When it comes to choosing a home, one size does not fit all. It’s beneficial to understand what options are available to you and how they align to your finances, needs, and wants before you make a move.
Let’s take a closer look at three types of independent living options for your next home:
Build your community: Before we dive in, it’s important to note that these three living options have one thing in common: people. No matter what home you move into next, make sure it’s centered around community, a key contributor to health as you age.
1. 50+ or 55+ community.
This is a purchased residence that may offer maintenance-free living with amenities, like day trips or social halls for activities. Sometimes, an association or entrance fee is required. It’s a good choice if you want a low or no-maintenance exterior, a quiet or kid-free environment, and the opportunity to make friends with people similar in age.
Keep in mind: Younger family members can’t take advantage of this type of real estate investment and there may be restrictions on what you can do with your property (e.g. holiday decorating). Age restricted communities also lack age diversity, which is a drawback for some people, such as grandparents who may need to raise grandchildren.
2. Alternative housing models.
If you’re someone who likes to break the mold and experience something new, consider one of these alternative housing model trends:
- Cohousing: a community designed to foster connections. Each person buys a house, but the houses are linked to shared common spaces that allow neighbors to easily interact just outside their door.
- Shared Housing: where two or more unrelated people live together in a house for the mutual benefits of saving money, companionship, independence, security, and help in emergencies.
- NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities): where neighborhoods create a network of shared support services.
- Niche Retirement Communities: a 55+ community where people share a common interest such as golf, art, aviation, or learning.
- Villages (neighbors helping neighbors): a mix of paid staff and volunteers who assist older residents with transportation, technology, repairs, shopping, etc. Villages also include vetted professional services. Older adults pay annual dues.
- Pocket Neighborhoods: planning communities that feature multiple homes focused on accessibility and affordability. Homes are single story with broad front porches, built on a Main Street concept that includes cafes, retail, dining, and other services.
It’s important to note that York County does not offer most of the housing models outlined above. If these models are of interest to you, we encourage you to speak up to your municipalities and to TroveStreet. If enough people express interest, we might just be able to bring a model to fruition.
3. Senior low-income and affordable housing.
There are rental communities for low-income seniors, which means your eligibility is based on your income (including income from assets). Each low-income rental property has its own eligible income amount, which is adjusted every year.
Keep these things in mind when considering a low-income apartment:
- The amount charged is restricted by the federal or state government, and may include monthly utilities (not phone, internet, or cable).
- Some rents are tied to monthly income (e.g. rent cannot exceed 30% of monthly income).
- Some rents are fixed by the federal or state government, regardless of your monthly income.
If this is a housing option you want to explore, visit the properties in the areas where you want to live and get answers to these five questions:
- What incomes are eligible?
- How much is rent?
- Does rent include utilities?
- Is the rent based on your income?
- What is the size of the waiting list?
York County has a shortage of these types of apartments for older adults. You may find yourself waiting anywhere from two to four years for an opening. You can view a list of York County’s Affordable/Low Income Senior Housing here.
Before You Move
Depending on where you decide to move, you may have less space. Determining what to take and not take can be a difficult one. Use these four questions to guide you:
- Do I need it or want it?
- Does it have sentimental value?
- Do I use it often?
- Is it the only item I have that performs the function?
You may be tempted to say “yes” to all these questions for every item in your home. Be realistic. If you haven’t used the fondue pot for the past five years, is it an item you really need, even if it was a gift from your son?
A tip to help let go of sentimental items – take a photo of the item. Put the photo in a scrap book and include notes about it, like who bought it, when/why was it given, and some top memories associated with it. The scrap book makes a great family heirloom to pass down through the generations.
TroveStreet is Here to Help
If you haven’t already, create an online profile with TroveStreet where you can jot down things you want to keep handy based on what you read or save this article for easy access. TroveStreet offers a Quick-Start Planning Tool with four questions to facilitate your planning. If you have questions or want to connect with a Planning Navigator, call TroveStreet at 717-363-1129.