Singles and Retirement: Where, Why, and the Issues

Category: Singles and Retirement

April 28, 2015 — Last month we asked our single Members to share their thoughts, experiences, and dreams about where they would like to retire. This article summarizes and categorizes what you told us in over 80 very thoughtful Comments (which included a lot of back and forth between commenters). But please don’t stop here, read all the Comments in the original article. You will also find many interesting links for singles looking for solutions to where and how to live in retirement at the end of this article.

Conclusions/Observations
There is a diversity of opinions expressed by our members about various aspects of retirement for singles, yet remarkable agreement on a number of other issues. Here are some observations and trends we see:

– Almost of the comments came from women, which is not surprising since the original request for this article came from a woman, and she framed the question. If there was one thing you could say from the handful of men’s comments it would be this: they sounded more confident and adventurous, and less worried. They generally had a strategy and that typically involved moving somewhere else. Not surprisingly, women seemed more open about their feelings and concerns as well as their plans.
– We are pleased to see how many people are thinking about renting/exploring several areas before they decide where they will live. Yes!
– The Sun Belt seems to lead other areas of the country in places being considered. See “Where they are retiring” section below
– Many women are attracted to a “Golden Girls” type living arrangement, even if finding that might be difficult. See Golden Girls section for more
– Most of the “wants”,”fears”, and “positives” about retirement are fairly similar. To generalize: people want a place where they can pursue their interests and needs, yet fear being lonely or priced out of the market. See sections below on Wants, Fears, Positives.

Golden Girls network:
There was a LOT of interest in this idea, even though one woman warned the whole idea is a fantasy. Here are a couple of sample responses (there were more Comments made to the original article):

– I am also interested in the Golden Girls living arrangement. This is a wonderful idea that I think will begin to become more popular. (Maggie supplied the links below, which make for very interesting reading if you like this idea. Thanks!)

– (Here is one women’s modified approach to the Golden Girls idea):
I also started renting the home I’m in now. First to a friend who was divorced. She stayed for a year and paid me $700 a month (bills included). When she moved to Houston I took a home share online class to keep from making mistakes that I had made before. I was very slow deciding who to rent to but since mid-February have been renting to a 52 year old retired army vet who is now working for the school district. He pays me $650 a month and helps with the chores and heavy lifting. It is also a fantastic tax break

For more resources on this idea here are some links (see end of article for even more):
Golden Girls Network (courtesy of Jan Cullinane).
Women Living in Community
Roommates4Boomers
Living in Community Network Sarasota meetup
My House Our House
National Shared Housing Resource Center

What They Want
Note that in the sections to follow we lifted or edited small portions of the Comments made – they are not always verbatim but we tried to boil down the original sense.

– Get away from cold Northeast winters. But worried about leaving friends and family
– I may relocate to a place that’s affordable, things to do outdoors — enjoy road biking and hiking, and to be near cultural activities
– Although I would ultimately like to downsize, I also love gardening and doing yard work, so an apartment or condo might be a good choice, but only temporarily. I’m thinking of a small cottage
– I plan on renting and seeing what I like. I will probable lean heavily towards no income tax states with lower cost of living
– I will try to move with the least amount of baggage as possible, so I will be able to live somewhere for about 6 months to a year; and if it suits me, stay there longer. This will be an adventure for me

– I have been researching various walkable cities close to water (kayaking), walking and biking paths, and safe.
– A supportive 55+community that caters to professionals also would provide extended care should that eventually become necessary since I do not have any living family
– Like the idea of a 55+ community for the the social and recreational aspects (many comments like this)
– Several master planned golf course communities in Florida have full clubhouses, fitness centers, walking trails, etc. etc. seem to offer me most of what I am looking for as I am widowed and moving solo and know not a soul down there
– Which Florida coast is better for single women?
– There are a lot of us single women who are retiring who do not have anyone to help them keep up a home. I want to move to another location in a senior community near family or in my case near the ocean-any ocean, in an area that never goes below freezing
– I see retirement as a refinement of my life, to include only what I love or find to be useful. So these preparation years are about editing not ony the physical and financial, but also how I view my place in this world. The last thing I’m interested in is living in a 55+ golfing community. No judgment on anyone who wants that, but I would be bored to tears
– My own space
– Some place where I can make new friends and do my favorite activities
– Access to good medical care
– Apartments with planned activities
– Shared housing in a 55+ community
– Culture
– Beach
– Rent first
– Near friends and family

