10 Most Surprising Things We’ve Learned About Retirement

Category: Retirement Planning

July 9, 2012 — Your editor started work on Topretirements,com 6 years ago this month. Since the site went live in late 2006 we have written hundreds of articles and created over 2500 reviews of potential cities and communities. You would think we would have learned a few things about retirement during that time, and in fact we think we have. This article, which seems to focus mostly on retirement mistakes, will provide a brief rundown of some of the major lessons we have learned during the incredibly fun and rewarding time it has been our pleasure to serve as your unpaid and, hopefully, helpful retirement advisor. Each surprising lesson also comes with a corresponding piece of advice to deal with it.

What I’ve learned:
1. Most people are seriously unprepared for retirement
Folks like you who visit and contribute to Topretirements are the exception – most people nearing retirement haven’t spent enough time preparing for what they are going to do after their working days come to an end.
Solution: Our number 1 recommendation is to develop a priority list about what you want to do – if you know where you are going you have a chance of getting there.

2. Money is going to be a big problem for many
Baby boomers in general are going to get hammered financially once they retire. The blows are coming from all directions: we haven’t save enough, the comfortable pensions we counted on turned into smaller 401ks, we’ve gotten too used to an unsustainable high standard of living, our portfolios were hurt in the financial crash, and finally, our investment returns are a fraction of what we thought they might be.
Solution: Don’t retire until you can afford it. Keep working, save all you can, cut your expenses.

3. Even the smartest people make uninformed decisions when it comes to collecting Social Security.
We continue to be amazed by how many really smart and financially savvy people start collecting Social Security at age 62, instead of waiting until their full retirement age (usually 66), or better yet, age 70. Many of these folks are still working (so they lose some of their benefits), don’t need the money, and have no reason to suspect they will die before 78 years of age (the breakeven age after which point early collectors lose). Almost no one has thought through what their spousal collection strategy should be. The rush to start collecting could cost some high earning, very healthy couples as much as $250,000 over their lifetimes, according to a new study from American Enterprise Institute, “The Decision to Delay Social Security Benefits“. But of course, the decision of when to start collecting is complex and highly personal.
Solution: Do your homework. Start with our series on Social Security Collection Strategies. Then talk with your financial advisor, visit the helpful Social Security website, and map out a plan.

4. Too many people don’t want to be retired – yet
It is a sad fact that so many baby boomers have become casualties of the late recession. Long term workers were laid off as companies merged or cut their payrolls. But there are also significant numbers of retirees who retired too early by their own choice. Now many of them are bored, or more likely, have discovered they don’t have enough money for a comfortable retirement.
Solution: If you are working, think about delaying your retirement for a few years, or at least keeping part-time status. If you are looking to get back into the workforce take decisive action. Learn a new skill, or move to an area where jobs are more plentiful. Unfortunately, jobs are not going to go looking for you.

5. Retirement choices more often random than designed
This relates to observation #1, people don’t spend enough time planning their retirements. So all too many folks find themselves moving to the first place they visited or heard about. They don’t visit enough places before they decide. They buy too quickly, when it would have been smarter to rent first. They move to where some of their friends are, or just stay where they live now – when there might have been some better choices.
Solution: Don’t let apathy affect your retirement. Take our Are You Ready for Retirement Quiz and map out your future.

6. Bugs, snakes, and humidity are bigger hot buttons than we ever imagined – and there are legions of people who “hate” Florida
We were totally unprepared for the steady torrent of comments on this site that humidity is the #1 reason for avoiding a particular place to retire. The comments are usually directed at the Southeastern U.S., and Florida in particular. Although as we write this in steamy Connecticut, we wonder. Bugs and snakes are often the animal corollaries of humidity.
Solution: If you truly hate humidity, head for the American West.

