When shopping for a senior living home, you'll face the same question you did when searching for your current residence: should you rent or buy? This is challenging to answer when it comes to senior living apartments because you have to consider more than whether the home has good lighting. Here are two issues to think about.
Flexibility vs. Security
When deciding whether to rent or buy your senior living apartment, figure out if flexibility or security is more important to you. Renting an apartment gives you the option to leave when your lease is up, whereas if you want to move out of a home you own, you'll have to sell it first.
On the other hand, buying a place provides a bit more security because you won't be evicted from your home if you miss a payment like you would if you were renting. Knowing this can provide some peace of mind, particularly if you have health issues that would make it hard for you to find a new place quickly.
However, while both senior living rentals and buy-ins typically offer assisted living services—such as housekeeping and meal prep—the level of care available may differ.
Some buy-in properties have a continuum-of-care tie-in where a portion of the purchase price is set aside and can be used to pay for care at a more advanced facility if necessary. For example, if you need to stay in a nursing home after a bad fall, then the money from your buy-in would pay the cost of that stay, and then you could return to your home when you have recovered.
With a rental, unfortunately, if the level of care you require exceeds what the community can offer, you would have to move out to something that better fits your needs.
It's important to factor in your long-term health concerns when deciding if buying or renting is the better option for you.
Estate Planning Issues
Another thing to consider is what will happen to the property when you pass away. With a rental, your family members can move your things out of the apartment and be done with it. Things become a little more complex with a purchased property though.
Typically, when you own your apartment, you can leave it to a beneficiary in your will. The problem is, the community may have restrictions that prevent the person from actually living there. If residents must be a minimum of 55 to live in the home and the recipient is 52, he or she won't be able to move in right away even though the person will be required to continue paying any fees due every month.
It's a good idea to sit with a senior living specialist to discuss all the issues involved with renting vs. buying, which can help you make the best choice for your situation. For more information about senior living apartments, contact a local community.