The Golden Years…Because They Cost So Much?

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When David Bowie sang “Nothing’s gonna touch you in these golden years,” I have a pretty good hunch that he wasn’t referring to the period of life between the ages of 65 and 80+.

For most of us, the “golden years” refer to that period of retirement, when the kids have moved out, debts are paid off and careers have wound down. If you are in good shape financially, physically and mentally, your years past age 65 can indeed be golden.

These years can, however, can be far from golden for some. People can be at their most vulnerable in the following areas:
1. Health Concerns
senior-man-gym.jpgThese are the years when chronic illness, weight gain, reduced muscle mass, changes in hearing and eyesight, memory disorders and other health concerns rear their ugly heads. At the same time our body’s ability to self-repair becomes reduced as we age.
2. Money Matters
Most people rely on a fixed income after retirement, usually a combination of government pension (OAS/GIS, CPP), workplace pensions and RRSPs, and investment income.
The financial risks people face during the golden years include:
  • Will the value of their pensions and investments change?
  • As they age, will their income be able to cover the changing costs of housing, health care, and assistance required for the daily acts of living?
  • Will their financial reserves last long enough, or will they outlive their expected lifespan?
  • Will the death of a partner or spouse alter their financial situation?
  • Will they be able to leave behind something for the kids?
3. Housing Woes
Vulnerabilities in housing can overturn the apple cart of the golden years. Worries include:
Can I afford rising property taxes, maintenance and adaptations?

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I commonly hear of “house-poor” seniors who are just barely holding on to ownership of their house. Although rising property values will benefit them when it comes time to sell, if they want to remain living in their house they have to pay the rising taxes, keep up with repairs and pay for costly upgrades and adaptations to “age in place”.
Can I sell my condo? I hear the market is terrible.

In reality, condos can receive multiple offers if priced correctly and marketed well. The wise move is to get advice on real estate from experts before spiralling into worry based on rumours.
Rumours abound and everyone has a friend who says it’s impossible to sell in this market. What will happen if an individual needs to move into more appropriate housing due to health, but finds that their home sits on the market for months or years?
If I sell, can I find a nice place to rent?
If someone has owned their own house for many years the thought of renting can be off-putting. Sharing close quarters with neighbours, dealing with landlords and the many uncertainties of tenancy can be a real turn-off. And in many urban centres the amount of rental inventory in nice neighbourhoods is low.
The Golden Years come with some heavy stuff…and perhaps they’re not as golden as we’ve been led to believe.
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