Age in place in your house or move to an active adult apartment?

I’ve been investigating what’s the right path forward for a single elderly person; stay in their house or go to an active adult rental community. I’m just looking at economics initially.

House value $250,000

Taxes, HOA, Homeowners & Flood insurance $8500 (Texas — very expensive)
Maintenance (1% to 4% of property value) $2500 to $10000

The cost of stranded capital… the house, if sold and money invested, could create inflation adjusted cash flows = 4% of the house value (Bill Bengen’s very rough rule of thumb, the 4% safe withdrawal rate for a 30 year retirement), or $10,000 per year. That’s cash you’re NOT getting by staying in it, because it’s providing shelter services to you.

So staying in your home costs $21,000 - $28,500 per year, or $1,750 - $2,375 per month. In many parts of the country, that would be a really nice active adult rental property and it would come wrapped with services, and it would be a lock-and-leave lifestyle so you could do bucket-list travel, no lawn / leaves / snow / hurricane prep, no home maintenance at all.

But you wouldn’t have your house. But you also would not be socially isolated.


Have you visited any active adult communities? I don’t really know, but I suspect you’d have to pay more than $1750-$2375 per month in rent. I’d also expect rent to increase at a faster rate than house expenses during your retirement years because a rental property has employees to pay.

You might have to buy rental insurance, too.

There’s much more to consider than just money.


I lived in Florida for decades mostly very near one of those active lifestyle-type communities (The Villages), putting aside the possible financial upside, I’d want to be paid to associate daily with the majority of those already living the good life. I might feel just as isolated there as at home alone.


Our neighbors moved to one here in NM just pre-covid. It was a very nice place, but the rent for an apartment was $2,500-3,500/month, depending on size and the 2 bedroom attached housing of about 1,400 sq ft, with an attached garage, was over $5K/mo. That included 3 meals a day, an exercise facility and the housing included some basic house cleaning services. I imagine it is more expensive today.

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Based on our experience with friends and family my wife and I both agree it would be best to wait a while before doing anything as important as selling our home, a one-year waiting period would be advisable. Decisions made in a period of grieving often turn out to be flawed.

Based on my experience as a RE broker, the same rule would apply. I’ve seen multiple situations where people regretted selling right after a spouse’s death. I’ve seen people sell right away only to come back a year or so later wishing they’d never left.

I have a friend in TX who relocated to a SFR (purchased I think) with his wife, after retirement, in Dell Webb’s Sun City in Georgetown, and they are very happy there. He’s about 80 yrs old now and they have been there for over ten years…

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Yep, different strokes for different folks…

The strokes there are all about golf, he plays 4-5 times a week.


my working world was spent as an independent handyman in various permutations of 55+
communities. being a happy hermit i know i value my privacy and alone time to go in this direction.
as i age in place, ii know i can always ‘farm out’ grass cutting, snow shoveling, etc. any time you are paying an all inclusive price, you can’t, ‘ala carte’ anything. just not comfortable
giving away so much autonomy…have you considered a reverse mortgage? at the end of the day, it depends where you want to be for your, ‘final years’ good luck!

:laughing: If I took up golf again, we might be speaking of strokes not associated with golf.

When you visit the retirement facility, ask them who told them what they had to do during the covid-19 pandemic. What are they required to do today?


3 different family units of my close family went the Senior facility route - all were life care groups, not just Senior facilites. (“Life Care” meaning whatever level of care you need, from fully independent apartment to fully hospitalized care). All 3 facilites were long-term, fully established, national organizations, church-related non-profits and the facilities were top shelf, but you have to be an apartment life loving person. My relatives were happy (I could handle mechanical repairs of personal property for them, carpentry etc. Yes, your daily needs are supplied - IF you can show up at their scheduled time. Elect to sleep in? NO Breakfast, late returning from something outside-NO meal. Want to listen carefully to something - the din from hearing-challenged people slowly traversing your hallway WILL intrude. Don’t just see the glory as advertised-chew over the annoyances also. If you still drive, no garage or private parking-it can be a real bumper car environment. Snow removal-NOT from your car or between cars, drive and sidewalk lanes only.

Your financial analysis forgets one thing - the opportunity cost of cash sitting in your home equity can just as readily become a loss as an income if invested.

Ideally, no home maintenance, BUT your contract with the senior facility will probably allow “special assessments” if they need certain improvements - things like major upgrades or replacements, so you’re not free of that possibility. Don’t forget to account for the lack of income from the thousands of dollars “Buy-in fee” you pay for the privilege of joining their facility-nonrefundable. Make sure you’re really doing an apples to apples comparison.

I’m a WWII baby so my time is at that level also. I’m staying in my home-I did downsize to a single floor house in a borough on a1/4 acre lot from larger more rural property I would be like a caged animal in a senior facility- I like working on things-projects on my 30+ linear feet of workbenches, crawling under my cars and such. The time will come when I no longer am able, well, I’ll just move on or hang up. If I’m not having fun at a party, I leave.