determine whether it might make sense to take a mortgage on your new home. Doing so may free up cash that can be invested for a higher return than the mortgage interest rate. Plus, mortgage holders can take a tax deduction for their annual interest payments. TIP: Discuss the pros and cons of reverse mortgages during the same meeting to determine if this equity-drawdown is something you may eventually need or want to take advantage of
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