May 22, 2021— More than three-quarters of baby boomers won’t move more than a few miles away from where they live now when they retire. This article will explore the case for sticking close to home in the next phase of your life.
There must be plenty of strong arguments for staying put, since so many of us do just that. Here are some of the major ones, along with ideas on how to make that decision work.
– Family. Staying close to children and close relatives is often the best reason for retiring where you live now. 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 loved ones without a long drive or plane flight will be a regular source of happiness. In the past Covid year, those extended families who lived near one another had a big advantage many others did not.
– Friends. No one wants to lose contact with their good friends. 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. Another issue with moving is the challenge of making 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, and it is harder for single people.
– Keeping your social network. 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 social 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. Or, you might worry about losing an enjoyable part-time job if you move.
– Intangibles and culture. You know the neighborhoods, the region, and the kind of people where you live now. 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 agitation.
– Moving hassles. We don’t know anybody who likes to move. It’s expensive and a horrible, drawn-out hassle. Moving or downsizing means selling, giving away, or throwing out much of what you have accumulated over a lifetime. So if you never move, there is a lot of stress that you won’t have to experience (but you will be leaving that mess to your heirs!).
– Cutting expenses. One of the reasons many people move to a new state is to lower expenses like taxes and housing costs. But if you like the area where you live now, it is still possible to do that without moving far. You don’t have to continue to live in the energy guzzling, oversized home where you raised your kids. Moving to a townhome, apartment, or smaller new home in the same or a nearby community could save you energy and maintenance costs. You might be able to make do with one car instead of two. 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. Although state income taxes can be a factor, most people don’t have a high enough income to pay more than a token amount. If you do earn enough to pay a lot, then you have to decide if taxes are more important than lifestyle!
– 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 more age appropriate community or building where maintenance is included is going to help you avoid hassles and expenses.
– Prepare for the next phase. Wherever you live, you need to prepare for the next phase of your retirement. 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. No one ever thinks it could happen to them, but a stroke or debilitating accident could happen at any time. Adapting your home so that it has universal design features will get you prepared for whatever shape you are in, without compromising your lifestyle. For example, eliminating steps and installing lower counters will let you stay where you are if you develop mobility problems, without expensive retrofitting or moving to a new place. Installing a first floor master bedroom is another way to future proof your home.
Another aspect of preparing for the future, and one that comes with advantages for staying local, is if you have an independent or assisted living facility, or a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) nearby. That way when the day comes that you can no longer live by yourself, you will have an escape valve that does not entail moving away from friends and family.
– Get near public transportation. If you are lucky enough to live a long life, the day will come when you can no longer drive. If you are lucky and currently live near public transportation, that is great. If not, try to find a new home in an area that has access to public transportation. That way you won’t feel trapped when you can no longer drive. Better yet, try to live in a neighborhood where you can walk or bike to the library, downtown, stores, etc.
– Think about the social aspect. We are social creatures. When you are thinking about a neighborhood, consider how easy it will be to have interactions with people on a daily basis. There might be enough fellow baby boomers where you live to make that possible, even sharing 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. The retirement village movement exists in many areas and offers many advantages.
– Go somewhere warm for a month. Florida, Arizona, and the Carolinas have many rental possibilities. If your budget allows it, you can stay in a nice place and ride out the worst of winter. It is a way to experience the best of both worlds.
If you ultimately decide to retire in the area where you live now that’s great – there are many good reasons to stay where you are. Just make sure it is a conscious decision, rather than just letting it happen.
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.