Whether you are buying a home for the first time or looking at real estate property with retirement in mind; it will serve you well to house shop with an eye to the future. Here I provide examples of popular homes that can end up posing difficulties under particular life circumstance.
A lovely oak staircase to a second floor, an extra long brick walkway to the garage, cramped living space or a laundry room in the basement; may prove to be a significant hindrance in the forthcoming years, even for young people.
For the average healthy person, climbing up and down stairs is certainly no big deal until of course, age takes over. As a younger person, too, you could end up with a debilitating injury or surgery and could not take on those stairs quite as easy or not at all.
Almost all the old homes in New England were built with two floors. It is not unusual for the “one” bathroom to be located in the upstairs of these homes as well. This type of home does not make good sense for the elderly if stair climbing is a concern
Some of the old Victorian homes in my area have three floors, which was common when families were much larger in size. They may be elegant in design, but three floors of stairs can be a major drawback, so serious consideration should be taken into account when scoping out Victorian real estate property.
Pint-Sized Two-Floor Retirement Home
My aunt and uncle bought a small two-story house and highly praised its petite size because my aunt did not have much to keep up with as far as cleaning. She and her husband said any more room would just be a waste of space in their view-especially in their golden years. For them, money did not play a factor in the purchase of a home-this was what they both desired.
That was fine and they were happy, until the day my aunt took a fall on their icy driveway one winter. She broke her hip and seriously injured her leg. This left them in a pickle as far as the lack of space in the home.
My aunt was unable to climb the stairs to their bedroom after hip surgery, leaving them to ponder literally, where they were going to be able to put her during recuperation. On the first floor there was a miniature kitchen, which did not even hold a table, a small dining room and a tiny room where they watched TV.
With the bedrooms on the second floor and the minuscule space that made up the first floor, they were faced with quite a dilemma. My aunt was looking at a minimum (she thought), six-month recovery period and would have to make some big changes in the home to accommodate this process.
She needed to squeeze a bed, a comfortable chair and a small bureau into either the little TV room or the small dining room. Neither of the rooms would be ideal, but the lack of space forced the issue and she ended up in the dining room. My uncle put the antique dining table in storage and purchased a small kitchen table, which had to go in the room with the TV.
In the end, they had to live with this extremely crowded and uncomfortable situation over a year because of my aunt’s sluggish recovery from her injuries. The two of them stated every day how much they wished they had bought a home with a bit more space.
If my aunt had to use a wheelchair during her recovery, she would have had to spend that time in someone else’s home because her house would not accommodate a wheelchair due to the severe space limitation. When looking at real estate, keep small space issues in mind before deciding on a home.
Ranch Style Home and Basement Laundry
Enormously popular one-floor living space is what the Ranch design is noted for. People, elderly and young, find this type of real estate more convenient, especially with small children; no stairs for little ones to climb and more importantly, no stairs for them to tumble down accidently.
The biggest issue, however, is the fact that most Ranch homes are designed with the laundry room situated in the basement. Under ordinary conditions, this is not a problem.
Consider, though, the possibility that you find yourself, for health reasons, unable to descend or climb the basement stairs. The washer and dryer are now out of reach and the laundry pile grows while you wait for someone to help you get this chore done. The basement laundry room is an understated setback in my opinion.
While the Ranch style home and its overall easy layout is still one of the more sensible picks in the real estate market, you may want to tell the realtor you would like to view just the ones with a laundry room in the main portion of the house. This could save you a lot of grief down the line.