April 28, 2015 — Last month we asked our single Members to share their thoughts, experiences, and dreams about where they would like to retire. This article summarizes and categorizes what you told us in over 80 very thoughtful Comments (which included a lot of back and forth between commenters). But please don’t stop here, read all the Comments in the original article. You will also find many interesting links for singles looking for solutions to where and how to live in retirement at the end of this article.
There is a diversity of opinions expressed by our members about various aspects of retirement for singles, yet remarkable agreement on a number of other issues. Here are some observations and trends we see:
– Almost of the comments came from women, which is not surprising since the original request for this article came from a woman, and she framed the question. If there was one thing you could say from the handful of men’s comments it would be this: they sounded more confident and adventurous, and less worried. They generally had a strategy and that typically involved moving somewhere else. Not surprisingly, women seemed more open about their feelings and concerns as well as their plans.
– We are pleased to see how many people are thinking about renting/exploring several areas before they decide where they will live. Yes!
– The Sun Belt seems to lead other areas of the country in places being considered. See “Where they are retiring” section below
– Many women are attracted to a “Golden Girls” type living arrangement, even if finding that might be difficult. See Golden Girls section for more
– Most of the “wants”,”fears”, and “positives” about retirement are fairly similar. To generalize: people want a place where they can pursue their interests and needs, yet fear being lonely or priced out of the market. See sections below on Wants, Fears, Positives.
Golden Girls network:
There was a LOT of interest in this idea, even though one woman warned the whole idea is a fantasy. Here are a couple of sample responses (there were more Comments made to the original article):
– I am also interested in the Golden Girls living arrangement. This is a wonderful idea that I think will begin to become more popular. (Maggie supplied the links below, which make for very interesting reading if you like this idea. Thanks!)
– (Here is one women’s modified approach to the Golden Girls idea):
I also started renting the home I’m in now. First to a friend who was divorced. She stayed for a year and paid me $700 a month (bills included). When she moved to Houston I took a home share online class to keep from making mistakes that I had made before. I was very slow deciding who to rent to but since mid-February have been renting to a 52 year old retired army vet who is now working for the school district. He pays me $650 a month and helps with the chores and heavy lifting. It is also a fantastic tax break
For more resources on this idea here are some links (see end of article for even more):
Golden Girls Network (courtesy of Jan Cullinane).
Women Living in Community
Living in Community Network Sarasota meetup
My House Our House
National Shared Housing Resource Center
What They Want
Note that in the sections to follow we lifted or edited small portions of the Comments made – they are not always verbatim but we tried to boil down the original sense.
– Get away from cold Northeast winters. But worried about leaving friends and family
– I may relocate to a place that’s affordable, things to do outdoors — enjoy road biking and hiking, and to be near cultural activities
– Although I would ultimately like to downsize, I also love gardening and doing yard work, so an apartment or condo might be a good choice, but only temporarily. I’m thinking of a small cottage
– I plan on renting and seeing what I like. I will probable lean heavily towards no income tax states with lower cost of living
– I will try to move with the least amount of baggage as possible, so I will be able to live somewhere for about 6 months to a year; and if it suits me, stay there longer. This will be an adventure for me
– I have been researching various walkable cities close to water (kayaking), walking and biking paths, and safe.
– A supportive 55+community that caters to professionals also would provide extended care should that eventually become necessary since I do not have any living family
– Like the idea of a 55+ community for the the social and recreational aspects (many comments like this)
– Several master planned golf course communities in Florida have full clubhouses, fitness centers, walking trails, etc. etc. seem to offer me most of what I am looking for as I am widowed and moving solo and know not a soul down there
– Which Florida coast is better for single women?