7. Tax issues are frequently misunderstood, particularly when it comes to their relative importance
There is a large population of retirees for whom finding a low tax state or city is paramount. And we agree that for certain retirees, finding a state that can save you valuable tax money is a very good idea. But all taxes are not equal, and states are very hard to compare. As an example, even in some notorious high tax states like Connecticut the earnings thresholds are high enough that you might not have to pay income tax in that state, particularly since Social Security is exempt there on middle income folks. If you own property in Connecticut, however, you will pay higher property taxes than in almost any southern state. People who receive sizable pensions are the most likely to save big dollars by moving to a state that exempts their particular type of pension. Sales tax is usually a non-issue for retirees – they usually don’t spend enough for there to be meaningful differences between states.
Solution: Taxes aren’t easy to get a handle on. So don’t make a move for tax reasons unless you have carefully studied all the angles – for your particular situation. A simplistic decision could be the wrong one.

8. People fail to grasp the notion that there are stages of retirement
It is natural enough, we all tend to focus on the next, immediate step. So when we are working, we think about and make our plans for the period right after we stop working. That is OK, but it is a smarter to try to keep the big picture in mind. Retirement in our 60s and 70s will be fun. If we have our health, it usually means an active lifestyle with sports, activities, and travel. But how about when we hit our 80s and 90s, as millions of us will be lucky enough to do? That big house in the suburbs is going to be an albatross. The expensive active community with the Jack Nicklaus championship golf course is going to be too hard. We might not be able to drive, and worse – our health might mean we need a caregiver. In short- retirement comes in stages, should we be so lucky.
Solution: We recommend that you keep the idea of stages in mind when doing your planning. Think about sticking closer to family. Or choosing a community that has a nearby Continuing Care Retirement Community or assisted living facility, so you won’t have to give up all your friends and familiar scenes if and when it comes time to move.

9. People tend to be pro active community – or anti active community. And Home Owners Associations are hot buttons for many.
Based on the comments we see in this Blog and in our Forum, active communities are a love-hate thing. Many people love the idea of an active community because there is so much to do and so many people to meet. But others loathe the concept, mostly because they resent having to follow anyone else’s rules, or pay dues to a Home Owners Association.
Solution: We urge you to find out for yourself which you prefer, rather than relying on anyone else’s opinion. If you are remotely interested, take advantage of a “Stay & Play” package at an active community. See for yourself, talk to everyone you can, and ask lots of questions.

10. There are lots of places that could be right for your retirement
This is the good news piece. Just as there are probably many colleges that would have been perfect for your son or daughter, there are undoubtedly dozens of towns and communities where you can have a happy retirement.
Solution: Relax – if you do your homework, visit lots of places before you decide, talk to everyone in sight- the odds are overwhelming you will make an excellent choice. Good luck!

For further reference:
Top 10 Misconceptions about Retirement
Baby Boomers Guide to Selecting a Retirement Community
Are You Ready for Retirement Quiz

Comments? As always, there is nothing better than the Comments of our members. What have been surprised to learn about retirement – or what worked out exactly the way you thought it would? Please share your thoughts and observations in the Comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on July 9th, 2012

34 Comments »

  1. John,
    In regards to your ’10 Things we’ve learned about retirement’, makes very interesting points. However, one very important thing that you, or your staff did not consider is illness. Brief scenario. My wife age 71, decided not to take her retirement at 65 thus waiting until age 70 to draw a higher SS monthly. Now at age 71, and only on SS for 1.5 years, has been diagnosed with Cancer. Her prognosis is 2 months to 2 years, and that is with being on Chemo for the duration. My point is this. Why defer your SS benefits when you do not know what lies ahead. If she had begun collecting SS at 62 years, she would have received nearly 10 years of SS benefits, as compared to 1.5 (or maybe 2 years). Please define this scenario in your article.

    by bacho57 — July 10, 2012

  2. Bacho57 above makes a great point. I think this is a great survey, but the Social Security comments need to be tempered just a bit. 62, 65, or 70 years of age? There are no right answers, there are only individual answers. It is a numbers game, and thereby needs to be evaluated individually each and every time. Sometimes it is absolutely correct to take your so security at 62 and run. In other scenarios, it is much better to wait until 65 Or even 70 to begin to draw on your Social Security. if you run your numbers, and maybe have some help from a financial analyst, you can very likely make the correct decision. 62 is not necessarily better than 70, and 70 is not necessarily better than 62. It all depends on your own circumstances, do your homework, it’ll help you make the right decision. 🙄

