What are the affordable housing options that are available to Baby Boomers? It’s one of the most important questions Baby Boomer will need to consider as they age. Unfortunately, affordability is a significant challenge for many seniors with 37% of people over 80 spending more than 30% of their income on housing expenses, according to SeniorLiving. While budget is undeniably a huge consideration for retirees living on a fixed income, there is also a focus on finding an affordable housing solution that meets accessibility and comfort requirements.
Below are a few ideas to consider when it is time to contemplate a move.
1. Low-income Housing for Seniors
Seniors trying to get by on a low income find it very difficult to locate affordable housing alternatives that are also comfortable and practical based on their lifestyle requirements. The Good Samaritan Society is a Lutheran organization that provides apartments and condos for seniors over 50. It is noteworthy that the only requirement for seniors is that they can show proof they are living on a low income. Seniors don’t have to be Lutheran to qualify for this help.
Boomers interested in this type of program should consult with local senior citizen organizations to identify other possibilities. There are many local, non-profit organizations involved in helping seniors find affordable housing.
2. Home Sharing
The popular TV show, Golden Girls may come to mind when the idea of sharing a home with other seniors is proposed. Interestingly, more females than males actually use this solution as a practical way to obtain affordable housing.
As is true with most important housing options, there are pros and cons to be evaluated when sharing a home. The upside is that you share expenses and also enjoy the companionship of senior roommates who are relatable.
The downside is that there can be compatibility issues. Living with another person is never without some hiccups.
The good news is that there are organizations that provide a service that matches seniors with homeowners looking for tenants. One of the services these matchmakers typically provide is to identify lifestyle matches that are likely to be compatible.
Another possible problem is that a roommate may be unable to pay rent for some reason. Inarguably, evicting a senior citizen is difficult from both an administrative and emotional standpoint.
Cohousing is another alternative to consider as boomers evaluate affordable housing options. As the name suggests, cohousing offers a community vibe. It is available for multiple homes or apartments owned or rented by community members. Shared common space brings the prices down and also makes amenities affordable. Common community spaces are a dining room, game room, laundry area, clubhouse, and swimming pool.
Members participate and make decisions that impact their neighborhood. Many of these communities are committed to eco-housing.
4. Cooperative Housing
Cooperative or Co-op housing exists as yet another creative way to offer affordable housing for seniors. Coops offer apartments, condos, and homes, depending on the community.
The way co-op housing works is that residents pitch in some sweat equity to keep expenses down. Chores might include answering the phone or cleaning up in the community kitchen.
5. Affordable Housing to Rent
While the numbers may favor the idea of selling your home, stashing the extra cash, and moving to a rental property, many homeowners find this to be a hard pill to swallow. One of the major tenets of the American Dream is owning your own home. Kiplinger reports that only 5% of seniors surveyed said they were interested in this option.
Seniors who love to travel a lot are often more receptive to the idea. Freeing up equity in a large family home that empty nesters no longer need is a practical way to fund retirement trips and activities.
Yet another reason seniors opt for renting is that they have more control over their budget. Homeowners are always surprised when a plumbing problem occurs or a tree falls on the house. Unexpected maintenance and repairs can wreck any budget. Seniors on a fixed income can rest easy knowing that the landlord is on the hook for major repairs.
6. Moving in With the Kids
Living with family in later life is a time-tested plan that offers benefits for the entire family. While this option may not work for seniors that need specialized care, it can provide an excellent alternative for active seniors interested in spending more time with their adult children and grandchildren.
The obvious financial benefits are many. By supplementing their own family, seniors can make it easier on their children to send grandkids to college or fund vacations and basic necessities.
A twist to the picture above is for adult children to move back into their childhood home with their retired parents as a way to share expenses and support each other.
Interestingly enough, many cultures promote this type of living and view it as both financially practical and emotionally fulfilling. Spending time with the added advantage of family managing financial pressures can be a win-win proposition.
7. Subsidized Housing
Seniors should not ignore the numerous federal affordable housing programs designed to subsidize housing costs for older Americans. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to navigate the application process. Many of the programs have waiting lists and must be approached way ahead of the target move-in date.
It is highly advisable to start planning early. Contact a housing counselor with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to get the process started.