Retirement Profile: Staying in Place – and Very Busy

Category: General Retirement Issues

(Note: This article originally appeared in July of 2011, but was inadvertently deleted. We are now adding it back to the Blog)
This is Part 2 in our series exploring different retirement lifestyles. Part 1 profiled “The Snowbirding Innkeepers“, don’t miss it! If you know a boomer retirement we should learn about use the Contact Us link to tell us about it.

Retired in Connecticut
Jane and Jack are a most interesting couple, retired or not. Although they were both born a few years too early to be official baby boomers, this vibrant pair is young enough at heart to wear out anyone from the 1946-1964 generation.

What They Did Before Retirement
Jane has an MSW. She was a clinical social worker for many years in the Hamden, CT school system and in part-time private practice. Jack has his Ph.D. in Psychology. he spent much of his successful career as head … of the School Psychology program at Southern CT State University. Both loved their careers very much, and each had mixed feelings about retiring.

Initial Plans and Preconceptions
The couple has been married just over 23 years. Strong individuals, each had their own ideas about what retirement might bring. Both had extensive hobbies prior to retirement, and it is clear that both saw themselves enjoying those activities after they stopped working. Jack, in fact, has more hobbies than he has time to practice. He had thousands of old jazz LPs and CDs – just listening to them could be a full-time job. He also reads thrillers, enjoys the movies, and can’t get enough of watching his beloved Yankees, the Knicks, the UCONN Huskies, WNBA games, and professional tennis. As a former top-ranked tennis player in New England, even in his mid 80?s he gets on the tennis court 2-3 times per week.

Jane is an avid reader, skilled New York Times Crossword solver, and highly talented potter. She knew that her pottery was going to be a major factor in any retirement plans. Although Jane is a fine tennis player, multiple knee operations and her full-time pottery business now keep her from enjoying the game as in years past.
The couple thought they might buy a second home for retirement – or maybe not. Travel would be an important part of any plans, however.

Retirement Priorities
Some of their top priorities included:- Time for travel, lots of it! – Visit their children, particularly the grandchildren in California- Practice their hobbies- Go to New York City often for cultural outings – Enjoy the time shares they own in different parts of the country- Escape New England’s winters, at least for some of the time


Conflicts
The couple entered retirement unsure about how it might unfold. There were pulled in many directions – Jane’s grandchildren lived in Los Angeles, Jack’s were in Israel. They love the New Haven area and have many activities to keep them busy, particularly Jane’s successful pottery studio. On the other hand the allure of a retirement place in a warmer clime was appealing for at least part of the winter, but it never seemed to gain traction.

Alternatives Considered
Jane and Jack thought about moving to south Florida for the winter, where they have many friends who live in either Miami or in nearby active communities. They liked to visit Florida, but… They also have a time-share in Puerto Rico that they have used for years. Spending more than a few weeks there, though, didn’t seem appealing. They thought about moving to California to be near the grandchildren, but couldn’t make the break from CT. One thing was clear: they definitely didn’t want to spend all winter in Connecticut.

Their Retirement Lifestyle
The best way to describe this couple’s retirement lifestyle is very unique and very busy. It’s a hybrid, and an appealing model for folks who don’t want to give up their roots, yet also don’t want to stand still.

As the couple retired they made a very smart decision. They sold their single family home in New Haven and moved to a more manageable condo. It is definitely a “lock and leave” situation they have now. Most of the year they live in their spacious condo. It is in a small but appealing community association, where most of the people are 55+ and many are snowbirds. While in CT the couple stays very busy. Jane goes to the studio most days and creates new pots and art for her many customers and shows. Just keeping up with her orders is taxing. Jack plays tennis several times a week – outside on clay in the summer and inside at Yale during colder weather. He thinks nothing of dashing into New York City for a day trip to visit museums or take in a concert. They also subscribe to the New Haven Symphony and attend plays in New Haven. They both enjoy watching all kinds of sports on TV, particularly the UCONN Huskies. And they read, listen to music, visit friends, and enjoy meals prepared by the skilled cook in the family, Jane.