    Editor’s Note: All good points, thanks.

    by Dave C. — July 10, 2012

  3. What a great reflective article on the major issues facied by so many millions of baby boomers.
    I am one of the fortunate ones who did recive a pension with med benefits, via an early retirement. In the past 10 years, so many things have happened in my life…more than any other decade. I have “retired” 3 times, ( started a successful company before the third retirement), lost a spouse of 28 years to a terminal cancer,, suffered and survived a major accident, found the new love of my life, and now are grandparents.

    What’s next? We are looking for areas to move to. The Midwest is too cold to stay in. Children live in the south (FL, SC & IN). Western NC looks nice so far. We want to move closer to children and their families. We have visited several active adult communities and have concluded they are not for us…yet.

    I took SS at 62 and just work part part time at golf course 2 days a week. My wife is 1 year away from SS. Haven’t touched IRA yet, but might start soon. So, income is not too big an issue..at this point. Don’t know what inflation will do in he future. Health is good, but I know that can change literally in a heartbeat, life is a crapshoot, always has been, always will be. Enjoy today, plan some for tomorrow, and don’t worry about what happened yesterday, its past history. Good luck to all of us!!

    by Locobill — July 11, 2012

  4. Thanks, John, for this important site. TopRetirements is a terrific resource, and I love the suggestions, questions, and thoughtful comments.

    by Jan Cullinane — July 11, 2012

  5. I believe religious climate and political beliefs in an area are a major factor in deciding where to live. I never see this discussed in Top Retirement newsletters. I know this is a sensitive issue (theoretically we should all be able to live together) but we want to be somewhere where we know we will meet friends that share our values.

    by grace — July 11, 2012

  6. Thanks for so much info. My concern is retiring at a younger age of 58 and being single. I am looking into quite a few 55+ communities and have visted several with many more to go. Delaware is one of the states I am interested in along with NC and SC. Hoping to find a community that has a lot to get involved in without being the youngest person there.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

    by Kathy — July 11, 2012

  7. John, thank you for this excellent article and for all your work on this site. I learn so much from following TopRetirements. This year, I retired from work, after 40 years of a 4-hour daily commute. But I have certainly not retired from life! In fact, I am in the first stage of really enjoying benefits of all our years of determined preparation. Like you, we live in CT. Though high property taxes and income taxes are a burden, our neighborhood, our location on The Sound, and especially our church, make this town our best choice for the next five years. After that, since our children have graduated college, moved to other states, begun their own families, we will reassess our choices. For now, our “free time” to be with our granddaughter is a true joy. Later this year, she will be joined by a baby brother! My wife and I began saving diligently for this life stage 3 decades ago. Good principles, good preparation, and good counsel have enabled us in achieving our goals.

    by John Bowman — July 11, 2012

  8. Dear Editor: Great article. I think it is also vital to emphasize the importance of continuing to expand your life experience as you advance along in years. So many retirees stop making new friends, learning new tricks, visiting new locations because: “I’m too tired.” “My knees hurt.” “I don’t think I could learn how to do that…” “I probably don’t have enough money…” And on and on. My advice is to never say NO if you can possibly say Yes. I’ve been working hard to learn about the new pop-singers so enjoyed by our grandchildren. They even taught me the lyrics of a song and we video-taped it for posterity. I guess that’s one more piece of advice: don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself when playing with the kids!

    by Patricia Kennedy — July 11, 2012

  9. Very good article. We’re 64 and there’s a lot to think about and much visiting around to do…and your articles have been wonderful. #10 is my favorite. There’s good news for everyone!

