When approaching retirement, or settling into retirement after the first few months, you’ll probably want to find a new property. You may wish to move out of a city you’ve worked in for many years, move closer to family, or just invest in a property that will serve your interests better now that you’re retired.
It’s not an easy search, but you can make it easier with the right approach.
Tips for Finding a Retirement Property
These are some of the most important strategies for finding the right location:
1. Work with a realtor. First things first: unless you’re an expert in buying and selling real estate, you’ll want to work with an agent. Buying agents will be able to help you understand your main goals, narrow down the field to only properties that meet your requirements, and help you make the best investment for your money. The process will be simpler, faster, and easier to understand–and since you’re working with a buying agent, you won’t be responsible for any commissions (the seller is responsible).
2. Identify your goals. Before you begin your search, it helps to know exactly what your main goals are. Are you looking to be somewhere closer to your family? Is it important to be within walking distance of certain stores? Are you just trying to find your “dream” retirement house, and if so, what features will qualify it as such?
3. Know whether to buy or rent. The question of whether to buy or rent is an important one for new retirees. The idea that buying is inherently better than renting is hardwired into our culture, and if you’ve been a homeowner for a long time, you may be resistant to the idea of renting your next home. However, renting may be financially advantageous to you, and it shouldn’t be ignored as an option. It may also be beneficial to have a landlord responsible for ongoing repairs and maintenance.
4. Focus on low-maintenance housing. You may feel spry and capable now, but if you’re going to live in this house for the next several years, you’ll want to minimize the amount of work and maintenance you’re going to do. For the most part, newer homes will need fewer repairs and work done to them than older homes, so focus on housing that was built within the past decade or so.
5. Consider downsizing. Now that you’re retired and your children have long since moved out, you probably won’t need as big of a place as you used to. Depending on your personal preferences, you may like the idea of a bigger home, but a smaller one will be more manageable. Take a look at a wide range of different options, and think about how you would use each room on a daily basis.
6. Look at the suburbs. The suburbs are a common area for new retirees; they’re close to the city, but not too close, the houses are relatively new and in good condition, and the neighborhoods are safe. It won’t take long for you to find a property that fulfills all your needs for a reasonable price.
7. Focus on long-term living. Most retirees aren’t going to jump from house to house, moving every few years. As you get older, moving is going to become more difficult and less necessary, so take your time focusing on finding a home that you could see yourself living in the rest of your life. That means taking a longer time evaluating every property you come across, and thinking about your needs years or even decades down the road.
Buying a home in retirement is a major decision, and it can be intimidating to get the process started. The first thing you should do is find a buying agent that you trust; they’ll be able to guide you in the right direction, helping you discover your core criteria, and giving you some initial choices that may guide the rest of your search. You won’t stumble upon the perfect property overnight, but with enough time and patience, you’ll eventually find what you need.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.