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Blog » Retirement » The Best Changes You Can Make to Your Home in Retirement

The Best Changes You Can Make to Your Home in Retirement

Updated on January 16th, 2024
Home Changes In Retirement

Most people look forward to retirement, since they’ll have much more freedom and flexibility during this time. However, if you’re not satisfied with your home environment, or if it’s not conducive to your lifestyle as you get older, you might not be able to live your retirement years to the fullest.

What are the best changes you can make to your home in retirement and why are they so valuable?

Key Considerations for Home Improvement Changes in Retirement

There are many possible motivations that could push you to improve a home. Some people are only interested in aesthetics. Others want to use their houses in new ways. Or, some people might just want to boost the resale value of the home or reap specific financial advantages.

As a retiree, these are the most important considerations you’ll need to bear in mind when choosing home improvements to initiate:

Mobility

Mobility is huge for retirees. As you get older, you won’t be able to move around as easily or as comfortably as you once did. Additionally, it’s important to have a living space that promotes the ability to move around at least somewhat, so you can get incidental exercise and remain fitter for longer. Accordingly, some home upgrades should focus on encouraging light mobility, and many home upgrades should focus on preventing potential mobility issues. Don’t merely think about your current level of mobility; also plan for how your mobility may change in the coming decades.

Safety

You’ll also need to think about your own safety, especially if you plan on living alone. In advanced age, even somewhat innocuous injuries can become very threatening, and even mundane, routine tasks can carry risks. With the right upgrades, you can mitigate these risks, making your house much safer and supportive of good health.

Comfort

Your retirement years are supposed to be some of the most enjoyable years of your life. You won’t have to work, and you’ll have much more freedom in choosing what you do on a daily basis. If you’re going to spend a lot of time at home, it’s important that your home is comfortable. This will allow you to relax and destress much more frequently – and improve your mental health as well.

Activity Support

If you want to stay mentally and physically healthy, you need to regularly engage in activities that promote physical and mental health. Regular exercise, mental puzzles, and socialization are some of your best resources to tap into – but it’s much easier to engage in these types of activities if your house supports them in some way. As a simple example, if you have access to a home gym with low-impact exercise equipment, you’ll be much more likely to keep a regular exercise routine in your retirement years.

Financial Benefits

As inflation continues to erode the value of retirement savings, retirees and future retirees are increasingly interested in strategies that grant them more financial stability. That’s why you should consider making home improvements that provide direct financial benefits. Certain home upgrades allow you to capitalize on new sources of income, while others can dramatically reduce your living expenses, helping your budget stretch a little further.

Cost

Obviously, you’ll also need to think about costs. With an unlimited budget, you could create your retirement dream home. But chances are, your funds are going to be at least somewhat limited, so you’ll need to be more discerning about the projects you choose to take on. Always consider the benefits when compared to the costs.

The Best Changes You Can Make to Your Home in Retirement

These are some of the best changes and improvements you can make to your home in preparation for your retirement years.

General Downsizing

It’s no mystery why so many retirees focus on downsizing in the first years of their retirement. As you get older, you’ll need less and less space, and you’ll have less energy to maintain the space you have. Moving to a smaller home, or a home with fewer floors, could help you avoid excessive strain, minimize your maintenance needs, reduce your costs, and have no negative bearing on your quality of life.

If you’re not interested in moving, there are other ways you can downsize. For example, if you have a two-story home, you may make adjustments to it so that you can live almost exclusively on one floor of that home. You may also choose to close off certain areas so you don’t need to worry about cleaning or maintaining them frequently.

Invest in an Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen serves many purposes in retirement. It gives you more opportunities to spend time outside, which is good for your physical and mental health. Additionally, it makes clean up in the kitchen much easier, which is especially important if you find cooking to be tiring. It gives you a central location where you can host social gatherings and enjoy the company of your family and friends. And it even has the incidental benefit of boosting the value of your home.

Outdoor kitchens are affordable and highly customizable, so you can get the exact setup you want, without any waste or unnecessary additions. The only caveat is that outdoor kitchens are better suited for some outdoor environments than others.

Set Up a Separate Living Unit

If you’re interested in establishing secondary streams of revenue, consider setting up a separate living unit in your home before retirement. Renting out a room, or a suite of your house, even on a temporary basis can provide you with up to thousands of dollars a year in extra income – without forcing you to expend much extra effort. Just make sure you’re in full compliance with the laws in your area regarding housing tenants.

Establish a Guest Room

Similarly, it’s a good idea to establish a guest room, or even a full guest suite. If you have an empty bedroom and a full bathroom to offer your guests, you’re much more likely to be visited by friends, family members, and other good people in the future. If you’re planning on receiving care in-home in the future, this guest room could come in even more handy.

Invest in Bathroom Safety

Slipping and falling in the bathroom sucks at every age. But it can be a fatal accident in your advanced years. Accordingly, it’s a good idea to invest in bathroom safety. Simple measures, like lowering the toilet, installing a curbless shower, and adding grab rods, to make the risk of accidents in the bathroom much lower.

Plan Around Your Stairs

Stairs are a mixed bag for retirees. There’s some evidence to suggest that stairs are actually a good thing for older adults, since climbing them on a daily basis is a form of incidental physical exercise, and even this small amount of exercise is good for your health. However, climbing stairs regularly can also be a challenge, especially as your mobility declines.

