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Working Person’s Guide to Life in Retirement

Category: Retirement Planning

December 2, 2013 — There’s an interesting new book out that has parallels to the transition from the working life to retirement. It’s “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth”, written by Colonel Chris Hadfield, one of the world’s most experienced astronauts. The book made us think about how much retirement is like entering a new world. Many of the survival skills you learned in the world of work will be useful. But to succeed in your new environment it might be necessary to master new ones. We are hoping that this guide will be a group effort – that those of you who have already passed through the airlock from the working life into retirement will contribute your wisdom in the Comments section at the end.

First off, recognize that the rules of the game are going to be different in retirement. After a few years in the workplace most people get an intuitive grip on the rules of getting ahead. There you are part of a group working toward a common goal. The group has managers who provide motivation and direction. To succeed you need to master essential skills, then try to provide worth to your employer to accomplish its goals. Discreet self-promotion is necessary so your contributions get noticed.

Retirement is more of an individual than a group activity. The goal – your happy retirement – is individual too. The support you had at work, particularly motivation – is no longer there. Now it is just you (and hopefully your spouse if you have one) against the world. Fortunately, the wisdom you gained during your working years is going to be a big help in retirement. But to be successful you are also going to have to master new skills, plus be your own manager.

An attitude adjustment. This point pertains more to those who were very successful in the world of work. If you valued yourself on the basis of your title, rank, or professional reputation – an attitude adjustment might be in order. Out on the golf course, at the coffee shop, or working at the shelter – no one much cares how much money you made or what your title was in the corporation. Instead, the new currency of the retirement realm is how good a listener you are, how much fun you are to be around, how good a story you can tell, what joy you bring to those around you, how good you feel about the life you are living, etc.

Explore the possibilities. We like to say retirement is a do-over on life. No matter how unhappy you were at your last job, or how much you regret some aspect of your life, retirement is chance to start a brand new life. Please don’t take that lightly – here is your chance to do just about anything you want!

Volunteering is important for many retirees

What is it you want to do exactly? A good way to start is to list the kind of things you like to do and make you happy. Do you like working with kids or people? Do mechanical things turn you on? Do you want to help other people? Take up painting or the guitar? Or, do you want to try to master golf or become a yoga instructor? Once you have your list written down and you have talked about it with the people you care about, it will come into clearer focus.

You will need to work on your relationship with your spouse/significant other. Every relationship is different, with 2 different individuals in every one. While you were working you probably had one kind of relationship, based on going off to work and then being reunited for dinner, evenings, weekends, and vacations. But when one or both of you enters retirement, the work part of the equation goes away. Perhaps one person in the relationship has dreamt of spending more time together, whereas the previous arrangement was just perfect for the other. Chances are you and your spouse are about to spend significantly more time with one another than you ever have. If the relationship was solid, that is one thing. If it wasn’t so good, that could be another.

The point is, you and your significant other need to spend some time and some effort working out your new relationship. Good advice we’ve heard: Be gentle with one another. Find your own interests. Work out what parts of the house each of you has dominion over. Communicate about goals and feelings. Listen. What else would you suggest to add to this list?

Everybody needs friends. Many people find their friends at work, in fact sometimes even their mates. After retirement preserving your relationship with your work friends won’t be as easy, particularly if you commuted to a city or move away. But friends are important, so you need to develop a strategy for keeping the ones you have. Working on how to make new friends is important too. Some good advice we’ve heard is to develop friendships with people of different ages. You can make friends in your new activities, neighborhood, church, club, or volunteer or part-time job. Men, who don’t usually have as much success at making friends as women, really need to work on this.

Busy people are happy people. You probably worked at least 40 hours a week up until you retired. That is a lot of time, although you would be surprised how quickly those hours will fill up if you are not careful. The point is you have been given a gift of time – so use it wisely. What are the fun or meaningful things you have always meant to do? Learn a language, tutor a disadvantaged kid, help out in a library, work around a golf course, learn how to sail or knit? Busier people are not only happier, but they are a lot more fun to be around too.

Retaining your sense of worth. For many people their job was a big part of who they were. There was satisfaction in being successful, or or being happy doing what you did. Now that you no longer have that as part of your identity, it could be easy to have a crisis of confidence. Fortunately there is more to life than a job. You can take satisfaction at being a very good grandparent, a wonderful volunteer, or a person who is engaged and interested in what is going on around you. The important thing is to embrace retirement and the person you want to become.

Lifestyle. Is where you live conducive to the type of lifestyle you really want to live? Does that lifestyle mean being outdoors doing stuff you love, like fishing, golf, or gardening? If so maybe you should look for a year-round moderate climate. Or are you more interested in shopping, culture, painting, or music? In that case maybe an urban environment or college town is your best choice. If living your dream isn’t so easy where you live now, perhaps it’s time to think about moving to a place that is more compatible with that lifestyle.

Family and friends. Perhaps you didn’t get the chance to spend as much time as you wanted with your children, grandchildren, or a favorite sibling because of the pressures of work. Retirement is your chance to make up for that now.

Climbing the retirement success ladder. You won’t get a promotion or raise if you rise up the retirement success ladder. But if you work at it and succeed in being happily retired, you will get huge dividends in enjoying the rest of your life; enjoyment from friends, family, and your spouse; and the satisfaction of mastering a difficult new challenge that pays off to your biggest stockholder – you! Enjoy.

Comments: Please share your ideas on how to have the happiest retirement possible. What works in yours, and what could you have done better? Please share in the Comments section below.

