Why you should stay in your home - or hometown - in retirement

Many dream of a retirement in sunnier climes, enjoying warm weather and envisaging wine (or beer) on the beach in deck chairs holding hands whilst watching sunsets.

And while there’s a reason for the cliche, you may be better off eschewing this idyllic vision for something a little closer to home.

There’s a lot to be said for staying put.

More than four in 10 older Australians surveyed in the YourLifeChoices Confidence in Retirement Survey July 2020 say they plan to stay in their home forever.

In the YourLifeChoices Peace of Mind in Retirement survey, 63 per cent say they would stay in their home as long as possible, with 20 per cent saying only poor health would see them walk out the door, 2.5 per cent saying it would take the death of a partner or spouse and 15.5 per cent saying they would never move out.

Read more: Half of over-55s is open to downsizing – if only they could find homes that suit them

These sentiments are corroborated in a recent AARP survey that found more than three-quarters of US respondents aged 50 or over prefer to stay in their homes as they age.

Why not? There are many good reasons for remaining in your home – or hometown – after retirement.

Once you hit retirement age, your home may have built up considerable equity. However, selling your home may affect the amount of Age Pension you receive. The proceeds of the sale will be deemed under the income test but will be exempt from the assets test for up to 12 months, so long as you intend to buy another home.

The new/extended downsizing rules make downsizing a highly desirable option. Downsizing in the area where you already live even more so, especially if you live on a large property or in a big home that requires maintenance and upkeep but want to stay close to friends, family and familiar amenities and services.

The benefits of sticking with familiar health services were highlighted in a 2017 British study, which found that people aged 62 to 82 who remained with the same GP longest experienced 12 per cent fewer hospital admissions compared to those who remained with their doctor for a short period.

The benefits of remaining social and engaged in your community also cannot be understated.

In the YourLifeChoices Older Australians Wellbeing Index 2020-21, being an engaged member of the community and having a purpose were commonly associated with a better sense of wellbeing.

Read more: Older Australians Wellbeing Index dispels myths about over-50s

As you get older, opportunities to meet people and socialise can become limited. Remaining in your community with people you’ve known for years, perhaps even a lifetime, gives you the interactions and support required for a better sense of wellbeing and happier retirement. Being near supportive friends and loved ones can also be crucial as you age, as you’ll need a reliable help/support network more with each passing year.

And should your spouse or partner die, you’ll be surrounded by familiar faces, vendors, and friends to help you through the tougher times.

Some people find that the reality of post-work life is a little hard to deal with at first. Just as confronting is dipping into your nest egg without income. Staying in your existing community might make it easier to find work, or at least be involved in projects (paid or otherwise) that offer a sense of purpose or, perhaps, income.

Overall, there is no place like home – or your hometown.

The idea of moving away to another town may be appealing to some or many. And if that’s you, there are amazing resources to get you into a community of likeminded people that may make your retirement dreams come true. Choose well, and you may get all the benefits listed above – and more.

Read more: Older Australians resist downsizing, preferring home to a move

But if you’ve lived in a place for a while or your whole life, then it may be hard to walk away.

It’s the memories. It’s the place you lived your best years with your spouse. It’s where you raised your children.

“Life in an exciting new place has its appeal,” writes Chris Kissell for Money Talks.

“But one of the joys of getting older is having the wisdom to appreciate what you have right here, right now.”

So stay. Or consider downsizing in the same area. You can always spend holidays in sunny places.

What keeps you at home? Have you ever considered moving from your hometown? Where would you go? If you did move to a new location, what prompted the move? Why not share your thoughts in the comment section below?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.