Most of the conversation about living arrangements is “Do I rent or buy?” Or else “Do I want a roommate or to live alone.” If you are facing a “what do I do now” dilemma in terms of housing, think more broadly and ask bigger questions.
Is this the best part of the world for me to live in? Taking advantage of a lower cost of living elsewhere–thousands of miles from where you live now or even in a foreign country–can open up a whole new life. What’s keeping you where you are? Is what’s important to you tied to that geography or are you where you are simply because that’s where you’ve always been?
Is having a place of my own a positive? This goes beyond the “Do I want to own my own house?” that we are already asking as we get older. This is “Does having my own place make me happy?” If it leaves you feeling isolated and overworked, consider other options. A roommate might solve it. But also check to see if there’s a “shared housing” nonprofit in the area that can hook you up with someone who has space and is willing to share. One caution: moving to an assisted living facility prematurely is a bad idea. You need the maximum amount of stimulation you enjoy for as long as you live. Prematurely curtailing that, even so that you can be with a loved one, is bad for your mental and physical health.
Do I need a place (for example, a 2500 square foot house with a three-car garage) because of my stuff? If you do, then you need to ask yourself if you really need all that stuff. If you’re paying for that place so someone else has a place for his or her stuff (kids and ex’s are particularly notorious about this), why are you doing that? If you’ve become a gratis storage option for other people’s belongings, it’s time to say “No.” Sell it, move, and hire a “Got Junk” removal service if they don’t get their stuff out before you hand over the keys.
Do I need a place at all? Some of us actually don’t. Some love moving from place to place, figuring out where they are going to stay as they go. They love to see new environs and to try new arrangements. This is not about being homeless. This is about a planned period of travel where you get to experience something new without worrying about who’s taking care of your place “back home.” For some people, the “place” might be a sailboat or a motorhome that you take care of but can move to wherever you want to explore next.
Take your thinking as far out as you can in considering how to honor your interests and needs. As we mature, “home” isn’t so much about the place you live as how you feel. If you can learn to feel “at home” in a broader context, all kinds of possibilities present themselves.