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Avoid These 6 Retirement-Wrecking Mistakes

Category: Retirement Planning

August 5, 2014 – Note, this is the 3rd article in our series on how to avoid wrecking your retirement. The first 2 articles can be found in “Further Reading” below.

Retirement is hard enough without making a self-inflicted, hard to recover from mistake. To help you avoid that trauma we have searched through comments to our previous retirement surveys and the general literature for the items that retirees tend to cite as the most serious errors they made. If you have ideas on the kinds of things to avoid, please share your ideas in the Comments section below.

1. Don’t build a dream house. There were several laments in one of our previous surveys from members who found it all too easy to get into building or buying a retirement dream house that got out of control. Only too late did they realize that what they were building was too big for the reality of their retirement. Too big means hard to maintain, heat/cool, and pay taxes on. It might not be set up with enough Universal Design features like one-floor living, no steps, accessible counters, door levers instead of handles, ability to add an elevator, etc. Children or grandchildren don’t come to stay as often as you thought they might, so don’t buy for them. Think about a house with at most 3 bedrooms, with one of those set up as an office. Or better yet, have an office that easily converts to the 2nd bedroom. Use the money you save to take the kids on a cruise. Just for fun, buy or rent the movie, “Tiny, A Story about Living Small“, on Netflix. It’s about the popular movement to very tiny (just over 100 to 300 sq.ft.) houses. While they are probably not for most people over 60, it does show you why you don’t need as much as you think.

2. Don’t retire too soon. We’ve learned that way too many folks can’t wait to step into retirement, only to realize they miss work. If work is really important to you and you enjoy your job, why should you stop? If you truly hate your job or your boss, make a career shift instead.

Others find they don’t miss the job so much, but don’t have enough money to enjoy a comfortable retirement. The advice we hear is to postpone your retirement as long as you can – it will give you more time to save more money and build your Social Security benefits – which will give you more money to enjoy in your retirement.

3. Don’t fail to do any retirement planning before you retire. Sure, it seems like a lot to ask to concentrate on retirement planning while you are still working and have so many irons in the fire. But taken in small doses, you can accomplish important spade work that can improve your future retirement happiness. Here are 2 things that are easy to do along that line. First, take the quizzes in our Free Baby Boomer Guide eBook. We’ve had tremendously positive feedback from members who have used them as a starting point to tease out their own retirement priorities, as well as discuss them with their spouse or significant other. Second, devote a fraction of your existing vacation, weekend, and business trips for retirement scouting. Every time you travel, investigate the towns on your route as a potential “best place to retire”. Look around, ask people questions, take a tour through any active adult communities that might be in the area. Take notes, and even consider a plus and minus spread sheet you can refer back to.

4. Don’t put your adult children ahead of your retirement needs. You’ve probably made a lot of sacrifices for your children, including putting them through college. They might or might not have turned out as successful as you had hoped, but now your retirement security is more important. Don’t cosign on a loan that jeopardizes your financial future. Don’t give them gifts or loans that are more than you can afford. If you don’t save everything you can now it might mean you have to struggle on a poverty level Social Security benefit. It might be difficult to draw the line, but if you don’t take care of yourself now, no one else is going to.

5. Don’t buy before you live there. We hear this so often – “If I had just lived there for a while I would have realized….” Sure it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a community that seems to meet your every need and desire. But once the reality of living there comes, it might be too late to realize that it’s too far to drive for a quart of milk, that your neighbors have political views very different from yours, that the nearest town doesn’t have the amenities you wish it had, or that the medical resources are scant and far away. It can be difficult, but not impossible to live in a place before you buy. But if you can’t, make multiple visits, read local newspapers online, interview your neighbors and friend who might live there already, and at least take a “Stay and Play” package. Otherwise it is just too risky.

6. Don’t neglect your health. You’ve heard the expression, if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything. Sometimes it takes a bad accident or sudden heart attack to realize that. But your retirement dreams can go out the window in a second with the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, or a medical condition that proscribes the activities you want to do. Not to mention the extra expense and hassle that dealing with the condition entails. So for goodness sake, protect your health. Go to the doctor and get the examinations and preventative tests you should. Follow a regular exercise program that your health permits. Cut down your risks: lose the extra weight, stop the smoking, keep drinking within the recommended limits. And we hope that translates into a long and happy retirement for you!

For further reading:
10 Worst Retirement Mistakes
10 Retirement Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make
Checklists for the Retiring Baby Boomer
Now You’re 65: 10 Things You Need to Know
Best and Worst Things About Retirement: A Topretirements Survey Report

Comments? What do you think is the worst mistake you can make in retirement? If you are retired, were the things you worried about before you retired the same problems you actually experienced once you did retire? Please share your experiences in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on August 4th, 2014


  1. This looks like good advice to me!! I have been reminding myself of these things every day!!

    by Kathy — August 6, 2014

  2. Well done! All things we’ve been thinking but the reminders are very important. The hardest one is how to really know a place before committing to that area if you can’t/won’t rent first. Internet research is great but you absolutely must! put eyes-on (and take off any preconceived blinders) before actually making a commitment. We just looked at a place while on a business trip, and while it looked fabulous online and in theory, the fact was that the nearest decent shopping was over the river and through the woods away! Fine if that’s what you want, but it isn’t for us.

    by Susan — August 6, 2014

  3. Getting older is filled with extreme examples of life’s possiblities. My 57 year old friend, Roger, is in an ICU unit right now waiting to die this week of cancer. He was the CFO of his corp.,athletic, tall, handsome and very outgoing. The possibilty of his early demise was the farthest thing from anyone’s mind.