Fears, Concerns, and Worries

– My husband shared our financial information with me, but when he passed I was thoroughly confused because I was unused to managing money.
– I would like to hear others opinions if they think it could work and what suggestions they could offer to accomplish my plan. Of course I would have to store some of my things and plan on moving without furniture until I find my permanent home. One idea I have is renting furniture
– I feel my only option with the small amount of money I have in my 401K, is to buy a used trailer home somewhere in the area. It’s a frightening thought to live in tornado alley in a metal box. I have several single women friends my age and we joke about starting our own trailer park commune
– When my husband passed 5 years ago, I renovated the house thinking that I’d “age in place”. My youngest moved out 6 months ago, and I experienced loneliness even though I volunteer, take classes, and have lunch with friends. I decided the house was too big for me and my dog and that I needed more interaction with people
– What holds me back is making this move alone. I have many friends & have an active life where I live now, but I think its the right time to move
– Living in the suburbs would depend on your individual situation (ie: ability to drive, willingness to be outgoing)
– Double whammy: husband passing and kids’ leaving home could lead to depression and loneliness
– Scared to death I am making the right decisions
– Leaving friends and family is very scary (several comments like this)
– Owing two places could be a hassle
– Downsizing could be difficult
– Not easy to meet people

Positives and Advice
There were a lot of positive comments, plus plenty of great advice. Here are a few for your reading pleasure:
– It is so inspiring to see so many women stepping outside of their comfort zone to forge the unknown to find that socially and environmentally perfect retirement fit. Still so uncommitted and yet it is so exciting to think that you can pick up and move to a location of choice. As someone once said “the path is the goal”
– Think of your retirement in 10 year increments – each decade will be different
– Widowhood requires a strong support system
– I think it is more important to determine what you want to do in retirement first. What is on your “Bucket List”? It’s a trade-off on what I want and need to fulfill items on my bucket list
– So I think you just have to try things out and see how they feel. I don’t know if this is the perfect location, but for now it feels good. If for some reason it doesn’t work out, I can always sell and try something or some place else
– Hard to believe at 66 I am starting over but I am looking forward to it. At least I am healthy and come from a long line of strong women. Should be an interesting adventure!

Where They Are Moving or Considering (Almost always the Sundbelt)
– The Carolinas
– Want to explore Ruidoso, NM
– Have rented for months in Cape Coral (FL)
– I am basing many of my decisions on taxes, although I am drawn to Western NC and TN around Chattanooga area. I am taking a road trip this summer to explore these areas. I fell in love with Asheville NC a few years ago, but it is nearly as expensive as where I currently live
– Western NC or Tennessee or Savannah
– Tellico Village (TN)
– An active community in Surprise (AZ)
– Kings Point at Sun City Center (FL)
– Prefer the Treasure and Space Coasts of Florida
– Plan on building several cabins to share near Panama City (FL)
– Would prefer a place in the West or in North Carolina, hopefully around people in the arts
– Myrtle Beach (SC) for its low taxes, plenty to do. I know I will have many guests because of the beach, and I look forward to meeting new people
– Am interested in North Carolina, Ft. Myers/Cape Coral (FL)
– The Villages
– The Northwest and its weather
– Middlebury (VT) is a quiet, low key place that is perfect for my retirement
– Prescott or Cottonwood Canyon in Arizona
– St. Augustine (FL) or Athens (GA)
– Moving to Arizona was best move I ever made. My new life is great!
– Intent on moving from Summerville, SC to Boulder, Co for the natural glories of the American West
– Tucson, NC, or SC. Not sure I am a Florida girl
– Renting in Washington, D.C., which has many singles of all ages. Considering exploratory trips to FL and NC
– Summerville (SC) is on my list of possible destinations
– Have checked out Del Webb communities in Illinois, Indiana, the one in Mt. Juliet, TN and am planning on going out to the Phoenix area to see a number of communities out there. I also visited Tellico Village in Loudon, TN outside Knoxville
– Considering downsizing and moving to Phoenix to be near my son
– Chattanooga (TN), Brevard (NC), Austin (TX), The Villages (FL), Punta Gorda (FL)
– I am from Central Michigan and live in a condo in downtown Chattanooga. Although I am not single there are several single women and men who live in my building. We all love it here and their is so much to do! What I love about Chattanooga in comparison to Michigan is the beauty of the city. And so many interesting transplants here
– Bozeman (MT), Boulder (CO), Bend (OR) – love skiing, hiking, the mountains
– Work my way down to various places on the SE part of US. My idea is to move to an area and rent in a single family home. If that’s not the ideal place I will move again. The place isn’t so important to me as are the people and activities
– Plan on renting in the Outer Banks (OBX – NC) and see how that goes
– I decided to go on vacation year round in Myrtle Beach SC. Low taxes, low cost of living and plenty to do. With this location close to the beach, I am sure I will have lots of guests and make lots of new friends.
– I thought about North and South Carolina but I am open to other areas. I want some cultural activities and the beach not far away, low cost of living and I will be renting until I am sure.
– I would like to move to a city for 6 mos to a year then move again for another 6 mos to a year so I could try out different cities.
– I love to read about couples who will travel or get to retire in the mountains in NC or live on the CA shoreline
– I like So. California where I’ve settled and where my children are, but I’d like to be closer to my 3 siblings in No. California.
– we live in the Northshore (Chattanooga) and love it! We can walk to the grocery store, bank, pharmacy, hair salon, restaurants
– I was thinking of On Top of The World in Ocala Florida
– I have lived all over the U.S., and have narrowed my retirement location to three places: Puget Sound area, Tucson (where I now live) and Fayetteville, AR. I have family in each location, which is a primary requirement for me. I want to live in a semi-rural area that is close to a university. I hope to work part-time or as a consultant in retirement
– I love it in Austin (TX)
– I don’t think i can handle another winter in the North East… I really want to relocate to a warm, sunny state.Perhaps because i have lived on the east coast all my life, i don’t think i would relocate to the west coast or even mid-west
– Any first hand experience with Sun City Center Florida?
– We chose the Tucson, AZ region…liked the college town, liked a progressive city, liked the size of city. Although I am married our community is about 25% singles and that was important too… if I were single would I fit in? Love the activities in this 55+ community
– I am 58, single, more involved in the dog world than most, and decided upon Canta Mia in Goodyear arizona
– I’m thinking about college/university towns like Greenville, SC, Elkins WV, Peterborough NH ,Oberlin OH, Annapolis MD, Richmond IN, Madison WI.
– I would suggest checking out Summerfield in King City/Tigard, which is 55+.
– Love Portland, OR
– I am planning to retire in Mexico where I live now

