April 21 – You know there is a movement afoot when both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times offer up features on retirement communities during the same weekend.
The Journal’s article was excerpted from a book by Andrew Blechman called “Leisureville: Adventures in America’s Retirement Utopias“. In it Mr. Blechman wonders why a couple that he is friends with have decided to move to The Villages, the giant active adult community of 75,000 souls near Ocala, Florida. He describes in great detail what The Villages is all about – endless activity at a reasonable price in pretty good weather. In our opinion
he somewhat condescending toward The Villages, and a bit incredulous that his friends, Dave and Betsy Anderson, would really like such a place. Mostly, he seems saddened that they are leaving his northeastern town which needs good citizens and neighbors like his friends. Sadly enough, the situation laid out by Mr. Blechman will no doubt be played out millions of times in the years to come, as northerners desert their long term communities for a place in the sun. Churches, charities, and community infrastructure will be collateral damage as baby boomers migrate south.
Today’s Times offered up a collection of articles on various retirement topics. “Overseas, A Changing Equation” highlights the problems facing American’s who hope to retire overseas. The first and biggest problem is the almighty dollar, which has been more than a bit humbled lately. So forget about a European retirement, the dollar is worth 50% less than now than a decade ago. Even places like Costa Rica have gotten more expensive. Panama, which pegs its currency to the dollar, is popular for that reason. Other experts give the standard (and often ignored) advice that retiring abroad is a decision that should not be taken lightly. As John McCann said in the article: “If you’re not prepared to spend years researching different countries, you’re not ready to retire overseas.”
Another Times article profiles the experiences of people like Joan and Bob Johnson, who moved to downtown Portland, Oregon from a smaller city. They just loved the vibrant atmosphere, great medical care, and impromptu range of cultural opportunities. The urban experience does not come without its share of surprises, however, like crime and rundown neighborhoods. Several retirees in the article were using a strategy of buying/renting in a transitional neighborhood as a way of living in an interesting part of the downtown without going off the cost scale.
The Times special Retirement Section also had interesting articles on making your money last, what to call yourself in retirement (not retired!), internships for baby boomers, and, in the cover piece, what companies are doing to retain their valued baby boomer retirees.