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The hidden costs of home ownership

Is it really cheaper to stay in your house?

Created date

June 29th, 2016

When Jack Coogan weighs the advantages of living at Seabrook against staying in his Spring Lake Heights, N.J., home, Seabrook wins every time.

He lists the on-site medical center, restaurants and convenience market, campus transportation, and emergency assistance among reasons to move, but one of the greatest benefits is Seabrook’s financial structure.

Like many of his Seabrook neighbors, Jack 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. 

At Seabrook, he says, “You know what your monthly costs are going to be. There are no hidden costs. There are no surprises.”

Calculate all costs

“We encourage people interested in living at Seabrook to list all of their living costs. In doing so, many people discover that living in their house, townhome, or condo is more expensive than they thought,” says Seabrook Sales Director Dan Simms. “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 average $8,000 in New Jersey), and homeowner’s insurance premiums. 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reports the U.S. average homeowner’s insurance premium as $1,034, 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 Jack, Seabrook was the best value and most reliable financial structure because it offers peace of mind and predictability.

A 90% 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 Seabrook’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.

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

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

New Jersey and neighboring New York claim the top two property tax rates in the nation. In 2013, New Jersey averaged more than $8,000 per household compared to a national average of just $1,000.

At Seabrook, the monthly service package includes each apartment home’s portion of property tax, which is divided among all residents based on apartment size and days of occupancy. This way, the tax is spread out over the entire year instead of cut into three large quarterly payments. 

Smart financial decision

Overall, says resident Jeanne McArthur, “I think Seabrook is a good financial decision.” Jeanne has a background in wealth management.

“The refundable aspect of the entrance fee and the idea that if I live longer or need additional care I can spend down my assets, as well as the Resident Care Fund, give me security,” she says. 

Seabrook’s 90% refundable entrance deposit 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 when their home is reoccupied. Should they “live longer or need additional care,” as Jeanne mentions, they can tap into those funds.

Should a person spend down their assets, the Resident Care Fund is available. Seabrook’s home for life commitment means that no resident will have to leave the community due to an unforeseen change in their financial situation. Again, the Residence and Care Agreement has all the details.

“It’s hard to put a dollar value on living at Seabrook,” says Simms, “but we 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.”