By Jan Cullinane and John Brady
Note: This is Part 2 of a 3 part series. See bottom of article for links to the other two.
April 16, 2015 — In Part 1 we published detailed answers to the first two questions we asked our panel of six retirement experts – where they chose to live, and why. In this continuation of the series at Topretirements you can read how they responded to questions about aging and long term care, how well they followed their own advice, and their tips on finding a place to retire and a successful retirement. There is a lot of wisdom and food for thought in their responses; we hope you will enjoy them and learn as well!
To give you an idea of what is in store, here is one of our favorite “expert” confessions, in response to the question which asks about how well they followed their own advice:
“I always also suggest that people try a place out in all seasons, and rent to be sure it’s the right move. Nope. Bought a lot the day I visited the place.”
Our retirement experts:
We are pleased to have the collective expertise of six leading U.S. retirement experts for this article. Their detailed biographies are at the end of this article, but here is a thumbnail sketch of each of our gurus.
Dr. Ron Manheimer retired in 2009 from his position as the founding director of the award-winning North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement (now an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Ron’s current book is Mirrors of the Mind: Reflecting on Philosophers’ Autobiographies (Jorvik Press).
Ernie Zelinski is a best-selling author, prosperity life coach, innovator, professional speaker, and unconventional career expert. How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free (Visions InternationalPublishing) is a perennial best-seller.
Jan Cullinane is an award-winning author, speaker, and consultant. Jan’s current book is The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (Wiley).
Kerry Hannon is a nationally recognized authority on career transitions and retirement and a frequent TV and radio commentator. Her most recent book is Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness (Wiley).
Carol White retired after a long career in sales and marketing. She embarked on a yearlong trip around the United States that spawned her second career and her award-winning book, Live Your Road Trip Dream.
John Brady created Topretirements.com in 2006 after retiring as co-owner and Executive Vice President of Business & Legal Reports, Inc.
Responses to questions 3 – 6 – lots of good advice!
Don’t forget to check out our summary article, “OK You Retirement Experts: How Is Your Retirement Going?” to see our distillation of lessons learned from all this input.
3. How do you plan to deal with aging issues? Long-term care insurance, self-insurance, or live forever?
Manheimer: I was fortunate to be a state employee so that besides Medicare I have a supplementary medical plan under the state employee retirement system. I also have a long-term care policy plus an annuity to cover the balance of my long-term care expenses. My wife and I live in a four-bedroom house on 1.6 acres about ten minutes from the city center. Last year we purchased a downtown condo that we currently rent out and that serves as a possible downsizing next move.
Zelinski: I don’t have long-term care insurance. I will rely on self-insurance. I hope that I can pull off what my mother did. She was able to live to a fairly healthy 85. Then in the last three months of her life, she was a little ill until one day she was in great pain. We took her to the hospital and she was diagnosed with acute leukemia. The doctors gave her six months to live but she passed away within two days.
Cullinane: I plan to stay healthy and active a long time, and eat well and exercise to help ensure this, and I do believe that where you live affects how you live. I will be able to self-insure for my long-term care, and I did build a house with universal design elements (including an elevator) so I can age in place longer.
White: Our first line of defense is to keep ourselves healthy – a healthy diet, exercise, active minds and bodies, positive attitudes, good friends, minimum drugs, regular doctor visits, etc. Phil just had a hip replacement, but he always does the PT to maximize the upside of those surgeries. I’m still fighting those extra 20 pounds that keep creeping back.
We have good insurance through Medicare and my former employer, and we also carry life insurance and have long term care insurance without a cap that includes both home health and facility care. We were fortunate we weren’t devastated by the financial down turns; although we have suffered financial losses, we planned well enough that the losses didn’t becomes catastrophic. We have stayed diversified with investment real estate properties, as well as annuities and some money in the market. Our current major strategy is blue chip stocks that pay good dividends – that has been a good plan for several years now. The stock market upturn the last several years has been a bonus. We keep about a year’s worth of extra needs in cash each year (travel, new cars, etc).
Brady: Self-insurance, trying to live healthy.
