You are single. Lucky you. When you think about your future you don’t have to run your plan by anyone. You can do just what you want. No one will criticize you, correct you, or shoot you down. You have control and can make your plans all by yourself. You have got it made.
So how about making a plan for the next, oh say, 20 or 30 years? Well you don’t have to plan everything. But you can plan where you are going to live. When you do, think carefully and strategically about how you will do 2 important things.
1. Surround yourself with people you really love and enjoy.
As you pass age 50, your friends and relationships more important to you. So when you plan, make decisions that keep your BFF and others close. Remember, there is nothing better than sitting down with your most trusted allies to shoot the breeze. You can laugh with them, share meals and stories, giggle about goofs and feel excited when you hear that your friend’s medical tests came out better than she hoped. Or, when the going gets rough, you have someone you can lean on.
2. Have enough money to pay for the home or living situation you want.
Money, is she talking about money?
Yes. And I am suggesting you develop a careful financial plan that includes housing. Why? Because housing is the biggest expense you will have over the next 20 or 30 years (and for some of you even more years.) Most people think it is health care. But research says, no. Think about it.
- If you rent, your rent is very likely to go up after you retire and your income goes down.
- If you own a home, condo or coop, you may still have to pay a mortgage. You certainly will have to pay property taxes, that are likely to go one way–UP. Don’t forget the upkeep on that place-painting, roofing, plumbing and electrical repairs. Those costs will be big, after you quit work.
What can you do to keep your housing costs low, but also enjoy your friends and family? Here are 4 strategies to consider. Decide which might work best for you.
1. The traditional approach. Stay put. Age in place. Remain in your existing home. You know it, you like it.
2. Consider downsizing to reduce your housing costs, and maybe your overall cost of living.
Buy or rent a home that costs less than your present one. A really smart financial move would be to relocate to an area with a lower cost of living ( including lower property taxes—a killer for folks on a fixed income). Consider all kinds of variables like climate, proximity to your favorite settings (beach, mountains, etc.), as well as cost of living. Our Hot Flash Financial recommendation for home owners—sell your home and use the equity (gain) or part of it, to buy this new place. No mortgage.
3. Consider “social” downsizing to reduce housing coast, the cost of living, and stay close to the ones you love. Talk to your friends and loved ones. Encourage them to downsize with you and move to a new area, too. Consider the variables of climate, proximity to favorite places together. And try to select houses, condos, coops or apartments near each other. It can be in the same town, same street and even the same building. That can make it easy to enjoy wine and dinner together, take walks, and share your thoughts and feelings. And, if you reduce housing costa and your cost of living a lot, you will have more money to support you during those “golden” years.
The best part is that you are single, you have your BFF right there with you, sharing good times and helping you through the rough patches. You won’t have to face this stuff alone.
If you think this might work, make it an adventure. Develop a plan and coordinate with your best friend(s). Take time to explore an area of the country, or state, (or world) where you all might like to live. You can share the excitement of exploring, while building a new life for the next stage.
4. Consider “social” downsizing, version #2. This is a variant of the strategy above. It is also designed to reduce housing costs and possibly the cost of living where you reside. But it has a slightly different flavor. Buy a home together and share the living space and cost with your best friends.
a. The house would have to be structured to allow each of you some personal space—your room and perhaps some adjacent areas.
b. At the same time, this new place can have a kitchen where you can share coffee and stories, as well as full meals, talk about challenges and successes. Grow old or older together. This way you will never feel isolated. At the same time, you can have your own space.
This version of smart downsizing is best accomplished if 2 things become crucial to the plan. One is financial and one is social.
1) Financial: you each reduce your housing costs and hopefully your cost of living. You share the cost of this home, and the expenses of upkeep and property taxes. The ideal approach—no mortgage. You each sell your home and use the equity (gain) to pay for this new home (and pocket most of the principal). And you all share property taxes, cable, electricity, maintenance, rather than each paying separately.
2) Social: This version requires extra careful assessment of your ability to live with someone else, especially the personalities of each co-buyer.
This can be more of a challenge to pull off than buying or moving to smaller homes (or condos) near each other. But it keeps your friends close, while you reduce the sense of isolation that often gets more pronounced as we get older.
So my single girlfriend, be smart. Develop a strategy for the next phase of your life, one with laughter and love, as well as lower costs. The plan is both financial and social. It helps you increase your financial security and your emotional and social security as well.
While you are developing your strategy, talk about it with your friends, to find out where they plan to spend their next 20-30 years. You can email them the links to this blog to get the conversation going. Do what is best for you, girlfriend. But whatever you decide, develop a careful, well thought-out plan for controlling your biggest expense-your housing costs—and enjoying laughter with the ones you love.