5 Types of Homes to Consider for Retirement

From a houseboat to a tiny home, these options can cut living expenses and up the fun factor.

By Jacquelyn Pica, Contributor

5 Types of Homes to Consider for Retirement
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Tiny homes are a great way to reduce living costs in retirement, and they can often be towed from place to place. (Getty Images)

Figuring out where to retire might be easy for some, but for others it’s a difficult decision. There are all kinds of articles about the best places to retire in the U.S., specifically in Florida, but what if the choices on these lists don’t really speak to you?

It’s easy to default to retiring in your house, especially if you’ve worked hard to pay it off over the years. But there are other options. Here are five other kinds of places you can retire, from a houseboat to a tiny home.

Houseboat. If you’re looking for a serious change of scenery, retire on a houseboat. You can do this at many places in the world and opt for life on a stationary houseboat or a motorized one. The costs of buying a houseboat can range from $50,000 to $250,000 for a used houseboat or $200,000 and more for a new one.

You’ll also have to factor in the cost of renting out a space at a marina, which can range from a few hundred dollars to around $1,000 per month. You’ll have various other fees you wouldn’t have with a house, such as boat cleaning, insurance, pumping and marina utilities. However, many people who live on houseboats find that living on the water ends up being cheaper than living in an apartment or house. Plus, it adds a little adventure to your retirement.

Marinas tend to have a community aspect among the members who also live on their docked boats. This option isn’t recommended for seniors who have balance issues, are prone to seasickness or want to limit time spent in the sun.

Townhouse. Buying a townhouse is a good retirement option if you’re looking to own property smaller than a house, but want more control than what a condo provides. If you buy in a community, you’ll pay homeowners association fees, although they’re typically lower than condo HOA fees. You might also be subjected to community rules regarding the exterior appearance of your townhome.

The plus side of this option is that, unlike with a condo, you typically own the land the townhouse sits on. You’ll also likely face less maintenance than with a house, since most HOAs will cover yard care, ranging from shoveling snow to cutting grass. While you own the residence and corresponding land, you might share a wall or two with neighbors, but at least you won’t have any noisy upstairs neighbors.

Retirement community. There are many kinds of retirement communities, ranging from ones that allow you to be completely independent to assisted living facilities. Opting for a retirement community doesn’t mean you need medical care – some are incredibly active, with all kinds of activities, restaurants and even group classes. This is a good choice for retirees looking to be part of a close-knit community.

The average monthly cost for retirement communities is $2,765, according to a study by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care. The cost can go up to $9,000, however, for ultra-premium communities.

Motor home. Struggling to figure out where you want to settle down for retirement? Retire in an RV, and you won’t have to choose. With an RV, you can travel to different parts of the country. However, you will have to consider living in close quarters with a partner, plus forgoing the community feel a stationary home provides.

RV parks and campgrounds provide electric, water and sewer hookups, and some even offer security and swimming pools. The monthly rate to rent out a spot can range from $400 to $750. The cost of an RV can be anywhere from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars, depending on whether you purchased one used or new, and if you opted for all the bells and whistles.

Tiny home. Have you heard of the tiny house movement? Tiny homes are a great way to reduce living costs, and they can often be towed from place to place so you get a change of scenery. Since your living quarters will be so small, you won’t have the hassle of cleaning all that space.

While you’ll lack the square footage of a traditional house, the monthly payments won’t be nearly as much. Tiny homes usually cost $20,000 to $40,000, and can cost as much as $80,000 with special upgrades. Consider that you’ll also spend less on utilities and groceries since storage space is a bit sparse.

There are all kinds of retirement options: Retire in a tiny home in Florida? Opt for a life on the road in a high-end RV? Join an active retirement community so you never run out of things to do?

This list should make that decision a little easier to make, but it all boils down to what you’re looking and what your retirement needs will be.