March 31, 2021 — For every person who loves the idea of an active adult or 55+ community , there is probably another who loathes them. For those who do not want to live in an active community, there are several common criticisms. A big knock comes from people who don’t want to live with a bunch of old folks. Other slams are that they are boring, cliquish, difficult for singles, and expensive. In this article we will explore a group of a developments suitable for those 55+ that break the mold, and that take bold measures to provide retirement choices that are innovative and attractive.
At the risk of omitting dozens of other really innovative ones, here is our list of great places to retire that think out of the box. We promise to add more in the Comments section of this Blog as we come across them.
What makes these active communities so great?
Here are some of the attributes and types that make these retirement communities so innovative and desirable.
March 23, 2021 — Whew, you finally figured out your retirement. You know where you are going to retire, what you are going to do everyday, and how you are going to pay for it all. Congratulations!
But before you get too complacent, there is an important part of your retirement plan that you might not have considered – how that plan might change if you survive into your 80s and 90s (and we hope you do!). In this article we will first talk about the key issues that need to considered in what is called forward planning, and then provide comments from Topretirements members about their planning for long term retirement.
At 65 or 70 most of us feel pretty good and are able to do most of the things we have always done. Our health might not be perfect, but we are getting along OK. Unfortunately, this won’t always be the case, even though most people don’t ever consider that. Our health can change in an instant – cancer, heart problem, Covid long term symptoms, stroke, or an accident. Even if we escape those scourges, old age is inevitable. If we are lucky, it will happen, and diminished faculties will come along with it. Sound long range retirement planning acknowledges this and takes steps to best manage it. Most importantly, taking forward planning into account early in the process can lead to a much more sensible retirement plan, one with fewer mistakes and do-overs.
The major long term retirement issues
These are some of the big long term retirement issues to consider. There are undoubtedly more, and we look forward to your comments and suggestions.
Health. Most of the problems that come with old age are health related. So beyond taking good care of ourselves, we need to recognize we will probably need a lot of medical care as we age. Choosing a retirement location with easy access to high quality medical care is therefore important. Living on a lake might be appealing, but if it is 100 miles from a big hospital and we have a big emergency or require treatment for a chronic condition, it is not such a good choice.
March 22, 2021 — Covid has caused so many terrible tragedies. One that is not so serious, but nevertheless painful, has been the effect on the many snowbirds who were not able to come south this winter. That includes many people from the U.S., and especially the almost 1 million Canadians who normally migrate south to places like Arizona, Florida, or Mexico for some of the winter months. It also affects the U.S. economy, as snowbirds are important contributors to warm weather economies.
Fly Yes, Drive No
Canadian citizens can fly to the U.S., if they have a negative Covid-19 viral test within three days of their departure, or documentation that they have recovered from Covid-19 within the last 90 days. Land crossings, however, are banned for non-essential travel. “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature, which would cover snowbirds. Additionally, some states require or recommend people coming in from other states or countries to quarantine for up to two weeks. Since many Canadians travel either in motor homes or RVs, the non-essential restriction meant they didn’t go south this year. Others who like to drive south so they can take more of their belongings with them, stayed home too (although it is possible to fly to the U.S. and have your car shipped separately).
March 16, 2021 — If you turned 72 in 2020 or before, you probably will have to take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) this year from your IRA and/or 401(k) type plans. That is unlike last year, when COVID relief in the SECURE Act gave everyone a pass on taking the RMD.
All of those years when you were deducting your 401(k) and IRA contributions from your pre-tax income, and enjoyed tax free accumulation of earnings and interest on those investments, come home to roost when you reach a certain age. The law requires that you take an RMD from those retirement funds by a percentage that grows every year. Every cent of those withdrawals is considered taxable as ordinary income. Inherited IRAs and 401(k)s have different rules. Roth IRAs generally do not require RMDs.
The age at which you must start taking your first RMD has changed. If you turned 70 ½ in 2019 or earlier, you need to have taken your first RMD by April 1 of the year after that, and keep making them for the rest of your life. If your 70th birthday is July 1, 2019 or later, you do not have to take withdrawals until you reach age 72 (first one by April 1 of the following year and Dec. 31 thereafter). The idea for pushing out the requirement by 1½ years is to help retirees accumulate more savings before they have to start withdrawing them. Note if you delay the first one until April 1 the next one has to be paid by December 31. There is currently a bipartisan bill in congress that would extend the age when you have to take your first distribution to 75.
March 14, 2021 — One thing about Florida, it’s bigger than you think. Google Maps, which assumes no one ever has to stop for gas or a health break, figures it takes 12 hours and 20 minutes to drive from Pensacola to Key West. Looking for a great Florida place to retire on that trip takes you through many very different areas. Today we will travel to Florida’s Atlantic Coast, which is loaded with best places to retire. Our tour will start north and move south. See list of our other regional retirement tours at end.
The east coast of Florida, which runs from the Georgia border and ends in Key West, is fairly uniform. Most towns here have two components: a barrier island with a beach town, and the main town and bigger residential developments located across a causeway on the mainland. Its many bays and inlets provide great boating and waterfront living. It is very flat and very low; coastal flooding is here and it is getting worse.
March 9, 2021 — It is a perennial question that affects just about everyone – when is the best time to retire? Sometimes one has no choice in the matter, such as airline pilots or military personnel who reach a maximum age or length of service. Others are laid off from a job in one’s late 50’s or 60’s, before they wanted to stop working. Fortunately many of us get to choose when we retire. But answering that question is never easy.
