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Why do seniors downgrade their homes?

In a previous article, we talked about how you can monetise your home after you retire, and highlighted how you can downgrade your home. We talked about why you might want to downgrade as you get older, and how to gain a steady source of income even after retirement. 

But why exactly do seniors downgrade their homes, and why should you? And if you do, what should you look out for?

We asked two seniors for their thoughts. 

Better than the old home

“It’s much better, and also easier to maintain my new home,” said Meslan Tarseelim, a physical therapist. He downgraded his 4-room HDB in Yishun to a 2-room flexi flat, paying $88,000 for a 40-year stay. “Opposite my unit is the rooftop garden easily accessible via the link bridge.”

While the surrounding scenery around his old home was quieter, he had to take a feeder bus service to the MRT station.

Having just moved in, he has fewer friends here as he did in his old estate. 

“I’m a retiree who loves to mingle around. I also like to make friends while working as a massage therapist, and hence I look for resident corners,” said Meslan, resident corners being social spaces where people can gather, such as void decks. “In this estate, there are many elderly, and hence potential customers. Body massages are good for health and vitality for elderly.”

He did not have to worry much about looking for a new home, as his son and his wife live in the block directly opposite the one he moved into, and as such they did all the homework.

A place that suits you

“When choosing a new home, you have to choose the one which is right for you,” said William Kho, 63. He is planning to downgrade from his current 3-bedroom flat. “Would you choose a place that is as big as a school, or one that is just enough for you? You need to maintain the place because you’re the only one living there. Get one that is within your capability to maintain it properly.”

William plans to purchase a new home in a more convenient location that is near amenities, such those near hawker centres and transportation as he is a retired senior. “As retirees are old and not expected to walk very far and run around, the best place would be somewhere that is easy to buy food, daily needs, and take transportation.”

What you should look for

Convenient locations near bus stops and MRT stations are also ideal for seniors as they tend to not drive due to poorer eyesight and reaction times. Smaller homes also require less cleaning and maintaining, reducing the amount of work needed. 

“If you like to go out, you should find a place with a lot of amenities for you to move about so that you don’t feel bored feeling stuck at home,” said William. “Find a place that suits you, one that you find comfortable. Don’t pick a place that while everyone says is good, may not be right for you. It has to suit your lifestyle.”

You can also use your Silver Housing Bonus to purchase your new home, and make an income through retirement. “If you are above 60 and live alone or with a wife, it’s best to downsize so as to enjoy the silver bonus made available for retirement,” said Meslan. 

To find out more about the Silver Housing Bonus (SHB), you can find out more in this previous article.

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