4. How good of a job do you think you’ve done following your own expert advice in determining where you live?
Manheimer: Since growing up in Detroit, MI, I feel fortunate to have lived in several attractive communities including: San Diego, Santa Cruz, CA, Olympia, WA, Bethesda, MD, and Copenhagen, Denmark. I lucked into Asheville just as it was undergoing a dramatic transformation, making it a desirable place to be. As I found career success and my program grew to national prominence, the town blossomed, my kids flourished, and considering the lack of a plan, things turned out well. Maybe my strongest asset was to recognize that the grass was getting greener right under my feet and that I could do my part in helping it to grow.
Zelinski: I think that I am doing a great job in managing to live in a fairly affordable place where most of my friends live. But I am also doing a great job in traveling a lot in winter and staying for a week or so in places such as Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco, and London. Other cities on my list are San Diego, Honolulu, Istanbul, and Paris.
Cullinane: Well, in some respects I followed my own advice: I suggest people have a list of what I call “non-negotiables” when deciding where to live, and I did use this list deciding to move to Hammock Beach. BUT, I always also suggest that people try a place out in all seasons, and rent to be sure it’s the right move. Nope. Bought a lot the day I visited the place, and although I didn’t build on it for several years, I never did change my mind. So, I’m kind of in the middle when it comes to following my own advice about choosing a place to live.
Hannon: I’ve done fine. It is a compromise about where we will ultimately live in our 70s and 80s…and more will be revealed. I’m only 54 and Cliff is 60.
White: Our philosophy has always been to be open to changes and new experiences. I think this is part of staying young. With that in mind, we have made two major moves in the last few years – and taken it all in stride. As we’ve made those moves, we have done a lot of research, been fiscally prudent in our decisions, yet enjoyed those experiences that we wanted in our lifestyle. If you remain open to the possibilities and don’t put self-limiting ideas in your head, you have a much better chance of being happy with your decisions long term.
Brady: We are doing well but not at 100% on following our own advice. Now in our mid 60’s we continue to summer where we lived all of our married life. For our main residence we did a pretty good job of scouting out locations and renting before buying. We picked locations where we can continue to work and where we can do the things we like to do. Where we are going to have trouble following my advice is when it comes to trying to choose one retirement location for the rest of our lives. If we are fortunate enough to hit our 80s, or are unlucky enough to experience ill-health, that might force a move. CT has great health care; Key West is not a place where you want to live if you have serious health issues, or if you are very old (because of the hurricane threats). At some point we might have to make a compromise and move somewhere else in Florida, perhaps Delray Beach. Or move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) somewhere, but continue to summer in CT or somewhere else as long as possible. It is hard to predict the future, and where our children might live. However we know it is also unsettling to make big changes late in life.
5. If you were to give people one piece of advice about choosing a place to retire, and having a successful retirement what would it be?
Manheimer: The realization that, as the title of a self-help book goes, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Meaning, that while the choice of a new home community can bring many pluses compared to the community from which one is moving (e.g. better weather, lower cost of living, safer streets, kinder people, more intellectual and spiritual life), each of us bring our same baggage to a new destination. We won’t be any different unless we also have a plan to make our lives different. If that’s an important part of the equation, then we need to make a checklist of what we need in the way of amenities (e.g. broadband internet connectivity, institutions of higher education, good coffee shops) and resources (libraries and bookstores, investors, therapists, yoga teachers) to help us fulfill our personal and relational growth goals. If this is not an issue and one is perfectly happy with his or her life and just wants to plunk down someplace nice, there are many websites and guidebooks available that can provide guidance. I encourage people considering relocating to undertake a trial period in a potential new community either by renting for six months to a year or, if that’s not possible or practical, making periodic week long visits in different seasons of the year. Reality testing one’s dream is a safeguard for having to make the move twice or realizing that the best plan is to stay put.
Zelinski: My advice would be to choose a place where you can have the most fun with your friends. Studies show that the people who have the most friends in their later years are the happiest and live the longest.
Cullinane: My best piece of advice is that if you come up with a list of non-negotiables that you (and your significant other if you have one) must have, there are many places that will work, including, possibly, staying put. But, don’t stay put just because it’s easier, and then be forced into a change because outside circumstances force you to move. We only live twice, and the second time is during retirement, when we are given the gift of time. Cherish that. Retirement is different for everyone. It may mean not working at all; it may mean following a passion or working part-time; it may mean time to read and explore places and activities you haven’t had time to do before. Retirement may be a word that inspires fear and is something you never plan to do. Ignore all those who tell you retirement is only how they choose to define it. Retirement is as unique as you are.
