Guest Author: Bob Shannon
When you think about retirement, the first thing that pops into your head is likely selling your family home, moving into a planned development, and living off your Social Security. But, today more and more older Americans are choosing to change things up by investing their senior years into homesteading.
Today’s The Cincy Blog takes a look at issues specific to seniors bucking the trend of downsizing and aiming for a larger location in retirement.
This is a common question with a different answer depending on who you ask. According to Homestead.org, it is essentially a lifestyle dependent upon self-sufficiency. This does not mean that you don’t have to have money, but that you handle as many of your own needs as possible. There are no rules as to how much space you need to launch a functional homestead, but, ideally, you’ll have enough room for a garden, a few animals, and lots of grandkids. Three to ten acres should do it.
For many seniors, the issue of money is one that must be tackled immediately. This is especially true if you are planning to move from a smaller house with no land into a large home on several acres. The first place to start is by looking at homes available in your area. Kathy Koops offers a handy home search tool directly on her website. Here, you can look at prices around Cincinnati, Liberty Township, West Chester, and surrounding areas.
If you buy strategically, you may be able to utilize the equity in your current home as a significant down payment on your new place. Keep in mind, however, if you are looking for the best price, you may have to stick with a fixer-upper property. This comes with a few extra expenses but, fortunately, most aesthetic issues don’t have to be tackled immediately. Foundation problems, a faulty HVAC unit, or significant pests (think mice, spiders, animals in the attic) should be rectified before moving in.
The good news here is that interest rates remain low, so you can get more house for less money than you could as recently as February when interest rates hovered at more than 3.5 percent. If you put enough down, you may find that you pay less on your homestead than you do your current family home.
When you do need to do a few updates, start with the kitchen and bath. These are two areas of any home that should never go neglected. The kitchen is especially important for homesteaders as you need a space to cook meals and prepare food from animals or produce that you have harvested yourself. Look for a contractor that has excellent reviews and is willing to give you a quote good for at least 60 days, which is enough time to plan your project. You can also look online for information on any current discounts available. Some contractors may offer a percentage off materials that went unused and are sitting in their warehouse taking up space.
Another area that should never be overlooked on a homestead: your outside entertainment spaces. Once you get settled into your property, the kids and grandkids are going to want to come for long weekends. This means eating together, lots of time playing in the garden, and even teaching them how to care for your newly-acquired livestock. This Old House suggests an inexpensive outdoor dining area and a storage shed for tools and toys are a must.
Your retirement doesn’t have to look any kind of way. You’ve lived your life for everyone else, and now it’s time to do what you want. If homesteading is in your plan, go for it. Your real estate agent can help you find the best property and your contractors can help you make it a place that retirement dreams are made of.
About the Author: Bob Shannon created SeniorsMeet.org, along with his wife, Mary, to have a website that allows seniors to meet up and talk about topics that are relevant to their daily lives. They hope to build SeniorsMeet into a community of like-minded seniors.