September 23, 2014 — We recently had a suggestion from Charlene, who wrote that she “…would love to see some comments about people who have retired in place, why they made that decision, and how they are handling retirement without moving”. We think that is a great suggestion, so this article is part 3 of a series on that subject. Part 1 profiled “The Snowbirding Innkeepers“, while Part 2 took a look at the busy lives of a “Jane and Jack: Staying in Place and Very Busy”.
Rather than focus on just a few people, this article takes a different approach. To write it we searched through various comments from folks who decided to stay were they lived before they retired, and not move in retirement. To make it more complete though, we need your stories. Please use the Comments feature at the end of the article to tell us all how you are handling the “stay in place” retirement!
A few of Topretirements’s earlier surveys provide some background on this issue, chiefly the “Selling Your Home and Retirement and Preparation” survey from July 2013 (see end of article for links). Here are some of the key findings:
– 69% of our respondents “definitely” or are “likely” to move to a new home in retirement.
– Just about the same percentage is either thinking about selling their pre-retirement home, or has already sold it
– Just under 3/4 of respondents plan on moving out of state
In this regard we think the Topretirements membership is primarily made up of people who intend to move in retirement. That is a big reason why they visit this site. The general retirement age population is probably the opposite – the vast majority of them intend to retire in place, or at least near where they live now.
People who intend to retire in place tend to share many common attitudes or characteristics:
– They love their home and don’t want to move
– Many are strapped for resources – for them moving seems to be unachievable.
– There is another subset on the opposite side of that spectrum – they have enough resources to continue to live in a home that is more than they really need
– Many others who retain their pre-retirement homes are affluent or creative enough to be snow birds. They have an existing home that they love, but they get away for part of the year, usually to a warmer climate for the winter
– Many others have already moved to a retirement friendly home. They definitely don’t want to move again
– Most recognize that it will be their health or physical abilities that push them out of their homes
– In our opinion the happiest people who retire in place stay busy with volunteer work, part-time jobs, or hobbies – which is probably a lot easier to do in a place where they have always lived
– Part of the secret to a successful aging in place strategy is the infrastructure of the community you live in. If there is a cooperative Village movement, good public transportation system, and a strong senior program you have a much better chance of having a happy retirement living in your existing home.
When we profiled Jane and Jack (Part 2) we found that this couple stayed in place after moving to a couple of different condos in the New Haven area. They belong to and participate in the Shoreline Village, an aging in place (Village) initiative. Jane stays busy as a successful potter and crossword puzzle addict. Jack follows many sports teams, loves the opera, and until recently was a ranked tennis player in the over 80 age group. They travel to several timeshares they own for a few weeks at a time, including one in NYC. They are doing a great job of aging in place.
Kelly and Demaris have a working retirement on the shores of Lake Erie (Part 1). They run an inn in good weather and travel south in their RV during part of the winter. They also spend time playing tennis, reading, and enjoying their grand children.
Our friend John is another example of a successful retirement in place. Long retired, he has a small bike repair shop out of his garage, repairs bikes for charity sales, and has worked for some town conservation organizations. His wife Barbara works part-time as an office receptionist, while also helping to care for their granddaughters.
A walk around the neighborhood
A walk around your editor’s small town neighborhood is instructive, because there are any number of retired in place people living in it. One or two homes show absolutely no signs of life. No car in the driveway, no paper delivered, no sitings, no visitors – and we never see the person(s) that lives there. We can only think their’s is a very lonely, isolated existence.
But others seem to have richer lives. Some seem happy to have an adult child living with them, while others are out working around the house or talking with the neighbors. Many are busy volunteering, working on town committees, in civic clubs, and/or with a wide circle of friends. They strike us as very happy with their decision to retire in place – even in Connecticut with its high taxes and cold winters.
At least think about the future
Living in your existing home might be the happiest place for you – we know it is for many. But before you irrevocably commit to that lifestyle consider for a moment that fact that you won’t be in your 60s and 70s forever, if you are lucky. At some point your house might just be too much for you, particularly for the day you live there alone. It’s better to plan for that day in advance, rather than to suddenly having to pull up stakes and move to a place or facility where you know no one.
Comments from our survey takers
We have copied selections from some Topretirements survey takers who commented about why they have chosen to retire in place. Here are many of their actual comments, which give a good reflection of the complexity of this decision:
What to do, what to do? Stay here until we’re close to or actually in our 70s because our parents will continue to need us nearby? Hardly palatable. Leave the area and let them fend for themselves? Eek. Not a good solution either.
In all probability, no matter how much we look around, we will be living in our current, single story, small, efficient ranch home until we can no longer care for ourselves. Reasons for this are financial and we have already updated, renovated the house to our liking and don’t want to have to redo at our age.
This will be my last move (Ed. note: there were very many comments just like this)
Who knows what’s around the next corner. Health could deteriorate, spouse could die or become ill, anything could make a change preferable.
I love my house. We’re very centrally located to services that we’ll need as we age. We would only move if the neighborhood became dangerous.
My house is paid for. It is less than 10 years old. I am within 10 miles of a major entertainment, restaurant, casino, water activity area. Cost of living is cheap. It is single story and very efficient energy-wise. Could have better local medical is only real drawback.
We haven’t made the choice yet, but once we do we’ll stay there for the rest of our lives (barring needing to live in a nursing home).
Friends and family live close. We love our friends and family and do not want to leave.
We’re hoping to be able to live on our farm and winter in Florida for many, many years after we retire but only God knows the likelihood of that outcome.
Staying in our current home, using time shares, and doing home maintenance(snow, lawn,etc.)is our approach for now. I am sure as we age together, we will modify our approach accordingly. Downsizing and paying HOA fees is not attractive to us right now. I happen to enjoy doing home maintenance but when home maintenance becomes problemmatic, I will look into contracting for those services myself. Plus the housing market in not profitable or positive to buy and sell right now. I enjoyed reading about others who have decided to stay in place and extend their current lifestyles while enjoying existing friends. I also agree that there are many, many places to see and rent accommodations for desired periods of time in the US and in safe foreign countries.
Now that I am alone, I read all these posts about people moving here and there. I am stuck now, I suppose. Where would I move now without my husband when I would have to make new friends, find new doctors, basically start over again by myself. I am still working, and even though I really wanted something smaller and more maintainable, I am thinking that I probably will stay where I am. Cannot afford these expensive condos in my area, and the maintenance costs are just about what I pay for taxes. Sometimes we run out of options and have to stay put. All these places that people talk about, though, sound great…..with a partner.
As you can see from these comments, the decision to stay where you are can be just as complicated as the one to move to a new location. You have to evaluate what is important to you, thinking about the short term and what could happen in the long term. Good luck – we know that with some good planning you will make a smart decision!
For further reading
Staying in Place and Very Busy
Is Retiring Near Your Family a Good Idea?
Members Getting Ready for Big Retirement Moves
Is Your Town Ready for Your Retirement (Aging in Place)
It Takes a Virtual Village to Stay in Your Home
The Case for Staying Right Where You Are
We need your stories to make this an even better article. Please use the Comments feature at the end of the article to tell us all how you are handling the “stay in place” retirement! Are you staying – or are you moving? We are particularly interested in comments from folks who stayed in place and are happy with that decision.