How Do I Choose A Retirement Home? | 15 Tips From Retirees

When you’re looking for a retirement home, the first question that comes to mind is, how do I choose a retirement home? I created this list with 15 tips after talking to several residents of the retirement community where my parents-in-law live. They all considered these 15 ideas as the most important to choose a retirement home. Let’s learn more! 

1) Share Ideas With Your Spouse and Family

When you want to move to a retirement home, you must share your ideas with your spouse and family. Make sure you get on the same page with your spouse first. You don’t want to be surprised when your spouse has a different idea of spending the retirement years

Sharing these ideas with your spouse and your close family helps you learn what you find important in this stage of your life. You can create a list of the important specifications a retirement home should have. With this list of specifications, it’s getting easier to look for a retirement home that fits your needs. 

It’s not only important to share your ideas with your spouse. You also want to share your ideas with close family members. When you’re choosing a retirement home, you want to make sure that your family is involved. Ask yourself questions like; 

  • Are they able to visit you easily in the retirement home? 
  • How do they feel about the fact you are moving somewhere else? 
  • Can your grandchildren stay for sleepovers? And so on. 

So, choosing a retirement home is a process where you want to involve the people closely related to you. 

2) Pick The Right Location

Location is everything. You need to live in a place where you feel at home. Picking the right location when choosing a retirement home is essential for your happiness in retirement. When you live in a place where you don’t like it, you probably want to move somewhere else sooner or later. 

Picking the right location for your retirement home is something personal. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of moving abroad in retirement and live in a sunny place. Or you just want to stay as close as possible to your family or the area you live in for many years. It just all depends on the wishes of you and your spouse. 

So, before anything else, first, discuss where you want to spend your retirement. Decide on a location before choosing a retirement home. 

3) Consider Future Healthcare Needs

When you get older, the chances that you need some sort of healthcare at some point increase. So when you’re choosing a retirement home, you must consider your (future) healthcare needs simply because you don’t want to end up in a retirement home that doesn’t fit your needs. 

Discussing your future healthcare needs is probably a discussion you don’t like. You need to talk about things that could potentially go wrong when you get in a situation where you need some sort of healthcare. However, considering your future healthcare needs is essential to create a happy lifestyle in retirement. Considering your future healthcare needs doesn’t have to be difficult. You can easily make a list of things you find important when it comes to healthcare. 

Instead of only focusing on your needs, you can also create a list of healthcare organizations that need to be close by or a part of the retirement home. 

Ask yourself questions like; 

  • Is there a hospital close by the retirement home?
  • Does the retirement home offer healthcare at home?
  • Is there a doctor’s office connected to the retirement home?

Maybe you also have some specific healthcare needs that you want to consider when choosing a retirement home. Make sure to write these down as well.

4) Create A Wish List Of Amenities & Services

Amenities and services are important for a retirement home. You want to know what’s included when choosing a retirement home. When my parents-in-law were starting looking for a retirement home, they created two separate lists of amenities and services: a must-have list and a wish list. The must-have list contained all the things that were essential for them. The wish list included things they considered “nice to have.” When you’re choosing a retirement home, you can do something similar. It will make the process of choosing a retirement home easier. 

Let me share some examples of these lists;

Must-Have List Ideas for Amenities & Services In A Retirement Home

  • Community Center With Activities
  • Grocery Shopping Service
  • Laundry Service
  • Maintenance Included

Wish List List Ideas For Amenities & Services In A Retirement Home

  • Sports & Fitness Center
  • Swimming Pool
  • Transportation Service
  • Food Delivery Service 
  • Restaurant In Community Center
  • Internet Connection Included

5) Make Single-Level Living A Priority

Many regular homes consist of multi-levels, which is nice when you’re living with a family, and you need a lot of space. However, when you get older, you often need less living space, and for many people, it’s getting harder to walk stairs every day when they’re aging. Some will argue that walking stairs every day is a good exercise for staying fit. However, you can do many other things to stay fit when it comes to healthy aging. Single-level living is just more convenient when you get older. 

