The ocean? The mountains? Downsize? Upsize? Near the grandkids? With other retirees? Seek peace, quiet and solitude? Get closer to the action? So many choices are now available to those with the freedom to move anywhere they like – or nowhere at all. How should you make this huge decision?
First of all, it’s important to understand that there is no one right answer to this question. It’s a very personal choice and one that bears great consideration. If you are single, you have only yourself to argue with. If you are married, it’s even more complicated because each of you will have ideas of your own, and congratulations if you actually are in total accord with one another.
The first consideration should be money. Take a close and realistic look at where you are, financially, at this point in your life. Talk with your financial advisor and get a sense of how much you should be allocating to housing. If you are fortunate enough to live in one of the “hot” areas of the country, you may have considerable equity in your current home. The opposite may be true if you are in an area that has been slow to recover from the recession. What will a move mean for your future financial viability?
The second consideration is how you want to spend your time in the next few decades of your life. If you want to do a lot of traveling, you will probably want to be near a major airport and if, like some retirees, you want to be on the road more than at your home, your home could be quite modest and it could be anywhere. If, on the other hand, you see yourself continuing to work and/or be active in your community in your 60s, 70s and 80s, you may want to stay where you are geographically, maybe downsize, but have a home you can be proud of and enjoy full-time.
Another consideration for many will be the location of family members. People in mid-life tend to be quite mobile these days, so use caution when relocating to be near the grandkids. One couple I know has a son who is a professional chef. Now in his early 40s, he moved himself and his young family across the country to take a job in California. Once he had been there for a couple of years and his job seemed solid, his parents sold the family home in Pennsylvania and followed him, taking the 94 year old grandmother with them and relocating her in a new assisted living community. So far, so good, but chefs tend to move around with their jobs. So do many other professionals. Be careful on this one.
Think you might like one of those attractive 55+ communities that are sprouting up all over the southwest? No more snow to shovel, no more urban blight to contend with, lots of planned activities. Many people are attracted to these communities and you may well be too. Here is the cautionary note on this one: be sure to visit for an extended period of time before you make a commitment. Stay for a month or two.
The Phoenix and Tucson areas are gorgeous from October to April. One hundred and ten degrees is the norm between May and September. Be sure that suits you.
Checking out a destination in all seasons and for an extended length of time really applies to any new community you’d like to consider. The coast can be beautiful some months of the year and bitterly cold at others. True for California and Oregon as well as for Maine and New Hampshire – it’s just that the seasons are reversed!
The most important factor in the level of satisfaction for any retiree or couple is the relationships you have and those you build. If you are outgoing, in relatively good health and have learned to roll easily with change, you will most likely be happy wherever you go. Just know that you will need to seek out like-minded people in the much the same way you did when you were young. Join a church or synagogue early, sign up for Meetups in your new community that sound interesting check out the senior centers to see what activities are offered, join a health club, take classes at the nearest college, talk to people wherever you go and you will quickly form a new community.
Transitions get harder as you get older. If you are still reading this, you are probably someone who is considering a move, as opposed to aging in place. If you are thinking of making a move, don’t wait too long. You want to move while you are still healthy and strong enough to endure the stress and form the new relationships you will need to truly thrive.