Depending on your current health and your disposition about the future, it may make sense to plan around your stairs. Making changes to your home to be mostly accessible without the use of stairs, or installing an assistive measure like a stair lift, may be appropriate for retirement.

Upgrade Your Insulation

Did you know that as you age, you become more sensitive to extreme temperatures? It’s true. And as you get older, you’ll be even less comfortable in the summer and winter if you don’t sufficiently insulate your house.

There are a few important ways that you can upgrade the insulation of your home. If you have old windows, you can replace them with newer, more energy efficient windows. If your wall insulation is insufficient, you can use blown insulation to make it more effective. And if you have an unfinished attic, finishing it and adding better insulation could make a big difference in how the rest of your home feels.

Make Your Cabinets More Accessible

Getting older means having more difficulty with hard-to-reach areas of cabinets and cupboards. Accordingly, you should consider making those cabinets more accessible. Simple modifications can allow you to pull out drawers or pull down storage sections and access your cabinet contents more easily, even without the need for a step stool or secondary tools.

Additionally, though it barely qualifies as a home improvement, it’s a good idea to rearrange and reorganize your storage options throughout the house. Items that you need on a frequent basis should be placed in drawers, cupboards, and shelves that are most easily accessible to you.

Hardscape Your Lawn

Lawn maintenance is going to get more challenging as you get older, especially if you have a lawn that requires extensive maintenance. At the same time, you want your lawn to look beautiful so you spend more time outside and enjoy both the subjective and material benefits of curb appeal. One solution to this priority puzzle is to hardscape your lawn; in other words, using “hard,” permanent materials to take the place of more natural landscaping, such as concrete or stone.

That doesn’t mean you should pave over your entire lawn, but any sections of your lawn that are replaced by hardscaping are going to be much easier to take care of in the future. It stands to save you significant money as well.

Create a Home Gym

If you have the space for it, consider creating a home gym. Maintaining a strict exercise regimen is one of the best ways to stay in good physical health as you get older, and you’ll be much more likely to engage in it if you have exercise equipment readily available to you. Try to include a mix of equipment that encourages both cardiovascular and resistance exercise, and focus on exercises that are considered low impact.

Rent Out Your Garage or Shed

If you have a garage, a shed, or a similar outdoor space, consider modifying it and emptying it so you can use it as a rented storage space. If you can find a client who wants to rent it for storing a boat, a car, or simply extra possessions, it can become a decent stream of revenue for you.

Before Retirement: Miscellaneous Fixes and Upgrades

Before you initiate retirement, it’s in your best interest to go around your house and commit to miscellaneous fixes and upgrades. This is more about convenience than anything else; proactively fixing things while you’re younger and more capable is going to save you more intensive efforts in the future.

Minor issues: Be sure to address minor issues that you encounter throughout the house, such as holes in the drywall or cracks in your sidewalk. In many cases, these fixes are quick, cheap, and easy, so there’s no reason not to take care of them.

Appliances: If any of your appliances are nearing the end of their useful lives, consider upgrading them now. This is especially valuable if you upgrade to newer, more energy efficient units that can save you money on your utility bills in the future.

Roof: Roofs can be expensive and problems associated with them can be incredibly destructive. If your roof is showing its age, consider replacing it with a metal roof designed to last for decades.

Air leaks: It’s also a good idea to check for air leaks, especially around doors and windows. Sealing these leaks will promote much more efficient, reliable climate control in your home.

Timing and Planning Your Home Improvement Changes in Retirement

These additional tips can help you time and plan your home improvement projects as you gravitate toward retiring.

Start as early as possible.

Don’t wait until you’re a decade into retirement to start some of these projects. Preferably, you’ll start upgrading and modifying your house many years before you actually retire. Working early allows you to capitalize on your sharp mind and good physical health; it also gives you more time to make adjustments if you aren’t happy with the initial results.

Knock out the low-hanging fruit.

You’ll generate more momentum and feel better about your upgrades if you focus on the low-hanging fruit first. There are probably dozens, or even hundreds of tiny fixes and changes that you can make for almost no time or money.

Consider costs and benefits.

For the bigger projects, always try to calculate the costs and benefits of each potential initiative. For example, if it costs $1,000 to replace an old appliance, but saves you $100 a year in utility costs, it would hypothetically pay for itself in less than a decade. When crunching these numbers, be sure to account for subjective benefits as well; the convenience of reaching more accessible cabinets is difficult to quantify, but it is certainly valuable.

Whether you’re just starting to plan for your retirement, or you’re ready to pull the trigger and remove yourself from the workforce, it pays to think about all the ways you can upgrade your living space for your golden years.

There are countless home upgrades worth considering, from simple changes for safety to sustainable sources of entertainment, but each of them has the potential to improve your living space for retirement in some way.

[Related: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Early Retirement Planning]

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thank you.

Deanna Ritchie

Deanna Ritchie

Deanna Ritchie is a managing editor at Due. She has a degree in English Literature. She has written 2000+ articles on getting out of debt and mastering your finances. She has edited over 60,000 articles in her life. She has a passion for helping writers inspire others through their words. Deanna has also been an editor at Entrepreneur Magazine and ReadWrite.

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