    Lesson: Make decisions as if tomorrow is not guaranteed. be wise, be balanced and throw in some serendipity!

    by Michael — August 6, 2014

  4. This was some of the best advice I’ve read so far. My husband is terminally ill with cancer and I am preparing to sell my present home due to its size and find a tax-friendly place to retire. Although I am 64 years old, I still work part-time as a pharmacy technician. I never thought about being in this situation. This has been a very tough time for me because my retirement will not include my spouse. I would like to explore communities where I could make new friends, as I will be alone. All of my family are gone.

    by Joanne — August 6, 2014

  5. Joanne: My sympathy. I know how excruciatingly hard this is, since I’ve been in your shoes. My husband passed when I was 61, after a difficult illness. It’s awful enough to lose your spouse and dreams of a retirement together, but combined with selling/moving the stresses are even more overwhelming. Every time a piece of our lives together went out the door as I downsized and prepared to move, the grief was fresh. If you’re able to give yourself any extra time, it might be a little easier. I am not in a 55+ community yet, but it appears that there are women who choose those communities because of the potential for building a support group of women-friends. Just wanted to let you know – you won’t ever be alone. There are many of us in the sad club of people in their 60s who have already lost their spouses, and who are building new networks of friends in retirement. We’ll all find each other and hopefully the next phase of our lives will also bring us satisfaction, peace and some happiness.

    by Sharon — August 7, 2014

  6. Also, check the driver license requirements of the state you are considering. Some are very specific and stringent for older individuals (78-80+ years); you don’t want to move and then find you cannot get a driver’s license in that state.

    by Dorothy Pfeffer — August 7, 2014

  7. Thank you, Sharon and Dorothy, for your very helpful comments. I do intend on finding an active adult community. So far, I have narrowed it down to Delaware or Arizona. I lived in an over 55 community in Arizona when my previous husband passed away from colon cancer, so I am going through this a second time. I thought it would be best moving back to where I grew up, but I knew immediately that it was a mistake. When I met and married my present husband, I was finally pleased with my decision–now this. People have told me not to make any major financial decisions or major moves for at least 12 months. It will probably take me that long to get my house ready to sell. We have upgraded our home almost to the point where I know that I will be taking a bath when it is sold. This saddens me as well. I will take your advice, Sharon, and give myself some extra time once the end comes. Now that I am getting older, I want to be near good medical facilities, which I am now. Can’t wait until I’m on Medicare!!

    by Joanne — August 7, 2014

  8. Could someone please send some of there thoughts on Del Webb Orlando

    by Artie — August 8, 2014

  9. Beware of neighbor recommendations when looking at a 55+ community. We recently sold an almost 5 year old house and feel lucky to be out of the community. We felt the construction was subpar and the ‘builder’ refused to fix most of the items on our initial walk through list. Within a few months we figured out that besides the poor construction of our houses, the amenities that would be deeded to the condo association were also poorly constructed. However, our neighbors were very willing to tell potential buyers about what a wonderful community it was. They were receiving money from the builder for any house purchased. When we asked why they would lie to people, we were told that the sooner the community sold out, the sooner the builder would be gone. The neighbors thought that once they were in control they could make things better. Some neighbors formed committees to really look at the future liabilities. The roads alone will cost more than $1 million for maintenance and repairs over the next 10-15 years. We knew from the start the monthly dues needed to go up, but even if they go up $100 a month, it will not be enough for everything that will become the homeowner associations responsibility.

    by Sue — August 8, 2014

  10. I thought the above six points was sage advice, especially the point about adult children. Too many people who are thinking about retiring don’t put themselves first and wind up getting bogged down in all sorts of drama and financial problems brought about by adult children. You worked hard to get where you are, you deserve better calmer life when you retire. The second point I’d like to address is one of the comments by Joanne. I live in a Del Webb/Pulte community in North Carolina. It is an “active adult” (meaning 55 and over) community. I would highly recommend this lifestyle for single people. There are any number of widows and widowers who are able to build new friendships and support networks within the community. There are many clubs and activities that make this very easy. If I were to pass away tomorrow, I would be confident that my wife would have the support network she needs.

    by Artie Schwartz — August 8, 2014

  11. I visited Del Webb Orlando when doing research for my book. I also interviewed two people who lived there. Here are the last two sentences from Carolyn K.’s interview: “This is a wonderful community of both married and single people who enjoy having fun together. My only regret is that I did not do this sooner.” Del Webb Orlando has a recently completed 31,000 square foot amenity center with an indoor and outdoor pool, indoor walking track, bocce ball courts, tennis courts, fitness center, business center, etc. Worth checking out!

    by Jan Cullinane — August 9, 2014

  12. We did a stay and play at Del Webb Orlando last year and really enjoyed ourselves. We joined in several activities and liked the houses being built. If we are to move to the Orlando area in the future we would definitely be looking at DW Orlando.

