November 12, 2013. — Let’s assume you have been doing all the things the experts suggest as you go through the process of finding your best place to retire. You have listed your priorities, discussed them with spouse and/or family, and paid visits to the more likely suspects. But before you make that down payment on your retirement home, here are 7 more questions we think you would be well advised to answer. Hopefully this list will make you think of a few more, all the better to help you realize the wonderful retirement you have worked so hard to get.
7 Questions to Ask
These questions are meant more as a stimulus for conversation than a yes or no. By discussing them with someone else, you might gain more insight into the kind of retirement it is that you are looking for.
1. Would you rather read a book or play a round of golf?
This pretty easy question shouldn’t just be confined to these 2 choices. What you would like to do with your newly acquire freedom has implications for climate, the available facilities in the area to do them, and what type of community you want to live in. Obviously, pick a place where it’s easy to do what you want. What can be tricky is when a couple has widely different interests – a compromise might be needed.
2. Do you like to be surrounded by other people, or off by yourself?
Obviously, don’t decide to live in the country or mountains if you thrive with many daily social interactions. If you love being around other people, consider a condo or townhome, a small town or city, or an active adult community. If rules aren’t your thing and you think having any neighbor within 2 miles is way too close, you know what to stay away from.
3. Would you like your neighbors to have similar interests to yours?
We see enough comments in the Topretirements Blog to realize that many people are happiest when they are surrounded by like-minded people. Similarly, folks who love golf, tennis, or socializing really prefer being in a community where many people enjoy those same activities. Yet on the other side of the coin are the people who thrive on the stimulation that differences provide. They want to get into a political discussion and debate various sides of the issues. Or they want to be around children and teens, or folks of other ethnicities.
4. Will your children and grandchildren want to visit?
A not unimportant question, assuming that most people want to spend time near their offspring. If you decide to live in a town that is near a family vacation entertainment center (think Central Florida near Disney World) or a popular tourist city, you can probably bank on your family’s regular visits. If on the other hand you choose a 55+ community with limited recreation facilities, you probably won’t have to clean the guest bedroom very often. Which means you will be the one doing the traveling. Or, better yet, perhaps you might be better off finding a place to retire that is close to where your family has settled.
5. What will do if you need a medical specialist with operating privileges in a major league hospital?
As Jan Cullinane astutely observed in the comments to last week’s “Best Small Town for Retirement” article, the quality and proximity of healthcare is an important concern. You might not have any medical conditions now, but if you live long enough you probably will. Driving 3 or 4 hours to visit a specialist can get old, or even be out of the question as you age. Worse yet is having to rely on a medical professional who is out of his or her depth, or not having a choice among top tier providers.
6. How hot and humid can you stand the summer, and how cold the winter?
Many of our visitors and members seem very concerned about humidity (also bugs). Quite a few, including your editor, aren’t that crazy about cold weather. It’s your retirement, so why not choose the kind of climate that makes you happy. But one caution here – please don’t rely on what you might have heard from someone else about how bad the weather is in a place you might otherwise be attracted to. If you really like the area for other reasons, go spend some time there and judge for yourself. You might just be surprised. Again, this can be a troublesome for couples with very different opinions on climate.
7. What’s your plan for the day you can’t drive anymore?
The smartest retirement planning includes the long term view. The typical retiree is active and mobile in their mid-60’s. Twenty to thirty years later, the probability is that many of us will still be kicking. But we might not be able to drive anymore, and many of us will have mobility issues. Planning for a graceful transition to old age, one that doesn’t require a big move down the road, is an important consideration. One solution is to pick a community that has assisted living or a CCRC nearby, so the inevitable move is not too traumatic. Or to pick somewhere where the universal design features, or set up of the community, encourage people to stay in their homes safely and comfortably.
Comments anyone? Are there other questions you can think of? Which one of these presents the greatest difficulty for you or your spouse or friend? Please share your thoughts about the right questions to ask – before you place to retire – in the Comments section below.
For further reading:
How Ready Are You for Retirement Quiz
Is This the Right Time for You to Retire Quiz
Successful Retirement Countdown: 8 Steps to Success