Alternative Retirement Housing: You Don't Have to Live Conventionally

Source: Flickr user Jimmy Harris.

Authors Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38 and have lived in many different locales and housing situations ever since. The Kaderlis are published authors on the subjects of finance and world travel.

The cost of housing is typically the largest part of the monthly budget in any household. Knowing some housing choices can make this an exciting avenue to pursue in retirement. Why limit yourself to only one stationary housing selection? You have many options.

"Next-Gen" homes
Multigenerational living is seeing a resurgence. As a result, there are designs for homes that allow extended family to live all together in one home -- but with separate living spaces. It is literally a home within a home, with floor plans incorporated into the main home in a way that allows it to be a separate space that still offers direct access from the main house, depending upon the family's needs.


  • Multiple generations of a family can live together and still maintain private living space.
  • The family can save money by sharing a mortgage, a vehicle, utility bills, etc.
  • Grandparents can be nearby to help care for young children.
  • The family can save money on adult care by keeping elderly relatives in the home, rather than in assisted-living facilities.
  • There's a sense of safety and familiarity for all involved.


  • Prices for these "home within a home" residences range from $300,000 to $600,000.
  • These homes are only available in particular communities.
  • This style of living may be too close for some people: There is less privacy and, in the case of a family conflict, less room for everyone involved to get the space and alone time they need.

The authors' house in Antigua, Guatemala.

Snow birding
For those who live in the far north and want to get away from cold winter temperatures, the practice of snow birding has been around for a long time. People who are tired of freezing weather will purchase or rent another home, condo, or manufactured home in a location in the Sun Belt and spend their winters in warmer climes. Some people choose to winter in places such as Mexico, whereas others will go to "active adult communities" in Florida, Arizona, California or Texas. When the winter subsides up north, the "snow birds" return to their home.


  • You can avoid cold weather for nearly the entire year.
  • You still have half a year with family back home.
  • It introduces variety to your life.
  • Active adult communities often have a large selection of social activities.


  • You must like to travel to get to your second location.
  • You must pay to maintain both properties unless you rent one of them for half the year.
  • You will be away from friends and family for half the year.

Image courtesy of Compass Living.

Compass Living
There is a new concierge living service called Compass Living, which offers all-inclusive living in an apartment as a lifestyle option. Located in Vietnam -- and coming soon to Panama, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Mexico, and other destinations -- this all-inclusive residence living is like what you would find on a cruise, except it is for land locations.

It's a simple system. There's no real estate or time share to be purchased, no long-term rental contracts, and no ownership headaches. Basically, from month to month, one simply books a room and shows up. And once the other residences are secured and running, then you can go from property to property within their organization without charge (airfare is extra). So if you wanted a month-long golf vacation in Da Nang, followed by a beach vacation in Costa Rica or Panama, your experience would be seamless.


  • It's as close to all-inclusive living as you can get. Meals, laundry, massages, a personal driver, and more are all included -- for one cost.
  • It simplifies international living, and once you arrive all logistic issues are covered.
  • There's no long-term commitment, no HOA fees, and no property taxes.
  • This could work as part of a snow bird plan.
  • Concierge services help you with visas, property purchases, tours, and finding whatever you need.


  • Properties are located in overseas destinations -- not in the States or Canada.
  • At $4,000 per month per couple, It doesn't fit everyone's budget.
  • Some people don't like to travel.
  • You may be far from family.

RV parks often boast an array of amenities.

Living out of a recreational vehicle has become popular as a lifestyle option because of the variety and independence that it affords. Far from being glorified campers, some of these recreational vehicles are like rolling condos complete with tile countertops, wood paneling, washers and dryers, robust entertainment systems, and more. Expansions that slide out when the RV is parked turn a narrow rectangular vehicle into a comfortable living space. The independence of taking your home everywhere you want to go makes this option attractive. Your front yard changes, but your home remains the same.


  • Travel makes for variety in your life.
  • Modern RVs are better and more livable than ever.
  • Aside from the cost of the RV itself, RV living overall is inexpensive. You can dry camp or purchase a month's stay at a time at a low price (including utilities), and registration renewal and licensing are cheaper than most property taxes.
  • RV living also enables the snow bird lifestyle: RV owners can live in their original home for half the year and then drive their RV to warmer locations during the winter months.
  • You can either tour the country at your leisure or settle down for months at a time in an RV park in one of your favorite locations.


  • The initial outlay of cash for an RV can be hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, unless you buy a used or relatively small model.
  • The maintenance of both vehicle and home can be intimidating if you're not mechanically inclined. If you don't RV full-time and maintain your stationary home, it can simply be an additional cost.
  • There is little extra room for family to visit.
  • Fuel costs add up. Class A motorhomes average about seven to 10 miles a gallon. This means that given an average of $3.50 per gallon, gas will cost you approximately $35-$50 per hundred miles of travel. You may need to amortize your fuel costs by staying in one location longer, or traveling shorter distances.
  • You will not be in one stable location and must have a mail forwarding address.

Being open to alternative housing options can open up the world to you. You are not stuck in one location, and with a little flexibility, planning for your retirement living can be exciting.

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The article Alternative Retirement Housing: You Don't Have to Live Conventionally originally appeared on

About the authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early RetirementandYour Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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