Bottom line
The good news is that, based on our Member input, there is no shortage of places where singles might find retirement happiness. There are many singles out there in the same situation, so their support and company means you do not have to fear isolation and loneliness in retirement. Good luck, and thanks to the many singles who shared their experiences here.


For further reading

Singles, Please Tell Us Where You Would Like to Retire
The Best Places for Singles to Retire
When Living with Strangers Make Sense
How Baby Boomers Are Making Their Own Retirement Communities
Creating Your Own Retirement Community
Women Should Think and Talk More about Retirement (see story in left column)
The Frugal Female and Medical Costs (see story in left column)

Comments? So now that you have seen how a lot of people view retirement as a single, what are your thoughts, concerns, and plans. Please share them in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on April 28th, 2015

37 Comments »

  1. Hi – my comments for men is if you are single – it may be tough to find an “accepting” community. I moved to MB, SC into a 55 plus community where the primary status of the residents was married. It was accepting of my single status however when the “group” went to do things, single men were “odd man” out. When everyone is coupled up and you are not – well. I moved again.

    by Paul Elkins — April 29, 2015

  2. Paul Elkins–Have you observed that “acceptance” in your former 55+ community applied to single women as well? I suspect that there are more singe women/widows than single men/widowers in these communities, but it’s awful to feel that you’re always the third wheel. It’s no wonder you moved on. I myself do not feel comfortable in being the only single among a bunch of couples, even when I am acquainted with the couples. (When I am among close friends who are couples I feel more like “one of the gang” and very much accepted.)

    by libran — April 29, 2015

  3. I’m not single, but due to a health issue, am beginning to think more “single” — or maybe that should be phrased, more “self-centeredly”. Fortunately, I do have a loving wife and she understands that nothing that I do is meant to leave her out — she is invited and encouraged to join me. But I satisfy my need for sun and WARM over short time regardless.

    I want most of all to talk (again) about the importance of experimenting without committing — don’t throw everything away (like a move) without spending time at other places. There is so much you just can’t learn from a casual visit. A month to six months in a new situation will let you know if you like it, what the expense is for you personally, whether it’s a lifestyle you want and so much more.

    I also specially picked out one comment from the article, “– Think of your retirement in 10 year increments – each decade will be different”. AMEN! You just can’t know. We’ve been retired now 12 years and are NOT in the same emotional or physical place we were at 55. In fact, our perspective has evolved twice over this time. Looking forward, I now expect the same in the future.

