Seniors Looking at Buying a Home in Chicago? Things to Keep in Mind

Choosing where you want to live is one of the greatest benefits of retirement, and for retirees, city life can be particularly appealing. You don’t have to think about things like the quality of schools, having a large backyard and other amenities that matter when you’re supporting a family. You can focus on yourself and what makes you happy in a home.

Below you’ll find just a few reasons why Chicago could be the ideal place for you to spend your retirement years:

Access to Healthcare

Being close to good healthcare facilities is crucial as retirees age. Even if you are in perfectly good health now, it is likely that your healthcare needs will change. Two Chicago hospitals, Northwestern University Memorial Hospital and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, made IBM Watson’s 2018 list of best hospitals in the United States. Several others on the list are located within an hour of Chicago, so if you choose to live in a suburb you may have even more options when it comes to healthcare facilities.


When determining your price range for a home in Chicago, you need to remember that you will be paying additional amounts of money to cover property and sales taxes. Understanding the taxes you will and will not have to pay in your desired location can help you best determine the actual cost of living. Illinois has some of the highest property and sales tax rates in the US. The property tax rate is currently 2.25%, while the sales tax rate is 10.25%.

Chicago does offer certain tax benefits, however. The state of Illinois exempts almost all possible forms of retirement income from taxations – including social security income, pension income or income from retirement savings accounts.


One of the best things about retirement is having a lot more time to focus on the things that make you happy. Chicago has no shortage of recreation and entertainment opportunities. The city falls within the top 100 cities nationwide for retirees, including a ranking of 10 overall for things to do.

There are many free attractions seniors can enjoy all year in Chicago, including the Chicago Cultural Center, the Harold Washington Library Center, Hyde Park Art Center and Navy Pier. Chicago also offers a Neighborhood Greeter Tours, which pairs people up with knowledgeable locals who can help you find exactly what you’re looking for in the city.

House Design

When buying a house for retirement, you’ll want to keep in mind that your mobility and healthcare needs will likely change as you continue to age. The best way to ensure your new home will be appropriate for you in years to come is to work with your real estate agent to ensure any home you look at was built with “Universal Design” principles in mind.

The layouts of universal design homes are built with the changing needs of seniors in mind. Over time stairs could become unmanageable or unsafe, or perhaps you could start having issues balancing in the shower. Examples of amenities found in universal design homes include no step entryways, one story floor plans, wider doorways, open floor plans with extra floor space, and bathrooms that are senior-friendly with balance rods and low sinks for people in wheelchairs.

Senior Living Options

If you buy a home and one day decide you’d like to live in a senior living community, Chicago has many great options to choose from.

If you are still independent when it comes to your health and ability to get around, but would rather not deal with home maintenance and other responsibilities, an active adult living community could be a great option for you. These communities are intended for people 55 years of age or older, and many offer amenities like pools, fitness centers and transportation. Living in a 55-plus community often includes extra fees, such as a homeowners association fee, which your real estate agent can help walk you through.

There are a large number of senior living communities throughout the Chicago area and many more that are considered nearby.  This type of facility is a good option for seniors who need help with activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, managing medications or keeping up with general housework.

Barbara Thompson
Senior Care Advocate