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3 Things to Consider Before Buying into a Retirement Home

By Christina2 - April 21, 2014

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So you’ve made the decision to move from your current home and into something more "taken care of", but there's a little checklist of things to consider first. This isn't the ordinary checklist of things like "24/7 safety and security" or "weekly laundry and housekeeping", but tips people don't usually consider before packing up and moving. Some of the tips won't surprise you, while others will have you wondering why you didn't think of them already.

Acclimate to the Weather Before You Move to It

Retirement and hot weather usually go hand-in-hand, but not every baby boomer or senior is used to that. While the prospect of 12h of sun and temperatures in the 70s and 80s may sound nice, it's something that takes a bit of getting used. On the flip side, some people like to retire in snowy communities where there are four definite seasons in a year, and take up activities like skiing or ice fishing.

But going there without getting well used to it can spell disaster. For instance, the heat can feel like a death grip with its unrelenting smothering, forcing people inside until it abates. Cold weather can be just as deadly, too, as hypothermia becomes a very real possibility, as does falling on slick ground and having to drive in treacherous conditions.

Tip: Rent a place for a month in the off-season before you buy, as that'll give you a good idea of what the weather is like when the tourists have gone home. You may find you adapt to it perfectly, or it's another city crossed off the list.

Do Your Taxes

Every state has taxes; there's just no getting away from it. States like Hawaii and Florida have sales taxes in the single digits, but the former has a fairly high income tax of 8.3% while the latter is 0%. Further you have to meet certain residency requirements to actually take advantage of these tax breaks, but spending time in states like Florida, Wyoming or Texas (make sure to create a paper trail) can really pay off.

Another area of taxes you have to look at are property taxes, where it can be pretty high in comparison to other taxes. Going with Florida and Hawaii again, the average property tax for each is $1,619 and $1,047, respectively. So while you save in one area, you may end up paying in another. A happy medium seems to be West Virginia, where its sales tax is 6%, its state income tax is 6.5%, and the average property tax is $615.

Prepare to be Closely Examined

When you buy a house, the main criterion anyone is looking at is whether or not you can afford it. Usually, they don't ask questions such as what decibel you'll be playing your music, how many guests you'll have over each week, and what kinds of pets you're thinking of buying, if any. People who have bought a condo or lived in a high-rise apartment are probably used to it, because it's a tricky proposition to get so many different personalities living together under the same roof without them all killing each other.

A retirement home is much the same way where the expectation is to uncover private details about your life. Some of the things you can expect are to provide character references, show your banking details, or even submit to a credit check. Not every retirement home has the same stringent process, but they are within their rights to know they're getting a solid resident.