Retired with a Big Old House.

by Ike
(Milbank, South Dakota)

Well .. here goes. My wife and I are retired... she is 67 .. I am 71. We live in retirement friendly South Dakota. Our kids are grown and live a couple of hours away.

This isn't a problem.. yet... however.. as we age.. we are in good health... the 4 acres we live on ... and mow.. will most likely become too much to handle.

Should we pull up .. sell and move to a smaller home or apt. or should we stay because it's paid for.. we have just our monthly bills.. live here forever or until we just can't handle all the mowing and tree work (lots of trees..about 20 we mow around).

We both Love our old 2 story.. well maintained home. At this stage of our lives it doesn't make sense to add bed and bath rooms on ground level so we have stairs to climb whenever we go to the bathroom.

Any suggestions or ideas will be eagerly welcomed. Thank you....

Comments for Retired with a Big Old House.

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A Different Take
by: Anonymous

Personally, if we were in your situation I do believe we would sell the property you have now.

Considering the size of that parcel, you should attract money enough to purchase a really nice ranch home on perhaps 1/2 to one acre of ground.

Not sure about your area but around here the housing market is on fire. That's great if you are selling but you do have to consider it works against you if you are buying. But, I still see an upside to moving if you do it soon.

We all hope for the best but we all know life can and does change in a flash. The best to y'all in whatever you decide.

workarounds for old age.
by: Anonymous

my friend just died of pancreatic cancer. When she got too weak to go down the 5 stairs from her front door to the car, she had a ramp installed. Died that very day.

If you are upstairs and hurt your leg, sit on your fanny and bump your way down. Keep a walker on each floor and a cane on each floor, a mini-fridge with ice in it, some food, a phone, and some elastic wraps.

That is what helped me when I broke my foot in two places at midnight. My x, living downstairs, did not hear me call or phone him for help.

Just keep ambulatory supplies about. you might want to keep a walker or wheelchair outside near the entry.

My mom moved into a retirement community, and kept walkers outside (even if there) was just 1 step, in her car, in the bathroom, etc. Phone in each room on the floor.

Just put the right supplies in the right places and you will be fine and able to call someone to help you should you have an injury. practice getting an uber.

Oh, my friend got one of those medic alerts. Stupid thing failed each time she actually needed it. I keep my cell phone in a fanny pack on my waist at all times

Dilemma about your big old house
by: Bernard Kelly - Geelong

Hello Ike

my comment is based on your own comments "At this stage of our lives it doesn't make sense to add bed and bath rooms on ground level so we have stairs to climb whenever we go to the bathroom."

Actually it does make immense sense to add a bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor RIGHT NOW because you and your wife still have at least 20 years to go. At this stage, you really should be planning for the years ahead - as you once did, perhaps 40 years ago when you moved into your "big old home". It's really no different.

Wendy is right - she has great experience in this field.

Concerning your extensive grasslands - my thinking is that you only need to change its role in your lifestyle. You appear to be thinking that it's parkland - but if you change your thinking and start calling it a "wildlife sanctuary" then you'll never have to mow it ever again.



Stay in the home you love and keep on mowing!!
by: Michael - Upstate NY for the summer!

If you love your home, then stay there! I agree with everything that Wendy said.

In addition, you could also consider installing an Acorn Stair Lift that would provide access to your second floor. Our neighbor has one that provides her access to her basement.

Also, a builder could add a bedroom /bathroom addition without having to rework the interior of the home. Our neighbors did this when Mom came to live with them.

Often times, it can be cheaper to build on an addition vs. having to rework interior plumbing.

And, lastly, don't sell yourself short on being able to do yard work long-term. My Dad is 86 and he still mows the lawn, shovels the snow, rakes the leaves, and plays tennis!

Dad's neighbor mowed his own lawn until he died at 97!! Keep on mowing!

Love where I live
by: Sherry/NC

I second Wendy's ideas.
I live in a multi-level home, but I have a bedroom and bath downstairs and you can believe this is the right way to live.

If you have an injury you won't be able to go upstairs; even if you fall and break your arm. It is just to painful walking up the stairs. You might break or sprain your ankle. You can't get the stairs.

What if you have surgery? The doctor will tell you not to climb stairs. When I bought my home many years ago I kept these things in mind.

I am so happy I don't have 4 acres to maintain!

It is good to downsize.

Good luck!

Tough Dilemma
by: John A / Tyler, TX

I only know the very basics of your situation. Wendy makes some good suggestions. Here are some others.

What about selling part of your average so you don’t have that much to maintain? How about one of those chair lifts to get you up and down stairs at the house and putting in hand rails around the house to help prevent falls (I.e., the bath room). Look at things around the house that may cause falls and eliminate them.

You could always lease the house if you moved elsewhere as a source of income to offset rent paid. Or sell the property and downscale a lot to something more manageable for you.

In your retirement years, I suggest staying away from debt as much as possible unless you are financially comfortable already. I would include paying rent as debt.

Moving into an assisted living environment can be an expensive proposition. Unless you absolutely need to move into one or want to, then avoid. Only you can determine this.

Wendy" Good thinking John! Stairlift would be perfect! Looks like they are under $5000 so the perfect solution if they don't want to rethink the lower level! Thanks!

My Two Cents
by: Wendy, Retirement Enthusiast/Coach

This is what I would consider, but I am not you.
Just something to think about...

You need a bedroom and bath on the lower floor. To me, this is a must... because, at some point, stairs will be just too difficult. It only takes one injury or illness to change it all -- so think ahead now and prepare.

Your lower area, simply by viewing your photo, looks like it might be the same space as a senior apartment you might rent.

1) Where inside your home might you rearrange a room to make it a bedroom? What rooms are downstairs besides your den and kitchen areas?
What room do you rarely use (if any)? For example, if you have both a kitchen with a dining area and a dining room... might the dining room be a bedroom?

It sounds weird, but you need to think out of the box a bit. What can you move from downstairs to upstairs -- furniture you rarely use? Boxes? Anything to give you more room in the lower level?

Maybe you have an office that could be changed into a bedroom?

2) Where could you have a bathroom added? Is there a place in the lower level for one?

You might even have a local builder come in and give you ideas. Tell them you aren't sure you will do anything, but you want to see what their fresh eyes think. It can't hurt to get a new perspective and the cost to do these changes.

3) Hire someone to do the outdoor work. Maybe you will find another retiree, living in an apartment, who missed the outdoor work, or a younger person making their way through high school or college who needs a summer job? If not, hire a small company that will be there for your needs. YOU tell them what you need to be done, how much to cut and what to let go of, right?

Just don't think you have to do it all, you don't. You also need to know your lower level is big enough, if you can think of ways to make a bedroom, and later, have a home improvement company add a bath. Have your kids over one weekend to move things up and down to make room for the bedroom... heck, have them come up with ideas for doing this too! They lived there, where there is a will, there is a way!

Get some ideas, and then you can make an educated decision! If these ideas are too costly, look at downsizing, but that's not easy either.

Best wishes!

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