December 19, 2011 — While not every Topretirements member is interested in moving to a new place once they retire, most are at least open to the idea. That is why we have devoted so many resources to this question, particularly on factors like where to live and what should be considered in such a move. But, tempted as we might be by the lure of low taxes or sunnier skies, probably three-quarters of us won’t move more than a few miles away from our current home in retirement. This article will explore the case for sticking close to home in the next phase of your life.
Just as there are many good reasons for moving far from home, there are plenty of strong arguments for staying in the town or area where you live now. Here are some of the major ones:
– Family. In our book this our children and close relatives are always the best reason for choosing a retirement destination. The ties we have to family are usually what make us the happiest. Grandchildren, if we are fortunate enough to have any, are usually a great source of joy, but without all the work associated with raising our own children! So sticking close enough where you can see our kin without a long drive or plane flight will be a regular source of happiness.
– Friends. While not as powerful as family ties, your friends are not something you want to give up easily. Sure, you can come back and visit, or they can come to see you in your new location, but it just won’t be the same once you move away. More than that, there is the problem of making new friends in a new community. For some folks that’s easy, but for others it is not. Making friends in an active adult community is usually quite easy, but it can take time.
– Other social contacts. You might belong to a church and not want to give up the personal connections you have built up over many years. Likewise you might belong to a country club, or act as a volunteer in your community. Moving away from those connections could cause a sense of loss that only becomes apparent once you have moved away.
– Intangibles and culture. You know the neighborhoods and region you live in now. You know what the people are like. Uprooted, some people might not like what they see in a new community. Your new neighbors won’t have the same social and cultural customs and attitudes. They might be more or less liberal, conservative, or religious than your old contacts. You might not think they are as friendly as the folks where you live now. So staying close to home can help you avoid unnecessary change and agita.
– Moving hassles. We don’t know anybody who likes to move. It’s expensive and it is a horrible, drawn-out hassle. Once you have retired, downsizing usually means selling, giving away, or throwing out much of what you accumulated over a lifetime. So if you never move, there is a lot of stress that you won’t have to experience.
Strategies for optimizing your retirement – without moving far
So if you decide not to move far from where you live, what strategies should you take to maximize your happiness?
– Cut your costs. OK, so you are going to stay in the town or neighborhood where you live now. But that doesn’t mean you should continue to live in that energy guzzling, oversized home where you raised your kids. Moving to a townhome, apartment, or smaller new home could save energy and dollars. And, since property taxes are usually the biggest taxes anyone pays in retirement, when you downsize to a less expensive home you will save money on that expense too.
– Make life easier for yourself. Do you really want to be up on a ladder cleaning gutters when you are in your 80’s? Or replacing water heaters, roofs, furnaces, septic tanks, etc. when you are on a tight budget? Moving to a community or building where maintenance is included is going to help you avoid hassles and expenses.
– Prepare for the next phase. When you first retire you are probably most concerned with being active – travel, golf, hiking, or the like. With luck you will be in perfect health into your 80’s and 90’s, and continue to do the active things you love. But on the other hand, your knees might give out or you could have a stroke at any time. Living in a home with universal design features will get you prepared for whatever shape you are in, without compromising your lifestyle. For example, eliminating steps and putting counters lower will let you stay where you are if you develop mobility problems, without expensive retrofitting or moving to a new place. The same goes for a first floor master bedroom.
– Get near public transportation. If we are lucky enough to live a long life, the day will come when we can no longer drive. So if you plan ahead and move to a place that has access to public transportation you will still be able to get out and about. Better yet, try to live in a neighborhood where you can walk to the library, downtown, stores, etc.
– Think about the social aspect. We are social creatures. When you are thinking about a neighborhood, consider how you are going to interact with people on a daily basis. There might be enough fellow baby boomers where you live to create your own retirement neighborhood. You can share services with your neighbors. Or, you can move to an apartment or condo building where your neighbors are close and daily social interactions are easy.
– Go somewhere warm for a month. Florida, Arizona, and the Carolinas have all kinds of rental deals in the current distressed market. For less than $1000 a month you can stay in a nice place and ride out the worst of winter. It’s almost as cheap as staying home, so why not experience the best of both worlds by renting.
What do you think? Are you planning on staying near where you live now? What strategies are you going to take to make that work financially and to recognize you might not always be as healthy or active as you are now? Please use the Comments section below to let us know.