    by Vicki — August 9, 2014

  13. I assume point #6 should state: DO Take Care of Your Health (or DONT Ignore Your Health).

    Editor’s note. Thanks for noting this Mike. Actually the way we phrased it, “Not” Taking care of your health is a mistake. But i can see why it caught your attention – it doesn’t sound right!. But since these are all mistakes, i think it is ok the way it is.

    by Mike S — August 11, 2014

  14. We have a home in Del Webb San Antonio. Love that there is always something to do whether you are married or single.

    by susan — August 12, 2014

  15. My husband and I retired a year ago from Chicago to Southern California. This is a second marriage, and we chose to live near his kids for our first year of retirement, knowing it would be like a year-long vacation. It has been heavenly, but we cannot afford to stay. This state is not kind to retirees. We’re now looking at AZ, FL and the Carolinas. However, I was recently diagnosed with early emphysema and am in quite a quandry. His dream has always been to go to Florida… I know that will be bad for my emphysema, but guess I should go while I’m still quite healthy and can still breathe and he can fulfill his dream. My family is in Chicago, and moving back there is sadly out of the question due to their extreme winters. We’re looking into 55+ communities from Sarasota north to the Carolinas. We have a small nest egg, and don’t want a mortgage. However, we know we should rent first, no matter where we go. Any recommendations would be welcome! Now…how will I find this thread if there are any comments ?!?

    by Peg Clendenin — August 12, 2014

  16. Hi Peg, I was so sorry to hear about CA not working our for you; both my children have moved there and we will be renting a condo in Laguna Woods for the month of Nov. so that we can check out 55+ condos ? Where is CA are you located and can you recommend areas for us to check out? I think we’ll probably decide that its to expensive for us also but before we make that decision and move to FL we owe it to ourselves and children to check it out. We live on Long Island, NY so we know what expensive is. Thanks for any help you can give.

    by Virginia — August 13, 2014

  17. Hi Peg,
    I’m so sorry to hear of your early emphysema. You state your husband’s dream has been to retire to Florida, yet he chose to go to Southern California rather than fulfill his Florida dream. So how powerful is it really, and don’t you think the two of you could now negotiate a new dream that would be better for your health? It seems a little sad to me that you’d have to sacrifice your health for your husband’s dream.

    I know this isn’t what you meant when you asked for recommendations, but it hurts me to read of your willingness to sacrifice your health when perhaps mutual compromise on both your parts could bring you both happiness. Wishing you a long and healthy life, and a long and happy marriage.

    by ella — August 13, 2014

  18. First of all, to Ella, thank you for the compassionate words.We chose to go to California because we wanted to spend a year near my husband’s sons. One of his sons and his wife just gave my husband his first “blood” grandchild (also named Ella!) right after we moved here. We doubt if his son will stay here forever due to the cost (unless they rent forever), but we simply wanted to experience CA and enjoy his family. My husband spent 17 years putting up with my family in Chicago, so I felt he deserved this! We will rent in Florida for a year, and if it doesn’t work out due to my health, we will then adjust our plans. We can’t seem to find what you call “a mutual compromise.” Looked at Tennessee, and although it was beautiful, we know we couldn’t live there. I would love to have a view of water. Any suggestions?

    To Virginia, my aunt lives in the retirement village in Laguna Woods and has been there for 25 years. She loves it. It’s close to the ocean and they have many amenities. Last year they started to allow rentals there, and the renters don’t have to pay the large HOA fee (the owner pays it). Should we ever return to California, which is highly unlikely, we would possibly consider renting there. We are currently living in the most charming little village, Seal Beach, and can walk to absolutely everything. We’re renting two blocks from the beach, four blocks from the pretty Main Street/pier/restaurants, etc., and are paying $1800 for a 500 sq ft one bedroom, one bath, no dining room apartment. Only the “mansions” which are privately owned are much larger. We couldn’t afford to live here by any means. A 2 or 3 bedroom home would cost over $1 million because we’re close to the ocean. Naturally, we are paying or our location. I absolutely love the walkability. It is known as “Mayberry by the Sea” which will either appeal to you or turn you off, depending on your own lifestyle wishes! If we win the lottery we would buy in Seal Beach, but are living on my husband’s pension and our social security, so things are a bit tight. We do have a small nest egg, but our financial planner highly recommends renting for a year no matter where we go. This little town fits our lifestyle and our values perfectly. Long Beach is right next to us and I understand it is more affordable and we have met many people who have grown up there and love it, but we haven’t looked into it. There are good parts and bad parts in Long Beach, but I’m sure a realtor can guide you. My stepson and family live in Huntington Beach (“Surf City USA”). We knew we didn’t want to live in that town — it’s very large and the population is much younger than it is in Seal Beach. To be honest, we haven’t looked at any other 55+ communities other than the one in Seal Beach (we didn’t like it; others love it) and in Laguna. I’m sure there are others and wish I could help. We actually haven’t traveled around much, but know there are probably many small towns which are wonderful. We enjoyed Temecula which we visited last weekend. It’s inland and “green” and has a very nice town. (I do miss “green” and an occasional thunderstorm.) I understand it is more affordable, as well. Another issue is that the California tax structure is high, and they tax pensions. I don’t think we will ever, ever find a climate any better than coastal Orange County. It has been blissful after spending all our lives in wretched Chicago winters and then dealing with mosquitoes in the hot, humid summers. I don’t know what traffic is like in your area, although I imagine it’s quite heavy, but it is an absolute nightmare here. I’ve only driven twice in a year. If we have to go on the highways, my husband drives. We lived in a suburb 30 miles west of Chicago and took the train to the city, so we didn’t spend much time on major highways. I walk everywhere! I do have relatives up and down the coast (all of whom moved here decades ago when it was affordable), so if I can be of further help, let me know. Good luck and enjoy your visit! If both of your children are here, you will be very, very tempted to stay. Check out and City-Data, too.

