Choosing the Best Senior Living Lifestyle
Austin offers a wide array of options to accommodate the different requirements and lifestyles of its seniors.
Retirement Communities in Austin
Long gone are the senior living days of mandatory retirement at age 65, and with it, the idea that one’s golden years were to be spent simply sitting quietly on the front porch in a rocking chair as they watch life. To begin with, forget about that rocking chair – how does a morning spent working out in the gym or pedaling along the hike and bike trail sound? As for the front porch, seniors living in Austin, Texas find that they have a wide variety of housing options that can accommodate their budget, while enjoying their lifestyle in a community that encourages the development and pursuit of their personal interests, goals and activities.
While aging is inevitable, medical advances, as well as healthy lifestyle choices, are responsible for increasing the number of years a person may live, as well as improving the senior living lifestyle. The result is that the demographics of seniors in Austin, Texas have undergone some significant changes: the term “senior” may describe an active person in his/her late 50’s, or someone in his/her early 80’s. Baby Boomers now entering the senior arena are faced with the responsibility of preparing not only for their own retirement, but with making retirement and housing plans for their elderly parents as well.
Fortunately, Austin offers a wide array of options to accommodate the different requirements and lifestyles of its seniors. From upscale retirement communities offering residents a choice of social, cultural, travel and sporting opportunities to active seniors, to full-care facilities specializing in caring for the elderly with mental and physical disabilities, there is a senior citizen living solution to fit every need.
Taking Stock of Yourself
When making senior living housing plans, there’s no denying that the number and diversity of choices available might make the process feel overwhelming. Begin by taking a personal inventory that takes into account personal living expenses, health, interests and expectations.
Budget Inventory: Make a list of monthly expenses, from rental or housing fees to day-to-day living expenses such as dry cleaning and energy bills to current or anticipated medical expenses. The point is to be realistic about everyday expenses now, so there are no rude surprises later.
Lifestyle Inventory: Active golf enthusiasts, for example, might want close proximity to a local golf course. Those who want to use this time for community involvement might want to live close to schools, churches or community centers, while others who want to continue developing and pursuing an active lifestyle might want easy access to hike and bike trails, fitness centers, etc. Again, being realistic on the front end helps determine smart choices that can only benefit later.
Should You Stay or Should You Go?
Staying Put: Packing up and selling a loved home with so many memories is a difficult decision for many longtime Austin residents. One viable option open to senior homeowners is the reverse mortgage, which allows homeowners to turn the value of their home into cash without having to move or repay the loan each month. Guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD offers seniors a federally insured private loan as a means to provide financial security and supplement social security, meet unexpected medical expenses, make home improvements, and more.
The money from a reverse loan may be paid to the borrower in a variety of ways, from a lump sum to a regular monthly cash advance, as a credit line account or in any combination of the above. Typically, borrowers do not have to pay anything back until they permanently move out of the home, sell, or pass away. Eligibility for most reverse mortgages requires that the home should be owned outright by the applicant, and that the applicant is 62 years of age or older. (Visit AARP’s website and use their Reverse Mortgage Calculator: (www.rmaarp.com).
A reverse mortgage offers retirees a distinct advantage. Since most lenders require that borrowers have some sort of income so they can determine a borrower’s ability to pay back the loan, many retired seniors simply cannot qualify for a traditional home equity loan. But a reverse mortgage does not require monthly payments, and therefore no minimum amount of income is required for the loan application. Most reverse mortgages require no repayment as long as the owner, or any co-owner, lives in the home.
The best way to determine if a reverse mortgage is the best fit for one’s retirement plan is to honestly assess the following:
• How much would the home sell for on today’s market?
• What would the cost be to buy and maintain, or rent, a new home?
• Would there be any money left over from the purchase of a new home that could be safely invested?
• What are the options for downsizing into a less expensive home, renting an apartment, or moving into an assisted living or alternative senior housing situation?
Jumping into borrowing money for a reverse mortgage is not advised until looking into all of these senior living options. By being honest about current needs and housing trends, and exploring all the options, seniors can rest easy that they have selected the best housing choice that custom fits their particular budget and lifestyle needs.
Pack It Up: Being realistic about your life, finances and longevity is a must if you decide to move to a retirement community, says Calvin Chamness, real estate agent/ developer and builder with JW Development Inc. “You have to think about your health and your future,” advises Chamness, “and expand your thinking beyond the average life expectation. Make sure that you’re close to hospitals and doctors that can provide you with the best care. Do they accept your insurance? All of this needs to be considered when moving from your current circle of friends and community to a new area. This is where a real estate agent can really help a person or family trying to find a retirement situation for someone, as they have access to the most current facts and figures to help you make an informed decision.”
“Many who are making these decisions for themselves need to learn to be a little bit selfish,” says Chamness. “I mean, be selfish in a good way,” he laughs. “Move to a community or area that you enjoy. Many of my senior-aged clients are downsizing their lifestyles and selling a home they’ve owned for 30 years. They’re trading down in price range, want to be in a good area and need to select a home that’s a good investment for them. If your health is good, and you’re reasonably active, you also want an area with residents of a similar age and situation – just like you, they’ve raised their kids, have a lot of interests and a lot to talk about, and can help each other.”
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