When we think about our retirement years, we think about all the free time we’ll have, along with the total freedom to go where we want, when we want, for as long as we want, without having to check in with the boss or punch a clock ever again.
But there’s a big difference between thinking about retirement and planning for it. Thinking? That’s fun! Planning? That’s work.
There are so many benefits to early retirement planning — and one obvious benefit is, if you’ve been putting the right financial strategies into practice, you might actually be able to retire early. But another benefit of planning your retirement early is, if you’re considering moving to a senior living community, you can start making lists of what you want, need and expect, and begin researching all your options now.
Start researching your retirement living options
Ever heard the saying, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”? While we’re busy with our day-to-day lives, life just keeps on happening all around us. Time keeps marching forward. And if we’re not careful, we neglect to make the really important decisions now to help us later.
For example, many people assume that when they’re ready to move into a retirement community, it’ll be ready for them. But depending on the residence you’re interested in, there may be a months-long or years-long wait for the floor plan you want, or any floor plan for that matter.
Some communities are so popular that there’s a long waitlist regardless, because all residences are occupied. By the time your name comes to the top of the list, you may not be able to fully enjoy all the perks of independent living. Or you may move into independent living but have to move into another level of care after a short time.
So if you’re interested in an independent living community for your future, start researching your options now:
- See what’s close to home. If you want to stay close to your current neighborhood, look at communities in your area and understand what they offer — are they rentals, or do they require an entrance fee? Do they have the continuum of care, or do they only offer independent living? Tap into your own network of people — friends, family, healthcare professionals, neighbors — to see what communities they might recommend you check out. Personal positive reviews can give you an added degree of confidence.
- Know what’s out there. If you’re considering a move to a warmer climate, or to be closer to your adult children, get to know the options in that area. You may find more or fewer choices depending on where you’re hoping to relocate.
- Understand all the options and terminology. Are you looking for a Life Plan Community, also called a Continuing Care Retirement Community? Do you want a rental community? Do you want a Life Care contract? What are the costs if you move to another level of care? Communities and the contracts they offer vary widely, so start familiarizing yourself with the terms and get to know what will fit your retirement best today and in the future.
- Compare your costs of living. Even if you own your home outright, you still have bills: utilities, home upkeep, groceries, gas and car maintenance, entertainment like dining out and attending concerts, movies and other events. What does it cost you to live in your current house when all expenses are figured in? Then look at what the retirement communities cost. Chances are your monthly expenses now are comparable to what you’d pay in a senior living community. The difference is, at a senior living community, everything is covered with only one bill.
- Make a visit to your top choices. Senior living communities may look great on their websites and in their glossy brochures. But to get a feel for the residents and the culture, make an in-person visit. Call each community and arrange a community tour. Ask to talk to residents. Have a meal or two in the dining room. You might even be able to spend a night or a weekend at the community as a “try before you buy” opportunity. A physical visit is the best way — some would argue it’s the only way — to see how you’d fit in at the community.
One more early retirement strategy: Move while you’re healthy
Residents at senior living communities will often say, “I wish I’d moved sooner.” They didn’t realize all the opportunities and amenities available for them to enjoy, until they became residents. So, consider making a move while you’re healthy enough to enjoy all the benefits — and if you choose a community like Searstone, there are so many benefits to take advantage of.
If you’re ready to learn more, let’s talk! Contact us by calling 919.234.0339 or completing our quick information request. Or schedule your personal visit to our Cary, NC, campus.