    by Peg Clendenin — August 13, 2014

  19. I live in NJ looking to retire perhaps to southern Delaware does anyone have any suggestions on
    55+ communities there? What can I expect from the area? Also South Jersey is a consideration property taxes are about half of what I pay now. Any suggestions?

    by Joy — August 14, 2014

  20. First of all, thank you for the great tips. I love your newsletters and find them invaluable. On a separate note, I believe that Mike S. was exactly correct regarding the wording on point #6 and, in fact, point #3, as well. Because you wanted to be consistent in using the word, “Don’t” on each point, an implied double negative was created.
    “Don’t (not) take care of your health” might have been written, “Don’t fail to take care of your health” or “Don’t neglect your health”.
    And “Don’t (not) do any retirement planning before you retire”, could have read,”Don’t fail to do some retirement planning before you retire”, or “Don’t wait until you retire, to plan your retirement”. So, unfortunately, because there were four points that should NOT be done combined with two that SHOULD be done, the wording got a little tricky. 🙁

    Editor’s note: Thanks Camille for taking the time to write this. I see your point (and those others who raised the issue) and will correct accordingly. Great input, thanks!

    by Camille — August 14, 2014

  21. Joy – My wife and I visited Heritage Shores in Bridgeville DE. They have a very large club house that has its own restaurant and tavern and the community is set around a nice golf course. The location is about 30 minutes south of Dover DE on Rt13. New house prices range from low $200s to the mid $300 and they have resales. We really liked the place but my wife has medical issues related to breast cancer (4 year survivor) so we basically eliminated it since while there is medical care they don’t have what she needs unless we want to travel an hour for each doctor visit

    by Mike M — August 15, 2014

  22. Joy: My husband and I retired to Southern Delaware a few years ago. We love the area. Friendly people, very very tax friendly. Tons to do and see. Safe, beautiful beaches and wonderful State Parks and Wild Life Preserves. We bought a lovely Condo in a development of Condos, Villas and Single One story homes called Hearthstone Manor. It’s listed here under Milford DE. 11 minutes from the resort beach towns of Lewes and Rehoboth. It’s not 55+ but most are retirees as it is scaled down one story living with everything taken care of regarding Maintenance ect. Beautiful Club house with may year round activities and beautiful pool. We also have a great Health Care system Bay Health which is now part of Penn Medicine 5 minutes away. If you like living on the coast you will love love love it in Southern Delaware.

    by sunlovingal — August 15, 2014

  23. Sunlovingal: Would you mind sharing what your property tax is on your condo at Hearthstone Manor and what the monthly HOA fee is and in general what prices are for condos there? Thanks, Judy

    by judy — August 15, 2014

  24. Thank you Mike and Sunlovingal your information was very helpful!

    by Joy — August 16, 2014

  25. My wife and I taking a good look at the southern Delaware area – places around Bethany Beach. We also like Rehoboth Beach and Lewes. So any comment from people who live there would be appreciated. There are a couple of builders building “communities” around the area that seem nice; NVhomes and Shell Brothers. I’m interested in hearing from folks that have dealt with either of these builders. Or, if there are any others I should be looking into.

    by Tom from SC — August 16, 2014

  26. Hi Peg,
    Thanks for all your input. Sorry about your health issues. I hope the best outcome for you and DH. My DH and I are looking at TN for retirement, and wondering why you are passing on it for yourselves.

    by Caps — August 16, 2014

  27. Oh, I have been enjoying this newsletter and blog for several years. I so appreciate everyone’s willingness to share their experience. My favorite blogs include the financial, social security and pension advice. I am also wondering if we could start a blog about medical care and insurance and how Obamacare will affect our retirement into the future. We are not sure how Medicare/Medicaid and all the various options work at this time, nor at what ages those decisions need to be made.
    Thank you, and keep up the good work Topretiremnts!

    by Caps — August 16, 2014

  28. Caps – I like your suggestion. I’m currently getting employer-paid insurance, but I don’t think it will continue much longer. I’d really like to know what people are actually paying for insurance in different states through Obamacare, whether Medicare supplemental policies or pre-retirement policies. I’ve heard that our COBRA is outrageiously expensive, so I’ll be turning to the Obamacare options upon layoff or retirement. It’s hard to do retirement planning when you don’t have any ideas about the cost for this critical expense. I tried my state’s site, but I had to give so much information before getting to pricing that I never got to a prices page.

    by Kate — August 17, 2014

  29. Judy: Our condo fee is $87 per month. Includes all outside maintenance, pool, clubhouse. Villas and Homes are lower as you have options for yard work ect. Taxes on condo’s range in the upper $500’s per year depending on 2-3 bedroom units you choose. Costs for Condo’s range from $149k to higher depending on unit. Villas and Homes range from $160k ti $240K again depending on types and locations. Here is the website that may help you. hope this helps!

    by sunlovingal — August 17, 2014

  30. Kate: Exactly our situation. I hope topretirements can do a story about this medical insurance dilemma. Hint hint!

    Editor’s note: We will definitely put this on our list of future article ideas – thanks to Kate and Caps for the suggestion. In the meantime we have written several articles that can help with some of what you are looking for.