From their Shoreline condo they sally forth on a host of trips – they are probably on the road at least 3 months of the year. It is almost exhausting to list them all. They have visited almost every top sightseeing destination, from China to Europe. They have some favorite wine tours they enjoy. They go on cruises to all parts of the world. They visit the grandchildren for extended stays in Los Angeles, and they have been to Israel multiple times to attend weddings and big family celebrations. They use their time-shares to go to Puerto Rico for a couple of weeks in winter, on which they might tack on some other vacation to visit friends in Florida or Hilton Head. Or they might head into New York City for a few days to attend plays, concerts, museums, and dine out.

Their retirement lifestyle is a hybrid – they are not snowbirds, but they are not full-time northerners either. They travel frequently, and enjoy an extremely active lifestyle.

If You Choose This Lifestyle
There are several keys to Jane and Jack’s retirement success that are applicable to anyone who chooses to follow this hybrid retirement lifestyle.
One, they both brought many interests and hobbies from their working days to retirement. This couple would not be casting about looking for something to keep busy with. Very important, they stay youthful because they are willing to get out and do new and favorite things.
Two, they saved for retirement,invested it wisely, and were fortunate to have good pensions from their careers in education. Their resources allow them to enjoy the nicer things of life, and unlike many folks, they are willing to part with them (As an editorial aside, we heard this from a travel agent lately: If it bothers you to travel first class, don’t worry – your children will – with your money).
Three, you have to like to travel. Lots of retired folks say they are going to travel when they retire, but after a couple of trips inertia takes over. This couple has taken the travel strategy as their alternative to the active adult community – they love the freedom, flexibility, and variety that spending much of the year away from home gives them.

Comments? Please use the Comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions about this lifestyle, and whether it might be right for you. What will you do to keep busy in retirement? Do you and your significant other have similar goals and plans?
More Boomer Retirement Profiles
Sandy’s 8 Year Adventure with Active Adult Communities
The Snowbirding Innkeepers
The Seafaring Couple Start an International Literacy Non-Profit

Posted by Admin on July 8th, 2013

10 Comments »

  1. Note: There were a number of comments made when this article was created. We are going to copy them all here:

    CJ
    What a great model to follow ……….what’s so difficult is giving up your main residence which they did. Even though my husband is retired and I’m semi-retired, we just couldn’t do that yet. It certainly would simplify our lives, but we value the security of owning our own home. Since we are in our mid-60s, it could be a valuable source of income in the future if we need it. We already reside in a ‘retirement location’ in AZ.

    Genie
    I can certainly relate to this couple – in more ways than one – I’m also a native of Hamden, CT but currently reside in NC. My husband and I are gearing up for retirement in about 3 yrs and the biggest decision we are facing is whether to sell and move. We have spent so much time and money fixing up our current home – my husband is very talented in this area. I just doubt he’s ready to live in a condo and give up his two story shop building out back and all the tools and equipment housed therein.:roll: We also want to travel a good bit and I think we’ll both feel hindered from doing that if there is a house to keep up and a lawn that needs tending. This is why I love this site – there are a lot of serious decisions to make BEFORE one retires and this site is great for exploring options!

    Donna
    One of the best decisions I made while working was taking the advice of another woman to give myself the seasonal service of paying someone to mow and trim my lawn weekly. For a modest fee, I relieved myself of having to fit one more necessary home owner task into my life. Snow removal, lawn mowing, pet boarding costs figure into my travel expenses. During the course of a year, these costs are significantly less than condo HOA fees.

    RL Baron
    We are seriously looking at Cape Town, South Africa, for our retirment. English speaking, 1st world medical, beautiful environment, affordable living etc. We currently live in Portland, Oregon, and while Portland is beautiful, is has been taken over by the under 40 population and is attracting a criminal element. We like the idea of a foreign country while still speaking our native tongue. Not to mention the National Parks and the wildlife. We don’t have children and no ties to bind us forever to the US of A.

    Joe H
    I found the article about Jane and Jack very interesting. I retired from education adminstration in Iowa at the state level last June and have decided that living in our current house is best for now. My wife is 60 and I am 63 years old. She needs to work about 3 more years before she is eligible for retirement benefits at work. Staying in our current home, using time shares, and doing home maintenance(snow, lawn,etc.)is our approach for now. I am sure as we age together, we will modify our approach accordingly. Downsizing and paying HOA fees is not attractive to us right now. I happen to enjoy doing home maintenance but when home maintenance becomes problemmatice, I will look into contracting for those services myself. Plus the housing market in not profitable or positve to buy and sell right now. I enjoyed reading about others who have decided to stay in place and extend their current lifestyles while enjoying existing friends. I also agree that there are many, many places to see and rent accommodations for desired periods of time in the US and in safe foreign countries.

