What Happened To The Ultimate Forever Home?
The phrase “forever home” gets used a lot these last few years. It got me wondering “why”? I’m wondering if the concept of a “forever home” is realistic.
Everyone’s experiences are unique to them, so when you think about where you lived when you were growing up, did your family stay in one house? Or did they move around a lot?
Maybe you or your parents lived in the same home for a couple of decades or more. Is that what makes it a “forever home”? What is the magic number of years to live in one place before we call it a “forever home”?
Personally, I grew up in one house from the time I was born until I moved to another town after high school graduation, to pursue a career in an industry that interested me at the time.
The house I grew up in was a brand new but modest (by today’s standards) show home that my parents bought just before I was born (see photo). Even though my parents owned it for about two decades, that wasn’t their forever home either.
As an adult, I have moved around (mostly within the same City) a LOT!
So, I can appreciate the necessity of short-term and long-term approaches to home ownership.
When you think about it, the same things that are reasons to leave a home after a while can also be reasons to stay a long time:
* job location – is the location permanent or will you need to move in order to get promoted?
* neighbours – good neighbours are a treasure! Having good neighbours really makes you think about whether or not a move is necessary. Bad neighbours, well that’s a big reason why fences get built. Sometimes fences are not enough though and a move might be your only option.
* health and mobility – if you are in great health and still quite mobile, you might not have a reason to consider moving at the moment. However, if your health and mobility are starting to decline, you will begin to wonder if a different style of home would be more appropriate at this time to alleviate some of the challenges you’ve been experiencing.
* increasing family size – young families expanding in size often look to a home larger than the condo or starter home that suited them just fine when there were just one or two people living there. When little ones begin to arrive, families start to assess whether or not they will be comfortable where they are, or would a move-up home suit them better as they add more family members to the equation.
* decreasing family size – as the children grow and move out and on to lives of their own, parents look around and assess whether they still need all that space when it is just one or two of them living there.
- Do they want all the cleaning and maintenance to do?
- Do they want to pay to heat and cool all that space?
- Would they rather just downsize, cash out, and put the proceeds into something more enjoyable at this time in their life?
- Would they like to move to a condo where they can just lock the door and leave for as long as they like without the worry of grass to cut or snow to shovel?
* neighbourhood is declining in upkeep – there are unfortunate situations in some neighbourhoods that are aging where the upkeep of the homes and public spaces can be declining.
* neighbourhood is improving – there are lots of older neighbourhoods where the pride of home ownership is very evident, even when viewed from the street, and the streets and public green spaces are meticulously cared for.
There are also cases where a neighbourhood that was once in decline can be completely revitalized and spring back to a new life.
* plenty of, or not plenty of equity to access – this situation depends on a few different factors. I’m not an accountant, financial adviser, or economist, but I do know that one of the factors in having abundant equity in your home depends on the state of the housing market.
While the thought of staying in one home forever is an appealing prospect for many people, after reading through this list of reasons to stay in or leave the home you are currently living in, you can begin to see why I question the notion of a “forever home” as a reality these days.
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Karen Hutchinson, REALTOR® and Seniors Real Estate Specialist® with Royal LePage Solutions in Calgary, Alberta