No matter what you set out to do or decide, using a checklist is a tried-and-true way to make sure that you can reach a great result. And no matter how early you are in the process of determining your next step in retirement, it helps to have a checklist handy for this exciting process. A lot of factors need to be considered, after all.

That’s why we put together this guide. It includes several key tasks (seven, to be exact) to accomplish throughout your search for the senior living option that enables the retirement lifestyle you desire. Let’s get right to it!

1) Meet with financial professionals

A great first step is to see how your unique financial situation can coincide with the retirement lifestyle you desire. You’ve worked hard to get to this point, and meeting with a trusted financial professional will clarify which exciting option is right for you. Your financial planner can also explain how the financial arrangements work at the different types of senior living communities.

Furthermore, choosing among the many senior living options in West Virginia can bring with it tax considerations (or even advantages), so you will want to meet with a tax professional as well. Simply put, the first calls you should make during this process are to your financial planner and/or accountant.

2) Narrow down your preferred location(s)

Do you want to stay—or move—close to your family and loved ones? Do you want to be adventurous in retirement and pick a destination that’s all new to you? Do you love the changing of the seasons, or is climate a big factor in your decision?

Just like with any move you’ve experienced, it’s all about location. Narrowing down your ideal retirement landing spot to a city, county or perhaps a region is a good start.

3) Look down the road

Since this is all about the long term, make sure you have a solid plan in place for whatever the future may hold. Most senior living advisors recommend moving while you’re fully able to enjoy the benefits of this new lifestyle, and it’s important to have the foresight to make sure you can age gracefully with peace of mind.

Fortunately, several solid options exist nowadays for seniors looking to secure their futures. Many communities offer what is called a LifeCare contract, which secures any future healthcare services (if needed) while stabilizing your finances. Of course, other options like long-term care insurance and home healthcare are also available.

4) Research real estate and rightsizing

This task is pretty simple; however, it is one that many folks delay for too long. Consider meeting with a trusted real estate agent so that you can evaluate the current real estate market and how it may affect the timing of a possible move. Even if you don’t plan to move right away, consulting with a real estate pro will make the whole process easier (and help you get the most out of selling your current house).

On the other end of this transition, you’ll also want to begin thinking about the rightsizing process. Although most senior living communities offer residences that are roomier than one would expect, your new home will likely be a little smaller than your current one. Find out to what degree you’ll need to rightsize, and consider meeting with a senior move specialist to get started. Remember: Start early!

5) Think about timing

One of the keys to reaching any goal is to set a time by which to accomplish it. Attaining the retirement lifestyle you seek is no different. Surely, nobody can plan a milestone like this down to the day, but crafting a loose plan will help to inspire and motivate you.

For example, “I’ll decide on my next step by my next birthday,” might work for you. From there, you can start tackling some of the other items on this list.

The biggest advantage of doing this is that it keeps you in control and lets you work toward this exciting step on your own accord—not out of necessity. One of the biggest mistakes senior living advisors hear is, “I’ll move when I’m ready.” You’re more ready than you think.

6) Tour a few communities

Especially after you’ve narrowed down your preferred location(s), you might be ready to visit some retirement communities! This is one of the most exciting parts of the process, and there’s no substitute for the firsthand experience you’ll get as a potential new neighbor. And remember: There’s no need to overwhelm yourself with options. Most of your peers find their perfect fit after visiting three to five communities.

The trusted experts at Where You Live Matters put together this checklist for what to note while you visit an independent living community. Take it along.

7) Involve your loved ones

You might have already had some of these discussions with your family, or they may have brought up the topic with you. And that’s good! Involving your loved ones as you decide your next step is a smart move.

Because it can be a complex and emotional decision, we recommend you check out this video and article, “Making Decisions as a Family.”

We hope this checklist will come in handy as you explore the exciting possibilities that await you in retirement. We at Woodlands in Huntington, West Virginia, are happy to provide guidance and advice on any of the above, as well as answers to any questions you have about our community. Simply click here or call 304-697-1620 to get in touch.

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