6) Look For Easy Accessibility

Single-level living is easily accessible, but there’s much more you can think of when looking for easy accessibility. It’s not to say that every retirement home has to be wheelchair accessible. But you want to consider that everything needs to be easily accessible, even when you’re not walking that easy when you get older. 

Consider this, when choosing a retirement home, you’re probably choosing a home where you’ll live until the end of your life. You want to live as conveniently as possible. 

7) Plan For Multi-Generation Living Space

A whole different approach when looking for a retirement home is planning for multi-generation living. 

Multi-generation living is standard in many Asian and African countries. Families often live together in the same houses. It’s getting more and more popular in recent years in countries like the US as well. Probably because for younger families it’s getting more difficult to buy a new home. 

When we’re not traveling, we also live with my parents. Their house is big enough for the five of us to live together. 

Consider multi-generation living when you don’t want to move to a new retirement home. Often you can keep living at your home with the help of your children or grandchildren. 

8) Buy Or Rent Less Than You Can Afford

It doesn’t matter if you buy or rent a new retirement home. The most important thing is that you spend less than you essentially can afford. This way, you save money you can spend on other things you want to do in retirement. Retirement is all about doing the things you love to do most. You don’t want to choose a retirement home that is so expensive you need to spend your complete budget on it. 

9) Consider Maintenance

When you choose a retirement home, you want to consider home maintenance, especially when renting a retirement home. My parents-in-law are renting a home in a retirement community, and many maintenance is included in their rent. 

It’s very convenient. When their dishwasher or shower needs to be fixed, they only need to schedule an appointment with the maintenance service. 

10) Learn About Community Activities Program

Many retirement homes are part of a retirement community. Retirement communities are known for the fact that they offer much more activities than regular living communities. So, when you choose a retirement home, make sure you learn about the community program. 

It’s important to stay active in retirement because staying active is considered healthy aging. You can learn more about this in my article, How Can I Stay Active in Retirement? | 30 Activities To Do Everyday

The activity programs in retirement communities help you to stay fit, meet other retirees, and do things you like. Often you can choose a variety of activities from hiking, crafts, sports, cooking, etcetera. 

11) Meet and Talk To Other Residents

Get to know your future neighbors and community members before choosing a retirement home. You can ask them how they feel about living in the retirement community. When you get to know the other residents, you understand life in the community and retirement homes. It helps you to make a better choice. 

12) Learn About Community Services

We already mentioned maintenance as an important factor in retirement homes, especially when you’re renting a home. You want the basic maintenance to be included. However, many retirement homes offer different services as part of the community program. You want to know the different services that are available before you choose a retirement home. 

Maybe there are some specific things on your must-have list. These need to be included in the services of the community. Services that are common in a retirement community are; 

  • Laundry Service
  • Sports
  • Food Delivery/ Restaurant Service
  • Grocery Shopping

13) Get To Know The Area

If you plan to move to a different area, make sure to get to know this area first. You want to know what things are nearby. Is there a shopping center, a hospital, a park or maybe the beach. Learn more about the area you’re probably going to spend many years in retirement. It’s essential that you feel at home. 

14) Get To Know The Pets Policy

Do you have a dog or a cat? Many retirement homes have a strict policy for pets, so make sure to ask for this policy when choosing a retirement home. You want to be able to bring your beloved dog, cat, or other pet, right?!  

15) Transportation Service

When you don’t own a car or always travel by public transport, you want to learn more about the transportation services. Some retirement communities and homes offer transportation services for their residents. Learn about what this means. 

Also, check out which public transport is available if you like to travel on your own using public transport. 

Kirsten Veldman

Since 2017, my husband and I have been location-independent retirees. With hundreds of articles written, I'm passionate about helping other retirees!

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