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The hidden costs of home ownership

Is staying in your house really a good value?

Created date

June 29th, 2016

When Judy Cornog weighs the advantages of living at Lantern Hill against staying in her Summit, N.J., home, Lantern Hill wins every time.

She considers the activities and amenities among reasons to move, but one of the greatest benefits is Lantern Hill’s financial structure.

“I feel very good that everything will be included in one monthly check. That’s great peace of mind, knowing what your expenses will be,” she says.

Like many of her future Lantern Hill neighbors, Judy made an important discovery: Home maintenance costs, as well as all the other hidden costs of owning and caring for a home, can add up to more than you expect. 

“I think it will be a little less than where I’m living now,” she says of her spacious two-bedroom Fairfax-style apartment home. 

“The monthly service package includes so many things,” she says, listing all the living costs that are neatly bundled in the monthly service package. “I think they’re offering a great deal.”

Calculate all costs

“We encourage people interested in living at Lantern Hill to list all of their living costs,” says Lantern Hill Sales Counselor Kathy Banks. “In doing so, many people discover that living in their house or townhome or condo is more expensive than they thought. Plus, it’s a lot of work.”

When calculating the actual cost of owning your home, don’t forget to add 1% to 4% of your home’s value for repairs and routine maintenance, property taxes (which range from $12,000 to $25,000 a year in New Jersey depending on the house and community people are moving from), and homeowner’s insurance premiums. 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reports the U.S. average homeowner’s insurance premium as $1,034 (higher in New Jersey), but check with your insurance company. 

Research financial structures

Once you’ve determined the total cost of living in your home, research other retirement living options. 

For Judy, Lantern Hill was the best value and most reliable financial structure because it offers peace of mind and predictability.

A refundable entrance fee secures your apartment and protects your nest egg, while a monthly service package covers your living expenses. So instead of juggling a stack of bills each month, you write just one check. Full details are available in Lantern Hill’s Residence and Care Agreement.

The predictable monthly service package, which corresponds to the size of each apartment home, includes all home maintenance, professional landscaping, property taxes, 24/7 security, utilities, a flexible meal plan, and use of all amenities like the indoor pool and fitness center, weekly housekeeping, and underground parking. 

It also includes snow-clearing services in winter and year-round transportation to and from local destinations like the grocery store and the dry cleaners. 

And when it comes to property taxes, that’s just one more huge expense Lantern Hill residents will worry less about.

“Summit is not known for its low property taxes, so not having to write a property tax check is a great advantage in moving to Lantern Hill,” says Judy.

Smart financial decision

Aside from considering her personal living expenses, Judy has been considering the effect of her move on her children. 

“I especially like the 90% refundable entrance fee, which makes me feel good for the children,” she says.

Lantern Hill’s 90% refundable entrance fee allows residents to preserve their nest egg while living an active, independent retirement—90% of their entrance fee is returned to them or their estate. As a fee-for-service community, should they need additional care, they can tap into those funds if needed. 

“It’s hard to put a dollar value on living at Lantern Hill,” says Banks, “but I can help you list out those costs as well as other pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision about where to spend your retirement.”