    So we retired early and together. We stayed at home in central NC in the (paid for) home we planned for retirement. We have traveled quite a bit (from weekends nearby to weeks and even months thousands of mile away) always looking for alternatives. We were interested in and tried RV life, being snowbirds, finding a better place, etc.

    I’m a military brat — I think that contributes to the wanderlust. My wife is happy whether at home or “testing” new places. What we found is that there is nowhere “better” than where we are. We DON’T like being away from home for extended times (now resolved to any more that 2 – 3 weeks). We’ve visited key areas multiple times for various lengths (FL, AZ, CA, CO) and many, many places (more than 30,000 road miles US and numerous places overseas on 3 other continents. We stayed a month or more at several potential move locations on the way. That time was most important at eliminating alternatives and discovering our basic love of home. We expect for sure to age in place and are working to make our home which we designed for aging in place to be even more specifically practical since we are beginning now to learn the physical limitations of aging.

    At 67 and having determined that our original home is ideal, this is the summary. We don’t like being away and will limit trip lengths. I am growing more chill, cloudy, and cold intolerant (SAD) and will narrow almost all future travels of more than a weekend to FL or south) and during winter time (Feb especially). But this has all taken years of travel and visits to determine. Hopefully, not everyone will have my wanderlust, but if you do, consider whether it is a need to change or a temporary need to just get away.

    We’ve been fortunate to retire on a shoestring and to have that grow (with careful and constant budget management) to a strong rope. We are still able to “experiment”. That is something that should always continue. I hope others can understand the value of trying out a new place in depth over time before committing to a life — that can be a years long endeavor starting before retirement. And remember: – Think of your retirement in 10 year increments – each decade will be different.

    Rich

    by Rich — April 29, 2015

  4. I am single and moved out of my apartment and put my furnishings in storage in May, 2009. I stay in all suites hotels and airbnb in OH, NC,SC,TX,NE and WA. I travel to other regions based on weather to play golf. I find the cost not much more than if I had a one bedroom apartment, utilities, cable and internet total. I spend anywhere from two to four months in each area. This has worked for me and I plan on continuing this since I do not wish to stay in one city.

    by Dick — April 29, 2015

  5. Thanks for sharing so many comments. It’s really interesting to see where everyone is going. Most of my adult life I’ve lived with roommates; even now as a nearly-65 woman, I share my house with a 34-year man. Each roommate is different, so anyone interested in Golden Girls or roomies possibilities, don’t give up if someone doesn’t work out the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd time. I have had very good experiences with graduate students looking for a place to live, and I usually pick someone from another country for the cultural exchange and, sometimes, the cultural comedy of errors. The international graduate students I lived with were quiet, focused on studying, pay their rent and bills on time, and are not prone to give me “advice” since they were learning about living in a U.S. household (albeit one a bit more counterculture than some other possibilities). Many seemed to be relieved to live with an American who was interested in them as human beings. Plus, since they are graduate students, the university holds them to certain ethical and behavioral standards, so they tend to be well mannered. Highly recommended.

    by Elaine C. — April 29, 2015

  6. Also of interest:

    Jacque B. wrote a great anecdote in my book about living in a co-housing community (she is a single woman). The specific community is Wolf Creek Lodge (www.wolfcreeklodge.org), but here is a general site for this type of living: http://www.cohousing.org

    Several people I interviewed for my book told me they moved to The Villages (in Florida – there has been a lot of discussion about The Villages on TopRetirements) precisely because of their active singles’ club. Here is a link to their singles’ club site: http://tvsinglesclub.com/

    Jan Cullinane, author, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement

    by Jan Cullinane — April 29, 2015

  7. Thanks for everything here. Everyone’s been so helpful. I’m 63, single, a writer, and can’t afford to and don’t want to stop working — I love it too much. But because of a two-year book contract (not huge, but enough) I was able to quit my teaching job last fall and work anywhere. I’m using these two years to try out four places for about six months each. In each place, I have good friends and/or family.
    I’m leaving the first place, Austin TX, this weekend. I lived here through the 80s and 90s and have many friends in the area. But I can’t afford Austin any more, and the traffic is terrible. I’ll just have to visit. Next, I’m trying south/central Maine, though I have my doubts about it, after the recent winter. At least summer will be nice. In November, I’m moving to Colorado to test that winter. I’ve lived in it before, and the sun shines many more days than in Maine. The last location is up for grabs.
    BTW, I can’t do Florida. I grew up there, am no fan of the summers, and hate what unrestricted growth and “master planned communities” have done to the state’s natural beauty. I’m an outdoors girl with two active dogs, planning to work for at least ten more years, looking for good environmental/professional/social fit. Feel lucky to have time to experiment — and agree with the decade-by-decade idea.
    For what it’s worth, I’m renting out the house I own in another part of Texas. Got rid of TONS of stuff when I moved out so a lot of purging has already happened. Yet I’m purging again as I leave Austin. Traveling light is the way to go.