For further reading
Survey Report: Topretirements Members Report High Degrees of Compatibility and Happiness

Posted by Admin on December 2nd, 2013


  1. Interesting article. My DH retired end of August, but is working PT until end of year and then starting Jan. will do some freelance writing for some extra income. I’m 6 yrs younger and need to work another 6 years until I’m Medicare eligible (it’s all about the health insurance). We planned for his retirement, he did all the calculations and we were good with it, we’ve cut some expenses (cut out cable and landline to save $140/month), and we’ve met with a financial advisor who says we’re in good shape. But somehow my husband’s attitude towards money has changed — he’s always been frugal, and I’m not a big spender, but when I bring up doing some more travel he gets very tight about it. I know this whole retirement thing needs time to get used to, but I WANT TO TRAVEL BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. My sister died at 60, two years ago, of pancreatic cancer, so I want to do some things before my own life might be cut short. And much of the money we’re now flush with came to me (us) from my elderly aunt who I took care of, and even the financial advisor said that we deserve a nice trip. Having a trip to plan and look forward to will help me get through my own day-to-day grind of a job; it’s not a bad job, but my boss is useless (what else is new?) and I don’t want to postpone everything until my OWN retirement — which may or may not arrive. How have others coped with this? Words of wisdom? Thanks. (DH is really a great guy, just this one thing is really an obstacle…)

    by Paula — December 3, 2013

  2. Paula,
    I can reflect back to when my Father retired. He was employed as a State of CT employee and had a decent job with the department of transportation for almost 20 years. He retired at 62 and was okay for a while. He got a kick out of shopping and using coupons. He’d go to every grocery store in the area and got all the ‘bargains’. Mom still worked at the time and he’d have dinner ready whens she got home. However, after a while he would complain to my Mom about money and certain things happened that cut back on their income. He became very irritable and made Mom miserable at times. Only two years after he retired he had a stroke and to this day I think his irritability was due to his health. I am not suggesting that your husband is sick. I also think my Dad took the retirement plunge too quickly and should have found a part time job to occupy his mind. In earlier years he sold real estate and he studied law. He should have found something to do before he retired so he could have stepped down slowly. Your husband may be worried about money because when you retire the income stream stops and then you draw on your reserves or pension if you have one. Life changes a lot and your husband may be dreading retirement and not want to give up his ‘identity’. I was laid off almost 3 years ago and can’t find a job in my field. I am 60 years old and the prospects of finding a decent job like I had are slim to none. I feel as if I lost my ‘identity’. At work people would come to me for help and it made me feel like I made a difference! Now, I stay home with my 3 dogs and feel blue most of the time while my Hub goes off to work. He hates his job and I used to love my job! I always told him I would keep working so he could retire and now we have to rethink when he can retire…Life has its twists and turns. I would suggest that you plan a trip and find out all the costs: airfare, hotels, meals, rental car and entertainment. Look into a ‘frugal’ hotel that has a kitchen to save on meals. Make your trip as frugal as possible and present the information to your husband. Your phone and cable are saving you $1,680 a year. Put that money aside for a year or two in a separate account and wa-la you have a nice chunk for a great trip! Here is another idea which is somewhat lame but what I do is cash in my soda/beer cans and never spend the money. I put it in a huge jug and so far the jug is packed full of dollars and change! I have to empty it soon because there is no more room. I don’t have a plan for it but I call it my retirement money. Here is another idea, if you have any jewelry you don’t wear that is gold or silver or a coin collection, take them to a place that buys gold and silver and sell them for cash! You could also sell some household stuff on eBay or Craigslist. If you tell your husband some of your frugal ideas to raise some cash maybe he would participate and you could have fun doing it together. It may give you an opportunity to clean out the house and make some money at the same time! Maybe you could cut back on how much you spend on groceries. Let’s say you spend $125 a week. Take the $125 out of the bank in cash and put the $25 in an envelope. Shop the bargains with the other $100. That will give you $1,300 in a years time! The GOAL is: Vacation, the OBJECTIVE is: How are you going to finance it to make your husband happy. Get a note books and make lists. Find out approximately how much money you will need for the trip, then start a list of how you will make the money to finance the trip. I hope a few ideas will help you and make your Hub happy too!

    by Louise — December 4, 2013

  3. Excellent article…entering a new world indeed! The transition from career to retirement also reminds me of the similarities our service members face when returing home. So much of the adjustment/tranisiton success is based on the individual’s personality and preferences. There is a book available that addresses this relationship between personality and reintegration (transition) that could be very helpful for new retirees as well. “Introduction to Type and Reintegration” (more info at )is focused on our service members and their family, friends, and co-workers, but can be equally applied to the changed relationships in retirement.
    Relationships are so important in any success. A favorite quote (from John Maxwell): “With one minor exception, the entire world is made up of others.”

    by Jim Peak — December 4, 2013

  4. We just retired this year. Me, 54, after 30 years with USPS on a 3 year “early out”. in February; my hubby, 52, after 34 years with US Navy, in July. We put our stuff in storage, rented out the house, loaded up the RV and started The Grand Tour in September [6 months]: Pensacola FL, North to MI, West to Seattle WA, South to San Diego CA, then East back to FL. We are visiting Friends, Family and Features [caves, Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon]. In RVing, its cheaper to get the monthly rate and saves on gas. With the economy we got a 15yo 29′ Class C for $14K with only 25K miles! This is a rarely mentioned option which is especially fit for the newly retired that doesn’t require much of a commitment. It’s a great way to audition different locations without loading a U-Haul each time.
    We wanted to travel while we are able, before the grandkids come [our sons 32,33 both got married last year].
    In this political climate, we suggest “Retire while there’s is a retirement option” and “spend the money while its worth something” before the gov’t steals our pensions. So we are “front-loading” our retirement by spending our TSPs early to use them up before we are 70.
    We both have portable small hobbies: he paints miniature armies; I read and crochet. We read to each other, go for walks, and watch the sunset.
    No one is guaranteed tomorrow, so we are enjoying today – and we’re grateful. We all have that choice.

