4 things to look for in a small retirement home


Moving into a smaller home can be particularly appealing to some retirees looking to cut down on their lives significantly. After all, compared to a traditional full-size home, a small home is more affordable to buy, cheaper to live in, and easier to maintain. Plus, limited space forces you to declutter. Incidentally, there is no rule that dictates how tiny a tiny house has to be. If you’re used to more space and want to hang onto more stuff, go for a smaller house with more square footage.

For those considering or wanting to think about living in a small home in retirement, here are some of the most important design features to consider:

Ground floor bedroom. Leave the lofts to those who are younger and more agile. Not only does going up and down a ladder increase your risk of falling, it also increases stress on already sore joints. Tiny Home Builders, based in DeLand, Fla., Lists a Small retreat Single level floor plan that can accommodate a double bed (or sofa bed), kitchen, bathroom and storage, all in less than 200 square feet.

A full bathroom. Ideally, it should be fitted with a raised toilet – usually a few inches longer than a standard toilet – for added comfort and a walk-in shower for safety. The Tiny Retirement model features a 36 ”x 36” pedestal shower, the same width as that found in a full-size home. Grab bars in the bathroom can reduce the chance of slipping on wet floors. The same goes for non-slip flooring.

Easy-to-access storage. Mezzanine storage is perfect for things that you rarely need to retrieve, like holiday decorations. If you need an occasional hand to remove these items, have a friend or family member pass by. But closets and other storage spaces that you access on a daily basis shouldn’t involve the use of a ladder (or awkward bending or stretching, for that matter). A friend or family member won’t be around every time you need clean socks or a spare paper towel roll. Built-in drawers under beds and sofas are some of the clever storage solutions found in small homes.

Accessibility. You can be active and healthy when you move into a small home, but age catches up with everyone. Build low to avoid steps, if possible. Otherwise, consider a ramp for the entrance. Henry Moseley, President of Home care suites, in Tampa, Fla., says her company takes aging in place into account when building its small cabins. (Moseley prefers the term “cottage” because its small structures are built on permanent foundations in the backyards, unlike the small portable houses that can be towed.) Moseley says his small cabins, which start at 256 square feet , include wide doors and low threshold showers to accommodate wheelchairs.

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