    by Ann M — April 29, 2015

  8. I am a single male, 63 and still working in downtown Chicago. I just bought a 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo in the River North neighborhood on the edge of downtown, where I plan to retire at least for awhile. For me, there is so much to do in Chicago that it cancels out the winters. I have a heavy coat. My condo is in a secured high-rise on a high floor with a great view of the Chicago skyline and the western sky, where I can watch sunsets. I like the seasons, the lake, the great transit options, and the youthful vibe in my new neighborhood. It’s within walking distance of the hot technology districts where companies like Google and Uber are setting up shop. I hope that will keep me young! Plus my friends are here. If I get tired of it, I’ll sell and move someplace else or spend winters in Barcelona, Rio, Gulf Shores, etc.

    by Robert Bach — April 29, 2015

  9. All extremely useful comments and summaries. Praises and accolades and loud round of applause to John Brady for featuring this extremely important aspect of retirement re locations. The coupled world continues to assume that the world is coupled.

    But it;s not.

    Since I’ve lived in suburbs most of my life I somehow assumed this was the “only” way. Comments and observations in this forum have convinced me to look a lot more carefully at urban or semi-urban settings. Right now I’m thinking about St.Paul, Austin, Annapolis and Greenville SC. Comments on any of these welcome! I’ve heard Austin is crazy expensive because it’s become so trendy…. Also looking for comments on The Coves, NC.

    Thanks again John.

    by Leslie — April 29, 2015

  10. I have been looking at newer and larger 55+ communities. I thought that newer communities would have neighbors who would be receptive to new friendships, and that larger communities were more likely to have a larger number of singles or people with similar interests. I am becoming very nervous about the HOA fees in these communities though. Spending $2,000-$4,000 in nondeductible HOA fees (plus real estate taxes, insurance, and utilities even if my home is paid-off) will take a big bite out of my budget. The cost of all those amenities and the resulting HOA fees are going to be subject to inflation, but I think it’s likely that I will use those amenities less as I get older. Another dilemma.

    by Sharon — April 30, 2015

  11. Leslie,
    Also try Madison, WI as it is very similar to St. Paul and Austin.

    by BRFGolfNut — April 30, 2015

  12. Has anyone retired to the Las Vegas area. Have not seen any posts and would like some information.

    by David Palons — April 30, 2015

  13. 62 y/o semi retired ER doc. I’ve spent last two years looking in the south for warmth and to find “more fishes in the pond” to go out with. Compared to my cold and puddle of intolerant liberal fish.
    Hoping to move back into a city and meet a variety of more sophisticated woman has not been very fruitful. Most interesting cities are full of young going nowhere kids working in bars, restaurants, etc.
    The vast majority of people I met were men older than me. Women tend to flock together or go out as the third wheel. Men are loners. Enclave of conservative single men and women….haven’t discovered that pot of gold yet.

    by Mark singsank — May 1, 2015

  14. This comment came in from Maggie (thanks!):

    I am single and moved to The Villages in 6/2014. I am renting for a year to see if I like it. Most people who visit buy a home immediately because the place is quite unique. There’s a lot to do and most people who live or visit rave about the community. There are many organized singles groups. Here is a list of the clubs and other info:
    Singles Baby Boomers (http://singlesbabyboomers.com/)
    Sumter Singles Club (http://sumtersingles.org/)
    Single Golfers of the Villages (http://www.sgvclub.com/)
    America Singles Golf Association (http://www.singlesgolf.com/chapter.php?chapter_number=1013)
    The Villages Singles Club (http://www.tvsinglesclub.com/)
    Single at The Villages – Travel Channel (http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/grannies-gone-wild/video/single-at-the-villages)
    Talk of the Villages Single Forum (http://www.talkofthevillages.com/forums/singles-124/)

    by Admin — May 1, 2015

  15. I am looking for 55+ “conventional” apartment communities to rent in Reno/Sparks, NV & also in Las Vegas/Henderson, NV areas – any information – pros & cons about these areas would be appreciated.

    by Barbara W — May 1, 2015

  16. I have a question for those that are single (with or without children) that moved to a state their family members do not live in. When completing an application (for whatever) who do you put down for your “emergency” contact? Do you have pre-arranged plans on what you would do if you were hospitalized, etc.? What about your pets?

