We’ve all heard of “empty nesters”. For every parent, becoming an empty nester is a transformative stage of life. These days, however, the age when people become empty nesters has gone up markedly. With some housing markets so costly and with financial squeezes in modern economic times, kids are living at home longer as they study, start their careers and attempt to build up a deposit for a home of their own.
This means that the dream home for over 50s needs to be large enough, and designed well enough, to accommodate more than just Mom and Dad.
The Anti-Empty Nest
The dream home for over 50s used to involve downsizing for Mom and Dad, with no children living at home. It was all about building or moving into the last home you’d ever own. However, these days 1 in 4 couples over 50 have adult children living with them. There are many reasons for this, ranging from poor housing market* to a less than lackluster jobs market, or even people having children later. Whatever the case, the kids are staying or moving home and you still need space. Therefore, there are some things to consider.
* By the way, the housing market for buying and building is awesome in El Paso County, CO, especially in Colorado Springs!
Walking up and down stairs is not what you want to do the rest of your life. Go with a rancher so everything is on one level. Customize the shape of the house to your needs – it doesn’t have to be all straight but could be a curved like a horseshoe or “C”. That way your over 50s dream home can have separate areas for everyone that are still close enough for easy access, communication and social contact.
Plan for the Later Years
There are some features you should definitely include in your home. Try to think ahead, especially for the unexpected “creaks” that can develop in the body. Even in your early to mid-50s, install shower handrails, walk in tubs/showers, fewer stairs, ramps and even some elevated garden beds (less bending). You’ve earned the right to some convenience.
Health is always an issue so invest in a built-in central vacuum system, hypoallergenic filters, and plenty of windows for natural light.
Things for the Kids Without Making the Home Too Large
- Basement Suite: You love your kids but everyone wants privacy, right? Then build a separate basement suite, with its own bathroom, bedrooms, living room and separate entrance. Give everyone their own space. If they move out later, you can rent it out for extra income or use it yourself as a media and rec room.
- Extra Storage: The trick is hiding things because, even though you don’t have an empty nest, you don’t want too much space and sprawl because it’s more work to look after it. Built-in bookcases, under-floor storage, and purchasing dual purpose furniture will help.
- Soundproofing: Build floors and walls with soundproofing in mind to give yourself quiet when the younger generation decides to entertain.
As you get closer to retirement, be sure you have the home you need for all contingencies. It’s likely the last home you’ll own, so be sure it has everything you need. The dream home for over 50s may be different from years gone by, but it’s definitely manageable and affordable. You’ll also leave a lasting asset and legacy for your kids.
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