Note: This is the 3rd in a 3 article series about baby boomers and their retirement real estate plans. Part 1 featured the differences (and similarities) of boomers’ retirement housing preferences and the homes builders are building. Part 2 explored the conflict between baby boomer desire to retire in suburbia vs. reality.
What kind of retirement lifestyle is best for you?
Some visitors will recognize a few similarities to these questions and those in our free “Baby Boomers Guide to Selecting a Retirement Community“. Our goal with this article is to provide thought-provoking questions any self-respecting boomer should ask herself before deciding where and how to live in retirement.
1. Are you willing to move far away in retirement? Recognize that might mean starting over again with friends, and not seeing children and grandchildren as often as you do now. This issue is one of the most frequent causes of unfortunate retirement location decisions.
2. Can you afford to retire where you live now? Are your property taxes, insurance payments, and maintenance expenses going to be affordable on your retirement budget? Should you consider downsizing to save money and work?
3. Is warm weather important to you in the wintertime? Just how warm – would it be OK to have an occasional cold day in the 30’s or 40’s, or do you want at least 60’s every day? If the former is OK, there are lots of places in the Carolinas, west, and south. If it’s the latter, better head to South Florida.
4. Are you passionate about some activity, sport, or culture? If golf, tennis, or boating are extremely important you should probably consider an active adult community that has those activities. If culture is critical to you, better head for a college town or at least a medium sized city.
5. Do you like meeting people, but aren’t necessarily good at it? If that describes you, you should consider an active adult or 55+ community. In these communities it is so easy to meet people you almost have to try not to have a full social life.
6. Are you willing to try living in a new culture? If not, forget about moving to the south if you are from the northeast. Ditto moving to Mexico, or South America. No matter how cheap the lifestyle might be, you will not be happy.
7. Have you really thought through the idea of retiring in the suburbs where you live in now? It might be tempting to say you don’t want to move, but think about these factors: maintenance; taxes; driving miles to get to a store, doctor, or pharmacist. Imagine yourself in your 80’s living in your current house – who is going to maintain it, and what will happen when your doctor tells you to stop driving? The experts predict that residential density is the wave of the future – critical for transportation, energy efficiency, and an improved social life.
8. What is your plan for the long term? If we are lucky enough, youwill live into old age. If you live long enough, you won’t be able to take care of yourself. Long term care insurance is one way to plan for that eventuality, and you can either buy it or self-insure. But when the day comes that you need it, you better be ready. Many forward thinking people have a plan that includes living in a CCRC – Continuing Care Retirement Community- by a certain age. That way when they might need assisted living or nursing care, they can get in, and it’s paid for.
9. Have you thought about a 2 part retirement? Most people in their 50’s or 60’s probably wouldn’t like living in a CCRC – now. That being the case, you might be smart to consider a 2 part retirement (young retirehood in a 55+ or conventional community, then moving to a CCRC or independent living). You could make that a lot easier by making your first move to an active adult community that has these options as part of its campus, or has those type of facilities in the vicinity. That way your 2nd move, when you won’t be that young, will be a lot less traumatic.
10. Have you listed your priorities for the features that must be in your baby boomer retirement home? Here is what is on our list: universal design, door handles (not knobs), accessible counters, wide hallways, minimal steps, 1st floor master bedroom, no/low maintenance, public transportation nearby, walk/bike/golf cart to stores and doctors. List your must-haves, and don’t settle for less.
11. Before you buy, how about renting? We hear this time and again – I wish I would have rented first – then I would have known (fill in problem).
Take a moment with your significant other to discuss these questions (and feel free to add others in the Comments section below). Are you both in agreement on these issues, and have you come up with a plan? In our opinion, the mere act of discussing these issues could help lead you to a more interesting and enjoyable retirement.