    A tip for those of you thinking of moving to Austin, TX. I was born, raised & unfortunately still live here. It has become very crowded, horribly expensive to live, and if you do not like 90 days of 100+ degrees, humidity that will suck the air out of you, & another 120 days of 90 to 100 degrees – save your money – don’t move here. Sorry to be on the negative side – but having lived here for 60 years and witnessed the transformation from a small college town to a mammoth of people and cars – I can’t help it! I’m newly divorced, retired with a pension and feel sad that rents have skyrocketed in the metro area.

    My ancestors are from New England. I love visiting Vermont and New Hampshire and I’m seriously considering moving to NH in about 5 years. It has been a long time dream of mine. I hope I find the guts to do it.

    by Nancy — May 4, 2015

  17. I am single, looking to retire near water of some sort, and in or near a city with cultural and artistic facilities. I’d like to rent, not buy, and I don’t think a 55+ community is for me. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

    by Johanna — May 6, 2015

  18. Thank you Nancy! I am single and retiring this Fall and looking for a place to land. My son will be moving to Austin soon and thinks I should also. Although I would love to be near him, I wasn’t sure about moving to a completely unknown area of the country. From what I found on line, housing seemed quite expensive and you have confirmed that. Although I’m sure Austin is a wonderful city in many ways, I think it will be too expensive and too hot and humid for me. I have pretty much decided to focus on Delaware, Virginia and Maryland as retirement destinations. These states have four seasons without extremes in either hot or cold. I just need to find an affordable, culturally active area to live. Not so easy to do. Any ideas would be very welcome!

    by Leah — May 7, 2015

  19. I will be moving from my home in Houston to the Phoenix area the beginning of next year. Fingers crossed. Just a thank you to Dick for his info. I think I also will look into All Suites and store my stuff until I figure out a place to permanently stay. I am downsizing right now and that is a full-time job.

    by SharonA — May 7, 2015

  20. I agree Nancy,I’m presently looking for an apartment in NH preferably near the coast.I’m from Rhode Island and I miss the ocean,proper seafood,and my sisters.I currently live in Michigan and retired a year ago.I am used to the winters so that does’nt come into play.Anyway good luck with your move.

    by Jim — May 7, 2015

  21. Jim – let me know what type of apartment you find in NH (i.e. old, new, square footage, monthly rent, pets accepted, amenities, etc.) Thank you!

    by Nancy — May 7, 2015

  22. Nancy,
    I have had this problem of local contacts whenever I have moved for jobs. I always fill out a “next of kin” although that is now down to one person. When really new to the area, it has been a problem with local contact, but I used to be able to ask either a neighbor (or work colleague) in a pinch and tell them it is temporary.

    One solution I remember from the Asheville area from seminar was forming a group of about 10 of other new people strictly for that…does not necessarily have to be folks that will be in you closer friends later. But a group of folks some that may not mind be called in the middle of the night or for other emergencies. It needs to be large enough that tasks do not fall on the same person all the time, but small enough so that you occasionally get together to catch up. And the group reminds intact even when you have met good friends although would be used much less. In a 55+ this might be easy to form. In other areas, perhaps an OLLI or elder study course, senior center, YMCA, or some other group that may have a new influx of people on a regular basis. I asked for a model, but the person I asked was not forthcoming, but I do not think it would be hard to formulate. The important thing would be to keep it the right size and steer other new people to a split when approaching ideal size.

    I moved to MI and hadn’t even started work when I needed a local contact for a Saturday 4 hour cross country skiing event. The likely hood I would need it was so slim that I just used my boss’ phone number…that would have been a surprise.

    by elaine — May 8, 2015

  23. Leah, re: DE, VA and more
    I also have an interest in Delaware and Virginia. I am exploring (mostly on-line) GA, NC and SC and even northeastern FL as well. Ideas from anyone for those areas …any good communities please share.

    I presently live in Fredericksburg VA. I moved here for the job so I do not have much longevity here so staying does not gain me much and leaving would not be as difficult as a long time in the area.

    Do you have specific areas of DE and VA and have you made any visits to the area and/or communities. If yes, please share.

