We are a retired couple in our 70s living on a beautiful lake in the Adirondacks. We own a large house and have been informed that we could sell it for about $2 million.
We love it here, but we are tired. The maintenance and work wear us both out trying to keep the house up. And we are worried about what the future holds.
Our only son lives in Connecticut with our two grandchildren and we are thinking we might move there.
But the traffic situation scares us a little. And while we would get to spend some time with the family, the kids are off to college soon and our son has a very demanding and 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 a liability to anyone.
We still have friends who are alive, 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, then sell the house?
No one makes much of a visit. And although everyone groans when I suggest selling, I’m sure my son will sell it when we’re gone.
Money is not an issue, but getting reliable help can be a challenge. Some ideas?
Signed, Alone in the Adirondacks
‘The Big Move’ is a MarketWatch column that looks at the ins and outs of real estate, from navigating a new home to applying for a mortgage.
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Dear Alone in the Adirondacks,
First of all: I would say go all in with moving but to your own place.
It’s no use living in a huge house with no friends, no help in case of emergency, and with your family so far away. Driving, traffic, it can all be bad, especially as you only get older.
If you have your own home, you probably won’t be a “liability” to your son.
So what to do with that upstate home? Here’s an idea if you’re up for it: Why not list your home on Airbnb or another short-term rental site and rent something smaller near your son’s place?
I don’t know if you can get “reliable help” to help your place like Airbnb, because it takes a lot of effort to keep up — from handling guests checking in to dealing with maintenance requests. Your son seems busy, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched to ask him to join.
But if he’s willing to help, and if you can find other ways to make it work like hiring someone to take care of the place in your absence, it looks like you can just lay out the house as a short-term rental, and move to another rental property in Connecticut.
If maintaining a short-term rental is a problem, consider selling.
Since you said your son will probably sell it after your time anyway, why are you holding on to the property and living so far away from your son and grandchildren? Do they advise you to hold onto it longer so you can sell it at a higher price?
If so, you have to weigh the strain of aging into a house that is increasingly difficult to keep up with (you mentioned the maintenance and the work involved) against the quality of life you will get to live near family.
Plus, your son intends to sell it anyway after you pass, you said.
So I’d say go for it and sell the house and downsize, move closer to your son.
A basic comparison of average home values on Zillow shows you’re likely to find more value in Connecticut.
The typical value of a home in the Adirondacks is $612,500, Zillow data says. Home values where you are are up 31.4% over the past year.
Compare that to a typical home value in some of Connecticut’s major cities:
- Adirondack $612K
- Bridgeport $308K
- Stamford $623K
- New Haven $270K
Regardless of what you do after selling the home, if you end up buying a smaller home or even renting one, you will likely make some money from the sale. And you will have a better quality of life.
Of course, the market is tough.
Home sellers are finding it increasingly difficult to find buyers. They are offering more concessions and reducing list prices as buyers struggle with higher mortgage rates than before. They are approaching 6%.
But it is possible. The Adirondacks is a beautiful place and I’m sure there will be some eager buyers, or even investors hoping to turn it into an Airbnb.
“Nobody makes a big deal about visiting,” you say. Let’s change that.
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