While the mantra for purchasing a home seems to be “location, location, location”, I have found that in Retirement Transition, the decision on where to live it is more “location, location….lifestyle!”.
There are as many assumptions about retirement ”where to live” as there are people. Some assume they will move to Florida or Arizona or some other “retirement mecca”. I received the Where to Retire magazine for a few years that was built of this premise. Some assume they will move to where their kids live (and then follow their kids’ career moves?). Some assume they will stay in current location, but downsize, maybe into a condo or retirement community. I know a few folks who resized bigger to accommodate grandkids visits! Some assume they will simply stay in place. So what were our assumptions? Were we going to downsize? Stay in place? Relocate? Resize?
When we started this conversation, hubby assumed we were moving to Florida upon retirement. (Yes, a surprise to me!) As we got into it, we found there were quite a few considerations for making the where-to-live decision for this next stage of life. It started, as many of these things do, with a case of really “knowing yourself” (as well as knowing your significant other). Some of the things we thought about:
- Big consideration – connection to family and friends. There is a big difference between someone who has lived in one place for 25+ years (me; and hubby has always lived here!) and someone who has moved every 5-7 years for their job. Do I have the skill set to move and easily make new friends? I find “military kids” have that skill well developed. Me, not so much. I have spoken to a few retirees who moved to another state and then really struggled with establishing a new set of friends. What about family? Do we want to be close(r) to relatives/ aging parents? How do we see our connections to friends and family in the future?
- Another consideration – What lifestyle to we want to live? Does the location provide us access to activities of interest and/or job opportunities for that lifestyle? Do we want to be closer to the urban core for our activities or closer to nature and the outdoors?
- If we are relocating, what about access to health care? Access to transportation – airport for travel or local infrastructure as we age? What climate do we love or hate?
- Are there financial considerations on cost of living, taxes, capital tied up in real estate? If you are looking into 2 locations (like we are), does one become an income producer and how does that fit into your lifestyle vision? One retiree I spoke with has a beach condo, but needs to rent it in-season to help pay for it, so she is never there in the “good months”. Another couple worries because they have heard stories about renting and the place getting “trashed”.
- Is this a 10 year plan or the final move plan? This was a big mindset shift for us as early-retirees. Our next where-to-live did not need to address possible physical limitations of aging (i.e. stairs).
- This final one was a mind-opener! What really does your home “mean to you”? Is it:
—> your job? You are the caretaker, housekeeper and/or groundskeeper and that is personally rewarding. —> your project? Home improvement and renovation is personally rewarding. —> your storage facility (warehouse for your toys)? Or your display cabinet (showcase your collections)? —> your community center (need entertainment spaces for food and conversation) or your bunkhouse (beds for visitors)? —>your base camp from which to explore the world? Or your private retreat for privacy and serenity? We have friends who view their retirement home as a base camp – just someplace to rest their heads between their travels and activities.
So having looked at all these considerations and talking together, we do have a 10-year location plan that meets both our needs. “What is Home” for us as a couple? I want a home that is a community center, while he wants a storage facility. So our vision for our next home has become a “resize” from our current one with its small kitchen and garage. And we are not moving full-time to Florida, but will become part-time snow birds, avoiding the cold, snowy mid-west winters (where we never leave the house anyway), but retain our (wonderful) mid-west friendship connections. And that part-time in Florida will focus on creating friendships there as well.
Now just to action this plan, which starts with some house hunting and serious decluttering!