    I will say that the Fredericksburg VA area does have a very hot humid summer (worse that SE FL) for the years that I have been here. Fredericksburg has a fair amount of 55+ and other areas that might suit active adults. a source to supplement TR is http://www.owl55.com/ and http://www.55places.com/virginia/area/fredericksburg

    I am single with no children and have recently have started to lean toward an active adult community. That was not at all what I had in mind even 5 years ago. Like you I do not want to be in the middle of nowhere. Like many of others especially always single women, finances need to be considered, but I am not horribly poor and will use SSI and my investments in 401ks.

    by elaine — May 8, 2015

  24. Elaine,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Very helpful.
    Ann M,
    Let us know what you think of Maine after leaving Austin.

    by Nancy — May 8, 2015

  25. I have also used my secretary or HR Manager as an emergency contact person sometimes. However, I wouldn’t give them a health care or financial power of attorney, so that isn’t a good long-term solution. Finding a person who you trust enough to actually step in if there’s an emergency is definitely tough. If using friends or a group of women who agree to help each other, I’d suggest using joint designees so that there’s some form of check & balance.

    Has anyone done the work to figure out their future retirement budgets, assuming that a house or condo is paid off? Do you have a minimum goal that you’re working towards if you’re still employed (aside from a number that is as big as possible, of course)? My goal has been to have $60K-$65K a year including S.S., but I have a relative who is content in retirement at $38K a year. I just met a saleswoman at a 55+ community who volunteered that owning a home in her community would cost $850/month for utilities, taxes and HOA fees since she said everyone is focused on budgeting. No kidding.

    by Kate — May 9, 2015

  26. Elaine, I’m in the same boat so to speak. Live in central Va. Widow,no children. 4 years ago started looking in Jacksonville, Fl. I liked the home styles, the screened lanai & pool. Proximity to ocean,top notch medical care, no snow or ice and summers a bit better than SE Florida. Big city amenities as well. I started to realize that as a single woman, it would be difficult to meet people in an established neighborhood. So I decided the 55+ community would probably be a better option to meet my social needs. But I have two big dogs that are used to a lot of yard so those become problematic…the 55+ community that is. But that is my issue to deal with. What I learned about JAX from other writers here is that Mayo is not taking new Medicare patients. I also learned that the Medicare supplement plans are twice the cost in JAX than what I will pay here for same identical plan. Home prices are really going up fast there (unfortunately not that much here) and then there are the pesky CDD fees that can add anywhere from about $800 to $3000.00 a year in addition to the HOA fees. And RE taxes are higher than here in central Va. Sure no state income tax but many states don’t tax SSI and even offer senior exemptions on their other income so the savings from the no state income tax isn’t that much of a savings for seniors unless they have a huge pension and/0r IRA etc. Everyone should do the math for their own personal circumstance. Just found NC as well as SC to be a bit more favorable for myself relative to costs. Even Williamsburg, Va. which is growing up fast. However then there remains the winters and snow and ice. It is a difficult decision with lots of variables. No place is perfect but still searching.

    by susan — May 9, 2015

  27. Kate, I am curious,how will you in retirement have $65,000 a year with social security? You must be lucky enough to have a generous pension. When I hear numbers like that I fear as a nurse that I will never ever be able to retire. I am a divorced woman since 2001. I have worked hard and saved but I did get a few set backs a few yers ago. I am terrified of retirement and that is why I started a business. I do not want to live in poverty nor does and single woman. Two incomes do make a big difference.

    by Jennifer — May 9, 2015

  28. Jennifer, My husband and i have NEVER spent $65,000 in a year or anywhere near it. Does that make you feel better???

    by ella — May 9, 2015

  29. Ella – That definitely makes me feel better too!

    I am fortunate enough to qualify for almost the maximum benefit when I start to pull Social Security at age 66, plus have saved enough in my 401K to pull out $30,000-$35,000 using the 4% rule. The exact number will depend on when I get laid off from my job with a big company now that I’ve hit 63. Don’t get me started on hidden age discrimination in corporate America! (If I get laid off between 63 and 66, I’ll use widow’s benefits and savings that could otherwise supplement the 401K. I’ve decided to just take an early retirement if I lose my job — after working over 40 years, I’m ready!)

    Some of the 55+ communities that I’ve visited are beautiful and appear to be affordable, but I worry about getting in over my head. Like Susan, I’m searching, and trying to figure out the net cost of living in destinations that catch my eye! Inflation will push HOA fees and other costs higher. I don’t want to be worried about paying bills and being in a community with retirees with a lot more disposable income. I guess I have a case of “bag lady syndrome”.

    by Kate — May 10, 2015

  30. Kate, if you are near the max for SS and can pull 30-35000 from a 401 your income should be over 65000.

    by Billy — May 10, 2015

  31. Hi Ella:

    I am more than happy that you will be secure in your retirement. The numbers mentioned made me just reflect on what my retirement fears are. If you have it, enjoy it…you have worked hard for your benefits that is for sure. I am in trouble if I must generate $65,000 per year in retirement.

