Cost Comparison: Staying in Your Home vs. Moving to a Senior Living Community
When considering moving to a retirement community, older adults often assume that staying in their home is more affordable, because their mortgage is either a lower cost or already paid off. It’s true that when comparing costs of rent at a senior living community to a monthly mortgage, staying put seems like the better deal. But this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. There are a variety of factors and costs involved in owning a home, even after a mortgage is paid off. If you’re unsure of whether a senior living community is right for you, consider these factors that affect the total cost of living in one’s home.
Cleaning out gutters, replacing broken appliances, updating HVAC systems — these are common costs associated with owning a home. Though they may not be monthly costs, repairs and maintenance can add up over the course of a year, and sometimes, as with weather damages, the costs are unexpected.
You might also start to address whether certain areas are still safe for your changing physical needs, like stairs, bathrooms, and tight spaces. The drastic effects of falls on older bodies often call for increased safety measures. Slippery areas may need railings or traction added. Protruding fixtures may become trip hazards. A room’s sharp turns and corners become harder to avoid. Setting up your home to reduce fall risk can help prevent accidents, but it usually requires some form of labor and outside help.
Senior living communities, on the other hand, are already designed specifically for these concerns in mind. Features like elevators and guard rails can reduce the risk of falling. And emergency call systems provide peace of mind that if an accident does occur, someone is there to help.
There’s also chemical and electrical safety to consider. As your home ages with you, keeping systems up to code, like your wiring, venting, and smoke detection, is equally important. Safety updates like these can vary in their complexity and cost, but are typically a higher expense than standard maintenance.
Property taxes and utilities
Owning a home also comes with requirements like property taxes and utilities, which all carry their own set of fees, costs, and maintenance requirements. And costs like property taxes and utilities are not fixed, which can make it difficult to predict future financial needs over time.
As a renter, there is no responsibility for property taxes. Plus, in many senior living communities, utilities and the costs associated with repairs and maintenance are included with rent. Not only are these bundled into one flat cost, but they may offer the relief of fewer responsibilities, worries, or details to track and remember.
Time and labor
It’s also worth considering the everyday routines and commitments in a home. Cleaning, upkeep, chores, and meal prep, may not always be measured in dollars, but require time, effort, and commitment. Whether it’s lawn and yard care, weatherproofing, clearing out health hazards like dust and mold, or just keeping the kitchen and bathrooms clean, there’s always something to do.
While the work and results can be rewarding, the physical labor becomes harder on the body as we age and as our health needs change. And for those tasks that can no longer be carried out, extra help (sometimes with a fee) must be arranged. With cleaning and maintenance staff at senior living communities, you can be relieved of the physical labor required (or expenses associated with help) and have more time for things you enjoy.
We all budget for activities that we enjoy and help us thrive, such as dining out or a monthly gym membership. Most people budget for these costs separately from living expenses, but at our Era Living managed communities, the monthly rent includes wellness, social, and educational opportunities.
Our partnership with the University of Washington provides evidence-informed programming to support healthy aging. This relationship also offers our residents opportunities for lifelong learning. And when it comes to dinners and outings, Era Living offers gourmet meals from in-house chefs and social activities ranging from professional sports events to arts and culture. Plus, we offer free group transportation to take residents to and from events and activities so that residents don’t have to spend their own money on gas, public transit, or car sharing.
Support with daily activities
If you need assistance with daily living activities, such as grooming, walking, and eating, then you’re likely considering or are already paying for in-home care. The costs associated with in-home care services can be very expensive and difficult to manage, depending on the hours of care needed. For senior living communities with assisted living services, you can cut down on those costs and still have access to compassionate care that you need to thrive.
Era Living: a resource for information
Home ownership can mean stability and a place for happy gatherings for some people. But moving out of a house doesn’t mean you have to give up that feeling of home. Senior living communities can be a new hub for gathering with loved ones, and a place where you welcome new people into your life. Plus, there may come a time to question whether the benefits of owning a home still outweigh the costs.
If you’re considering a move to senior living, Era Living encourages you to compare these costs side by side and talk with staff to be fully informed. You can also download our cost-by-cost comparison worksheet here. Once all the expenses are accounted for, it’s easier to make the most educated decision.