If you’re new to the world of disability, you’d think that home hunting would be fairly easy, I know I did. I’ve made many mistakes over the last 14 years so I’d like to help you learn from my experiences. I’ve bought homes that didn’t meet my needs, I’ve signed leases, moved into a place and realized I’d made a mistake. These issues carry both financial and emotional cost but could be easily avoided if you know what to consider. I wish I had someone like me to talk to early in my disability journey!
Below is my current home. I bought it 2 years ago and it has the best layout for me, by far since the onset of my disability. It is obviously a “flipped” (renovated pre-sale) property. The bedrooms are on the small side, but it works well for me and I love it. My success with this home is a result of lessons learned and embracing my needs.
Welcome to my home!
Below are (some) the lessons I’ve learned. If you or someone you care about uses a wheelchair or motorized scooter feel free to refer to the following before buying that home or signing that lease:
- ELEVATORS – No matter what level you live on be sure there are at least 2 elevators (if you are considering an apartment or condo complex). Should you move in and make friends, you don’t want to miss a cool party because your neighbors live on the 3rd floor. This is especially important if you have children, you will need full access to the entire complex. Kids make friends everywhere and you’d hate it if something happened in a unit that you can’t access.
- PARKING – Make sure parking is close preferably covered and well lit if it is in a parking garage or underground. There is nothing more important than your safety. Street parking can be unpredictable, cause you to be soaked in the rain and lets not even think about groceries. If you buy or rent a home (versus an apartment or condo), internal access to the garage is the safest and most convenient option. Yes, for you too fellas or blokes!
- STEPS, THRESHOLDS, AND DOOR TRANSITIONS – Make sure to look up the latest ADA Ramp Guidelines (check your local authorities if outside of the US) to get the most updated info on feet of ramp per inch of height etc. As for thresholds, you can purchase transitions that will provide a less dramatic bump as you enter and exit. They are available in different materials, but I prefer rubber or rubber-like material. Just be careful if you have dogs as they may chew on it if it’s made of a softer material.
- FLOORING – Carpet is not a good idea if you use a wheelchair. So much gunk gets trapped in the wheel grooves so carpet gets very dirty and unsanitary, very quickly. Avoid carpet if possible. Also certain types of super slick or marble tiles can be too slippery especially for motorized chairs. You can slide across the floor and injure yourself or damage your chair, walls, or furniture if you are going too fast. You know I love a Tokyo drift…like I said, lessons learned!
- LAUNDRY FACILITIES – If the laundry is not inside the unit (which is my preference) make sure that any on-site facilities are well lit, and provide enough space for the type of chair you have. Also if you can’t stand up, front loading machines are best!
- OUTDOOR FACILITIES & GYMS- Check your deck. Make sure it is large enough for you to use. Some small decks are meant for 2 people standing. If there is a pool, make sure the bathroom by the pool is accessible if your unit isn’t close by. Sometimes the pool bathrooms are small and missing safety bars. The same goes for on-site gyms. Make sure they are large enough (if you intend to use them) and that the bathrooms are manageable.
- SECURITY: A building with limited access like a coded or swipe entry is good if you’re moving into a complex. A private entrance like a garage or a rear entry not visible from the street are the safest options for private homes. Also, I installed an alarm right away. Cameras are also recommended.
Some of the recommendations above will come at a higher price so make sure you weigh the financial considerations!
If you need ANY help for yourself or others, feel free to send a note in the comments. I’d be happy to help!
I hope these tips are helpful! Live your best life!
Love & Light
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