    by Elaine — December 4, 2013

  5. . Nice article for most folks, but for me, retirement had no adjustment period and no attitude changes. I fit quite well into my new role the very next day after I left my job as an RN. I have never had such peace, joy and happiness as I do now. For me it is very simple, I do what I want, when I want. It really doesn’t get much better than that!

    by Nancy Christian — December 4, 2013

  6. @ Louise–thanks for all your good tips on saving money for trips. Some of them I can implement, others I can’t, but it’s always helpful to have people on this list contribute ideas and perspectives. “Identity” is no problem with my husband — he never equated himself with his job and has lots of other interests which he now has more time to pursue. I’m sorry, though, that you have lost a job which you enjoyed so much. Hang in there–seems so unfair, that people who like their jobs lose them, and those of us who don’t particularly like them are still enduring them. BUT, happy for the income and for health that’s good enough to keep me working for a while. I just need to have patience to wait this out — it’s an adjustment for both of us and I’m sure we’ll find our “groove”. Thanks again, and God Bless….

    by Paula — December 5, 2013

  7. Nancy, I agree that the best part of retirement is doing what I want when I want. No one to answer to but me!

    by Linda — December 5, 2013

  8. Nancy and Linda,
    Did either of you move to another area or stay put?

    by Elaine — December 5, 2013

  9. Great advice. I’m nearing retirement, not by own choice, but being forced out after 20 years. I’m looking forward to leaving the coporate grind, but truthfully, scared to death. While I have hobbies, my biggest fear is finances, although by my calculations, we should be OK. No doubt, we’ll have to cut a few corners, but I’ve been working since I was 13 years old (63 now), so after 50 years it will be very different. I guess the best way to describe it is like being on a roller coaster. It’s exciting but scary at the same time. Just trying to prepare mentally and read everything I can get my hands on about making the transition as I approach this next milestone.

    by Rich Sanders — December 6, 2013

  10. to Elaine: So far I’ve stayed put. I’m in a townhouse I built 21 years ago, one level living, and I paid off the mortgage before I retired. I keep looking at places in Florida, but prices are rising too rapidly down there. Will probably stay here and travel during the winter.

    by Linda — December 7, 2013

  11. Great article. I wish that it was around 3 years ago. I, too, was forced to retire, but due to illness. I had plans to teach during my retirement since I have a PHD that was earned only 2 years prior to leaving work, but it was not to be. My husband is also ill with metastic cancer, refuses to make new friends, and insists on going everywhere with me. We moved to a lovely retirement community in Florida to save money and be closer to my parents. We all have to make the best of our lives. At least, I am able to take advantage of the clubhouse activites and will be ale to make friends eventually.

    by Joan — December 7, 2013

  12. More experts weigh in with their best advice. There is a really nice little WSJ article that provides a roundup of retirement advice from a group of experts. Sample: Research points to intellectual and emotional growth as we age. Before retirement, then, think about what your mission will be. (From Marc Agronin)

    by Admin — December 9, 2013

  13. Love what Elaine says!!! My husband retired at 61 when he needed a total knee replacement. His job required him to walk on concrete floors 10 hours a day and he could not take it anymore. I decided in May to “retire” the end of this year and I knew it was the right decision as a sense of peace came over me. I am currently working part time (respiratory therapist for 35+ years). We, too will be traveling full time, divesting ourselves of home, etc and taking only what we can take in our RV (have had this unit 2.5 years). We are looking forward to travel and will be doing nat’l, state and COE hosting which will afford us “free” lodging, seeing this big country and meeting people from all walks of life. Can’t wait!!! Just took some planning as my husband is 62 and I am 60, so the health insurance was the sticking point, but now have that figured out, too.

    by Miss Kismet — December 11, 2013

  14. I recently retired and would love to be able to take my time driving across the USA, but my wife works 2 days a week and I can’t get her to retire. We just took a fabulous 14 day cruise on the Rhine and Moselle Rivers but but that was the maximum amount to time that she would consider taking off from her part time job. I’m 65 and she’s 66 and want to take the cross-country drive while I’m still able to do so. Any suggestions on how to convince my wife to retire would be greatly appreciated.

    by Tony — December 12, 2013

  15. Miss Kismet,

    You and your Hub are the same age as me and my Hub. Health insurance is our sticking point too. Can you please share what you have figured out with health insurance? Is it Obamacare or something else? Any words of wisdom would be helpful. Thanks!

    by Louise — December 12, 2013

  16. I retired in 2012, but my husband is still working for the health insurance coverage. I think the comment in this article that this is a gift of time and to use it wisely is so important! I find myself looking at projects that need to be done around the house, and opting for a nap instead! After 33 years of teaching, I guess I will ease into lots of retirement activities- need to recharge the batteries first! Would love to hear about more health care options for pre- Medicare retirees so that my husband could also retire!

