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Retirement As a Party of One: The Challenge and the Reward

Category: Singles and Retirement

July 27, 2021 — As many Members have reminded us over the years, it is not safe to assume that everyone entering into retirement is part of couple. Many folks are single by choice, others by divorce, not to mention those who have lost a partner or spouse to disease or accident. Singlehood can happen quickly too – one moment you are happily planning a retirement destination and lifestyle together, the next you are all by yourself. This article will explore some of the issues faced by single people in retirement. More than that, we hope that our Membership base can contribute their experiences and advice to anyone who is about to retire as a party of one.

There are a number of issues to consider if you are single and planning your retirement:

  • Financial. Single people don’t have a spouse or partner to help with the financial load, so it is key that they have prepared financially. Having a financial advisor is usually a good idea to make sure you have the resources to ensure a long and secure retirement, which should include some provision for long term care.
  • Where to retire. One advantage of being single is that the decision about where to retire is one you will usually make by yourself. But you do need to make a decision about where that will be, even if it is to retire right where you live now. Where you retire affects the lifestyle you want to live as well as your finances, so it is important.
  • Type of community. The choices are many. You can live in a small town, a city, the suburbs, a condo, an active adult or 55+ community, etc. Each has its attractions and negatives. Some types of living arrangements make it easier to make friends as a single person than others, an important consideration. In others, the worry is that singles have trouble penetrating a couples based society. The best way to find out if a community or neighborhood is conducive to the single life is to live there for a bit, which usually means a rental.
  • Friends and family. Do you want to live with or near a sibling or son or daughter? Or are they pressuring you to move close? Sometimes being near family in retirement works out great, and other times it can be a problem. You could become too much of a burden for one of your adult children to handle, but on the other hand you might be asked to take on more child care or support than you feel comfortable with. Think long and hard before you commit, and consider a trial run.
  • How to make social connections – avoiding loneliness. You have to start with knowing who you are. Are you the kind of person that makes friends the first time you meet people, or would you be more comfortable at home in front of Netflix? If you have trouble connecting with people, you could end up being lonely. NextAvenue recently an article, “How Men Adapt Be Solo Agers”, that mentioned a book by John Cacioppo. In “Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection“, Cacioppo wrote that loneliness might have twice the negative impact on longevity as obesity. What you do in your spare time, the type of community where you live, and what organizations you join can be a great help in making friends and staving off loneliness. But more than those important factors, your attitude and actions are key. If you wait for someone else to reach out to you, that is never, ever going to work.
  • Staying active. Obviously staying active is beneficial to your health and well-being. But more than that, getting out and about connects you with other people. On the pickleball court, the dance or yoga class, or the woodworking shop, you are likely to meet like-minded people who you might enjoy spending time with. Staying home and watching the news is not going to help.
  • Men vs. women. Men are much more likely to experience loneliness in retirement than women. Deprived of the job that probably provided a social structure as well as ego reinforcement, many men retreat into themselves and rarely meet new people. Men have to try much harder to break out and make friends, which are crucial to happiness and long term health. In the “How Men Adapt to Be Solo Agers”, the authors provide some good advice on how men can make a single retirement a successful one.
  • Planning for the future. There are many aspects to future planning. There is the financial, which we discussed earlier. There is also the need for long term health and living. Who is going to take care of you if you become disabled or demented? Where will you live as you age or if you can no longer take care of yourself? Also, what will you do with your assets and possessions? Don’t leave someone else with a mess to clean up. If you are having trouble making these decisions, you probably need to discuss them with a close friend, relative, or advisor.

Bottom line: Retiring as a single person is way different than retiring as a couple. You have more responsibilities. You have to guard against loneliness. But if you plan carefully, you can retire as happily and successfully as anyone.

For further reading:

Comments: Please share your thoughts about being single in retirement, and the issues you have or will face. If you some success strategies, everyone would love to read them in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on July 26th, 2021

Before You Buy a Condo or Home in an Association: 4 Things You Need to Do

Category: Active adult communities

July 21, 2021 – So you managed to get lucky. It looks like you might win the bidding to buy that condo, or a home in an active adult community. But before you submit the winning offer and break out the champagne, here are 4 things you need to do first. Your new community’s financial picture deserves some extra looks, particularly in light of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, FL. A community might look healthy, but until you have examined its financial reserves you really don’t know.

This week we listened to an insightful interview on NPR with Robert Nordlund, founder and CEO of Association Reserves. An expert on reserves and the financial health of communities, he lists four things things you need to do before you invest your hard-earned money in a condo or home in a community. We have added some of our own commentary to his questions.

