Aging in place is about finding that home that can continue to provide satisfaction and meet our needs as the years go by. It means finding, already living in, or looking for that home that can measure up in this way.
For people who might still be looking for their forever home, they should approach it with one aim in mind – that this is the last home they are ever going to get. They need to choose wisely. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive home they can imagine or be especially large. It can be, but that is not the point. It just needs to be – including the location and the site on which it is built – the home that they can see themselves staying in indefinitely.
Imagine that someone told them that the next home they purchased – whether they had owned a home previously or not – would be the only one they could ever purchase in the future. This was to be their home. Would they be more careful, would they pick the first thing they could afford, would looking at how they could grow and age in the home become more important to them than maybe it otherwise would be? People obviously are free to acquire another home, but if they have chosen wisely they shouldn’t need or want to do so.
Thus, people should look for and select their next home as if it is going to be the last one they ever own. Regardless of their current age, the home they are considering or looking forward to purchasing may serve their current and anticipated future needs so well that it truly will be the last home they will need.
By saying this might be the last home that someone purchases, there is nothing implied that it needs to be or has to be. The premise is that by carefully considering what someone’s needs are in terms of space, layout, features, the potential for addition or expansion, the quality of construction, technology that is present, and sustainable elements that might be included, a person can be very diligent about acquiring a home for themselves – new construction or existing – that possibly can serve their needs long-term and potentially as long as they need a place to live.
Some people make impulse decisions and buy a home like they do a car or piece of sporting equipment – they liked it, it fit a need, and it was priced right for what they were looking for – so they bought it quickly without giving it that much additional thought. Besides, if they decided that they had chosen badly, they would put it back on the market and find something else better suited for them.
As aging in place professionals, we can help people choose wisely if they desire a new home. Real estate salespeople can do the same. Unfortunately, people often choose a home for themselves for the location, the appreciation potential, the monthly payments, the school district, and other factors that will not stand the test of time.
If we were to tell people that within the next few years, they had to research and decide upon a car that they had to keep for the rest of their lives, imagine how much time and energy they would put into this project. We need to help people apply this same strategy to the selection of their next home – beginning at a younger age than we might normally think would be the case.
Helping someone in their twenties or thirties pick a home that is comfortable, safe, accessible, and appears to be able to meet their needs as they project them out in time and consider how they might want to use that home is a great idea.
For anyone, buying a long-term home as their next one, or turning their existing home into that forever home, makes sense on many different levels. That captures the spirit of aging in place.