    We will work on the rest in the future.

    by Caps — August 18, 2014

  31. Caps, I always thought we’d end up in Tennessee. We visited my husband’s mom and sister in Tellico Village and my husband simply didn’t feel “at home” as he put it. We can’t afford Tellico Village, and got a real taste of the areas around Knoxville which were a cultural shock to him I think. I personally loved the area a bit further northeast by the tri-cities area. I feel we should’ve looked at Maryville but ran out of time. I also have a problem…a fantasy of what our retirement would be…overlooking a beach or a lake. I need to see water, weather it’s a lake or the gulf or an ocean, but I’ll settle at this point for a swimming pool! We are not wealthy by any means; I think it was just too “different” from what he is used to. To be honest, his dream has been Florida ever since the day I met him, and I don’t think he’ll be happy until he tries it. The question now is…where? He liked Dunedin and Venice on one of our trips, but we had a great time in St. Pete. Granted, we were on vacation, which makes a difference. I’ve been researching 55+ communities, and have a hunch we’ll end up in Sun City Center in Tampa (renting) for a year.

    by Peg Clendenin — August 18, 2014

  32. sunlovingal: Thanks very much for the info.

    by judy — August 18, 2014

  33. TopREtirements: You ROCK!!!

    by Caps — August 18, 2014

  34. Peg: Thanks for your response. Did you check out Douglas lake and Norris Lake and the TN river? We saw lots of nice homes on the water,at affordable prices in those areas. I agree, Tellico’s lake front properties were on the more spendy side, albeit surely desirable! People from all over the country are there too! We have been out there at least 8 times now. We checked out most of Knoxville and thE surrounding towns. I never want to return home to MN when we go. We find the people very welcoming and friendly. We plan to buy a home there this fall, and move there in Jan. (God willing of course.) Lookout retirement ……here we come! We are so excited!
    I understand your DH. My first hubby (deceased) totally loved FL. Had he lived longer he would have wanted to retire there too. Current spouse and I think it is a little too fast paced for us. Perhaps that is why we enjoy east TN so much! Only Knoxville metro area is city like, otherwise water and hills! Ahhhh

    by Caps — August 18, 2014

  35. Thanks TopRetirements for the links regarding the medical insurance/Medicare/Obamacare etc. I must have missed them earlier, or my memory is failing me? However, after reading through all the info and comments, we still don’t know what to do to bridge until we are 65. We currently have what would be considered a “Cadillac” plan with two “children” under 26 covered. DH will retire at 61 in Jan. I have 8 yrs before I turn 65. Cobra may be offered, but we have heard it is quite expensive. I have real difficulty letting the IRS and gov. be in charge, as I AM also a veteran, and have already experienced their incompetence.
    Has anyone else found alternatives? And then…..we still have 19 and 22 yr old kids. Ideas?

    Editors note: Start with your state exchange and you will see the range of options – better deals in some states than others. We hear anecdotal evidence the exchanges offer better deals than brokers or COBRA can offer.

    by Caps — August 19, 2014

  36. Caps: No, we did not check out the lakes or the along the river. We’ve had family obligations or a wedding when we visited in the past, or we visited my best friend in Kingsport. I certainly agree that the people were warm and friendly! We thought retirement was a long way off, and suddenly it is upon us! If we have a chance, we will check out the Douglas and Norris lake areas. Where exactly did you find your forever retirement home? If things don’t work out in Florida (bugs, heat, humidity), we’ll be looking around once again.

    by peghello — August 19, 2014

  37. Editor: Thank you for your response. We were hoping for other ideas for insurance that has worked for others before we subjected ourselves to the gov. mess. We have heard too many horror stories.
    Peg: We have not purchased yet, however I will post when we do. I am like you in that we would like a place with a pool. Since that may not come to fruition …….I’m currently researching swim spas, enclosed in a sun room perhaps, therefore allowing year round use. I think they could be added for less cost and maintenance than a regular pool. Perhaps we could start a blog about that topic. I am surely curious what the cost would actually be per year.

    by Caps — August 19, 2014

  38. This won’t answer everyone’s questions, but here are some links that talk about how Medicare intersects with state health exchanges:

    and yet another link which also has OTHER links, including one for people 55-64:

    good luck!
    BTW, these links aren’t yet posted on the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute facebook page, but you might wish to LIKE that page and/or check in on it — some info is local, but we also include a lot of posts that are just of interest to all of us 50+, especially healthwise.

