When you are working and earning a good income, you are able to keep up with the maintenance requirements of your home. However, when you retire and are living off a defined income and capital, juggling the demands of a high maintenance home with day to day living costs becomes more difficult.
When you are getting closer to retirement, it is a good idea to start monitoring your spend and thinking carefully about the impact of house maintenance costs in retirement.
Moving into a lower maintenance house
A number of people decide to sell their home before retirement, aiming for a lower maintenance house. However, this does not necessarily mean that this lower maintenance house will cost less than your current home. Some people need to add funds to their housing costs to get a suitable low maintenance house.
If you decide that a lower maintenance house is relevant for you in retirement, take into account the aging process as well and look at the following features in a new home:
- How much garden and land is there to be looked after? Can you do this yourself or will you have to pay someone to manage it in the future?
- How many stairs are there in the house? How will you be able to manage these in your 80’s and 90’s?
- Is there suitable access for a limited mobility or disabled person for the future?
- How wide are doorways and bathrooms? If you become wheelchair dependent in the future, how will this property work for you?
- How secure is the property? Are there neighbours or services which are easy to contact?
- How close is the property to health care and services?
Budgeting for house maintenance
If you decide to remain in your home for the rest of your life, a good plan is to get the major maintenance projects completed prior to retirement, and budget for future repaints or major projects.
According to BRANZ, only about 40 per cent of homes are being well maintained.
The following article by Rob Stock suggests that there are three approaches to home maintenance:
- Ignore it and leave your estate a ‘do up’ property. This gets a little tricky if the rain starts pouring through the roof while you are trying to stay dry underneath it. But, you could selectively ignore the maintenance.
- Pay as you go – and find the funds for the projects out of your annual retirement cashflow.
- Plan for maintenance – by setting aside an amount for future work.
A rule of thumb…
According to Rob Stock, landlords talk about setting aside 15% of the rent to pay for maintenance. Simply estimate how much income you would get in rent and set this amount aside every year. However, this will differ depending on the age and location of your house, and what the house is built out of.
The important thing is to think about this cost and build it in to your retirement planning (either through incorporating it in the required cashflow, or setting aside a lump sum)’
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By Carey Church