Money Studies Articles and Resources

The Choice to Remain at Home

By Lois Vitt

You've worked hard to afford the home you live in today. You have undoubtedly invested sweat equity as well as money to maintain your home and gradually shape it to the comfortable living space that now says, "This is who I am." Your ultimate dream is to remain in this home, independent, financially secure, and in control of your personal and social needs and wants. Can you achieve that goal? It is likely that you can, with realistic planning and careful decision-making.

Our housing decisions at all stages of life are complex psychological processes that involve personal, social, tangible and financial factors. And these factors are not cut and dried. They entail reasonable needs and values, but they also entail wants (sometimes dating back to childhood) and even "shoulds" instilled in us by others. If your goal is to remain in this home for the rest of your natural life, you need to think objectively about the home itself, and you also need to think about your own housing psychology,

Will your current home continue to satisfy your personal needs? Make contingency plans now for modifications your home will require in order to accommodate diminished mobility or disability. Think about the physical challenges of maintaining the structure as well as the lawn and garden. Can you plan (and budget) for help in those areas? Assess the major systems and appliances and think rationally about what is likely to break down and need replacement.

An active social life will keep you young and happy throughout your lifetime. Will you still have friends or relatives nearby to fulfill your social needs? And how long will you be able to drive in order to take care of your personal needs and enjoy the company of others? Can you plan for alternatives to personal driving? Are their resources available to provide assistance with daily living when you are at the point of needing help? If you are willing to consider these contingencies and plan for aid in the future, will your budget accommodate those changes to your lifestyle?

s you seek answers to these difficult questions in order to make a long-term housing decision, keep in mind that we rarely make such decisions on the basis of hard financial facts and physical realities. You have a housing history which includes the values, wants and needs associated with every place you've ever called "home." It is possible that you are unwittingly clinging to psychological needs and wants from your childhood, perhaps related to early housing dreams unfulfilled. Your housing decisions are about everything in your life, present and past. The more you can learn about your personal housing psychology, that place where human interaction , the role of "place" in our lives, and finance all come together, the more likely you are to make the right decision about remaining in your home through your final years.