    (okay, full disclosure, I work there and maintain the FB page, but I’m also a very avid reader of all the blogs here!)

    by Paula — August 20, 2014

  39. Very good links and articles, Paula. Thank you. I’m looking for info outside the marketplace on actual price range for policies by state/age before the income-based discounts are applied. It seems like you have to disclose everything about yourself and your family before you can get any prices. I don’t like the idea of having to create a false profile just to get information.

    by Sharon — August 20, 2014

  40. Dittos Paula!!

    by Caps — August 20, 2014

  41. I’m not sure why people think COBRA is expensive. You’re still getting a group rate for your insurance, though you’re paying the full premium, and not having your company pay part of the premium. I live in Massachusetts and similar plans to mine (currently on the level of a gold plan) are quite a bit more expensive on the exchange. So, I’ll hang on to COBRA until the bitter end, which comes this January, and take it from there.

    by Carole — August 20, 2014

  42. Carole – your employer is able to add a markup to the cost, for its administration of the benefit. In our company’s case, continuing a family insurance benefit under Cobra is in excess of $1000/mo — definitely not competitive with the cost of similar privately purchased insurance. Our HR Dept is telling terminated employees to do the research before they make a decision, because the Cobra cost is so high. Not every employer continues to pay part of the premiums for terminated employees. In our case, Cobra just lets us pick up the full cost plus the employer’s markup for administration. Not a good deal, obviously.

    by Sharon — August 21, 2014

  43. Carole – I have Cobra for $ 460 p/m that expires in November. I have to get a regular policy for 1 month (December). I also have to get other healthcare for 8 months until I turn 65 in Sept. Checking the Marketplace for insurance. It will be only $ 18 less each month. Also I would not qualify for an discounts because in 2014 we moved money from an IRA that caused us to have to claim $ 22,000 gain as income. I don’t know what to do. They have informed me I need to make a decision 90 days before Healthcare would take effect. Does anyone have any ideas for consideration?

    by MomJ — August 21, 2014

  44. I currently have a silver level plan from Blue Cross of Georgia through my job. The cost is $550.00 a month for my wife and I. That same policy under Cobra was quoted at 1000.00 a month, not as bad as I had anticipated.

    Recently got a quote of $337.00 a month for my and I from Humana for a silver level policy through Obamacare based on an annual income of $47,000.

    by Jim — August 22, 2014

  45. Lived in Charlotte NC briefly in 90’s. Considering moving back from New York. Recent visit revealed a much bigger and more crowded community. Considering Fort Mill area. Would appreciate input about congestion, quality of life. Loved it in the ’90’s. Has it gotten too crowded? Thanks.

    by Joe Braun — August 22, 2014

  46. I recently moved to an area near Fort Mill and near Sun City Carolina Lakes (working in downtown Charlotte), and I’m struggling with the congestion. It has taken me over an hour to get back & forth to work, not to mention the stress of merging on highways, lane shifting and crazy drivers. One night I left the office at 9:00 pm, and didn’t get home until 11 thanks to late-night construction on the highway. It feels like I’m working in NYC or Boston. I will say that most drivers are pretty nice here and take turns at the merge points, which helps. I sure don’t see myself battling this traffic when I’m much older though.

    I’ve been amazed by the number of housing plans, with more new construction everywhere. I’m having some trouble finding service companies, like grass cutting, handyman, cleaning, etc. They’re all booked up — which may be a side effect of all the congestion.

    I don’t mind the heat or the humidity. I sure don’t mind the $3.09 gas in SC either.

    by Ted — August 22, 2014

  47. Oops….I meant to agree with Sharon. My post said Paula. Sorry.
    Seems like there are several of us looking for alternatives to a government program.

    by Caps — August 22, 2014

  48. Those looking for health insurance might want to check heath co-ops they are sanctioned under Obamacare and many have been in existence for over 20 years. The only thing holding me back from my business as a full time pursuit was healthcare. This looks like a possible alternative as I am too young for Medicare. I am ready to move on from my job ASAP and when I checked, the insurance exchanges were closed until the next open season. I have NO idea what people do who suddenly lose their jobs and insurance–a BIG flaw in our healthcare system.

    by Jennifer — August 23, 2014

  49. Jennifer if you suddenly lose your healtcare you qualify for special enrollment, so actually that big flaw is covered.

    by Debra — August 24, 2014

  50. Debra,

    I was not aware of that. The Health co-ops look great at one third of the price of insurance. I will let you know when I finish my research.


    by Jennifer — August 25, 2014

  51. I am unexpectedly losing my insurance and the website asks you that question and let’s you qualify for special enrollment. There are facilitators in every state to help you. The easiest thing to do is talk to them and let them guide you through the process.

    by Debra — August 26, 2014

  52. Hi Debra:

    I live in Washington DC and did not find the question about recently losing insurance on our website. What website are you using? I still think that Samaritan Ministries is something to consider. They are sanctioned under Obama care so no penalty will be imposed on the members of the health co-op under the ACA.

    by Jennifer — August 27, 2014

  53. Don’t buy before you live there. Especially if you are moving out of state. I think that is excellent advice for the reasons you stated. I bought a house in a retirement community and have leased it out until we move in next year sometime. I am thinking the tenant who is leasing from me and who will be looking to buy in the same community, is doing a smart thing. This was they can see if the community is for them. Also they may can find a good deal since they will know the homes and what they are going for. Smart move. Robert Fowler

    by Robert Fowler — August 27, 2014

  54. I copied and pasted below from

    Still need health coverage?
    for a Special Enrollment Period or Medicaid/CHIP

    I am on the federal website because I am moving to a state that did not expand medicaid. Had I known I was losing my insurance that may have influenced my decision on where to move.

