Buying a Retirement Home? Plan Ahead

By: Damon Chavez

If you are planning to relocate for your retirement, or simply want a new home in the same community, you are probably looking for a nice home to retire to. Well this is the perfect time to plan a little further ahead.

Maybe you have aspirations of moving again in the future, but for many people, retirement is a time when the stresses of life are to be left behind. This can include home-buying and moving. So if there is any chance that the next home you buy will be your last, do yourself a favor and consider your future needs.

While your mobility might be great at the moment, chances are that as you age, eventually there will come a time when stairs are not your best friend. Considering accessibility might seem far-fetched while you are still young, but it just the thing that could determine your future comfort. Homes can be designed to be accessible without compromising style. It is entirely possible to build a home designed for complete wheelchair access and mobility without anyone ever noticing.

First things first, consider how the front door is accessed. Choose a home or building site where the driveway is on the same level as the home's entrance. While many homes seem to have at least one step going into them, it is possible to avoid this feature. If for some reason you can't avoid it, however, it should be easy to cover just one step with a simple ramp if it is necessary in the future.

Once you've entered the home, consider its layout. Obviously, you'll want everything on a single floor. Look for open layouts. The fewer doorways the better. Wide hallways are also important, and can be quite elegant.

For the doorways that are necessary, such as bedrooms and bathrooms, make them larger. Obviously this is easiest if you are having the home built for you, but it may be possible to widen existing doors if necessary. Do some research before you buy to find out if it will be possible in the home you are interested in. A minimum doorway width should be 32 inches to make it fit the average wheelchair.

In places like the bathroom, it is always possible to add hand-railings later, if needed. But consider ease of mobility could influence the layout in other ways. Make sure toilets aren't too high. Have lower medicine cabinets and full-length mirrors. Consider installing one of the very popular large showers stalls, as climbing in and out of a bathtub may become a hassle one day.

Designing your home for maximum ease of mobility can improve your life at any age, and it can easily look very fashionable. So do yourself a favor and consider your future when you design your next home. Even if you end up moving and never needing the special measures you took to make it more accessible, you are making your home attractive to a niche market of buyers, and that's a good thing, too.

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