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Posted by Admin on July 21st, 2021

Looking for an Affordable Retirement – Check Out Central Florida

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

July 18, 2021 — Some people thinking about retiring to Florida might worry that they won’t be able to afford it there. But the good news is that the Sunshine State is so big and has so many regions that it has plenty of less expensive places to retire. Central Florida is one of the most affordable regions within the State, where home prices are often well below Zillow’s national Home Value Index of $293,349 and Florida’s Index of $297,390. Home to hundreds of thousands of retirees, the area is known for its many lakes and lakeside living. The area is filled with active adult communities, many of which are quite inexpensive.

In this article we will highlight several cities and towns in Central Florida where home prices are below Zillow’s Florida Home Value Index. We will include a few more towns that are at or slightly higher, because they are exceptionally nice places to retire. Unless otherwise noted, home prices are from Zillow. See map below:

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Posted by Admin on July 18th, 2021

Florida Building Collapse Highlights Serious Challenges Facing Condo Boards

Category: Active adult communities

Note: We are once again grateful to Joe West of the Community Associations Network, LLC, for helping us research this topic.

July 10, 2021 — The collapse of Champlain Towers South near Miami, built in 1981, has made owners and buyers nervous. The dream of living near the ocean has been interrupted by the fear that some buildings might not be safe, and that owners’ investments could be in danger. It also highlights the problems that condo, community, and home owners associations (HOAs) face all around the country. Some 70% of homes and condos in Miami were built prior to 1970 – more than 50 years ago. Since then they have been exposed to all kinds of problems like those at Surfside – salt air and salt water incursions, rising water tables, aging concrete, and older building codes. The problems are worse along the coasts, but, like us baby boomers, even buildings far inland are not exempt from the vicissitudes of age. And who are the people who are going to have to deal with these expensive, highly technical problems – you and your condo board!

The causes of the Surfside collapse and the actions of its condo board members have been a staple of discussion in the news. The problems with the building were well known for a long time. After great struggles and almost a complete turnover of its board members, a $15 million plan was approved to correct water incursion and corrosion issues in the 167 unit building, although work had not started on it. Board members and residents fought over the expensive plan, which was going to represent a hardship for many owners. Some experts believe even those repairs might have too late, and still not have prevented the building’s collapse.

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Posted by Admin on July 9th, 2021

Medicare Advantage Overtakes Medigap Plans

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

July 7, 2021 — Not so long ago the two most common types of supplemental medical insurance for retirees were employer sponsored plans and Medigap insurance. Medical insurance for retirees is increasingly rare, with very large corporations and governments about the only employers providing it. Medigap plans, which cover additional expenses over and above their Part B (doctors and other medical) coverage insurance, are being eclipsed by the increasing popularity of Medicare Advantage plans (Part C). Run by insurance companies and funded by subsidies from the government, Medicare Advantage has doubled its enrollments in the past decade.

The main reasons for Medicare Advantage’s increased popularity are their low cost and extra coverages. According to kff.org, about 60% of Medicare Advantage enrollees pay no premiums, and another 34% pay less than $100/month. Advantage plans also usually offer a wide number of other coverages not available under Medigap policies. For example, about 3/4 of Advantage plans include vision, dental, fitness, over the counter drugs, and hearing benefits. Nearly all (90%) Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage.

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Posted by Admin on July 6th, 2021

Housing Market Rockets Along, When Will It End?

Category: Retirement Real Estate

July 3, 2021 — Existing home prices hit a record high in May at a median of $350,000, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). A shortage of inventory and building materials, low interest rates, flush and frustrated buyers, and pent-up demand are some of the reasons why. Everyone seems to have a tale to tell in this crazy, red hot market: houses that sell the same day they are listed, multiple competing bids, offers of $100,000 or $200,000 more than the asking price, even huge cash payments to walk away to allow the next buyer in line to get the property. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index for April confirmed the rising market, finding that prices rose at their fastest pace ever, an amazing 14.6% year over year.

So what’s next for sellers?

Baby boomers and retirees are more likely to benefit from this hot market than younger people, who are often first time buyers. That is because we usually have something to sell, and our homes are suddenly worth a lot more than they were 18 months ago. So if you are retired or about to retire, this might be the ideal time to step away from your existing home and move to one that is more conducive to your desired retirement lifestyle. You will most likely get top dollar when you sell – but what will your next move be? We were very interested in a new survey by Coldwell Banker conducted among all homeowners (not just retirees). It seemed to indicate that people are using the hot real estate market to dramatically change their living situation. Their survey found that about 20% of homeowners hope to sell their current home in the next year. Of those, about six out of ten plan on relocating to a different city or state. Does that describe you?

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Posted by Admin on July 2nd, 2021