Senior Living: 5 Questions to Create the Golden Years of Your Dreams

Congratulations — you’ve done it!

You’ve worked for 40-plus years, you’ve taken care of your family, you’ve saved a nestegg… and now you’re ready to sit back, take it easy, and enjoy all you’ve accomplished — maybe even have someone take care of you for once.

But where do you start? Retirement communities, independent living, or even assisted living… There are countless options to choose from — and they all meet unique needs.

That’s why, when it comes to taking your next step into retirement living, it’s crucial to consider not just what’s available… but what your perfect retirement looks like, and how a specific community will help you achieve it.

There are plenty of articles out there about the questions you need to ask a community. But consider, too, the questions you should be asking yourself about what you want this next stage in life to look like:

1. What’s your budget?

Don’t think just about how much you have in your savings. Consider how much income you’ll want coming in, what kinds of costs you can expect, and how much you want to keep on hand in case of emergencies. You don’t want to overextend your finances — but you do want to think about what’s important to you. You’ll also want to consider combination costs. Think about your mortgage, your home and yard upkeep, the cost of electricity and utilities, homeowners insurance and so on.Many communities allow you to consolidate all of these costs. And the cost of rent should be much lower than your mortgage.

2. How much space do you want?

Your kids have left the nest. Yet, half their stuff is still in your house. Their old furniture is collecting dust that you still have to clean. And you don’t really like having to go up and down the stairs anymore. Do you need three extra bedrooms… or would you rather maximize your own personal living space? Do you need to hold onto your adult kids’ second grade soccer trophies, or is it time they decided what to keep for themselves? The home you raised your family in might have been perfect for that purpose, but it might not meet your current needs. Options range from studio-style apartments to separate cottages. Consider everything you’ll want to be able to move into your new space to make it home. But you don’t want to overpay for space you don’t need, either.

3. What kind of care do you want available, both in the short and long term?

If you want to stay in your home for the long term, you might want to consider communities that allow you to transition to Assisted Living and Memory Care. Even if you’re perfectly healthy now, you don’t want to have to find a new place to meet your needs if you end up needing a bit of help.

4. How important is community to you?

While some people prefer their own company, if that’s not for you, you’ll want to look at facilities that cultivate community. This might be through organized activities, opportunities to connect with others on your own, or simply the ability to walk out of your door and enjoy your neighbors. You’ll also want to consider your independence to build community yourself. Can you make plans with friends or family easily? Since facilities offer varying levels of community engagement, finding the one that fits your needs will be integral. 

5. What amenities would you like to have available?

You’ve thought about the needed services, but now it’s time to think about the things you want. Maybe you’d like fitness classes. Maybe you’d like chef-prepared meals. Maybe you’d like home cleaning. Maybe you’d like access to a park, or a private garden. Amenities vary across the board. Finding what you want now will save you from having to look again in the future.