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Why Aging in Place Isn’t Free

September 22, 2023
A senior living community might be more affordable than you think. Here is what you can expect to pay for and what you’ll get for your money.

As you contemplate the costs of a senior living community, it’s natural to wonder, “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to continue living in my home?” The answer might surprise you.

Before you decide whether living in a senior living community is or is not for you, you may want to determine whether you can afford to – or afford NOT to.

It’s right to be thinking about the cost of senior living communities. Before you rush to judgment, however, it’s important to get a general sense of what expenses you might encounter as well as the services you’ll get in return.

Here’s why:

When you’re crunching the numbers for senior housing, you must consider not only what expenses you will have, but also what expenses you won’t have. Depending on what type of senior living community you select and what services it offers, you might be able to eliminate the following expenses from your monthly budget:

  • Mortgage payments
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Property taxes
  • Landscaping
  • Cleaning services
  • Car payments, auto insurance, maintenance, and fuel costs
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Entertainment

That’s just the beginning.

You also will eliminate spending on home maintenance and repairs—including expensive replacements of your roof, hot water heater, appliances, and HVAC equipment, all of which have expiration dates.

There are home modifications to consider as well: If you age in place, you’ll eventually have to spend money making your home safe for an older adult to live in (ramps, grab bars, etc.)

If you move to a senior living community, however, safety upgrades like ramps and bathroom grab bars already will be installed at no expense to you. And don’t forget about health care. If you age in place, you may eventually need in-home assistance and medical services, which don’t come cheap.

Seniors who do the math in order to compare what they’ll spend with what they’ll save often discover that a senior living community is just as affordable—and sometimes even more so—than aging in place.

Aging in Place vs Senior Living Community

Whether to move into a senior living community is a decision that seniors and their loved ones often make with the heart. But a decision of such import can’t be made on gut feelings alone. You also have to listen to the numbers.

That requires facts. To get them, make a list of your current resources and expenses, then speak with the sales counselors at prospective communities to get a complete and accurate picture of the scenarios available to you, what they’ll cost and what options exist for financing them.

Finally, meet with your financial advisor to compare current resources and expenses with prospective needs and costs. From that, you should gain a good understanding of whether you can move into a senior living community, at which point you can finally consult your heart for an answer to the question you began with: Should you?

Get more information in our guide, “Retirement ROI: Understanding the Cost of Senior Living.”