‘Is it better to renovate a home to make it right for retirement, or downsize?’

Sep 13, 2020
To pick up the tools or to move out entirely? Expert Rachael Lane explains the pros and cons of both options. Source: Getty.

Q: What’s the best way to work out whether it’s better to downsize or renovate an existing home so it’s suitable for retirement? Renovating will likely cost less than downsizing, and downsizing may mean an Age Pension is reduced or removed entirely. 

A: Deciding whether or not to downsize is about more than just the ‘bricks and mortar’ element of the place you will call home, so there’s few other things to think about when deciding whether to move or renovate.

The location of your home (or where you would potentially downsize to) is really important – do you want to stay in your current community or move to be closer to family, friends or perhaps a different lifestyle such as a tree-change or sea-change? What about proximity to facilities such as shops, airports (if you’re planning on travelling), medical services and entertainment?

Then, there’s the lifestyle considerations. If you’re looking at downsizing into a retirement community, almost every brochure will have the word ‘lifestyle’ in it, but they’re each offering something different so whether you stay in your current home or decide to downsize, think about how you’d like to spend your time and whether your home will support your lifestyle.

It’s hard to beat the social calendar of retirement communities but remember that you’re paying to have those facilities (whether you use them or not) so my tip would be to get a copy of the calendar of any retirement community you may be considering and highlight the facilities/activities that you’d be interested in.

The physical environment is still important too, so think about how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need (if you have regular visitors or a hobby you may need a bedroom just for that). Also, whether you’re looking at your current home or any new one, try to look at it through the eyes of someone using a walking frame or a wheelchair – common issues are that doorways or corridors are too narrow, rooms are not big enough to be able to turn around and bathrooms can be impossible to navigate due to baths, show recesses.

I know it’s a lot to think about but as the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail, so it’s worth taking the time to work these things out when deciding whether to renovate or downsize.

If you’ve got questions about retirement income or about downsizing in retirement, don’t miss our FREE, online masterclass at 1.00pm AEST on September 22 with veteran finance guru Noel Whittaker, downsizing expert and author Rachel Lane and Kate Melrose, an expert on land-lease communities at Ingenia Lifestyle. Click here to register to attend.  

Have you thought about whether your home is 'retirement ready'?

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