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How to Keep in Touch with Children Once You’ve Retired

Category: General Retirement Issues

September 5, 2010 – We recently had this thought-provoking question from one of our members: “Boomers are usually really close to their children So if you move to a different town or a different part of the country, how do you stay in touch? How do you accommodate your children when they visit? What do people do who move away from where everyone else lives? Thanks, Eileen”.

We wrote back to Eileen and asked if she had any ideas about how to answer the question herself. s She graciously responded with this very thoughtful piece, which does a fine job of touching on the major isssues. We also took the liberty of adding on to the article with some of our own ideas at the end. We encourage you to do the same in our Comments section. Thanks Eileen!

I’m hypothetical about this question, rather than having any direct experience yet. I’m jittery about moving away from the area where I know my children will settle/stay.

We’re mid-50s with two 20-something children, who are not married yet. I know there are hundreds like us – including most of our friends.

We all want to look at neat places to go when we stop work, and many of us are far along on our way to saving for that. The hesitation is: Great, now how do we see our kids?

Do we make sure we get a property where the whole clan (sons-in-law, grandchildren, significant others) can come? And if so, how do we find such a place?

I think we’re talking now about a specific age group, the 50 somethings who aren’t necessarily going to work straight through to traditional retirement at 65. But who are going to gear down and maybe make arrangements to spend larger parts of the year in semi-retirement – often far from their original home base. (We, for instance, are looking at South Carolina coast, Hilton Head).

So I was just interested in knowing if there are others like us. For example, do some of these places have guest suites if your condo or bungalow only has 2 bedrooms?

Or do families go off on cruise or resort vacations together instead of trying to act as hosts in inadequate or inappropriate retirement homes?

I honestly think it’s a fairly big topic, but probably only for the 50 to 60 age group like us.

I don’t know, maybe you could just watch for info on it?

I really love your site and I think you do a fantastic job of informing and engaging all of us. Thanks. Eileen.

Some comments from Topretirements about how to keep in touch with children once you have retired:
– #1, being able to visit with children and grandchildren is often the #1 criteria for a happy retirement choice. We’ve seen too many folks choose a place too far from family (and friends), only to move closer later.

– Sometimes you can be too close. If you are, you might need some rules for engagement

– Some of our friends have found a happy solution. Their kids and grandkids live in New England, they live in Florida. But they picked a resort community that is very appealing. Result: kids love to come down for extended visits.

– Family cruises are a great way to get the whole family together. Finding the right time can be an issue, but if is appealing enough you will probably get lots of takers. However, you might have to pick up all or most of the tab.

– Video cameras and Skype connect lots of families. It’s almost as good as being there.

– Try renting a place for a season. See how it goes living far apart from the rest of your family. Also, will you visit them and vice versa.

– Eileen’s question about how to accommodate a crowd is a good one. Some big communities do have guest rooms or even rental units for that purpose. But as long as the area you choose has some hotels, you will be able to entertain a big crowd – even if you live in a 2 bedroom condo.

For Further Reference:
I Married You for Life – But Not for Lunch

What do you think?
Please share your experiences, fears, and hopes in the Comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on September 5th, 2010


  1. Yes, you’re right… keeping in touch with the kids is a very important topic for retirees. In our case (Wendy and I are in Oregon and the boys are in California), we drive down for a visit about once each three to four months. And the boys come up to see us about once each year or year and a half. A phone call about once each week, plus e-mails maybe twice a week… more or less. We’re pleased that both of the boys will seek our input on important decisions. Bill

    by Bill Birnbaum — September 6, 2010

  2. 😎 Dear John, As it happens, my husband and I are wresting with the very same question about how to keep in touch with our son during retirement. We lived on the East Coast, but he went to school in Colorado, fell in love with a girl from San Francisco, and followed her there. They didn’t work out, but San Francisco did, and now, eleven years later, he is happily ensconced in his new home town.

    We thought we’d solved the issue when we bought our motor coach. We could be on the West Coast for the holidays and the East Coast for summers with family and friends. In between, we could see the country, and coincidentally, be done with taxes and lawn maintenance, since we’d sold our big costly house.