– There are a lot of us single women who are retiring who do not have anyone to help them keep up a home. I want to move to another location in a senior community near family or in my case near the ocean-any ocean, in an area that never goes below freezing
– I see retirement as a refinement of my life, to include only what I love or find to be useful. So these preparation years are about editing not ony the physical and financial, but also how I view my place in this world. The last thing I’m interested in is living in a 55+ golfing community. No judgment on anyone who wants that, but I would be bored to tears
– My own space
– Some place where I can make new friends and do my favorite activities
– Access to good medical care
– Apartments with planned activities
– Shared housing in a 55+ community
– Rent first
– Near friends and family
Fears, Concerns, and Worries
– My husband shared our financial information with me, but when he passed I was thoroughly confused because I was unused to managing money.
– I would like to hear others opinions if they think it could work and what suggestions they could offer to accomplish my plan. Of course I would have to store some of my things and plan on moving without furniture until I find my permanent home. One idea I have is renting furniture
– I feel my only option with the small amount of money I have in my 401K, is to buy a used trailer home somewhere in the area. It’s a frightening thought to live in tornado alley in a metal box. I have several single women friends my age and we joke about starting our own trailer park commune
– When my husband passed 5 years ago, I renovated the house thinking that I’d “age in place”. My youngest moved out 6 months ago, and I experienced loneliness even though I volunteer, take classes, and have lunch with friends. I decided the house was too big for me and my dog and that I needed more interaction with people
– What holds me back is making this move alone. I have many friends & have an active life where I live now, but I think its the right time to move
– Living in the suburbs would depend on your individual situation (ie: ability to drive, willingness to be outgoing)
– Double whammy: husband passing and kids’ leaving home could lead to depression and loneliness
– Scared to death I am making the right decisions
– Leaving friends and family is very scary (several comments like this)
– Owing two places could be a hassle
– Downsizing could be difficult
– Not easy to meet people
Positives and Advice
There were a lot of positive comments, plus plenty of great advice. Here are a few for your reading pleasure:
– It is so inspiring to see so many women stepping outside of their comfort zone to forge the unknown to find that socially and environmentally perfect retirement fit. Still so uncommitted and yet it is so exciting to think that you can pick up and move to a location of choice. As someone once said “the path is the goal”
– Think of your retirement in 10 year increments – each decade will be different
– Widowhood requires a strong support system
– I think it is more important to determine what you want to do in retirement first. What is on your “Bucket List”? It’s a trade-off on what I want and need to fulfill items on my bucket list
– So I think you just have to try things out and see how they feel. I don’t know if this is the perfect location, but for now it feels good. If for some reason it doesn’t work out, I can always sell and try something or some place else
– Hard to believe at 66 I am starting over but I am looking forward to it. At least I am healthy and come from a long line of strong women. Should be an interesting adventure!
Where They Are Moving or Considering (Almost always the Sundbelt)
– The Carolinas
– Want to explore Ruidoso, NM
– Have rented for months in Cape Coral (FL)
– I am basing many of my decisions on taxes, although I am drawn to Western NC and TN around Chattanooga area. I am taking a road trip this summer to explore these areas. I fell in love with Asheville NC a few years ago, but it is nearly as expensive as where I currently live
– Western NC or Tennessee or Savannah
– Tellico Village (TN)
– An active community in Surprise (AZ)
– Kings Point at Sun City Center (FL)
– Prefer the Treasure and Space Coasts of Florida
– Plan on building several cabins to share near Panama City (FL)
– Would prefer a place in the West or in North Carolina, hopefully around people in the arts
– Myrtle Beach (SC) for its low taxes, plenty to do. I know I will have many guests because of the beach, and I look forward to meeting new people
– Am interested in North Carolina, Ft. Myers/Cape Coral (FL)
– The Villages
– The Northwest and its weather
– Middlebury (VT) is a quiet, low key place that is perfect for my retirement
– Prescott or Cottonwood Canyon in Arizona
– St. Augustine (FL) or Athens (GA)
– Moving to Arizona was best move I ever made. My new life is great!