    by Debra — August 28, 2014

  55. Hi Debra:

    I just spoke with a woman from Samaritan Ministries and visited their website. I think I will join the Health co-op, lots of benefits, dental, alternative medicine, etc. Not just MD’s. I will probably use a Nurse Practitioner as my choice for a healthcare provider. It is so much cheaper and no deductibles and copays–even people on Medicare use the Co-op. No fights with insurance companies either. They have 30,000 members and have been in business for over 20 years. Sounds good to me. Also, they are sanctioned under the ACA. Many thanks for your information and opinions and help.


    by Jennifer — August 29, 2014

  56. We have just begun the search for where to go in the next 5 years. We live in central New Hampshire and are weary
    from the snow, maintenance of a too large property and want to eliminate many years of STUFF! We thought an over 55 community sounded like a good idea, but Sue’s comment (August 8, 2014) got our attention. We don’t want to make a costly mistake. I think the idea of renting makes sense. Does anyone have suggestions on how best to determine which communities may be the better ones to consider. We are looking at coastal Georgia as we love to sail, but don’t want to be in a “sinking” community!
    Thank you!, Lynn

    by lynn angle — August 31, 2014

  57. Does anyone have experience living in a community (not a mobile home park) Not Restricted to 55 years and older? Some of the most appealing communities accept persons and families of all ages, yet are advertising themselves to those of retirement age. I don’t want to pointlessly exclude them, but am concerned about excess noise, etc. Anyone?

    Thanks much!

    by ella — September 4, 2014

  58. Hello Ella:

    I live in a community in Washington DC where many people are retired, yet many are younger like myself and some have young children. It seems to infuse the atmosphere with energy when there are children around. Granted we do not have many children as we are in a co-op community with apartment style living. Sometimes, not always, the children get noisy running in the halls and that can be annoying, but it seems after a few years most families move on to single family homes. I personally do not think I will want to live in a 55 and over community and I have a two retired aunts who have homes in Florida who feel the same way. Too many people are warehousing themselves away into communities that only allow older people and that can be isolating once one has less energy to do all the proposed activities that they have. Plus it is heartbreaking to lose friends and neighbors at an accelerated rate due to age. This community I live in has totally changed since I moved here in 1996. Most people live here for life as they do not need a car–we are in a walkable community with lots of public transportation. In spite of the fact the older neighbors in the community may have died, there are plenty of younger people around as well to keep everyone involved and up to date. Our monthly fees are reasonable for DC and include everything but the Cable TV bill. We have a restaurant, dry cleaners, library, various hair salons and barber shops among other things. We also have a good staff to shovel snow, and provide maintenance. I know I am still in the working world, but I will think long and hard about moving to an area where there is just one age group.

    by Jennifer — September 5, 2014

  59. Jennifer: I have the same concerns, although I am looking at 55+ communities too. I fell in love with the model homes in one 55+ community, but had a chilling experience when visiting the community center. A gentleman introduced himself to me, and started telling me how great the community was. One of the things that he thought was great was that the board was looking at whether they could interview prospective new owners to make sure they were the “right kind” of people. He mentioned activities they were planning, including increasing the HOA fees to cover more community activities such as contributions to charities that I don’t support, trips to gambling venues and other things that he was very happy about…but which weren’t appealing to me at all. Admittedly, none of this may come to pass and he was just one resident. Another resident could have given me a completely different impression, although the ladies in the rest room who were “mean girling” some of their neighbors certainly weren’t a positive for their community either. Ultimately, I looked around the community center at all the “old” people (smile), and thought I just didn’t belong there…yet. On the other hand, I hate Halloween. I always end up eating the candy. And It could be very nice to be in a neighborhood of people where I have a chance of meeting other ladies starting life anew (I’m a new widow). Administrator: A suggestion for a new blog could be 55+ communities, pros & cons from people who have already made their lifestyle choice.

    by Sharon — September 5, 2014

  60. Jennifer,
    Thanks so much for your input. I appreciate your thoughts.
    I do plan to be living in single family homes, so i will be in the area with the younger families. Right now, outside of a community, i live next to a family in which a lot of hockey playing in the driveway (the pucks make it very noisy) goes on about 30 feet next to my bedroom window; so no naps for me! Additionally, there’s a certain amount of screaming with the occasional late party.

    I DON”T WANT TO BE the crabby neighbor who complains about such goings-on in an age-unrestricted community. Yet i certainly understand all you’ve written and will seriously consider what you’ve said. Thanks, again!