    Now our young man has fallen in love again, this time with a girl from the West Coast (of course) and will most likely settle there. Meanwhile, we’re getting the itch for a garden, and a kitchen with more than three pots, and a basement to store the junk in, and a washing machine that fits more than one shirt, so we’ve started to look for a landed abode, and we find we’re facing the same conundrum we did two-plus years ago! Where to buy?

    If we go to the West, we’ll rarely if ever see our East Coast friends, and yet, if there are babies, and if I have anything to say about it, there will be, then we most assuredly will want to be close by, and not just at Christmas.

    We had thought about Florida, because we have many friends there, and because the depressed housing market will allow us to keep our motor coach and buy a home too. But will Florida be close enough, and convenient enough for friends, family and grandchildren? It’s a puzzle, and we haven’t solved it yet. Although I do know that airfares to places like Orlando are always agreeable, and if we lived close to Mickey, we’d get child-type company for sure.

    We did look in Tennessee, a beautiful, affordable state, but the place we saw was six miles from a coal-ash dump site, so we got back in the bus and headed away. Maybe not.

    If the Bay Area of California were in any way reasonable, I think we’d take a condo or something small and set up shop, but it appears to be New York-ish in price. Truth is, if it comes to a wedding, and the spawn of such a union, we will probably sell the bus and head West, the carefree live of travel be damned. We’ll get something, somewhere, and plan on babysitting at least one day a week. Oh yes, and seeing our son. That too.

    And then, without a doubt, that’s when our son will move East. I’m told it’s inevitable. 😆

    Best regards,

    by Betty Fitterman — September 8, 2010

  3. We are 62 & 64 and planning on retiring fully within the next 4 years. Our grandkids are part of a military family in Ft Bragg (and will stay there for sure). We have been a big part their and our kids’ lives and would like to remain so. We are struggling with where to go as well. We know we want out of Charlotte NC area and have begun to look at locations in SC that are close to I-95 access, but we also know that financially we could be better off in Florida – a state we both like. Our only problem with Florida is that we’d probably have to limit visits with the family to 3-4 times a year, instead of monthly as we do now. We keep vacillating and have not yet made any decisions. At some point in the next few years we have to decide for certain.

    by Genie — September 8, 2010

  4. With the transitory nature of so many jobs nowadays, there is no guarantee, even if you move close to the kids, that they will stay there. That being said, family is VERY important and it must be especially nice to be close to at least one of your children. That’s why we’ve decided to buy two places–one near our daughter (it is more likely she will stay in the area) in Wisconsin for the warmer months of the year, and another place for winter. Our son, who is currently living in California, will most likely move at some point; otherwise, we would probably choose California for our winter home in spite of the cost of living. What to do?? Buy in California and hope they’ll stay put, or find a place that is more affordable elsewhere?

    by Barbara Prust — September 8, 2010

  5. follow your heart and you will never regret your move..

    by Linda Rock — September 9, 2010

  6. The kids grow up, the grandchildren become totally engaged in school and activities and you are constantly disappointed, so that said, go where you wanna be and enjoy your retirement and get involved in new activities.

    by Janet Norris — September 10, 2010

  7. We have decided to move near our daughter especially since she just presented us with grandchild #3. While we realize the kids grow up, it will be nice to enjoy them while they are still young enough to like being around us too. By the time they are old enough not to want to be around us so much, we will be old enough not to care!

    by Betty Pawlowicz — September 12, 2010

  8. Contact is very important but consider my situation. 3 children and 3 step children scattered over the globe.

    We live in South Africa with 2 children in the US and 1 in London, with 2 grandchildren. My step children are in Dubai, London and South Africa.

    We manage to see most of them at least once a year and try to have a quality holiday together every second year. If it doesn’t work out with all of them … then so be it.

    We speak to our grandchildren every weekend on Skype and although it’s probably quite boring for them it enables us to maintain a close relationship. With the rest of the children the communication frequency (usually by phone) varies but everyone seems okay with what is.

    Like most things in life – you just have to make the best of it!

    by Patrick Millerd — September 15, 2010

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