Although their wealth allows them to live almost anywhere they want, high-net-worth individuals have more of an emotional attachment than a financial attachment to their retirement homes, says a study released today by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave.

HNW retirees overwhelmingly (86 percent) say their emotional attachment to their home is more important than the financial one (14 percent), according to Home in Retirement: More Freedom, New Choices. The survey included 3,638 individuals ages 21 and over from all economic classes, with 166 respondents over age 50 with $5 million or more in investable assets and defined as HNW.

Eighty-eight percent of the HNW individuals say they are free to live wherever they want in retirement, while 12 percent say they chose their retirement home based on their responsibilities, the survey says.

More than one-third of HNW retirees split their time living between more than one location, compared to only 6 percent of the total population.

HNW individuals strongly prefer to live in communities where they are surrounded by people of diverse ages and generations (69 percent), rather than living in retirement communities (31 percent).

HNW retirees have a disconnect when it comes to home improvements, the survey says. Eighty-nine percent say they would like to stay in their homes even while receiving long-term-care assistance. However, retirees are more likely to renovate their homes with landscaping and new kitchens and bathrooms, rather then getting their homes ready for aging in place.