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Seniors Have More Housing Options than Ever

Tuesday, August 22, 2017   /   by Tom Curtin

Seniors Have More Housing Options than Ever

The housing market remains a hot topic among Baby Boomers, a group that now accounts for more than a quarter of the US population, according to the U.S. Census. With even the youngest boomers reaching their mid-50s by 2020, demand for senior housing is skyrocketing. Unlike in previous generations, today’s seniors aren’t necessarily destined to live out their Golden Years with adult children.

There are numerous options for aging adults who wish to remain independent, even when dealing with age-related issues such as mobility restrictions. Here are six equity-building ideas for seniors who want to protect their investment and personal space.


Condominiums are similar to apartment homes in that they are multi-housing units and often come with community amenities, such as a recreational area, clubhouse, and gated entry. The difference between the two are that condominiums may be bought and sold at any time. Primary benefits of owning a condominium unit, especially for seniors, are decreased maintenance and dedicated building management.


A duplex is another type of multi-housing but is more closely related to a single family home. A duplex is essentially a house that has been split into two separate living spaces. These units share a common center wall and possibly yard space. Each unit will have a separate entrance and dedicated parking. Duplexes make excellent investments for seniors. As a duplex owner, one side may be rented while maintaining the other as a private residence. Real estate investment network BiggerPockets reports that income generated from the rental unit is often enough to offset mortgage costs.

Senior-oriented communities

Active seniors may want to look into buying into a planned retirement community. Unlike assisted living complexes, retirement communities are vast neighborhoods setup with individual houses. Most communities offer a host of amenities, including golf, swimming, and scheduled activities for residents. The biggest drawback here is cost. Retirement communities provide security and maintenance and are in high demand; homes are usually more expensive than similar dwellings outside of the community. However, the high-priced real estate may be justified for adults who don’t typically travel and want to enjoy life close to home. Forbes contributor Vanessa Grout, a New York-based real estate advisor and attorney, advises seniors interested in these full-service communities to study membership commitments early in the decision-making phase.

Zero lot line

Zero lot lines are homes with little-to-no outdoor space, meaning no back-breaking yard work. Bankrate notes that zero lot lines – often townhomes – are usually found “anywhere it’s desirable to provide high density buildings.” For seniors, living in the city may be a great option, especially in areas with high walk scores. Check out CBS News’ list of the top 10 Most Walkable Cities in the United States.

Single housing units

Typified by single-family structures, home ownership remains the American dream. Past retirement age, many seniors will find cost savings by selling larger properties and moving into a smaller one- to two-bedroom home. This is especially true for adults who live in the same location for many years and could use the equity of a sale to both finance a new home and supplement retirement funds. Seniors who find themselves in need of intermittent care but don’t want to live with their adult children (or in a nursing home) may want to consider a “GrannyPod.” These prefabricated structures are detached guest houses and include a number of safety features such as lighted floor boards and strategically-placed handrails.

Renting vs. buying

Older adults rightfully worry about buying property and having a mortgage on a fixed income. However, there’s a strong argument for buying a home instead of paying a landlord each month. Owning a home means having physical and emotional security, paying less taxes, and locking in a permanent monthly payment that, assuming a fixed rate mortgage, will never change.

There is a world of possibilities out there and, considering that seniors are living longer than ever before, it only makes sense for older Americans to own their own home, regardless of the type.


Written By: Jim Vogel, Co-Founder Elderaction.org

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