September 30, 2013 — In our previous surveys we’ve seen considerable support for the idea of retiring near your children, grandchildren, and/or other family members. But we’ve also heard the opposite opinion from folks whose dreams head them in another direction. This week we would like to explore retiring near family vs. not so near in greater depth. We’ll present results from our past surveys on this issue. And since we found so many relevant and interesting comments in those surveys, those insights will be a big part of the article.
A Complicated Picture
Retiring near family can mean many things, not just being close to your grown children and grandchildren. Depending on your situation. It might mean having an adult child living in your home. Or it might entail taking care of an elderly parent. Sometimes it’s not that easy, as seen by the 1 in 7 baby boomers who are “sandwiched” – providing financial support to both one of their children and their parents.
We considered creating a new survey on this question. But after thinking about it we came to the conclusion that it would be a lot more interesting to have you post your experiences and opinions directly in the Comments section at the end of this article. We think that might generate the most discussion, plus make it easy for everyone to see all, rather than a sampling, of the Comments. Please contribute by sharing your thoughts below.
Lets start by listing some of the usual pros and cons about living near your family in retirement.
Pros of Retiring Near Family
– The chance to see and be part of the lives of your grandchildren as they grow up
– Ability to help new parents as they juggle careers and child-rearing
– The chance to see your family members often
– A built-in social network
– Support for your parents or siblings as they age or need help
– Support for children who need it
– Support for you as you age
– Sometimes you can be too close. With some families a bit of distance is better than none
– Adult children with careers can move a lot. That means you probably have to move too
– Your children or family might not live in a geographically desirable area. As in, you wanted Sunbelt, you get Nebraska
– You might feel taken advantage of as the default baby sitter or care-giver
– Among retired couples, one member might want to be near the kids, but the other prefers another dream
– Sometimes elderly parents can be a burden, especially if they won’t take steps to help themselves, or other siblings don’t help out.
What our previous research says
Although we’ve heard a lot of discussion in favor of living near family in retirement, it does not appear to be the most important factor people use when they determine where to live.
When we asked members in a previous survey to rate their most important criteria for choosing a place to retire, “moving close to family” was rated 5th: it followed “finding an active community”, “warm weather location”, “low-tax environment”, and “area that lets me pursue activities and hobbies”.
When we surveyed members on the best and worst things about their retirements the results were interesting, and a bit contradictory. “Not moving near friends/family” was the 2nd highest “worst” thing about their retirement, but “Moving near friends/family” was one of the lowest rated “best” things about retirement.
Moving near family did not appear to be a problem issue in our retirement survey on spousal compatibility – it was one of the least problematic areas for couples (and, oddly enough, it was also rated very low when it came to areas of greatest compatibility).
Likes about living near family
We were surprised when reviewing comments in a recent survey to see more negative comments about living close than there were positive ones. (Comments from different survey respondents are separated by _____.)
Being near our grandchildren is important
We decided on Florida near my parents since they are getting older, my brothers will never retire to Florida, and they can help us too. We found a great condo in a wonderful resort community with great amenities and a full clubhouse. Lots of free stuff, low fees, low taxes, and nice neighbors. We couldn’t be happier. In fact, my cousin’s friend is moving in next week so perhaps more of the family will follow.
We initially thought AZ would be where we would like to retire but my daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer last year causing us both to reassess how far away from our daughter’s we felt comfortable moving too. We both now agree that we would prefer to retire in an active adult community within an 8 hour drive of our daughter’s and families living in IL
Being able to visit the granchildren often is a consideration for both of us and we will work out the best way to make that happen as we hit the road.
Initially, we thought we’d move between our two grown children even purchasing a lot to build on. Now we’d be in the middle (8 hours in each direction). We found a beautiful piece of land which seemed to be a perfect compromise for the both of us. It was in a neighborhood and close to shops for me but the lot was large enough to allow him his peace and quiet and to garden on a couple of acres. We were thrilled – at least for a few months.
Then I began to have second thoughts realizing we might be in between our family but now we have no one close by! I’ll never drive eight hours by my self (I hate flying now with all the craziness) to see the kids. How did we miss that major fact? I’m miserable at the thought, and my husband is frustrated having purchased land in a state I now don’t want to live in.
Staying close to grandchilden or not is the hardest (issue) to reconcile
We moved 435 miles from our families, including children/grandchildren. That was the most difficult as is the many trips we make to see everyone. Although we miss being part of the everyday lives of those we love, our time is more precious when we spend extended time there or they visit us
Dislikes/Concerns about Being Close
There is no way to predict where your kids will wind up long term. Today it is relatively rare for professionals to stay in one job very long, often transferring from state to state. Particularly when younger, this is often how professionals move up in their career and pay more quickly.
Moved to live near extended family (I have no children or immediate family left) and discovered that I don’t see them that much anyway. And it has cost me in much higher taxes, so I’m going to move back west!
We don’t live near our grandchildren now, but where we plan to move is even further. I have some guilt about not moving closer to where they are, but they are unstable and we could move closer to where they are only to find out that they are moving somewhere else. My spouse thinks we have to do what is best for us and see the grandkids when we can.
Our children think I’m available to meet their needs – for babysitting the grandchildren, for shopping, for running errands for them, etc. I’m far too busy! I didn’t quit my paying job to take on a non-paying one!
Our children are both successful and with their own families.
My wife however will not consider moving and it is a fight just to get her to travel. I am like an afterthought and her life circles around the grandchildren and watching TV.
Considerations other than grandchildren
– Several people mentioned that spending more time with their spouse was the most important thing, not friends and family
– Taking care of a special needs child
– Caring for elderly parents who refuse to leave their home. We’re stuck!
– Kids still living at home, younger spouse still tied to working, need to care for elderly parent
– Our concern involves a high functioning but still dependent adult child with cognitive deficits.
Advice and Considerations
Begin early to discuss a long distance move from your grown children so they have plenty of time to get used to the idea
The hardest issue to reconcile is your own needs regarding location vs. friends/family desires to have you closer to them
Comments. The decision to live near family is clearly a difficult one. Please share your thoughts, ideas, experiences, hopes and plans when it comes to living near – or not so near your family. Use the Comments section below – we know we’ll get a lot of good ones!
For further reading:
See out other member surveys on spousal compatibility, downsizing, where to live, and more.