    by nterry — July 11, 2012

  10. Taking SS should be thought out. For those who are comfortable using Excel, they can use a spreadsheet to compare breakeven points which are a best guess because it becomes very complicated if one tries to factor in the taxes paid on SS when you draw it. My wife and I will have to pay taxes on SS. Our concern is that SS will go insolvent much sooner than expected. Congress may impose a means test or other criteria to determine how much a person receives. We believe that we had no choice and would have rather invested the money and therefore are entitled to our SS. We both plan to draw it at age 62. We will draw it and enjoy it in whatever gives us pleasure at the time. We have retired early. Current pension falls short of expenses but we have more than enough saved to cover the shortfall until we draw an additional pension from a second career in the next year. I plan far out and have been looking at areas, housing, communities for over 10 years. Our budget is on paper through the year 2021. If either of us dies, the other will have financial means to continue the current life style. We achieved this by having life insurance, saving, investing, and working in careers that had a pension. Now that we have retired, our new job is getting healthier, losing weight by being more active; it works! No matter what anyone chooses, circumstances can change even if a person planned well. Our plan is a single story ranch with a pool – no stairs to climb. We will lose money on our current house, but our foresight to save and invest keeps this from impacting our retirement dream because we created our own safety net. What is treasure for one couple will be poison for another. All you can really do is to invest the time to research and plan, visit and make your best decision. Once you make your decision, move or stay in place, enjoy life, do for other people because you cannot do for them once they are gone. Translation – you want friends be friends. We wish everyone success in retirement!

    by Benny Justice — July 11, 2012

  11. Something which is not mentioned is medical benefit coverage if you retire and take Social Security at 62. My husband plans to retire at 66 next year and will be on Medicare plus a supplemental policy. He wants to move out of the cold Midwest to a more temperate climate, and I will then have no medical coverage because I was on his group plan. So…what about my medical coverage? I will be too young for Medicare (62) and an individual policy will no doubt be exorbitant. We are far from wealthy.

    by Margaret Clendenin — July 11, 2012

  12. Really great article, but I very much agree with the comments made about the Soc Sec. I’d like to share another retirement success story. Maybe someone else can benefit.

    My wife and I both retired at 55 (we’re now 64). That was 3 years earlier than planned because our job situations had turned so bad that the stress was no longer worth it. So my contribution number one is that the so-called “live the life style you’re accustomed to” is just so much BS. The “planning” aspect is key. You don’t need to live the SAME lifestyle, you need to plan for a comfortable (to you) lifestyle.

    Our planning was largely incidental until we reached 45 — but by then we had invested the maximum matched in 401K and planned to have the house paid off (which we did). At 54 we bought a really good long term care policy. That gave us the freedom to choose, in the future, how we would live. After recently researching a number of “community” options in NC, we’ve decided firmly on staying in our home near Chapel Hill, NC. (And Locobill, I concur that western NC is one of the best options).

    At 54, we learned that 1.4 million was a necessary target to maintain lifestyle. Fortunately a decent pension and medical care helped with that. When it came to making the “sudden” decision to retire, we had a basis. We set a budget that cut back about 60% on costs while not really changing how we live. During that last year before retirement, we lived on one income while totally banking the other and also ran the 401K/Roth contributions to the absolute legal max on both salaries– that showed us what we could and couldn’t do before the actual retirement commitment.

    Carefully managing that budget (and “budget management” is the biggest concession to retirement — we make time to do it), we used the bank savings and small Roths as “cash”, but still have not drawn from the original $400K 401K (next year probably). We both started drawing Soc Sec at 62. My family life history doesn’t make living to 78 highly likely. My wife’s was a wash and the 40-year budget plan we set is still positive, so she decided to increase our short term “income”. (I have huge spreadsheets that allow us to make all the “what if” decisions necessary. They have been validated by the many “retirement calculators” available from various financial websites.)

    Before making the retirement decision, we used to pay out about $130K a year for living. Since retirement we’ve been going at about $60K — with almost no change in lifestyle. Yeah, I do most of the work around our place (will have to begin paying for that in a few years) and we don’t eat out very often (but my new “grilling” hobby makes that less desirable) and we still worry a little about money (hence the budget control), but we still have maintained and upgraded our house, we still travel a little and have one major “vacation” a year. (Two years ago, we made a 5-week road trip around the western US. Hybrid car and 2-3 star hotels, but had a great trip! And that was a “two year” travel budget expenditure which we balanced with only small local trips last year.)

