If you’re able to live independently but you’d like to spend more time enjoying life and less time looking after your home, there are many options available. The right fit will depend on your financial situation, activity level and willingness to move out of your neighbourhood…or community.
Seniors’ apartments are independent, private rental units. Some may have dining facilities and other amenities, such as a hair salon, recreational activities or a visiting physician.
Condos are privately owned residences with shared common areas. Living space is typically smaller than the average family home and exterior maintenance is taken care of. There can be drawbacks, however. Corporations and boards can have bylaws, rules and regs that can rain on your parade—think restrictions on pets and rules against modifying your unit, among others. Monthly maintenance fees will apply.
When you buy into a co-op, you buy shares in a corporation that owns the property rather than the property itself. As a shareholder, you are entitled to exclusive use of a housing unit in the property.
In a life lease arrangement (also known as life equity), you purchase the right to occupy a unit for a period of time (a set number of years or “for life”) and, at the end of that period, the lease is sold at fair market value to another older adult. The housing itself is owned and managed by others (usually a non-profit community-based group).
Adult lifestyle communities or retirement villages are built specifically for retired older adults. They usually offer a number of housing options including apartments, condos, single homes and life lease units that are easy to maintain and feature built-in amenities like a swimming pool and recreation centre.
Continuing care retirement communities offer multiple levels of care in one location, from independent living to assisted living and even long-term care. This allows you to “age in place”: stay in the same complex or neighborhood, with the amenities, friends and activities you’re accustomed to. Plan ahead—check if there’s a continuing care retirement community nearby when you’re thinking of downsizing. Or ask me to help you!
PROS: By planning ahead, you’re able to downsize by choice rather than circumstance—you get to make the decisions at your own pace and with minimal interference from well-meaning family. You still maintain your independence in your own unit or home surrounded by your own belongings…but you do away with many of the time-consuming and challenging tasks associated with home ownership. Most independent living options marketed specifically to older adults will be located in well-serviced areas so shopping, socializing, recreation and health care are convenient and you may not need a car.
CONS: Downsizing, especially if you move out of a neighborhood you’ve been living in for a long time, is a big change. The change is even more significant if you’re moving from a single family home to an apartment. Some people find they’ve lost some independence and a meaningful role to play in life.
NEED TO KNOWS: Do your homework. Be clear about what you’re looking for at this point in your life, realistic about the kind of home you can manage and do some initial research to find out which type of accommodation appears to be the best match…then go for a tour. Ask about fees and rules so you aren’t met by an unpleasant surprise when you move in. If you’re thinking of buying a home, condo or life lease arrangement, talk with an Accredited Senior Agent (ASA) or Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) for valuable advice.