    I live in Washington, DC –one of the very expensive places to live even while still in the workforce…so I am carefully thinking about working beyond my normal retirement as so many seniors are here. I ride the bus to downtown DC every day and side beside an 88 year old lawyer–still working. My neighbor works at a prestigious private school here in Washington is 78 and also still working as a drama teacher. He is afraid of what retirement would be like were he to try to live on SS benefits and a pension.

    Thanks for your response.

    by Jennifer — May 10, 2015

  32. Kate, you’ll be fine as max on SS is I believe some $3600.00/monrh or $43K a year. With your 401K you are over $70K a year. Watch out re: widow’s benefits. I was told by SS that if my benefit is higher than my late husband’s, I can’t take his and let mine grow till 70. And hope you don’t get laid off as individual health insurance costs are extremely high and you will not qualify for any obamacare subsidies. And many articles now are questioning the 4% rule on pulling out from 401Ks and IRAs, saying it may be too high if market tanks. I suggest adding up all expenses you currently have or using one of those calculators, don’t forget to figure in inflation and taxes. Then see what you can actually afford relative to housing. Some 55+ communities include for example cable costs and yard maintenance costs in the monthly fees, others do not and only include the amenities. That could add substantially to your monthly bills. Too many variables re: finances and where to go and like you, I don’t care to be worried about how I will pay the next bill or god forbid running out of money either and would like to have some ‘play’ money left over after working some 40 years. Remember, up to 85% of your SSI is taxed by the Fed Gov’t. depending on how much you pull out of your 401K. I calculate I’ll have about $62K in combined IRA + SSI and I am beginning to panic as I haven’t lived on that income since I was in my 30s. And my housing costs will go up even by considerably downsizing (although I am not going to go too small as I hope to keep working and thus need a room for my office) as I will have to spend more to buy the house than what I get selling my current home. The 55+ communities are not for the faint of heart (budget) and I am beginning think the residents are a lot richer than I will be. But I do think they are the best option for a single person to meet people and establish new friendships. Lots of variables to consider particularly when you can pretty much move anywhere.

    by susan — May 10, 2015

  33. Susan, thinks so much for the input. I have also hear that about Medicare doctors in the Jacksonville area. Hopefully, there are other besides Mayo clinic. The yard thing has been a problem since changing my goals to an over 55. Not sure what to do. I like to compete with my dogs although I do not have the right dog for that right now.

    by elaine — May 10, 2015

  34. Finding doctors that take Medicare has been brought up before. I wonder if there are areas where this is less of a problem? Since active adult communities (and maybe just communities or town) in NC, SC GA, DE and northeast FL are in my sights, I would love to hear experiences others have had in those areas.

    I know that it was noted on one of these blogs that sometimes you can find specialists more easily, but I really do not have any specialists.

    by elaine — May 10, 2015

  35. Susan: Maximum Social Security benefit in 2015 at age 66 is currently $2,663, or $31,956/per annum. That climbs to $3,501 for deferring to age 70. I’ve assumed that I’d file with my own benefit at 66, but I’ll re-examine my options when I get to age 66. Sounds like we’re both considering the same retirement budget!

    I hadn’t thought about the difficulties with finding a doctor that will accept Medicare….now I have something else to worry about.

    by Kate — May 10, 2015

  36. Note from Admin:
    We seem to be getting off the track here with the discussion of Social Security benefits and now Medicare.
    We have moved some of the Medicare discussion to http://www.topretirements.com/blog/health-issues/so-youre-turning-65-your-medicare-guide-101.html/

    If you would like to post about Social Security then please make the post to http://www.topretirements.com/blog/financial/your-worst-case-scenario-and-social-security-the-answer-might-surprise-you.html/ so we can focus this post on singles and retirement. Thanks

    by Admin — May 11, 2015

  37. i am a single woman and I am retiring in January. I have booked a house for four months in Clearwater FL through AirBnB. My daughter lives in Orlando. I am driving from California and will be stopping on the way to see possible retirement locations and I will see if any need further investigation. After my four months in Florida I will drive to the Portland OR area where I have reserved another house through AirBnB for four months. I have always thought I would retire in Portland but if after four months I decide that is not for me I will book another house through AirBnB in a different city.

    by ann t — June 17, 2015

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