Betty and I are steadily moving toward a relocation into a three-level retirement community. The original five-six year timeline is now more likely to be three or four years. Why? The maintenance and insurance costs for our 30-year-old home are starting to add up. Lawn work and keeping our 2,000-square-foot home clean are increasingly more expensive.
The desire to become involved in a community is a factor. The amenities and meals prepared by someone other than us are draws. On-site classes and studios for art, woodworking, ceramics, and continuing education look attractive.
Even so, we struggle with what will be lost: living space, the privacy that comes with a single-family home, the huge upfront expense, and just the hassle of packing up and moving. Leaving a home for a retirement community can be a difficult decision.
Even if the logic for moving is sound, some basic research turns up these common reasons why this is so:
We will be been in this house for ten or eleven years...long enough for it to be our safe space. Memories of grandkids growing up, family dinners, and games in the backyard cannot be moved along with the furniture. Private space for both of us to pursue our artistic whims will largely disappear.
Sense of loss of independence
We have never lived in an apartment, shared walls, or parking spaces. We will have to quickly adopt to noises and neighbors just one wall away.
The community at the top of our list has a very high move-in fee. Then, there is the monthly rental cost which will seem like a shock to us since we haven't had a mortgage for almost twenty years. Because this is an independently owned, non-profit situation, yearly rental increases are not excessive. The buy-in fee guarantees space in assisted living and a nursing care center when that becomes necessary, with no change in the monthly rental cost.
On the other hand, we will not be paying for electricity, water, cable, maintenance, real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, cleaning, and most of our food needs.
Retirement communities can be isolating, especially for people who don't know anyone else there. That will be us. But, one of the motivators to move rather soon is to begin to establish friendships and begin to feel a part of this community. We have virtually no interaction with the neighbors now; recognizing familiar faces at meals, activities, happy hours, or the gym will bring a sense of belonging.