    Ed Jamieson
    To RL Baron, Cape Town could be a good choice, BUT the weather is far nicer where we recently moved . Knysna 5 hours by road north of Cape Town This is just the greatest place to live,with so much to see and do. Considered one of the top 100 places on earth to visit. Did I mention the exchange rate of 7 Rands to 1 USD. You can live very well here with world class facilities.

    by Admin — July 8, 2013

  2. I am 60 and a widow. My husband died two and a half years ago. We were making plans to move to NC or SC or somewhere where we could afford to live after we do not work anymore. I live on Long Island in NY and the taxes are high…too high for retirement years. Now that I am alone, I read all these posts about people moving here and there. I am stuck now, I suppose. Where would I move now without my husband when I would have to make new friends, find new doctors, basically start over again by myself. I am still working, and even though I really wanted something smaller and more maintainable, I am thinking that I probably will stay where I am. Cannot afford these expensive condos in my area, and the maintenance costs are just about what I pay for taxes. Sometimes we run out of options and have to stay put. All these places that people talk about, though, sound great…..with a partner.

    by Linda — July 9, 2013

  3. Linda I am sorry for your loss and I can only imagine what it must feel like to live alone at our age. May I suggest Sun City in Hilton Head. You can take a 3 day visit there for I think 289.00 and they take you around have a person answer all your questions take you to dinner etc…Look on thier website: http://www.suncityhiltonhead.org/Home.aspx or http://www.delwebb.com/communities/sc/bluffton/sun-city-hilton-head/12002/index1-getaway.aspx now has far as afforading it have you thought about a reverse mortgage purchase, which is a government program that allows you to pay an upfront one time payment for you home..You must be 62 yrs old and basicly how it works is a 400K home we would pay 155K. Now for a 250K we would have to have less than 100K down payment… As far as medical it is abundant with 2 hospitals within 10 minutes and in Savannah which is 20 minutes away they have a very good hosipatal…Check it out if you have questions email me at paul.schmidt@twc.com

    by paul — July 9, 2013

  4. Linda: I understand your position completely. I’m also 60, and was widowed a few months ago after spouse’s extended illness including nursing home placement for several years. We’re definitely not going to have the retirements that we had dreamed of, but we do have the opportunity to find new and different dreams. I am also still working, and am planning ahead by doing research into different locations. It seems overwhelming, and we don’t have a companion to share the move and exploration of a new area. On the other hand, it’s not impossible. Personally, I like the idea of new developments where everyone else is also new. There are a lot of solo people in our age groups, and many of the 55+ developments have clubs and activities that make meeting new people easier. If you have an interest in possibly moving elsewhere, do some research on the total costs before giving up the possiblity. There are lots of places that are very welcoming and that aren’t that expensive. My Dad moved to Top of the World in Clearwater from New England, and his widow is still enjoying her life there (including “State” clubs, choir, book clubs, classes, etc.). The cost is signficantly lower than you’d expect, and that’s just a single example.

    60 is still young enough to be able to fullfil dreams!

    Thanks for the tips Paul. I’ll research Sun City too! I plan on spending the next 2 years or so doing research, research, research.

    by Sharon — July 10, 2013

  5. Sharon you are so correct when you say at our age regardless of our circumstances we do have an opportunity to find new and different dreams. I am fortunate to still have my best friend in the world my spouse and even though she has MS which by the way is one reason we are moving south we still can make new friends in a new area which in itself to us is exciting. All the years sacrificing for the kids now it is our turn to live the last half of our life finding new and exciting adventures. We believe Hilton Head area offers that for us. We have not looked at Top of the World in Clearwater yet but we will do that at the end of the month as we go back to Hilton Head for another vacation. At Sun City they have over 100 different clubs and everyone appears to be very active and very friendly so finding something to do isn’t the problem. Best of luck to you ladies and if I can be of help just email me.

