You've spent many years preparing your finances for your retirement... have you given any thought to the lifestyle that best corresponds to your new aspiration? Are you thinking of buying a small country home in a bucolic area or a downtown condo offering easy access to services?
In order to make the right choice, here are 5 key elements to consider.
Social life and hobbies
What type of dwelling will best help you attain your dream life? Retirement is often synonymous with freedom. Now that you have a more flexible schedule, it's the perfect occasion to spend more time surrounded by loved ones. That's what happened to Inna, who sold her house to purchase a condo closer to her community in Laval - more specifically on Île Paton. The building houses a pool and a gym, social circles perfectly suited for socializing.
Reaching your full potential upon retirement is also one of the secrets to a happy life. Should your new home have a large, well-equipped kitchen because you plan to host dinner parties? Do you need a basement that could be turned into a recording studio? Do you prefer a condo that would let you leave on month-long trips without worry?
Hélène's case is different. Anticipating a stay overseas to learn Spanish, amongst other things, and not seeing herself as a prime candidate for co-habitation, she had to find a trustworthy person to take care of her new house while she was away.
Do you want to see the river from your balcony or a bustling neighborhood life? Is living close to services (grocery store, pharmacy) a priority? It's imperative that you take the time to make sure that all your expectations match your budget. If you find that compromise is necessary, which ones are you ready to make?
Sometimes, a change of location is necessarry to attain that compromise, as was the case for Hélène. She made sure to purchase a house close to businesses and cultural activities while also remaining close to a river and to wooded areas, an inspiring aspect of her daily walks. Happy with her choice, she refers to her new town affectionately as Joliette the Magnificient.
Budget (maintenance fees and services)
Are you the owner of a house that's much too big for your current needs? That was the case for both Inna and Hélène. With the profits generated from the sale of their homes, they each managed to purchase a dwelling that fit their new needs.
When it comes time to choose, it's important to consider all related fees. For example, Inna must now pay condo fees. On the other hand, her new energy-efficient condo means heating and electricity bills are sliced in half. What's more, she doesn't need to hire someone to do landscaping and maintenance of the grounds.
For Hélène and her husband, the sale of their two properties allowed them to purchase a small, recently-built house (with a garage to avoid having to clear out snow) without needing a mortgage. This way, they reduce their annual fees and have access to more liquidities.
The state of your health may also have an impact on your dwelling choice. For example, Inna found it difficult to go up and down the stairs of her home following a knee injury. Her new home in a condo building is equipped with an elevator and the bedrooms are no longer on a higher floor, which leads to a better quality of life.
She does, however, warn that potential buyers should consider on what storey their chosen unit will be. As she lives on the 11th floor, she has an unbeatable view of the city, but during a fire drill, she has to go down every step... some fitness is required.
Are you comfortable living in a condo (smaller space, neighbors in close proximity and therefore noisier, more rules to follow, collective building management)? Or do you prefer more independence, even if it means having to manage all maintenance and landscaping?
Many retirees buy a new home in order to limit the amount of potential repairs and therefore have more free time. You should still be prepared; if there's a construction flaw, for example, is the property covered by the GCR warranty? Validating this kind of information could avoid you many a horror story.
Whether you opt for a condo or a house, if your needs change, you'll be able to sell this asset to buy smaller and make back some funds. The important is to pay the right price in order to facilitate the transaction at the right time. All that's left is for us to wish you a happy retirement!