Greater Columbus-area May Be the Perfect Place for Buying a Forever Home After Retirement

Though it may come as a surprise, Central Ohio could be the ideal place to find a retirement home.

TC Brown
When you look for a space to retire, plan carefully because the new residence just might not last forever.

After decades of hard work, one Central Ohio couple had finally achieved a long-time objective of buying their forever home nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The sprawling ranch house provided scenic views of the mountainous region and an idyllic space to decompress, relax and enjoy themselves in retirement.

It was a dream come true. Until it wasn’t.

Health issues began to intrude and the couple soon discovered high quality medical services were not readily available. It was more than an hour’s drive to reach local doctors, specialists or a reliable hospital system, says Patti Brown-Wright, the couple’s agent with CRT, Realtors.

“It was definitely an oversight they hadn’t considered in finding their forever home,” says Brown-Wright, the 2023 president-elect of the Columbus Board of Realtors. “They’ve decided to leave this ideal home and ideal location.”

The couple’s experience is not all that unusual. The appeal of finding a forever dream home in retirement in the mountains, at the beach or in a vibrant adult community is a strong motivational urge for many aging people.

“People live longer and work longer and then they want to get into a house that meets all their needs and enjoy life,” Brown-Wright says.

But after realizing their vision, some discover that a forever home might not end up lasting forever after all.

Deteriorating health, reduced incomes, growing dislike for a new neighborhood or new neighbors, or missing the grandchildren back in the old hometown can alter priorities, making homeowners think twice about their decision.

“Life can get in the way,” Brown-Wright says. “No one is able to predict what will happen once you move to a forever home and what life changes are a few years down the road.”

Typically, many retirees want to downsize, which might sound great initially but which could also end up as a challenge.

“The biggest thing I’ve seen in real estate in the last 20 years is everyone wants to downsize,” Brown-Wright says. “But later they worry about where guests would stay or what if their kids come back home?”

Downsizing is difficult due to a lack of options in Central Ohio’s red-hot real estate market; nonetheless, the region attracts many forever home seekers. U.S. News & World Report ranked Columbus last year No. 59 as the best city to live in and No. 85 as the best city to retire in.

“The area is affordable, has good hospitals, the arts, great restaurants and sports and easy access to entertainment and amenities,” Brown-Wright says.

After living in the mountains for under a decade, her clients belatedly came to realize the value of this region.

“The Tennessee house has been put on the market and we are currently trying to find them something appropriate for their current lifestyle and closer to their family and medical services,” Brown-Wright says. “I doubt we will be able to replace the fantastic mountain views but we will be able to find them a ranch-style home that meets their needs.”

Bottom line: when you look for a space to retire, plan carefully because the new residence just might not last forever.

This story is from the April 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.