    by paul — July 10, 2013

  6. To Linda,

    I understand your situation. My husband passed away a while ago from cancer. We had made all these future plans, and of course life changed all that. It was difficult the first year but after that, I decided to take charge and create a new life. I sold my big house, and explored, and finally found an area and lifestyle that was for me. It was a fun exciting adventure, and still is! I have a happy life now! This is one of my motto’s…You keep doing what your doing, you keep getting what you got! I wish you the best of luck and like Paul said, we can all find new opportunities, and different dreams!

    by loralee — July 10, 2013

  7. I am in the same boat as Linda. I am still considering a move somewhere but there is one major issue that concerns me. I chose a place and move to a new location where I clearly do not know anyone.
    If I have some kind of a health issue I have no one to call upon for help and am left at the whim or whatever you choose to call it of the medical professional I seek out. Not a very comforting idea.
    An illness or injury could be something non-life threatening that still requires you to need assistance at home etc. Often MD’s will not allow a person to go home if they are, in fact, gong to be alone. Makes sense from a medial viewpoint but creates a problem for the individual. One would now need a ‘caretaker’, to me such an ominous word.
    How does one reconcile that possible situation.

    by Anne — July 10, 2013

  8. To Anne, etc. ……I am a widow also and when I retired (downsized out) I knew I would not have be able to stay on Long Island and live a comfortable life with the income and savings I had. I found The Villages on a driving trip with another widow and decided to rent for a month to see if I liked it. I was totally alone — did not know a single soul in the villages or in the entire state of Florida for that matter! I wont lie and say it wasn’t scary but it was amazing how many opportunities there were to meet people right off the bat. They had a meet and greet lunch for “newbies” and although it was uncomfortable to venture alone, I went and met some very nice people – singles and couples. My biggest fear was getting sick and not having someone near to be an advocate for me and to help me. Its the fear of many singles who relocate away from family and life long friends. I met a woman who lived in The Villages for about 4 years and was completely without family. She was having back surgery and would be “down for the count” for about a month after the surgery….I offered to help, knowing how hard it is to be alone but she explained that she was ready — the doctor in The Villages was aware she lived alone and arranged for a stay in a rehab facility and visiting nurses if needed after that. I witnessed the most amazing caring — she had the surgery, stayed in rehab, and came home to neighbors and friends in the community helping out with everything from meals to driving her to the doctors 35 minutes away! She told me she didn’t even know some of the people who helped. To me it was incredible but I got the flu last season and was so weak I could barely stand. Fear was spreading through me and I realized I had almost nothing in the house to help me. I made a call to a “friend” of only three months asking for some bread to make toast. I was again surprised to have a bag put near my front door in about a half hour containing everything I would need to settle my stomach, gatorade, tea bags, bread, chicken soup and two pieces of toast already done and wrapped in aluminum foil! Incredible!!! Word spread and for the next 5 days a bag was in front of the door with soup and assorted food and cards.
    Another thing they have in The Villages that I think is wonderful for singles is a program sponsored by the sherrif’s department where you pick up a large pill bottle from them with a form inside — you fill out the form with all your meds, doctors, contact people, etc. The form is put into the bottle and you put it in the top shelf of your refrigerator. You get a small sticker for you front door with it and if you are taken by ambulance to the hospital, the EMT people know when they see the sticker where to get your medical info and they take it with you to the hospital. This system made me feel so safe as a single person with family in the North. Hope this helps……

    by char — July 11, 2013

  9. Thank you everyone for all your suggestions, and it also makes me feel a little better to see that I am not all by myself with the situation (although I knew I wasnt). It is just that when I read most of these comments on this site, is always from couples and I feel alone. I know that there are many widows and widowers in the same boat, and it makes me feel good to hear some of your suggestions. Someone did mention the Villages to me and my husband and I had talked about it a long time ago, but we both wanted to be closer to the water, even if we didn’t go to the beach much. Char, you would understand. Just knowing the beach is ten/fifteen minutes away makes one feel not so cornered. Also Florida is so hot in the area of the Villages, but I have heard very good things about it. Guess if I had a good AC, no problem. I have friends that moved there, and “they” love it. they golf together and go to concerts and said that there are countless things to do. …as a couple, but now I have a different point of view from Char. I am going to do more research on some of the things that you all mentioned. I am not much of an adventurer by myself. Have to try, though, I suppose.

    by Linda — July 11, 2013

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    by » Retiring in Place – Part 3 - Topretirements — September 23, 2014

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