    by SandyZ — December 12, 2013

  17. Would love to drive across the US. What route do people like to travel?

    by Carol — December 12, 2013

  18. I just made a decision last week to hit the road soon. I’m in the process of getting my house ready to list as a rental. I don’t need a big house. I’m downsizing my stuff and putting most in storage. My income right now is $1700 month social security, and I hope to supplement with online work and odd jobs. I don’t know where I want to live so I’m getting my car all serviced and ready (I have a2001 Toyota echo with 115k miles) and I’m hitting the road. I will use my timeshare points to reserve a few nights in timeshares wherever I can, i will visit friends, and I will pay for motels when I have to. I may also sleep in the car in Walmart parking lots! Doing a lot of online research. I have a friend in LA who will welcome me for 6 weeks or so, and from there I will make short trips to Las Vegas, Phoenix, Prescott, Tucson, etc. I hope to find an affordable manufactured home, perhaps a park model, in a nice community somewhere. And see the country a bit. I agree with Elaine as far as carpe diem..,,seize the day. I don’t even know how long my social security will continue. I am bringing a cooler, a tiny camp stove, a few utensils o I can stop on nice rest areas or parks to make lunch or dinner. Breakfast is cheap so I will typically have breakfast out. I may buy a membership in golds gym, as they have locations across the u.s., and that is where I can shower. I am quite excited actually! I feel like a young hippie girl again.

    by Ginger — December 12, 2013

  19. As an author, writing teacher and coach, I work with a lot of retirees who finally have the time to write the book they’ve been thinking about writing but never before had the time. It’s creative and a great way to leave your legacy for your children and grandchildren as well as to let other readers know what you’ve learned in life that might help them. It’s a great opportunity to pass on the wisdom you’ve gained over the years. I highly recommend it. There’s lots of way to approach the subject. My website can help you get started. Aloha, Jasmyne

    by Jasmyne — December 13, 2013

  20. To Ginger: I have driven across country twice by myself. Loved every minute of it! Our life should have a little adventure and at that this time in our life, we deserve fun!!! Enjoy it!!

    by Loralee — December 13, 2013

  21. Ginger, how brave you are. I am in the same position. Want to downsize and sell my house, too big. Think I want to go to Arizona but getting a little scared because I really do not know where. I have 2 dogs so it will have to accomodate pets. Would like to get into a 55+ community and keep busy. Thinking of getting an RV and just traveling around Phoenix or Nevada and check it out. Like you I am excited thinking about it but also a little scare about where? Hoping to make some trips this spring and look around. If you come across Colorado you are welcome to stop over.

    by Svenska — December 13, 2013

  22. You go girl! Not all WalMarts are RV friendly. Check out the nationwide chain of Cracker Barrel Restaurants. They are RV friendly! There is lots of BLM land in western Arizona(Quartzsite area) for boondocking. If you do Florida, most beaches have cold showers. Been there done that. You may think about adding roadside assist to your car ins. if you don’t already. It is usually only a few dollars more a month but is handy for flat tire assist or towing when needed. Good luck!

    by Gregg Bilger — December 13, 2013

  23. Ginger, I admire your pluck! If I were solo I’d do the same. I look forward to your posts from the road.

    by Jane Alynn — December 13, 2013

  24. Svenska…who knows Svenska, may take you up on that. Gregg…that is very helpful information! And Cracker Barrel is good pace to have breakfast. I thought about an RV, then I thought that my car gets more than 30 miles to the gallon. I could spend a lot more per day on gas, or use the same money to stay in a motel. It also has a very comfy reclining seat, and since I am only 5′ 1″‘ I can stretch out just fine. So…car it is. and i do have both roadside assist and triple a. I will try to do every other night in a motel, as long as it is warm enough to sleep in car. Great tips you guys! And I do intend to post updates from the road. I might even start a blog.

    by Ginger — December 13, 2013

  25. Loralee, I have also driven cross country a few times, including driving all my belongings from Seattle to New York in a big Uhaul. But I’ve just driven across, never really explored. I have been inspired by a couple of blogs, such as theblondecoyote. So now it is my turn!

    by Ginger — December 13, 2013

  26. Ginger, have a wonderful trip and enjoy exploring! Try the back roads. National Geographic has a wonderful book called Scenic Highways and Byways to give you some ideas. Be sure to get a national parks senior pass for $10–best bargain on the planet. Just buy it at the first park you go to if you don’t already have one.

    by Linda — December 13, 2013

  27. Ginger, I remember a long time ago seeing web sites about women who are solo travelers, either by RV or tent camping. After seeing your post, I did a quick search and found this blog but this is by no means the only one on solo traveling. Good luck!

    by Carole — December 13, 2013

  28. GINGER YOU ARE MY IDOL! I’ve been wanting to do the same thing. I just feel so bogged down with ‘STUFF’ Please keep posting on here! Have fun.

    by Liz — December 13, 2013

  29. Oh yeah – and I would be “packing” if I were you.

    by Liz — December 13, 2013

  30. RV singles traveling might want to check out They are headquartered in Deming, New Mexico.

    by Gregg — December 14, 2013

  31. Loralee, I remember that you moved from CA to Arizona alone and love it. It was so nice to read that because that is what I am planning. I also have driven across country many times, with my dogs, and love to drive. But then I had a destination I know where I was going and to whom. I have been to Arizona many times but as a tourist, but I know that is where I want to go I am tired of cold weather and snow, getting to old to shovel. Putting the dogs in the car and driving to Arizona, where I really don’t know anyone or any place, does scare me a little. So probably have to make some trips to Arizona this spring and just drive around and check places out. I am excited about my move but also a little scared to where. It has been neat to read the experience of single women making changes and taking chances, at first I thought I was nuts but now believe it is a dream for many of us. I don’t want to work at life anymore, I want to enjoy it. This is the blog I read first every morning

    by svenska — December 14, 2013

  32. Svenska – great post. I have 2 small dogs and also enjoy driving but was a bit concerned doing it alone,(and I’m a guy). I enjoy driving and plan to visit NC,SC,& VA after the holidays. I’m pretty much tapped out after 5 – 600 miles in a day. You give me confidence to just do it. BTW – well said ….”don’t want to work at life any more”!

    by Dan — December 14, 2013

  33. Svenska, Its’ a great idea for you to come explore Arizona first and see what areas you like. I knew the second day I was here, I had found my spot! As a matter of fact yesterday I was driving back from visiting my daughter and friends in California, and the minute I crossed over into Arizona, I had this feeling of, ” I am so happy to be back home.” It’s gonna be almost 70 today, beautiful and sunny! I had no trouble making new friends, and you won’t either!

    by Loralee — December 14, 2013

  34. I’d be very interested in hearing how people are solving the health insurance dilemma of early retirement? I also expect to be forced out of my job now that I hit my 60s. I’m an exec in a profession with few jobs, so I’m unlikely to find alternative employment. I’m probably in ok shape financially and will try to defer taking Social Security until 66 (house is paid off, and I’m working on paying off remaining debt), but I’m very worried about the cost of health insurance. I have two kids in school that will be on my family coverage for a few more months. I’ve heard that our company’s COBRA is about $1,500/mo for family coverage. Has anyone used Obamacare to find health insurance? Or are you still going to insurance brokers? Would anyone be willing to share their medical insurance costs?

    by Sharon — December 15, 2013

  35. Sharon,

    Check out You’ll be amazed!

    by Rich — December 15, 2013

  36. Loralee when you decided to move from CA did you already have a place in Arizona? If not how did you find a place. I really would appreciate some info from you because you have “been there”. Did you take trips to Arizona and check places out or did you just drive in and see what is there. I think I am looking for a RV resort, do not want a big house, as little to care for as possible and then travel more. And from what I see on the internet there are plenty in Arizona and most of them are very similar. I need to be within a 50 mile radius to a town/shopping and also trails for walking the dogs. So I guess I do not want to be in the boonies, but not in the city either. Your experience to making this move would be appreciated.
    Dan, like Loralee says we can do this. You do the East Coast and I will do the West Coast. Good Luck to both of us

    by Svenska — December 15, 2013

  37. Sharon, I live in Massachusetts and we’ve had mandated health coverage for about 5 years. When my husband retired at 63 this past July we looked at the insurance programs through our health exchange and compared plans to COBRA. COBRA was still the best deal though we can only keep it for 18 months. The health exchange policies had higher deductibles, co-insurance and premiums than staying with our COBRA policy. We currently pay $1184 a month for BC/BS PPO, dental and vision. Next year we’re going to save $100 a month by going with a Harvard Pilgrim HMO plan, which we’ve had before but switched to BC/BS since it’s more portable and we thought we might be moving. Hope this helps.

    by Carole — December 15, 2013

  38. Svenska, I did a lot of online research first and talked to realtors. Then I drove out and explored pretty much all over. Got the feel of the areas I liked and wanted to live. That’s how I did it! Hope this helps…

    by Loralee — December 16, 2013

  39. Just thinking after reading how there are a few women here who would love to travel across the country. We should get together and do it together! I currently reside in CA but am leaving there to return to the East Coast but like so many, do not know where I will “land”. Looking for an abode that I can afford, enjoy limited maintenance, not in heat of FL, AZ but not the frozen North. But I never say never….because one never knows!! Have traveled coast to coast. If leaving in winter, would only go the southern route. I really do not have a timeline. I am in NY involved in a fabulous family project for a few months. But, looking ahead…… Interested…can email me at

    by EJ — December 16, 2013

  40. EJ,
    I currently live in southwestern Ohio. It has a moderate Summer, a lovely Fall and most of all, usually a very dry winter with average temps in the 40’s. Cost of living isn’t bad at all. It is a bastion of conservative thinking. Please note we are the cross roads of America. I-70 goes from NY to CA. I-75 will take you from Canada to Florida. Not bad if you need a base to travel from.

    by Builder Bob — December 17, 2013

  41. Healthcare is a concern. I went to and was directed to NYstateofhealth. I did choose a policy there, and the cost is better than my current private policy (Cigna ppo) BUT it only provides coverage in NY. When I am not in NY…..emergency coverage only. This is a concern. Next August I will be 65 and will be able to enter our wonderful single-payer system, Medicare. But until then I am worried. I may have to stick with my pricey private plan unless anyone has good ideas??

    by Ginger — December 17, 2013

  42. Hey EJ – I think a lot of us are in the same boat, trying to decide where we will “land”. Also many of us are without partners and traveling alone can be, well, lonely. Maybe somebody should start a blog for those of us who would like to travel to investigate where we will choose our next home to be. We could meet up periodically at various locations. For those who are RVers, (and I am seriously considering not paying rent and buying a small RV, and selling it after I “land”), it could be at a camp site. I am told the army corps of engineers have great sites (always near the water), with large private rooms for showers etc. Any takers?

    by Dan Lenzi — December 17, 2013

  43. I will probably have to work now til I drop because of the Obamacare nightmare. This was my year to retire but I cannot give up my employer provided program and pay exorbitant prices.

    by Liz — December 17, 2013

  44. Builder Bob, do you live in the Dayton area? And you would recommend this area as a fairly good area to retire?

    by Bubbajog — December 17, 2013

  45. Healthcare is now a problem for those of us who wanted to retire early before age 65. My wife and I are both 61. If I retire we lose our health insurance and have to go into the exchange..Cobra premiums are 985 per month 90/10 plan with 500 ded stop gap of 2000…Great plan…The exchange plan is 1365 per month 80/20 plan (Gold) 2500 ded and 10000 stop gap…My question is what happened to my average savings of 2500…We wanted to move to South Carolina and I see where they just entered legislation in the state to make Obamacare illegal..What now is going to happen??? This healthcare situation is a mess and will get much worst before better..(political comments edited) .Any suggestions…

    by paul — December 18, 2013

  46. Just as an FYI on my earlier post this past week, COBRA costs are the full premium plus 2% for administrative fees. But, it’s also a group policy, therefore it makes sense that it’s less costly than what I found on the Massachusetts health exchanges. Since we only have coverage for 18 months, we still won’t be 65 when COBRA runs out and won’t be able to take advantage of Medicare. Then we’ll look at what’s available on the health exchanges. I doubt we’ll qualify for any discounts but you never know. I like knowing that we can’t be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition when this happens.

    by Carole — December 18, 2013

  47. In the state of NY the affordable care act marketplace offers plans that are less expensive than private plans, and there are options for tax breaks that can reduce the cost even further. Tthose of you who are complaining about obamacare must live in in states that are not providing good options. That’s a state problem, not a federal one, because I have good choices.

    by Ginger — December 18, 2013

  48. Much of my family lives in NY. NY too is a nightmare.
    Their premiums ALL increased, as did mine, by 20%-50% due to obamacare. The health exchange site had fees even higher than what we have to now pay with our increases.

    by Ginger — December 18, 2013

  49. Bubbajog:

    The City of Dayton is economically repressed. There are some great suburban areas around Dayton. It depends on what you are looking for.
    Just south of Dayton is Centerville and Kettering. These tow areas are rather upscale, but good housing can be found. This area also has some of the best healthcare in America; Sloan-Kettering is one.

    The taxes in these two towns are comparable to the Midwest. Coming a bit further south from Dayton is Springboro. There is a great mix of small, medium and for those that have the money, biggggg homes. Good shopping and easy access to health care.

    You will notice a trend here, I am taking you south along the east side of I-75. As we continue south, from Springboro, we encounter Middletown, so named due to the fact that it is half way between Dayton and Cincinnati. This is a former steel town and there too is a good cross section of low to high priced neighborhoods. Middletown has the Atrium Hospital and Medical Center, new and very good.

    A bit further south on the west side is West Chester. This is more a “Planned” community with great amenities. There is good shopping at the Cincinnati Outlet Mal and they just built a Racino (Horse racing casino complex.

    After West Chester one would have to further east and west to find good, safe housing and neighborhoods. 12 miles further south you will be in Cincinnati with all of the bigger city issues, good and bad. One could continue just bit further and be in Covington, KY and Newport.

    I don’t know if Kentucky has better tax rates that Ohio, but either way you are close to major league Baseball and Football teams as well as a bunch of colleges.

    Best of luck and good hunting.

    by Builder Bob — December 18, 2013

  50. Builder Bob, thank you for the excellent information.

    by Bubbajog — December 18, 2013

  51. I’m confused. It seems someone posted using my name above. Don’t know how that happened. I live in NY now, and have just looked at the obamacare offerings for NY. I am currently paying $456 a month for MVP plan privately. On the affordable care website I can get the same plan, with lower deductible, for $167 a month after tax incentive. So i signed up and have already received my statement for my first month of coverage. $167. saves me almost $300 a month. Whoever is posting the untrue and inflammatory comments above about the affordable care act, would you please not use my name?

    by Ginger — December 19, 2013

  52. Ginger – You don’t register a name on this site, so someone else named Ginger can post too. Not every “Ted” is going to be me.

    by Ted — December 20, 2013

  53. Ginger, there may be more than one Ginger…I know there is more than one Elaine.

    by Elaine — December 20, 2013

  54. Elaine and Ted, thanks. I didn’t know that. Then I retract my comments. Anyone an post whatever they want!

    by Ginger — December 20, 2013

  55. Our friend’s son in Illinois is loosing his insurance on Jan. 1 because their insurance was deemed inadequate under ACA. They have a preschooler that has had a medical issue for 13 months. They used the website and discovered they can’t afford the deductible. Does anyone know a source for finding out what to do if you end up with no insurance?

    by susan — December 20, 2013

  56. Susan – Yesterday an announcement by the government was made that a hardship exemption will be instituted for people in your friend’s son’s situation. See one of the national newspapers, like the New York Times, or the Forbes website for more information. According to what I read all you have to do is “complete a hardship exemption form, and indicate that your current health insurance policy is being cancelled and you consider other available policies unaffordable.”

    by Carole — December 20, 2013

  57. >Dan Lenzi > I have laid my head on what seems like every bit of terra firma across the USA and north to south over the years. Not that I would not want to do some of that again, I think I’d rather sleep in a bed and leave the maintenance to them! But, where and when are you headed?

    >BuilderBob > thanks for the info on Ohio. I think that is too inland for me. I need to be closer to my family in Southern VA and Northern NY.

    Any ideas folks for low income housing. I really do not know where to start…and I need to start!! Thanks.

    by EJ — December 21, 2013

  58. EJ and Dan Lenzi….as I already said, ,I will be traveling the country and I am certainly game for meet ups. EJ – I live in Albany NY now, and while it is cheaper than NYC, it isn’t cheap. My current roommate is moving, and without too much trouble he found a 2bedroom apartment for 1000. The one bedroom was 900. That is probably a median price here, with one bedrooms going as low as 700 in some not-so-nice areas. In contrast, I was just checking rental listings in Tucson and found what appeared to be very nice studios…and lots of them, in the 350-400 range, and one bedrooms for 450-600. Those few hundred make a big difference to someone on social security. I’m not sure you are going to find much in the east that is cheap, compared to other places. Plus the taxes are high in NY. Also, we have 6 months of winter, and the heating bills can really add up. I don’t know southern Virginia but my sense is that anything down that way is a,so pretty pricey. But I would look in that direction before I would go north.

    by Ginger — December 22, 2013

  59. I think I might head for daughter’s home in Nashville, look around there, drop my dogs, then seek out a beach in FL to think some things through as I’m recently single. Then look at Hilton head lakes 55 plus in SC, Brunswick Forest 55 plus near Wilmington NC, and then on to look in VA near DC to be near other daughter near. Still very apprehensive about traveling lone but found a website called loners on wheels ( that looks interesting. I’m also concerned about the depreciation involved with buying a second hand RV for the short term (less than 6 mos), but leasing/renting one is way too expensive – may as well stay at a hotel. I’d welcome any input.

    by Dan — December 22, 2013

  60. Nashville is a great area and the weather isn’t bad, damp.
    I never did care for the FL coast. If going to VA try the Richmond area,
    real nice, but they are still fighting the civil War. D.C. is nice to visit.
    I did like the Richmond area but clannish people in town, nice in the suburbs,
    Great weather almost always. Can’t beat AZ year round. Cowboys don’t care where you come from, great folks. No dreary rainy days.

    by charlie — December 23, 2013

  61. Love what Charlie said about AZ…Cowboys don’t care where you come from! Yee Haw!! My retirement destination!!

    by Loreena — December 23, 2013

  62. Hi. Very interesting reading
    My wife and I moved from Central Oregon to North western Arizona to Kingman three years ago. My wife and I are 59 and 60 years old and after losing the house in Oregon after 10 1/2 years of mortgage payments on it was the kick in the pants to move here
    Decided to take a leap of faith and move to Arizona where I have been wanting to move to for many years.Left my Mom and sisters in Oregon. Miss them, but I like Arizona so much better. Moving here we basically traded 8 months a year of cold for 8 months of warmth although most days during the cold I can still ride the motorcycle or bicycle.My arthritic hip feels so much better.The heat in the summer not so brutal like mid and southern Arizona.
    My grandparents lived in Kingman till they passed away in the late 70’s.That was how I chose Kingman. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any jobs and after 4 months in Kingman we had to branch out.I found work immediately in Prescott and we moved about 120 miles east to this area.We have been here 3 years.
    The weather is very similar to Kingman. November thru February it get’s pretty cold at night. Daytime though I can still ride my motorcycle or bicycle most of the time.
    I want to move back to Kingman in about 2 1/2 years when we mostly retire. The river is about 1/2 hour drive from Kingman. It’s a 3000 foot drop from Kingman to the river and a good 15 degree difference. Really used to like going there. Las Vegas and a few other big cities are within a two hour drive of Kingman. I do like the small town flavor of Kingman.
    Housing in Kingman is also a good 20 to 30,000 dollars cheaper than Prescott area.
    For a 1200+ sq foot site built house with garage on a .25 acre lot the price difference is mind boggling. We have been looking here in the Prescott area for a good 6 months now. Really hate to wait, but hope it works out. Veterans can buy a site built house for $100,000 for about $600 a month including taxes and insurance. I hope it is about the same in two years. Gotta keep working till then unfortunately.
    I am proud to say that I am a Veteran. Arizona really seems to take care of it’s Vets. I’ve had restaurants give me a veteran discount. Very nice. I have been receiving VA care for many years now and when we start collecting Social Security we will need medical insurance for my wife only till she is old enough for Medicare. That of course will help a lot.
    Lot’s of good advice here.
    Guess I’ve yacked enough for now.

    by Fredrick G. Ramsden — December 23, 2013

  63. Excellent information Fredrick. I have been to Kingman a few times over the years. I am 63, and have lived most of my life in the Los Angeles metro area. Southern California has changed quite a bit over the last 30 years, and in my opinion not for the better. The far left politics get harder and harder for me to tolerate. Kingman does interest me. Via the internet I have done quite a bit of reading regarding Kingman. This is an area I personally will give a very close look at. The small town life style with less traffic and less humans seems very appealing to me. Also, I very much like the overall lower cost of living in Arizona. Thank you for the information regarding Kingman.

    by Bubbajog — December 23, 2013

  64. >>>Thanks Ginger. I do not intend to stay in Northern NY. I wish to be where the temperature and climate is a bit more moderate. I am not inclined to do the RV route. Surely there are places in the Northern NC area that can accommodate folks as myself who do not wish to stay in colder climates but wish a warmer climate. I cannot believe there are not moderate process apartments in areas such as this. Any folks who can supply info are invited to do so, please!! Thanks so much,

    by EJ — December 23, 2013

  65. For Fredrick, if you are 100% disabled vet. like me, your wife’s health ins. should be free. You need to inquire. I don’t presently have a wife but I know the system. And yes, those old past broken bones do feel better in the heat; as a matter a fact you forget about them until Dec. limp until Jan. and go on. Not a bad deal at all. AZ cowboys are great drinking partners too at the VFW and legion.

    by charlie — December 24, 2013

  66. Hi Babajog
    I grew up in South Pasadena, but left back in 1972 to join the Army. Lived there a couple years after I got out, but that was it. My brother is the only one still living down there. I visited him for Christmas 2010 and think that will be the last time I will go back. I have lived in the country since I was 30 and never wanted to live in the city again. Kingman is still a fairly small city and got to think of that growing older thing. I do like the easy escape to the country and the river.Good luck to you.

    by Fredrick G. Ramsden — December 24, 2013

  67. Hi Charlie
    I was meeting my vet rep in the VFW in Kingman. Didn’t find a job there but they did have a pretty good crowd. I am 10% disabled do to severe hearing loss. I have been using the VA as my primary care since about 1995. I’ve had insurance most of the time. Two years ago I was a temp at the company I work for now and needed to get a hernia operation. The VA hospital in Phoenix did the surgery and never charged me. I was very relieved. I don’t make the kind of money I used to 4 years ago. As far as the limping goes that’s about right. A few months of limping and the rest of the year I don’t even know I have a problem. The first time I noticed was when my wife and I came down from oregon to look at Arizona. We had traveled down to Kingman in March by car and I didn’t hurt at all. The trip was about 1100 miles. I used to travel from central Oregon over to Portland which is about 130 miles and have to pry myself out of the car. Huge difference! I will take the relief for most of the year. Thank you for info.

    by Fredrick G. Ramsden — December 24, 2013

  68. Charlie
    I did 3 years Army and 6 years Navy. I was stationed in Norfolk, VA for 26 months back in 82 thru 84. Did enjoy all the History there. Too much racism there. I’m white, but felt bad for the blacks. Hope that has changed. Did a lot of traveling there though. Found out that a civil war carbine that my Uncle had given me when I was 10, was patented in 1856 and was one of the first breach loading rifles. It’s a Burnside. I have pictures of my car buried in snow at the parking area for sailors in Norfolk. Never knew it snowed on the ocean too.

    by Fredrick G. Ramsden — December 24, 2013

  69. I have seen some Burnside rifles from collector friends, they also made a pistol, but real rare. I was in Virginia in Aug., hasn’t changed that much. I do like the altitude there vs. AZ, can breath easier and B/Press drops to normal. Never realized how much rain they got until I moved to AZ, where it rains 3 times a year. If I make a move it will be to Green Valley, cooler in the summer, real nice area of AZ. As we age a close med. facility is important. Great V.A. facilities in Phoenix, I’m about 30 miles away and 8 from a branch in Mesa. Do much volunteer at Phoenix, Vet. hospital, good folks. Best of luck enjoying the heat.

    by Charlie — December 25, 2013

  70. Hi Everybody,
    Thanks a lot for sharing all of your experiences. I am 36 years old and hope to retire by 55 with my wife who is 35. I know its too early to retire, but i have no shame in saying that i would rather be prepared and by no means am i the smartest bulb in the room 😛
    Since many of you are actively planning and some have taken the plunge into retirement, if u look at someone like me with 20 years or so left in the game what would you recommend i work on to help us with our retirement (financially, emotionally and even spiritually).

    a little background about me and my wife.
    a)Both of us are immigrants from India and have been here in the US for only 7 years. wife is a US citizen and i am a permanent resident.
    b)We dont have any children and dont plan on having any.
    c) we rent currently
    d) we have zero debt
    e) we have cash savings of 135000 currently. our annual savings is in the 25 to 30 k range.
    f) no health scares so far.
    g) wife is a registered nurse and i have a home run business.

    Thanks in advance for your guidance and responses. hopefully over the years i can keep in touch with a few of the contributors on this site as we chug along and try to catch up with our retirement dreams 😀
    Few of the questions that worry me are as follows
    1) how much of a saving kitty do we really need to plan for. we live in NJ but plan to move south due to the better weather and cost of living. however we are not experienced enough to factor in the pain of being away from friends. we dont have any family in the US.
    2) I have not been able to wrap my head around the health insurance questions. can we even dream of retiring by 55 or do we have to slug it out to 65-67.
    3) how important is it to learn spanish if we are thinking of settling down in the south
    4) are retirement destinations like costa rica really practical from a quality of life / relocation/ security perspective.

    by Reji — January 1, 2014

  71. Reji … I just happened to read a great article talking about what you ask … it is titled ’11 Simple Financial Tips You Should Have Followed 30 Years Ago’ by Motley Fools … The first point was – Pay yourself first.

    A new year is a great time for all of us to get our financial houses in order. Hopefully, the above list provides some helpful guidance. Here’s to a safe and prosperous 2014. Happy investing

    (Editor’s Note: Thanks Steve for posting this, it is a great article. However it is copyright violation to post more than a few sentences from any copyrighted publication. So here is the link to the original article )

    by Steveb — January 2, 2014

  72. Reji, think about financial strategies first. Look at all the good financial blogs here and elsewhere. This is NOT necessarily the most important part of retirement, but I know that my priorities have changed since I was your age. Others may have different experiences, but I really do not wish to snow ski anymore. Spend some time for short trips to the southern locations that you are considering to get a feel for each area.

    I have moved from place to place for jobs and found that it varies on how easily one makes friends. Clubs on your interests that are likely to still be interests when you are a bit older or passions can be useful. You may want to settle near good medical care because if you need some pt or other income later, larger medical centers are likely to provide income opportunities for your wife. Might also be easier to find people of like interests.

    knowing what healthcare will be like is anyone’s guess.

    I sure hope that knowledge of Spanish isn’t a requirement. I tried so hard to learn Spanish. took it in high school and even took an evening immersion course when I lived in the Detroit area. Wasn’t going to try a more complicated language. I am an intelligent and educated person, but cannot learn languages (or hear music for that matter). I can hear a pin drop so that is not the problem.

    by Elaine — January 2, 2014

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