    Over time, we both realized that we have no desire at all to work again for someone else. Our “work” is at maintaining our retirement. Both of manage our own portfolios and keep up to understand how to make the right choices. It’s worked well so far.

    After 9 years of retirement, I’m realizing that I still need more new activity for the future. I still “grill”, I have my wood shop, I’m learning design software to create new work, I want to get much better at my “poco” Spanish and I have innumerable projects that need doing. I’d like to find a chess partner. We want to help with dog rescue. My wife has her similar list of activities. With Medicare beginning this year, there is even more to learn and manage.

    So it’s never to late or too early to begin “planning” for retirement. We’ve been fortunate, but we have also actively worked to create our own luck. That’s what I encourage everyone to do.

    by Rich — July 11, 2012

  13. Hi! Enjoy your newsletter. Do you have a list of states that do not tax pensions, or give a tax break on pensions?

    by Ed Menoche — July 11, 2012

  14. Thank you for the website. I enjoy your articles—don’t always agree with the content, but the articles are always thought-provoking. I especially enjoyed all the comments left after this article. Thank you all very much! You give me a lot to think about. I totally agree about life taking a turn at a moment’s notice.

    by Chris — July 11, 2012

  15. Social Security has a good calculator to determine benefits. You download the calculator and enter your yearly earnings from the annual statement they mail to you, and then choose a month and year to retire.

    I’ve been receiving widow’s benefits for a few years since I’m now nearly 67 and lost my husband to cancer 20 yrs ago when he was 48. I have used the calculator to give me an idea what my benefit will be when I decide to convert to my own SS account benefits.

    Of course I am taxed federally on 85% of my SS income due to other income, and my concern is that with or without a new administration in 2013, something has to give with the SS fund–tax us on 100%, reduce benefits, extend age of eligibility, etc. My husband and I had planned and saved for retirement without SS, but then I lost out on his best earning years for building more of a retirement fund, so I have to work all of the angles as a single person. Only a handful of states tax SS income on a state level, but unfortunately Nebraska is one of them! I came back here from Wyoming with no state income tax period, and very low property taxes.

    And now we also need to take into account those cities and towns which are struggling financially due to lower tax revenues and union contracts binding them to large pension payments or cost of medical coverage for retired city workers which they can no longer sustain.

    Congratulations on 6 years of TopRetirements.com. I enjoy the articles and comments, as it makes it so much easier to think outside the box and learn from others. Without children or grandchildren there is no reason for me to live in any certain place other than the fact that I like the climate and the community atmosphere. After 53 yrs in the west, I moved back to my birthplace a few years ago, to live near aunts, uncles and cousins, but the taxes and humidity here prevent me from affording or doing much of what I enjoy, so I’m going to head back out to the dry and more affordable west to retire for good in a couple of years. One consideration for me was alternate transportation (good airport nearby, or train access) for looking ahead 10-15 years when I don’t want to fight the I-80 truck traffic on long drives back here to attend funerals, reunions, etc.

    For Ed, you can Google for several websites which give state tax info, including bankrate.com.

    Sandy in Omaha

    by Sandy — July 11, 2012

  16. I always enjoy the articles and have recommended the blog the a number of other people. You are doing a great service to the individuals who are considering retirement in the near future. I have gotten some great advice and ideas here. Please keep it up. Thank You!

    by Fred — July 11, 2012

  17. RE: #3 Please explain to me how I am leaving $100K on the table by taking social security at age 62. In the four years between 62 and 66 at the amount I receive I am $67K ahead, money in my pocket. For the monthly increase if taken at age 66 I would have to live to age 78 to break even. If I were to live to 95 taking my benefit at age 66 would give me an extra $100K but actuarial tables predict I will live to age 83 at which time I would be down $25K. Pay me now don’t pay me later. If I was a conspiracy theorist I say the government is behind this line of reasoning to keep boomers from collecting THEIR money before the system goes tits up.

