Friday, 15 December 2017

Empty-Nester Canadians Need A Fresh Outlook

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 16 March 2004 00:00

The multi-bedroom, multi-level home most Canadians end up in was originally selected for its size and location as an ideal place to raise children. Have those who want adult housing made the necessary mind shift to find the designs and styles that will serve them in their decades-long retirement?

When shopping for a house to raise your family in, you looked for enough space to allow a young family to run wild without trampling you in the process. The North-American ideal of "my own room" dictated you buy one bedroom for each child plus a bigger one for you and your spouse to hide out in -- that added up to a three-, four- or five-bedroom home.

Multi-level living enabled you to keep your sanity and your hearing when seven-year-olds, and eventually seventeen-year-olds, gathered to "hang out" and blast out the latest tunes. Storage space was important because the kids never wanted to part with toys, books, sports equipment and all the other stuff that keeps the garage, basement and closets filled to overflowing.

With children grown and gone, do you still need or want the kids' multi-bedroom, multi-level home? Aren't you a little nervous that all that space will act as a magnet and draw the kids back, perhaps with their own children in tow?

If your home is keeping you cash poor, taking up too much of your time and energy or is not located in your ideal setting, you may be settling for too little. In fact, if you are just very used to the place, it may be time to shake up your life and find a home that is chosen just for you (and a partner if you have one).

The good news? The Canadian real estate development industry has discovered that people want to live active, involved lives in retirement -- often even more exciting lives than they lived as moms, dads and employees.

The real estate, development, construction and renovation companies and professionals believe there is a lot of money to be made from experienced spenders like yourself who want somewhere suitable to live in during their 20, 30, 40 or more active, healthy years ahead.

Construction techniques and materials have changed dramatically since you were last in the housing market. "They don't build 'em like they used to" means they build 'em better in many respects. You can now have climate-controlled comfort without drafts and chilly corners. Central air conditioning is almost a standard feature now. Roomy bathrooms with luxury add-ons galore mean no more banging your elbows when combing your hair or having to store towels a cold walk down the hall.

If you are hooked on computers, check out the "smart home" features that can be added to allow centralized security, energy conservation and many time-saving opportunities. You computer hold-outs should take a look at these features anyway. What seems outrageous today is very easy to get used to and quickly becomes indispensable. Remember your first reaction to a microwave oven or a fax machine? Could you live without them now?

The range of ownership choices is growing slowly. In most urban areas, you can find a few alternatives to freehold, or outright ownership of the house or townhouse, that may not take all your capital from the sale of the family home. For instance, in a condominium, you own your unit and share ownership of the rest of the building(s), amenities and land. A condominium unit can take many forms -- a loft space, townhouse, bungalow, a combined office, a high-rise suite or anything else a developer thinks people want to own without putting all their money into their property. And that's one big advantage of condominiums. Because you share ownership of the land, you can get a better location and more amenities for a much lower price tag than solo buying would get you. Cooperatives and life lease arrangements usually have relatively lower price tags since you have less defined ownership rights. And then there are the many variations on renting...

As spring returns to Canada, get out and explore new home developments to learn your full range of choices. Visit home shows and design centres in your area to find out what's new in interior design as well. Knowing what your options are will help you decide whether to stay and renovate or start on a new adventure. Understanding the choices buyers face in your area will also help you prepare your home for resale if you decide it's time to cash in and move on.

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PJ Wade

Futurist and Achievement Strategist PJ WADE is “The Catalyst”—intent on Challenging The Best to Become Even Better. A dynamic speaker and author of 8 books and more than 1800 published articles, PJ concentrates on the knowledge, insight, communication prowess, and special decision-making skills essential for professionals and their clients who are determined to thrive in the 21st-Century vortex of change.

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