A Senior Guide to Chicago House Hunting

A Senior Guide to Chicago House Hunting

  • Mary Summerville
  • 05/20/19
Older adults who are downsizing and looking for a retirement property in Chicago should consider certain specific factors when house hunting. From budgetary concerns to medical matters, here are several questions you can’t afford to ignore in your hunt for a happy late-life home in Chicago.

Can You Afford the Home?

Buying a home in Chicago can get pricey, especially since the median home price in the city is higher than both the national and state average. Savvy senior shoppers can find great deals with the help of an experienced real estate agent. Since some neighborhoods are less expensive to live in than others, older adults looking to stretch a limited retirement income might consider areas such as the North Shore, which has a lower cost of living than the rest of the city.
Home price and mortgage payments aren’t the only things you should consider when it comes to your house-purchase budget. Property taxes may be a concern, although qualifying seniors in Cook County can take advantage of an exemption to save up to $300 per year.
Other money matters that can impact home affordability include:
  • Costs associated with necessary or desired upgrades or repairs, especially those that support mobility
  • Prices to replace older or malfunctioning appliances to keep you safe
  • Ongoing maintenance costs, such as snow removal or lawn care, particularly if you can’t physically handle such tasks yourself

Will the House Support Your Long-Term Needs?

Older adults may be looking for a home where they can age in place. That means protecting your mobility and independence, which may require a home with certain design elements. You might want to look for a house that:
  • Is one level
  • Has wide doorways and halls to support the use of ambulation devices (walkers or canes) or wheelchairs
  • Has bathrooms that are already modified for safety or can be easily modified to include elements such as walk-in showers, tub rails and safety rails near the toilet
One housing option that healthy, independent seniors can consider that typically offers the above-mentioned amenities is a condominium (oft referred to as a “condo”). Condos typically have spacious floor plans, modern appliances, fitness centers and, in many cases, shared community space for residents to hold happy hours or celebrate birthdays. Many newer condominium buildings also have elevators, which eliminates any worry about having to use the stairs when mobility needs become more acute. These buildings are safe, convenient and offer an opportunity for seniors to socialize and live comfortably.

Is the Location Convenient to Important Amenities?

Chicago has a robust public transportation system, and senior residents enrolled in the Illinois Department on Aging’s Benefit Access Program can access free rides on the Pace, Metra and CTA systems. Even if you have access to public transit or still drive your own car, you’ll probably want to ensure your most-used amenities are in nearby neighborhoods.
Seniors with medical issues may want to live in areas close to doctors’ offices and hospitals, for example, making Hyde Park and Lincoln Park two neighborhoods to consider. Southside and River North neighborhoods offer access to waterfront parks for older adults who like to stay active in warm months, and various areas in the city offer access to different types of dining and entertainment options. Working with a real estate agent to find a home in just the right location lets you fill your retirement years with the culture and activities you desire.

Does the Home Increase the Risk of Isolation?

Even healthy and robust seniors can experience feelings of isolation, especially when moving into a new neighborhood. If you’re moving farther away from family and friends, consider whether the house in question is located in a place that encourages socialization. Opting for a senior living community over a stand-alone home is one way to reduce feelings of isolation, as these facilities typically offer a range of activities and outings that provide opportunities to stay socially engaged.

Do You See Yourself Enjoying Time in the Home?

Whatever type of home you’re considering, take time to ensure you’ll enjoy living in the space. Your Dream Town Realty team can help you determine if your new abode ticks all the right boxes for the features you’ll need as you age as well as those personal preferences that will make you happy right now.

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