– Intent on moving from Summerville, SC to Boulder, Co for the natural glories of the American West
– Tucson, NC, or SC. Not sure I am a Florida girl
– Renting in Washington, D.C., which has many singles of all ages. Considering exploratory trips to FL and NC
– Summerville (SC) is on my list of possible destinations
– Have checked out Del Webb communities in Illinois, Indiana, the one in Mt. Juliet, TN and am planning on going out to the Phoenix area to see a number of communities out there. I also visited Tellico Village in Loudon, TN outside Knoxville
– Considering downsizing and moving to Phoenix to be near my son
– Chattanooga (TN), Brevard (NC), Austin (TX), The Villages (FL), Punta Gorda (FL)
– I am from Central Michigan and live in a condo in downtown Chattanooga. Although I am not single there are several single women and men who live in my building. We all love it here and their is so much to do! What I love about Chattanooga in comparison to Michigan is the beauty of the city. And so many interesting transplants here
– Bozeman (MT), Boulder (CO), Bend (OR) – love skiing, hiking, the mountains
– Work my way down to various places on the SE part of US. My idea is to move to an area and rent in a single family home. If that’s not the ideal place I will move again. The place isn’t so important to me as are the people and activities
– Plan on renting in the Outer Banks (OBX – NC) and see how that goes
– I decided to go on vacation year round in Myrtle Beach SC. Low taxes, low cost of living and plenty to do. With this location close to the beach, I am sure I will have lots of guests and make lots of new friends.
– I thought about North and South Carolina but I am open to other areas. I want some cultural activities and the beach not far away, low cost of living and I will be renting until I am sure.
– I would like to move to a city for 6 mos to a year then move again for another 6 mos to a year so I could try out different cities.
– I love to read about couples who will travel or get to retire in the mountains in NC or live on the CA shoreline
– I like So. California where I’ve settled and where my children are, but I’d like to be closer to my 3 siblings in No. California.
– we live in the Northshore (Chattanooga) and love it! We can walk to the grocery store, bank, pharmacy, hair salon, restaurants
– I was thinking of On Top of The World in Ocala Florida
– I have lived all over the U.S., and have narrowed my retirement location to three places: Puget Sound area, Tucson (where I now live) and Fayetteville, AR. I have family in each location, which is a primary requirement for me. I want to live in a semi-rural area that is close to a university. I hope to work part-time or as a consultant in retirement
– I love it in Austin (TX)
– I don’t think i can handle another winter in the North East… I really want to relocate to a warm, sunny state.Perhaps because i have lived on the east coast all my life, i don’t think i would relocate to the west coast or even mid-west
– Any first hand experience with Sun City Center Florida?
– We chose the Tucson, AZ region…liked the college town, liked a progressive city, liked the size of city. Although I am married our community is about 25% singles and that was important too… if I were single would I fit in? Love the activities in this 55+ community
– I am 58, single, more involved in the dog world than most, and decided upon Canta Mia in Goodyear arizona
– I’m thinking about college/university towns like Greenville, SC, Elkins WV, Peterborough NH ,Oberlin OH, Annapolis MD, Richmond IN, Madison WI.
– I would suggest checking out Summerfield in King City/Tigard, which is 55+.
– Love Portland, OR
– I am planning to retire in Mexico where I live now
The good news is that, based on our Member input, there is no shortage of places where singles might find retirement happiness. There are many singles out there in the same situation, so their support and company means you do not have to fear isolation and loneliness in retirement. Good luck, and thanks to the many singles who shared their experiences here.
For further reading
Singles, Please Tell Us Where You Would Like to Retire
The Best Places for Singles to Retire
When Living with Strangers Make Sense
How Baby Boomers Are Making Their Own Retirement Communities
Creating Your Own Retirement Community
Women Should Think and Talk More about Retirement (see story in left column)
The Frugal Female and Medical Costs (see story in left column)
Comments? So now that you have seen how a lot of people view retirement as a single, what are your thoughts, concerns, and plans. Please share them in the Comments section below.