    by DaveO — July 11, 2012

  18. @DaveO, I think your math is wrong if you say that “”I would have to live to age 78 to break even.”” and then to go on and say that “”but actuarial tables predict I will live to age 83 at which time I would be down $25K.””

    by sam spade — July 12, 2012

  19. Congratulations on your anniversary! As a retirement coach – coaching those planning for retirement as well as those in retirement asking “what now” questions – I encourage all my clients to sign up for your newsletters. They realize very quickly that they are not the only ones with questions, and it is great for them to feel they are not alone. It is much easier for them to talk about something they read on the site and relate it to their own issues and concerns. Thank you so much for helping all of us and providing a forum to share as we move through this transition in life!

    Editor’s note: Thank you Holly and all of the other very nice commenters. Appreciate the encouraging words as well as the newsletter referrals. We are going to hit 25,000 subscribers in the next few days, and that feels good!

    by Holly — July 12, 2012

  20. DaveO, reread all of #3. It says 100K is the diff between 62 and full retirement at 70 — not the minimum “retirement” at 66.

    by Rich — July 12, 2012

  21. Dear Members: Please note that we have updated point #3 to reflect a new study from the American Enterprise Institute that found that some high earning and very healthy couples (obviously not all by any means) could draw as much as $250,000 more over their lifetimes by delaying collection and using the optimum spousal collection strategy.

    by John Brady — July 13, 2012

  22. To Kathy, In Delaware you might be interested in Heritage Shores, which my husband and I visited, which seemed to have an active younger population from what we observed. Independence (closer to the Ocean) is another newer community. Sometimes the new communities seem to have more residents closer to the young side of 55.

    by KathyJ — July 13, 2012

  23. New to this blog so I don’t know if this is the right place since it’s somewhat off topic. We have a beautiful reproduction colonial that we love. We also have extensive gardens with flowers blooming everywhere. The yard is surrounded by woods and stomewalls and is very private. We also love our town. It’s a pleasure just to drive through pretty country roads and a trip to the store in our New England town is a pleasure. Both my wife and I work on a part-time basis in town. (She in real estate and me as a substitute teacher.) The yard, however, requires several hours of work a few days per week from early spring until mid-summer. We have the opportunity to purchase a detached home in a very nice adult community about twenty minutes away. The builders are throwing in all of the “bells and whistles,” and we can pay cash. Our small mortgage will be eliminated. We know that we should make the move, but the problem is that we can’t make the decision to leave this home, gardens and town. I’m sure that many people have faced a similar situation in leaving a home they love. Any advice would be appreciated as to how thay nade the decision.

    by Stan Rajczewski, Jr. — July 20, 2012

  24. Hello, I am new this blog and enjoying all the information and exchange. Last week I posted a question wondering if anyone has any details to share on retiring in Athens, GA. I just cant’ seem to find my post or any responses. Lost and could you some help=:) Thank you

    by Susan Gee — July 21, 2012

  25. Stan – I can’t imagine trading an environment you love because of the burden of yard maintenance. If that is the only reason, I surely would look into hiring a bit of help to lighten the load and it sounds like you might be able to afford that. I have been through this. I, too, love my house and town, but maintenance was becoming a hassle. So, I made a list of the pros and cons of re-locating to some adult community where that was taken care of, as well as visiting several. When I asked myself where would I be most content and comfortable in my elder years, it was no contest…stay put. To reassure myself that that was possible, I did some research on the kinds of problems I might encounter as I age and the availability of local resources I might have to tap in the future, even up to the point of a “live-in”. I also made financial projections about what I could afford. Having done all that, I felt a sort of relief that I didn’t have to go anywhere and could start concentrating on my immediate needs…the first one being yard help….so I hired some! My advice is to take it slow, address the problems one at a time, do some research, and don’t leave what you love until you have no choices left.

