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Living at Home Isn't Living for Free

Living at home may not be as cost-efficient when you consider utilities & taxes. Download our cost worksheet and see the expenses for yourself.


Ask most seniors where the least expensive place to live is, and they’ll probably tell you it’s in their own home. Of course, 84% of people over the age of 65 have paid off their mortgages, so it’s natural to think mortgage-free is free living. And it sounds great for the aging process, too – until you realize the expenses never actually go away. Landscaping, repairs, improvements, transportation, taxes, insurance, utilities – even in-home care. Turns out that what seemed like the least expensive place to live while growing older may not be that inexpensive after all.

The Cost of Maintaining a Senior’s Home

Setting aside costly, initial investments required when you want to make a senior’s home senior-friendly — zero-step entries, walk-in showers, improved lighting, etc. — you’re still left with a stack of monthly expenses … the costs of living for someone who chooses to age in place.

Costs Worksheet

Print this chart and review it with family. You’ll get a clearer picture of the costs of maintaining a senior’s home:

In addition to home maintenance expenses, there’s also the lost investment opportunity. For most, the home is the greatest asset. But tying up so much personal wealth in a home can limit the possibilities for enjoying life.

In-Home Care Expenses

Many of us believe we won’t ever need long-term care. But the reality is different. More than two-thirds of all adults over the age of 65 will need some type of care, sooner or later. When you choose to age in place in your home, that care may come in the form of an in-home care agency’s caregiver.

Private-duty home care agencies can provide older adults assistance with:

  • Personal care needs, including bathing, dressing and grooming
  • Toileting and continence care
  • Menu planning, meal preparation, grocery shopping
  • Transportation for appointments and errands
  • Laundry and light housekeeping support
  • Companionship and socialization, such as reading, card playing and crafts

The national average for home care is $30 per hour and agencies may have minimum-hour-per-visit requirements, as well as monthly thresholds to meet. Consequently, home care can have a significant effect on a senior’s budget.

Consider the Bottom Line

Don’t assume a paid-off mortgage means aging in place at home for free. Consider all the costs of homeownership – beyond that mortgage – for a true picture of affordability. And while you’re at it, why not compare those costs with the real costs of moving to a senior living community? How do they two choices measure up?

If you decide that a move to a senior living community makes the most sense for you then check out our Community Locator Tool to find a community near you.

Where You Live Matters is powered by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), a respected voice in the senior housing industry. ASHA primarily focuses on legislative and regulatory advocacy, research, and educational opportunities and networking for senior living executives, so they can better understand the needs of older adults across the country.

United States of America, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditures Survey, 2010
Five Myths Report, page 11
Genworth 2023 Financial Cost of Care Survey