Hannon: Look for great public transportation, home with a master bedroom on main floor, watch out for stairs. This is mostly based on my parents’ experience. Save, save, save, downsize your lifestyle as early as you can, so you are financially fit and nimble. That gives you choices about how you want to live as you age. Plan to work in some fashion. For pay is always best. It is critical to remain relevant and have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Do work you love and are passionate about in these years. Share your knowledge and mentor others. Smile.
White: I’m very analytical, so I would say to list all the things that are important to you, rank them, then use that list as a guide to evaluate your various options. If you aren’t really analytical, then go with your heart (and wallet), but make sure it is something that will feed your soul and provide a place to enjoy your retirement.
Brady: Give yourself a lot of time to explore many places, don’t rush it. Rent for a while. Ideally pick a region where you can stay for the rest of your life, an area that gives you the option to move to different kinds of housing as you age and your needs change.
6. Anything else we should know?
Manheimer offers tips on how to have a creative retirement on his Blog.
Zelinski: In your search for Shangri-la, don’t overlook the possibility that paradise may be where you are right now. There is some truth to the words of Henry Ford: “Everybody wants to be someplace he ain’t. As soon as he gets there, he wants to go right back.”
Cullinane: If you decide to come and check out Hammock Beach, contact me through my site, www.jancullinane.com. I’ll be happy to give you a tour!
White: Don’t be afraid to dream big. Nothing really exciting ever happens by playing it “safe.” Sometimes you just have to set an audacious goal and work towards it, even if it seems improbable at the start. That was exactly how we got to spend a year on the road “living our road trip dream!”
Brady: Enjoy the process – it is a lot of fun and a chance to reinvent the rest of your life.
Thanks very much to all of our experts for taking the time to share their experiences and rich retirement advice. It reinforces to us how true it is that everyone’s retirement is unique, and needs to be planned accordingly. We hope all of our readers can profit from the great advice in this three part series.
Meet the Experts
Dr. Ron Manheimer retired in 2009 from his position as the founding director of the award-winning North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement (now an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. An expert on trends influencing the many ways people are reinventing retirement, Ron brings a Ph.D background in philosophy and gerontology to his current career as speaker, consultant, and writer. His many published books include A Map to the End of Time: Wayfarings with Friends and Philosophers.
Ernie Zelinski is a best-selling author, prosperity life coach, innovator, professional speaker, and unconventional career expert. Ernie’s fifteen creative works — published in twenty-two languages in twenty-nine countries — have sold over 875,000 copies worldwide. His retirement bestsellers The Joy of Not Working and How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free together have sold over 500,000 copies and have been featured in major international media.
Jan Cullinane is an award-winning author, speaker, and consultant. Jan’s current book is The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (Wiley/AARP); she is also co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale), and Retire Happy (Hallmark Books). Jan also taught and was an administrator at the college level, has a B.S. and Master’s degree from the University of Maryland, and is ABD from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Kerry Hannon is a nationally recognized authority on career transitions and retirement and a frequent TV and radio commentator. Kerry is a columnist for The New York Times, a contributing writer for Money magazine, a contributing editor at Forbes magazine, a columnist for PBS’s NextAvenue.org and the Second Verse columnist at Forbes.com. She is also AARP’s Job Expert and the Great Jobs for Retirees columnist at AARP.org. Kerry is the author the recently published Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness.
Carol White has spent a lifetime preparing for retirement – and is now enjoying the fruits of her labors. She retired from her first career after 34 years in sales and marketing with AT&T/Lucent Technologies at age 52, and then embarked on a yearlong trip around the United States that spawned her second career as she wrote, published and marketed the award-winning book, “Live Your Road Trip Dream.” Her success in that business then led to helping other authors market their books until she finally fully retired in 2012. She now does volunteer work helping others with all kinds of marketing-related issues.
John Brady created Topretirements.com in 2006. He did that after retiring as co-owner and Executive Vice President of Business & Legal Reports, Inc., a business publisher specializing in human resources, environmental, and safety compliance. At the end of the Don Draper era he worked in advertising at Young & Rubicam New York.
Comments? Do you have your own advice you would like to offer, or do you differ on some of these points? How is your retirement going vs. how you thought it would play out when you planned it? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.