If you are a single person looking for a best place to retire you will probably employ a few different criteria than those a couple might use. Many of our Topretirements visitors have asked for more information about best places for singles to retire – this article is our attempt to help.
The most common, and certainly understandable, fear that single people have about retirement is that they will wind up in a community where most of the people are paired off. A place where singles are at best ignored, at worst discriminated against. Fortunately with some careful planning and research you can find a retirement town or active adult community where single people are included and feel completely integrated in that lifestyle.
On the other hand there is a common opinion that single people have the easiest time finding their best retirement community. That’s because, unlike a couple, they don’t have to compromise. As a single person you get to pick the retirement lifestyle, kinds of activities, and the types of people you want to pursue.
In researching this article we found some experts on the best singles retirement towns or communities. One of our favorite experts is Jan Cullinane, a frequent editorial contributor to this site and author of “The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement“. In her book she solicited input from many single women about many different areas: divorce, death of a spouse, working from home, where to live, dating, caregiving, volunteering, reinvention, travel, and staying healthy.
Our view is that there are many best places for singles – but rather than focus on specific towns or 55+ communities, it might be better to make your selection following certain principles. Hence the recommendations below:
1. In general, bigger is better for singles. Choosing too small of a community reduces the potential pool for both friends and dates. Smaller communities tend to have a more fixed social order, so they tend be harder to crack into than larger ones. That means that 55+ communities like The Villages, Fair Hope, Laguna Woods, and Sun City could be good choices.
2. Consider carefully the choice between a town and an active adult community. The environment for singles can be quite different in a town vs. a 55+ active adults community. A city or town will probably have more possibilities in terms of things to do and the people you meet than a development. Even if you are the kind of person who is very interested in the active adult lifestyle, you still might want to consider choosing your town before your 55+ community. By moving in stages you can put down some roots, make friends, and research local 55+ options. Then after you have evaluated the town and you know that you like it there, you can choose your active adult community based on a more informed investigation than you would make by charging in with no local knowledge.
3. Most of your success as a single person depends on you. We just read an interesting book that pokes many holes in single stereotypes. “Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After” by Bella DePaulo, Ph.D will make anyone feel more positive about the benefits of being single. DePaulo debunks a popular myth that single people are lonely in their old age. In fact, she finds that women who have never married tend to be the happiest people in retirement. The reason for this appears to be their successful strategies for making and keeping friends. Women (and men) who seek out activities and volunteer opportunities not only feel fulfilled, they make deep friendships along the way. Those who tend to be the loneliest are those who relied on work or spouses for social engagement, and don’t have deep friendships of their own. Men in particular are not good about forming strong friendships, and that hurts them as single people.
Whatever your previous success at making friends, that doesn’t necessarily have to be your future – if you work at it. One of our friends thought his father would be a lonely old man once his wife died. His dad had spent years taking care of our friend’s mother, and his dad didn’t seem to have any friends. Much to everyone’s pleasant surprise, in single life the dad is transformed. Now he volunteers at the hospital every day, travels, and has made tons of new friends.
4. Look for retirement towns and 55+ communities where there is a lot to do. This idea applies to both towns and active adult communities. The more activities and institutions there are, the greater your opportunities for making friends. Before you buy in an active adult community make sure there are activities that can stretch you in new directions, because taking up some new sports or crafts is a good way to make new friends.
5. Look for a 55+ community that has an activity director. We heartily endorse the recommendation to choose a community with an activity director. His or her job is to engage the residents with one another – that will make your entry into the community that much easier.
6. College towns and cities can be ideal for singles. Both types of towns have plenty to do, which means that you can be out meeting people through many different activities – from taking adult education classes to volunteering to attending concerts. Small cities like Sarasota or Austin or Boulder have nice downtowns and there is always something to do.
7. Stay away from the suburbs. You might live in the suburbs now. If you have a big web of friends, maybe you should stay. But cracking the suburban social scene as a new, single resident is one of the harder things to pull off.
8. Carefully evaluate the singles scene in any active adult community – before you buy. A really good idea is to rent before you buy. Attend the various club meetings and take part in some sports or other activities. Are there other singles, or do the couples actively invite single people to participate? Award extra points if there is an active singles club. Many communities have special package deals that let you vacation their at below market rates (and even if not announced, it is worth trying to negotiate your own package). Even before you go to a place, check out Discussion Forums on this and other sites about specific communities for hints about the single life in those communities.
9. Think about moving with your friends. If you already have a solid group of close friends, think about retiring together. That could be as simple as moving to the same community or town, or it could even be shared housing. Some architects report that designing homes meant to be shared is a growing business. In addition to instant friends, being able to share resources as you get older is a real attraction.
What do you think? Do you already live in a community that you know is great for singles? Or one you know is not? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, or in our Forum.
For Further Reference:
Excellent discussion about being single in retirement at City-Data