Ten Tips, Buying a Retirement Home in Portland

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In other parts of the United States, people may retire from the workforce and make haste for the suburbs, for Florida, or to their dream home in the country. In Portland, however, we know a good thing when we have it — that’s why many people choose to stay in the city proper during retirement!

According to the AARP’s Livability Index, Portland is in the top third of the country for quality and availability of healthcare. We also rank high for opportunities for community involvement, walkability, and transportation! Whether you’re a long-term resident or looking for a milder climate in which to spend your golden years, Portland offers the right combination of quiet neighborhoods, big-city culture, and excellent health care.

What you might not know, is that Portland offers a lot of 55+ communities where you can buy a home, condo, or townhome. These communities may offer additional services with a monthly HOA fee, or provide none at all, and simply be a collection of homeowners in a similar age demographic. An experienced local real estate agent has access to everything available, just ask!

Retirement is a great time to think about whether you would like to age at home, and how to do it. There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding if you can stay in your current home as you get older, or if it would be wise to move now to a place that might be more accommodating. Check out our ten tips:

1. Don’t wait.

There are many homes on the Portland market that can be comfortable and manageable for seniors and their caregivers in the long term. Unfortunately, thinking about moving on top of dealing with the complications of aging can be overwhelming. Put off moving until it’s too difficult, and the result may be that you don’t get to live at home for as many years as you would like.

2. Go Big on affordability.

The great thing about retirement is that in a lot of ways, your needs are less. For most people, big life expenses are out of the way and it’s time to enjoy the simpler things. Before you jump online to look at new homes, speak to your financial adviser and Portland real estate agent to figure out how much you can afford. Keeping your mortgage manageable (if you still need a mortgage) will help you handle unforeseen expenses down the road.

3. Think about bedrooms and square footage.

The top challenge that many older folks find with staying at home is keeping up with their large houses. Not only is there more maintenance, but property taxes can go up and lead to unexpectedly high expenses. On the other hand, those who can afford it would be smart to find or stay a in a home that does have an extra bedroom, which can come in handy for kids or caregivers.

4. Adaptability is key.

Retirement can bring all kinds of unexpected surprises, from a newly discovered love for woodworking to the need to accommodate a walker or wheelchair. The perfect home to retire in is one that can fit with lifestyle adjustments. A set of stairs shouldn’t be out of the question, but do look at whether a ramp or lift can be installed – you’ll thank yourself later.

5. Location still matters!

Being retired means you’ll have more time to enjoy indoor and outdoor activities of all kinds, and you don’t necessarily need to be central to Portland downtown, business centers, or a good school. On the other hand, proximity to a grocery store, pharmacy, and medical center should be a high priority for retirees. Many Portland suburbs offer just this kind of convenience with much better affordability than the inner neighborhoods. If you haven’t driven out to Happy Valley, Lake Oswego or Beaverton in some time, you should call your real estate agent and go for a tour! You’ll be surprised at how they’ve grown. In addition, there are many Portland neighborhoods were you can find all these services in close proximity, plus easy access (sidewalks) to local shops and restaurants.

6. Relocate for your health.

Exercise is vital as we get older. Does your home allow you to get out and walk, preferably on a sidewalk? Surprisingly, some neighborhoods in Portland lack this amenity. Think about environment, too. Maybe you didn’t have time to enjoy the backyard while you were working, but a small garden space can be a sanctuary now that you don’t have to go to the office. On the other hand, if your home is near a busy road, air and noise quality might be something to keep in mind.

7. Consider retirement communities carefully.

Some retirees would rather live a younger neighborhood, others might benefit by joining a 55+ retirement community. If you choose the latter, be sure to check into all the rules and restrictions. Some may not allow younger children or grandchildren to stay with you. There may also be fees and assessments hidden in the fine print. Use your real estate agent to thoroughly research homes in retirement communities. As a side note, real estate agents are typically not involved unless you are purchasing the unit or home.

8. Fix it up?

A possible retirement project is fixing up your final home. If that’s your plan, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into by talking to your home inspector and your real estate agent about the condition of the home. A financial planner can also be helpful to keep you on course and in budget. Staying in your home as you age means not having to lay down your retirement savings on unexpected and costly repairs.

9. Leave a legacy.

Everyone should have a will or living trust plan laid out, and it becomes all the more important the older you get. Buying a retirement home in the Portland area is a great way to leave a nest egg for your children, and the equity you put in that home will likely grow in value. Just be sure that your desires about what happens to the home once you’re gone are clearly put in writing.

10. Use your Portland real estate agent.

When they’ve made the decision to move to a new home for retirement, most people contact a real estate agent to look for listings, but a buyer’s agent is invaluable throughout the home buying process. My team serves as a second set of eyes, helping you identify potential problems with the home you’re considering. We handle the negotiation with the seller and ensure that you are getting the best deal possible on your home. And in some transactions, such as multiple offer situations, having an experienced real estate agent will often be the deal-maker or -breaker.

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