Retirement comes with many changes.
Where you will live is one of those changes. But you are already one step ahead because you have chosen where you want to live, Richmond Virginia.
With a population of about 1,263,617 people, the Metro Richmond area has been described by residents as a “big small town,” with the amenities and experiences of a big city with that quintessential small-town charm.
Now that you have found the place you want to spend your golden years, it is time to consider the myriad of other factors that go into living arrangements in retirement like the type of home you want to live in, where that home is, and how to do all that while sticking with your budget.
With so many options available, how can you find the best housing opportunity for you?
Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to consider when you are looking for a the best housing for retirees in Richmond, VA:
Location, location, location
You know what they say about real estate “location, location, location.” You already have the first location (the city), now you have to decide which part of the city/surrounding areas you want to live in.
When you choose a place to live, its proximity to the other things in your life like family, friends, work, and activities is important and should play a role in your decision. Before you settle into one area, be sure you ask yourself the following questions,
How walkable is the area?
What public transportation systems are nearby?
Are your regular activities (exercise, friends, church, community) easily accessible?
If you are working part-time or pursuing an encore career, what will your commute be like?
It’s important that your location supports the things that you do on a regular basis. Doing so will keep you active and engaged with the community, two important elements for new and seasoned retirees.
You’ll also need to check-in on your proximity to hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities. In Richmond, there are a couple of highly-ranked hospitals like VCU Medical Center, Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital and Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center.
Let’s take a look at a few different areas you should consider in/near Richmond for housing in your retirement years.
Midlothian is a suburban community about 14 miles west of the city. This charming town founded in the 18th-century boasts many amenities and activities from its art gallery to antique shops to outdoor activities to local restaurants and more. The most recent census puts its population right around 60,000 so much smaller than the heart of downtown which works best for some retirees.
West End of Richmond
Another top spot to consider is the West End of Richmond. This suburb is west of the city and has a much smaller population than Midlothian coming in at about 34,000 people. In this area, there is the Country Club of Virginia, the University of Richmond, and many areas to shop including the Libbie/Grove area, River Road Shopping Center, and many great restaurants such as Kuba Kuba, Buckheads steakhouse, and more.
Historical Fan District
For those retirees who are city lovers, the historical Fan District in the City of Richmond just might be the place for you. While the cost of living will be higher in the city than in the surrounding areas, if you want to be close to the action you can’t get better. From fine art to the state capital to botanical gardens to top restaurants Richmond is a great place for retirees.
How will you know the right place for you?
Maybe it is important to you to be right by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts because you volunteer there a few days per week or perhaps you want to live near a golf course because you have a membership and are teaching junior golf lessons or perhaps you want to rekindle Thomas Jefferson’s passion to make Virginia a top wine destination. Whichever place you decide, it should allow you to be able to do the things you love.
There are so many options in Richmond from new developments boasting enviable amenities to classic historical homes in the heart of downtown to Rowhomes, to townhomes or condos popping up all around the area.
When you are looking for a specific place to live, you have to assess your lifestyle needs and how your housing situation can enhance and support those needs.
Respect Your Retirement Budget
The next thing you will need to consider when looking at housing is the cost. With a rise in tourism, attractions, tax-benefits, and lifestyle considerations, Richmond has risen in popularity for new retirees. This surge in people drives prices higher, so it is important to know what your budget is and to stick to it.
Just last year, Zillow found that the average home in Richmond costs about $258,000 and just under $1,400 for rent. This will be important to plan for, especially if these numbers are different than what you anticipated. Remember, your housing in retirement should not put you in serious debt, therefore it is important to find a place with a monthly payment you can easily afford.
You might not want to purchase a single-family detached home and that is okay—there are many other options for you to consider.
There are also new housing developments popping up in Richmond that offer condos and townhomes with many amenities for residents. A development with amenities could be a great option for you in retirement because of the comfort and ease it provides. When you are in a community, you often have more events that allow you to socialize and meet other people. You also will not be responsible for maintenance like a leaking roof or plumbing issue like you would be if you had a single-family home.
But developments often have a high homeowners association (HOA) monthly fee which can add a lot to your payments each month. Be sure you know exactly what fees you would be paying before you sign on the dotted line.
Housing is just one key area of your retirement budget. You will also have to account for food, utilities, transportation, entertainment, and travel. Many retirees forget to properly budget for travel expenses, whether that be a dream vacation or regular visits to family and friends. We’ve advised retirees who plan for $10,000 to $25,000 in travel expenses per year depending on your desires.
Let Your Priorities Be The Guide
When looking for a place to live, your priorities matter most. There are so many factors that go into buying or leasing property and it is important that you are honest with yourself and your spouse about the things that are essential for you.
What amenities are most important to you? (pool, restaurants, movies, etc.)?
How “age-friendly” is the house/apartment? (limited stairs, easy access in and out, etc.)
In what ways will your living situation help you reach your other goals?
Maybe it is most important to be by the water or your proximity to your children and grandchildren comes first. No matter what your priorities are, it is important to have these conversations so that you are both on the same page when looking for a place to live.
Richmond, Virginia is a wonderful place to call home in retirement. By evaluating the location, your budget, and your priorities, you will be able to find a living situation that suits your needs both now and in the future.
Ready to start building your dream retirement? Give us a call today.
Mark Fonville, CFP®
Mark has over 18 years of experience helping individuals and families invest and plan for retirement. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and President of Covenant Wealth Advisors.