Our friend Robert Powell just wrote a fabulous article on “What Is the Right Age to Retire“. He outlines the major questions that need to be answered, which we will touch on here and add a few of our own.
Are you ready to FIRE?
The FIRE movement (Financial Independence Retire Early) has many adherents. They are mainly people who want to quit working as soon as they can, and they take amazing steps to save enough money to do that. It has its pitfalls and its triumphs, but it is clearly not for everyone. Certainly amassing enough money to be able to retire is a comfortable place to be. Whether you believe in FIRE or not, if you won’t have enough money to live on comfortably, you are not at the right age to retire.
March 6, 2021 — Thanks to the 300 people who took our Covid Vaccine Survey. Everyone in this community is in your debt for the few moments you donated to let us know about your vaccination trials and successes. Here are the results of the survey, with several surprises mixed in with findings that were more predictable.
It is also interesting to compare the results of this survey with a similar one we conducted last September. The biggest change from then to now is the new willingness to take the vaccine: while 29% of Members said in September they would not take the vaccine, only 2% in this latest survey said they would decline it. There is continued caution around willingness to eat inside a restaurant. Mask compliance around non-family members remains high, although at slightly lower levels than in our September survey.
The overwhelming majority of our Members want to get the shots, with only 2% saying they won’t get them. Almost half have already had two doses, with a third reporting they have had one dose.
Folks are evenly split about the difficulty or ease of getting the vaccine.
Finding out how and where to get their shots has not been easy – they have had to use a variety of sources to score them. This seems to confirm what most of us experienced: America’s vaccination effort has had a very chaotic start, with no central central clearing house either on the federal or state level.
Respondent generally rate their states as poor for fairness and information about how and where to get a shot, and this includes their websites. But the sites where the shots are being administered get high marks for convenience and customer service.
People report that their lives will change once they are fully vaccinated, but not in a huge way. Most said their lives would be “somewhat” improved, with “travel” being the activity they most look forward to. Eating inside in a restaurant is still considered risky by most respondents, and mask wearing around non-family members will remain high.
Have You had your shot yet?
Yes, two doses
Yes, one dose
Had shot yet?
2. How difficult was it for you to get your shot?
3. How did find out how to get your vaccine appointment?
No one place dominated where people found out how to get their shots.
4. How would you rate your state’s handling of the vaccination rollout?
The aspect of the vaccine rollout that got the highest favorable ratings concerned the actual administration of the shot – “Got shot in convenient location” was rated highly, and “Customer Service” was off the charts. “Information on where to get a shot”, “Fairness to all”, and Statewide websites were the lowest rated aspects.
5 and 6. States doing a Great job with vaccinations; those doing a Poor job:
There were a number of write-ins for states doing great or poorly with vaccine administration. Almost every state was mentioned for one or the other, with most getting both good and bad ratings (Florida had an equal number for both). One state that did garner mostly positive reviews was Connecticut.
7. How much will your life change once you have had both doses of the vaccine?
The answers to this question were a little surprising; we thought that more people would say a “great deal”. Perhaps that means that people have become accustomed to life in a pandemic, and have found ways to maintain normal activities.
A great deal
8. What one or two activities are you looking forward to the most once you become immunized?
Again, we were a little surprised that visiting grandchildren was not rated higher on this question. It could be that travel and visiting grandchildren are correlated, or it is possible that many people either don’t have grandchildren, or they live nearby.
Eating at an indoor restaurant
Going to the gym
9. Once you have had the vaccine, will you eat inside at a restaurant this summer?
Back in September we asked this question slightly differently, but the outcome is roughly similar. Back then 47% said they would go to a restaurant, but 28% said they would only do it if they could eat outdoors there.
10. Once vaccinated, will you wear a mask around non-family members through this summer? It appears that willingness to wear a mask all of the time around non-family members will go down slightly once people are fully vaccinated. Back in September 49% said they would wear masks all of the time around non-family members.
All of the time
Most of the time
Only if indoors
Some of the time
11. If you plan on flying in the next few months, what precautions will you take?
Air travel does not appear to be in the immediate plans of our survey takers.
Don’t plan on flying
Mask and face shield
12. Once you are vaccinated, will you feel comfortable being around non-vaccinated people.
Caution and uncertainty remains about being around other people, even if everyone has been vaccinated. It seems like it might take a while for the world to return to normal and all aspects of this pandemic are better understood.
Comments: See the Blog article inviting participation in the survey (it’s not too late to fill it out!) for more comments about Covid vaccinations. If you have more thoughts about it or your coronavirus experience, please post them in the Comments section below.
March 3, 2021 — The problem with retirement is that there really isn’t a school for it. One day you are working, and the next day you could have twenty or even thirty years ahead of you with no plan as to how and where you are going to fill them. To help with that vacuum we developed an Online Retirement 101 Preparation Course two years ago. It started with an Introductory Module and since then has grown steadily, it is now up to 10 Modules and growing.
You can begin the course anytime, but preferably start before you retire, so you have time to prepare and take action. You can take the modules sequentially or in any order that fits your needs.
It contains a brief overview and discussion of most of the topics you need to be familiar with before you retire, along with an exercise you and/or your partner or spouse can fill out. It also contains links to the other nine modules in the series. One of those you might want to take right away is Module 4: Retirement Preparation Quiz. There is even an extra module that provides explanations of the questions and answers.
Here are the 10 Modules in the Retirement 101 Series: