August 6, 2019 — Perhaps the most fundamental question you face in retirement is to move or not. You might be considering retiring from the midwest, for example, to the Sunbelt. Or from the suburbs to a city or active adult community. You decision might not mean moving far; perhaps just relocating to a more age-appropriate home in the area where you live now. Whatever you decide, we think that if you are going to do a good job of retiring, you need to answer the question.
As for where to retire, that is mostly what this site is about. We’ve written all kinds of articles about the possibilities, with reviews of thousands of towns and communities to explore. So in this one we are going to try to answer some of the questions that might come up as you think about whether you should move or not. (Thanks to Jeanette Pavini of TheStreet.com for posing these questions we answered in an article at TheStreet.com)
Q: How should someone determine if they should stay in their current home/location to retire, or if they should consider moving?/
A: As we said up top, this is a hugely important question for retirees. The type of home you live in and where it is located can have a profound impact on your retirement lifestyle. Most people are comfortable living where they have always lived, so it is a big deal to consider moving. There is hassle, expense, and the fear and uncertainty of moving to the unknown. Your social life will be majorly affected.
Some of the big factors that affect your decision are:
Budget. Are you worried you won’t have enough money to maintain your pre-retirement lifestyle? If so you can probably move to a less expensive home and/or locale and save enough money to keep up your lifestyle.
Your abilities. The key here is to start thinking longer term, because if you are lucky you will live to a nice old age. You might be able to clean the gutters and mow the lawn now, but how will you feel about jobs like those in 15 or 20 years? What happens if you or spouse can’t walk up the stairs to an upstairs bedroom, or if your home has multiple levels to negotiate? If you can no longer drive, how will you go shopping and to the doctor? A good plan is to make one move early, or at least go to a location where you can transition to independent or assisted living without having to make a major move in your old age.
Social. In old age, living by yourself in a suburban home is a good recipe for loneliness. Unless you are a hermit or make younger friends very easily, moving to a place with a built-in social life, like an active community, cohousing community, or downtown apartment, might be a better plan. Some retirees move to be near their children or friends – often a good solution for their social life.
Activities and climate. Can you do all of the things you like to do where you live now – year round ? If so, staying might be a good idea. But if warm weather pursuits are important to you, consider moving to a warmer climate. Likewise move if you hate the cold or humidity. If the beach or the mountains are where you have always wanted to live – great. And of course, there are those who love winter activities, and there are places they might to retire to.
Distance. Are you going to be OK relocating far away from your friends, family, clubs, stores, doctors, church, etc.? Some people have deep tap roots, and starting over on so many fronts would be very disturbing. For others, it is “get me out of here fast!”
Q: What are costs people often overlook when considering a move for retirement?
A: Everyone expects that there will be moving expenses and closing costs when you buy or rent a new home. But there are other ones you might not have thought about. Two unexpected costs might be buying new furniture/appliances and, if you choose to be a snowbird and have two homes, having to buy duplicates of everything you own now. When you buy in an existing active adult or 55+ community there is a good chance that the previous owner will want to sell you their furnishings, and that will probably be a good deal for you. But if the home is empty when you take possession, you will be either be moving what you own now or buying lots of new stuff. The problem with moving what you have now is that it not only costs money, but it probably won’t be a good style fit in your new location. Think New England antiques crowded into a Florida condo – it rarely works. The good news is that in many areas consignment shops have plenty of top drawer items that can be purchased at bargain prices.
Q. Should someone rent in the area they are considering moving to before buying a home?
A: Absolutely! I don’t know how many times someone at Topretirements.com site has made a comment along the lines of, “If I had only rented for a while I would have realized that .. , was so far from everything… the people were so… etc.). Stay and Play packages offered by many active or 55+ communities are great for getting an on the ground picture of a place to retire. But, buying a place impulsively is often a very big mistake. Renting has the huge advantage of giving you an automatic out if you don’t like what you see. Renting over several seasons gives you the chance to sample different towns, states, and communities without taking a big risk.
Bottom line. Deciding if you are going to move is a big deal that needs to be thought through. We hope this article has given you some things to think about as you go through the decision process. Remember that very few people end up in their final days where they lived when they retired. Their lifestyles changed, and if they live long enough, it won’t be possible for them to continue living in those homes. Planning is always a great idea.
Comments? What are some of the questions and worries you have about moving in retirement? Are you and your spouse of one mind on the topic? If you have moved, how big a deal was it, and what kinds of surprises did you experience? Please share your thoughts, concerns, and opinions in the Comments section below.
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