    Any other viewpoints?

    by ella — September 5, 2014

  61. Hi Ella:

    Living in a single family home–one has paid for the property under the house and probably feels that they deserve the sound buffer it affords. I probably agree with that. However, children do grow up and will not be children forever. Perhaps the family next door has no idea that their children are disturbing you. Communication in a friendly manner is the key, Here where I live, you can imagine that noisy children in a large apartment building can be annoying. Most of the time it is short lived and I just ignore it. There are times when I intervene if the children could get hurt running in our vintage 1929 hallways. That rarely happens however. I think one must weigh what they can tolerate out of young children vs what you need to ignore. Most parents here are friendly and horrified if their children act in anyway disrespectfully. Think Eloise at the Plaza and you get the idea. Still living with all older people who are dealing with physical limitations, and declining health could be no easier. Older people also can be ill tempered and impolite at times. I just think younger generations keep one young and often amused –it is definitely easier if the children are taught to respect the feelings of others.

    by Jennifer — September 6, 2014

  62. Hi Sharon:

    I think that you had every right to be concerned by the gentleman and the “right People” comment. He may be the odd ball in the community, but still who can know for sure. Renting may be the answer before investing too much money into a community. I am thinking I will stay here in DC and then visit my aunt in Naples Florida occasionally. Anywhere I consider moving I would rent there first so I can observe the surroundings and see how the people who live there feel. I am a single woman and I have learned that couples prefer to be around other couples–I will probably be the odd man out so I have to please myself first. With mixed age groups I doubt me being single will be an issue plus I am a business woman so I will be busy with that too.

    by Jennifer — September 6, 2014

  63. Greetings from Beginning Again:
    I’m ready to make a move to another community strictly for the purposes of change, new beginnings and different opportunities. Although I’m over 65, I am adaptable and in search of new relationships and challenges. I believe I am a mirror of my intentions and desires for harmony, balance and happiness. I’ve read your posts regarding international and domestic living and realize we do take who and what we are wherever we go.

    As such, I’m interested in finding examples of eastern USA longterm rental locations as well as realities about limitations imposed by HOA guidelines or restrictive rules/taxes. Hearing your experiences and ideas might provide new ideas as I begin my search. I’m looking at moving east of Nevada and nearest the Atlantic coast or nearby rivers.

    As a former 50-year-old Peace Corps volunteer who learned a new language in a new culture, I believe I can adjust to any circumstance or situation, however, this time I will have complete responsibility for the many choices I make. Hope you will correspond with me soon.
    Beginning again!

    by Pat — September 6, 2014

  64. Is there a comparison Association Fees and what they include of Active Adult communities?
    My searches have come up empty. A spreadsheet would be a wonderful way to compare!

    by Eden — September 16, 2014

  65. While living outside of a 55+ community is definitely cheaper, I don’t want to become the Neighborhood Watch, deal with the car stereo systems, homes painted the color of the month, animals running free and pooping on my lawn, and other nuisances. I don’t want to join the local gym and deal with cell phone talking or match making members slowing down my progress. Not to mention the 5 p.m. gridlock! I love hearing children playing in the street but activities that endanger my home (hockey, softball, etc.) not so much. As a result, I will be looking for a historically well run HOA and may join the Board to ensure I have a voice in the goings on. I will have to do my homework, but until a better idea comes along for us boomers, it will have to do.

    by Veloris — September 16, 2014

  66. I have been looking at 55active communities in SC + FLA. Although I love the weather of Florida and some of the communities, I find REALESTATE taxes and home insurance expensive.
    I am not comparing to NY ( where I live now ) but to South Carolina. When you run the cost of living calculator SC. is cheaper. I know there is no state taxes but what am I missing? Why do retired people flock to Florida? Iam basing insurance and taxes on a 250k house AFTER homestead..

    by ALEXANDER — September 18, 2014

  67. Mr Editor, I think the topic of this article has been lost? It seems to have gone south (pun intended 🙂 almost as soon as it was posted.

    Editor’s note: Barb, you are oh so right! Lot of ground covered on this post, a lot of it interesting but not relevant to retirement mistakes. Suggest that if you want to discuss healthcare issues you go to the several Blog posts we have on that topic, such as (that article has links to more)

    If you want to discuss particular communities or developments, go to

    If you want to post on something that isnt related to Retirement Mistakes, please look through the “Categories” on right side of this page to try to find a post that is relevant. Keeps us on topic and makes for more efficient reading and commenting. Thanks!

    by Barb — September 19, 2014

  68. help–we moved from florida to Greeneville tn to be closer to one of our kids–I am a retired nurse -RN–retired in my 50s due to stroke–anyway it was a bad move–people were so unfriendly and rude–we have traved and lived all over the usa and these by far are the rudest hostle people I have ever met–went to church and nobody spoke to us–if we spoke to them they looked at us like we had two heads or something–so we moved to ala after 5 years to be closer to t other daughter–she died in a car accident 2 years ago and now we find we needed to move closer to daughter in Greenville–will never move back to Greenville tn but any ideals??? money is tight and cannot affort another mistake–thanks–jan

    by jan — September 22, 2014

  69. Does anyone know if the New York Health Coop, Health Republic Insurance of NY, covers a member if they become ill while out of state? I love the idea of getting my insurance from a non-profit but if there is no coverage for the months I spend in Florida it will not be an option. I’ve been on my husband’s retiree health plan but now that he’s turning 65, keeping me on is very expensive and requires him to keep a Maintenance of Benefits plan which is not a supplement but a secondary. (largely useless). I would rather he drop it and get an AARP supplement. Still, I’m just turning 62 this week, so I will need insurance to bridge me over to Medicare age. I’d get all my preventative and annual care in NY, but anything can happen at any time! I’m in very good health and have no health conditions and take no medicines–so far! If anyone has experience with this situation please reply. Thanks!

    by Lisa — October 19, 2014

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