    by Judy — July 21, 2012

  26. If you love where you are, find a way to stay there! The posts about people deciding that they cannot afford to stay in places like Connecticut fail to take into account the cost of moving and repeated visits. Plane fare is not going down anytime soon and even the cost of driving can get pricey depending on the distance. Then, there could be the cost of moving back when you get fed up with the retirement meccayou chose as the answer to all of your problems.
    Some folks thrive in new environments, but others complain constantly about things like bugs, humidity, and local attitudes. The “cost” of moving somehwere else to save money must be factored in, especially if you’ll always find it second best to “home.”
    Don’t forget that when you get to the point that you can’t take care of yourself, you’ll probably move, or be moved by the kids, someplace that’s convenient for them.

    by Sandie — July 21, 2012

  27. Susan, I am new to this blog as well and sorry to say, I can’t give you any info on Athens, GA. We left a suburb of Chicago and moved to TN near where my husband grew up. Real estate taxes are low, very peaceful and quiet. Bought a LOT of house for the money. However, most conveniences are 30 miles away. We have some grocery stores and resturants but I prefer those in the larger town. We live in the county so no sidewalks or streetlights. We left a home we had lived in for 30 years because the real estate taxes were so high and going higher. However, you could look around you in the town and see where the taxes were being used. So maybe, even with the taxes, it was worth it. I still think about moving back but if my husband dies first, I would just have to move again because without his retirement, it would be impossible for me to live there (a struggle even with his retirement).
    I hope you find you perfect place and enjoy your retirement.

    by Barb — July 21, 2012

  28. Stan: At some point in time, you look at your house as just that – a building with memories. Realistically however is the question of how much time do you want to spend in your retirement taking care of a building? Memories stay with you no matter where you live. Almost all my friends are looking forward to not taking care of a house or doing yard work. So am I. Also remember that as a house ages (like us), things start falling apart and you don’t need a bunch of bills and headaches as you get older. Go and enjoy the rest of your life and leave the work to others.

    by DrJoel — July 21, 2012

  29. DrJoel, you made me laugh…actually memories do not last forever for some! Hopefully, they will for most here.

    I agree with Barb that I would not wish to live 30 miles from most onveniences. I am an “urbanized surburbia” person and have not seen much that would makes me interested.

    by Elaine — July 22, 2012

  30. Stan…I just helped a couple move into a retirement community from a home they loved. She was a master gardener and loved her yards….but it became too much for them to take care of. Even after hiring someone to take care of maintenance…. the job and cost of watering to keep it going was an issue. They rented their home for extra income. They love where they are and are doing things they love and involved with other events and people.
    As a woman who is a single senior living in a home that I love with beautiful yards….I see the lesson from my friends…a home is where you make it…not the house. I don’t want to spend lots of time, money, energy on working on my home and yards…so many other things I want to do with whatever I have left. In the process of researching my options.

    by Iwashere — July 22, 2012

  31. Barb, where in Tn are you located? Exploring that state as a possible option for retirement and would llike to know any and all info you can share.

    by Terry Gee — July 23, 2012

  32. Good comments and helpful. For some reason, although I have thought about a much better use of time than spending it on yard work, seeing it in print brought its reality to the surface.

    by Stan R. — July 23, 2012

  33. Terry, we are in west tn about 100 miles north of Memphis, around Jackson, TN but in the country. Lots to do in Jackson and we drive there for most big shopping trips and for nice resturants. We like the peace and quite of where we are, although we are in a very small development (10 houses) with other county houses not too far away. There is a small town about 2 1/2 – 3 miles away with schools, grocery stores, etc. Seldom gets below 32 in the winter with very little snow that is soon melted. Summers are hot (but they are hot everywhere this year). Very low property taxes (especially outside of town). Sales tax around 10% I think, grouped all together. You should visit the area and research on-line. There is an earthquake fault closer to the Miss. River. Where we are isn’t suppose to be impacted, when the quake comes. But we can never be sure of anything, can we? Any specific questions I can try to find an answer for, just let me know.

    by Barb — July 23, 2012

  34. Where is the best place for a single women to retire on a strict budget? Like to stay as close as possible to new york.

    by Diane Petilli — July 24, 2012

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