Dear Big Move,
We’re a retired couple in our 70s, living by a beautiful lake in the Adirondacks. We own a big house and have been advised that we could sell it for about $2 million.
We love it here, but we’re tired. The maintenance and work of trying to keep the house up are wearing us out. And we’re concerned about what the future holds.
Our only son lives in Connecticut with our two grandchildren, and we’re thinking that we might move there.
But the traffic situation scares us a bit. And while we’d get to spend some time with family, the children are off to college soon, and our son has a very demanding high-powered job that takes up a lot of his time. He also has a social life. We don’t want to interfere and become an obligation to anyone.
We still have friends who are alive and who are skeptical of us selling up, but they live in places we don’t want to be.
So we’re confused: Should we stay in the Adirondacks until we physically can’t, and then sell the house?
No one makes much of an effort to visit. And even though everyone groans when I suggest selling, I’m sure my son will sell it when we’re gone.
Money isn’t a problem, but getting reliable help can be a challenge. Any ideas?
Signed, Alone in the Adirondacks
‘The Big Move’ is a MarketWatch column looking at the ins and outs of real estate, from navigating the search for a new home to applying for a mortgage.
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First off: I’d say go all in with moving, but into your own place.
There’s no point living in a giant house without any friends, without help in case of emergencies, and with your family so far away. Driving, traffic, it can all be a slog, especially as you’re only getting older.
If you’ve got your own place in Connecticut, you likely won’t be an “obligation” to your son.
So, then, what to do with the upstate home? Here’s an idea, if you’re up for it: Why not list your home on Airbnb
or any other short-term-rental site, and rent something smaller near your son’s place?
You will need “reliable help” to help rent your place on an Airbnb, because it requires a lot of effort to keep up — from dealing with guests checking in and taking care of maintenance requests.
Your son seems busy, but if he’s willing to help out, and if you can find other ways of making it work, like hiring someone to take care of the place in your absence, then it seems like you can just put the house up as a short-term rental, and move to another rental home in Connecticut.
“You will need “reliable help” to help rent your place on an Airbnb, because it requires a lot of effort to keep up — from dealing with guests checking in and taking care of maintenance requests. ”
If upkeep of a short-term rental is an issue, then consider selling.
Since you said your son is likely to sell it — assuming you predecease him — why are you holding on to the property, and living so far away from your son and grandchildren? Are they advising you to hold on to it longer so you can sell it at a higher price?
If so, you’ve got to weigh the toll of aging into a house that’s getting increasingly difficult to maintain versus the quality of life you will get living near family.
Plus, your son intends to sell it anyway after you pass, you anticipate.
So I’d say: Go for it, sell the house, downsize, and move closer to your son.
A basic comparison of average home values on Zillow
shows that you’re likely going to find more value in Connecticut.
The typical value of a home in the Adirondacks is $612,500, Zillow says. Home values where you live have gone up 31.4% over the past year.
Compare that to a typical value of a home in some of the big cities in Connecticut:
New Haven: $270,000
Regardless of what you do after selling the home, if you end up buying a smaller home, or even renting one, you’re likely to make some money off of the sale. And you will have a better quality of life.
Sure, the market’s tough.
Home sellers are beginning to find it difficult to attract buyers. They’re offering more concessions, and reducing list prices, as buyers struggle with higher-than-before mortgage rates. They’re approaching 6%.
But it’s possible. The Adirondacks is a beautiful place, and I’m sure there will be some keen buyers, or even investors hoping to turn it into an Airbnb.
“No one makes much of an effort to visit,” you say. Let’s change that.
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