Retirement planning includes knowing your housing options

Your home is your focal point in retirement. For some, thinking about housing options for the future in retirement can be stressful for you and your family. Despite the difficulty in addressing this issue, the earlier you think about it, the more choices and control you will have over your future.

Your housing options

There is no shortage of housing options available as you age. The names of the different types of housing options can sometimes be confusing, as the terminology can vary from region to region.

The main differences in housing options will be in the amount of care provided for activities of daily living and for medical care as well as the level of independence you can maintain on your own. When researching housing options, there are three very important issues to address:
– make sure you are realistic about the required level of care you need,
– whether the housing option can provide that care and
– whether you can afford that option.

1. Aging in place.

Most people prefer to stay at home as they age. It does not matter whether you own or rent your home, it’s about staying in a place that is familiar. There are programs, like home care, that allow you to stay in your home longer even if you need some care services. Staying at home is a good option when:

  • You have a network of support (neighbors, friends, family) close by
  • You are fairly independent and don’t need a lot of care
  • Transportation is accessible
  • Your home is safe (not a hazard)
  • Your home does not need a lot of work and maintenance
  • Your home can easily be modified to reflect changing needs

2. Retirement communities.

Retirement communities can encompass a wide range of options like a condominium complex, an apartment or a community of single-family homes, housing cooperatives, etc. The idea of a retirement community is to bring people of a similar age together who are at a similar stage in life. Retirement communities allow you to live in your own home with lots of independence but be around people who are also older and preparing for older age and retirement. Some communities allow you to buy your place so you own title to your property while other forms of community housing are designed for renting or leasing. Some communities have community-based fees like maintenance fees, condo fees, strata fees, occupancy fees or landscape maintenance fees where some costs for upkeep and maintenance are shared. Retirement communities are really designed for people who are still quite independent.

3. Assisted living.

Assisted living housing is an option for those who need help with some activities of daily living. This might include help with medications, bathing, eating, dressing, etc. Costs tend to vary according to the level of daily help required. Typically with assisted living housing, there is staff and care available twenty-four hours a day. Assisted living housing is ideal when You need more personal care services than are feasible at home or in an independent living retirement community but you also don’t need the round-the-clock medical care and supervision of a nursing home.

4. Care facility or nursing home.

A nursing home is the highest level of care for older adults outside of a hospital. While they do provide assistance in activities of daily living, they also provide a high level of medical care. There are medical professionals either on-site or readily available.

Some retirement communities are really innovative by providing housing options of all levels. Within the community, there is housing for independent living, assisted living as well as full care.

Choosing the best option

Retirees may have a number of choices in selecting their housing, such as whether to rent or own, the type of structure (e .g ., single-family dwelling, condo, apartment, etc .), and the community in which to reside. These choices are based on a variety of factors, including your personal financial situation, family support, lifestyle preference, considerations such as cost and location, changing needs that occur with age, and the quantity and diversity of housing options available.

It is important to think about your living arrangements and make sure they are appropriate for your circumstances. This includes housing choices that have been designed with age-friendliness in mind. Although there are options for those that do not have a lot of financial resources, it’s important to your independence to plan to be able to afford different housing options.

For those retirees who lack the financial resources to meet their basic needs, choices will be more limited. It is imperative in planning to be aware of the options and be open-minded as your housing needs change.


  1. Bill Birnbaum

    These days, more and more retirees are choosing to remain independent in their own home. If they are healthy enough to do so, it seems the best option for them. Bill

  2. Jim Yih

    @Jade and @Bill
    Thanks for the comments. Independence is a big theme when it comes to housing. Most people want to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. Here in Alberta the HOME CARE program is a good example of a program that keeps people in their home as long as possible. While most people want to remain independent, it’s also important for people to be realistic in their planning about other options that must considered and the tough decisions around it.

  3. Jim Yih

    Thanks Jade,
    I think having your kids help in care is fine. My advice is to open those lines of communication. It can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss but it can also be a great investment into future plans.
    Thanks for sharing!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*