Comparing the Cost of Senior Living with Staying at Home

It’s a big decision whether to spend retirement at home or move to a senior living community. Many older adults may believe their retirement dollars will go farther if they just stay put. But senior living communities are often comparable in cost to staying at home when an honest comparison is made, and in some cases, may be the better deal overall. Here’s a look at how to honestly compare the cost of senior living to that of staying home.

Monthly bills – When comparing the cost of senior living to that of staying home, begin with bills you pay every month. These include mortgage, utilities, and internet/cable television. These are each non-negotiable when staying home and must be paid, while in a senior living community they are often included in the monthly cost. 

Home maintenance costs – Managing a home isn’t all play and no work. As the years go by, many older adults find tasks like mowing the lawn, cleaning gutters, shoveling snow, and other physically challenging jobs have become too much for them to handle without help. That means someone must be hired to get them done and that costs additional dollars that should be factored into the equation. Also don’t forget the big-ticket items that are inevitable like roof replacement, plumbing and electrical problems and appliance replacement. When comparing the cost of senior living versus staying home, be sure to include all of these with real-world estimates of their annual costs. For a look at home maintenance costs, the blog, “How Much Should You Budget for Home Maintenance?” is a great resource. As you add them up, note that all of the above are usually included when living in a senior community.

Home upgrades for safe aging – The typical family home is designed just for that purpose – raising a family. But older adults who stay at home will often realize they need changes made to keep them safe and independent. According to AARP’s “Home Fit Guide” these changes may include:

  • Wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs.
  • Secure rails and bars especially in showers and tubs and on stairs.
  • Brighter lighting over work areas such as in the kitchen.
  • Showers with step-free entry and/or walk-in tubs.
  • Lever-style door handles (instead of knobs).
  • Cabinetry that is easy to reach without climbing or deep bending.
  • Clear pathways for accessing each room and living space.
  • Non-skid flooring.
  • First-floor laundry facilities. 

One or two of these may not put a dent in the budget but for some many may become necessary over time. When comparing the cost of senior living remember that senior living communities are designed to be safe, secure and accessible for older adult residents. Just move in and start living!

Costs of care – Another aspect to consider is the cost of care. Older adults who are healthy may put care on a backburner because they don’t need it yet. But a comparison of the cost of senior living should include an estimate of what care costs at home and in an assisted living or memory care community. Obviously, the number of hours and level of care needed will determine the cost, but it will also vary depending upon geography. Keep in mind that waiting until care is needed may not be the best plan. Senior living communities often have waiting lists, but those who move to senior living before they need care can easily and seamlessly transition from independent living to assisted living or memory care without leaving the community. For a detailed look at estimating the cost of senior living care check out the blog, “Assisted Living vs Home Care.” 

Cost Comparison Worksheet

Mortgage or rent
Caregiving N/A
Property tax and insurance  N/A
Home maintenance and repairs Included
Lawn care and yard maintenance Included
Housekeeping Included
Utilities (electricity, gas, water, trash removal, etc.) Included
24-hour security Included
Transportation (insurance, gas, registration, repairs) Included
Dining Included
Social and entertainment Included
Exercise and wellness Included
24-hour emergency alert system Included
Total Actual Costs

Thrive Senior Living communities are among the best in providing older adults with active, healthy, and fun-filled lifestyles. To help make the right senior living decision for you or a loved one, contact us today.

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