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Ask McEnearney: What is the difference between Aging in Place and Aging in Community?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Peter Crouch & Katie Crouch of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Peter at 703-244-4024 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What is the difference between Aging in Place and “Aging in Community”?

Answer: We all have heard about “Aging in Place,” and many AARP polls show a high percentage of us want to do just that as we get older — stay in our long-time homes. After all, we are comfortable in our homes, we are near friends and family, and we have our support network.

Our doctors are close by, familiar shopping is near, and the services we rely on are often clustered around our home. If we have concerns about living in our homes, we can look at converting a room to achieve a first-floor bedroom, adding handrails for stairs, improving lighting, and adding ramps as needed. Plus, we can hire people to mow the lawn, rake leaves, or shovel snow. It does mean, however, that one or two people may find themselves rattling around in a large house that is expensive to maintain.

There is, however, an important companion concept to Aging in Place that is often an even better match — Aging in Community. As the phrase implies, many people are deciding to move to more suitable housing locally for their next phase of life. The key is “locally.” They stay near their family and friends, doctors and dentists, shopping and services. They just move to a more manageable home. Sometimes the move is from a detached home to a townhouse, but more often it is to a condo or apartment. Regardless of the scale of the move, the goal is to maintain all the familiarity that they have come to know over the years while making their housing more appropriate — to Age in Community.

The benefits are many. Obviously, maintenance is less, especially in a condo or apartment. Equally as important, people now have closer neighbors — which stimulates engagement. Often it makes it much easier to travel — just lock up and head to the airport. Or just get to the local activities more easily.

Another benefit of selling a long-time home can be financial. In our area, it can be relatively easy for folks to have accumulated a good bit of equity, especially in the last couple of years. However, it is locked away in their homes, almost unusable. Freeing it up gives all sorts of options to move locally — and use the equity to enrich their quality of life and enjoyment!

In addition, the current tax code gives qualifying owners an “exclusion” from capital gains tax of $250,000 per person/$500,000 per couple when they sell a principal residence. That is “profit” that will never be taxed! Plus, as prices appreciate, every extra dollar earned will likely be shared with the Tax Man eventually — why not start the clock over on a new property with a new set of $250,000 exclusions? (Consult your tax person for your own situation.)

So how common is Aging in Community? One of our local Senior Villages, At Home in Alexandria (AHA), which supports older Alexandrians living at home with a variety of services and social activities, has an almost evenly split membership. Roughly half seem to be in their long-time homes, while the other half have downsized to a condo or apartment — and are Aging in Community. Mount Vernon at Home, the Village in the Mt Vernon area, has a similar breakdown.

Our area is fortunate enough to have almost every option available to folks who wish to change their housing. We have apartments, condos, small detached homes, and townhomes for most budgets.

Is Aging in Community for you? Happy to brainstorm!

Crouch Realty Group at McEnearney Associates is honored to have been awarded the National Association of Realtors Senior Council (SRES) “Outstanding Service Award.” Out of 1.2 million Realtors nationwide.

Pete Crouch is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist, which means he is well-versed in all aspects of moving as we age. His own downsize gave him tremendous insights into what is involved, from emotional matters to real estate considerations. Pete is a Board Member of At Home in Alexandria (AHA), our local Senior Village, and was the 2018 National Recipient of the “Outstanding Service Award” by the National Association of Realtors for his work with Senior Moves. Text 703-244-4024 or email [email protected] for a copy of his Downsize Alexandria! Booklet about living more simply in Greater Alexandria.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703.549.9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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