Where Should You Live when You Retire?
by J.E. Carpenter
Every year, thousands of new retirees pack up their things and move to their dream location. Every year, thousands of others move back home or move on to a third location. Figuring out where to live when you retire can be tricky, and getting it wrong can be quite expensive, both economically and psychologically. You have a better chance of getting it right if you follow these suggestions:
1) Make sure you know what you’re giving up. When people dream of retirement, they think of lying on a beautiful beach, playing golf on a perfect course, and enjoying a drink by the pool. They don’t think about missing their friends and family, having to find new doctors, and not being able to find their favorite salsa in the local grocery store. Before you think about relocation, list everything you like about the place you live now and weigh it against the advantages of the new spot. Don’t overestimate the value of a particular amenity just because it isn’t available in your current location—even sunbathing and golf can get tiresome.
2) Be especially cautious about the city mouse—country mouse dilemma. Many people spend a lifetime dreaming of life in a small town or rural location, only to find out it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. If you want to go to the movies, does the theater have more than one choice? If you want to see a play, does the town even have a live theater? Will you get tired of eating at the same five restaurants? Driving 10 miles every time you want to get groceries can get old in a hurry.
On the other hand, you may long for the bright light of the big city, only to find that the cost of city living is not compatible with your fixed income, or that the traffic and noise are much harder to tolerate as you age. Other retirees may be scarce in some cities, and you may feel out of place amidst all the hustle and bustle.
3) Rent for a year before you buy a house in a new location. Just because you like vacationing there doesn’t mean you’ll like living there. When you’re on vacation, you generally escape the more annoying aspects of life. You don’t have to deal with the local bureaucracy. You’re usually not there during hurricane or tornado season. Things that might seem charming or funny can be irritating when you deal with them every day.
4) Don’t confuse difficulty getting used to retirement with dislike of your new location. Retirement is a huge adjustment that can make you feel unsatisfied until you find new ways to occupy your time. Spend time exploring the options of your new location by taking classes, volunteering, joining clubs, or getting a part-time job. Keep an open mind until you’ve given the new area a chance.
5) Give it some time. The longer you’ve lived in one location, the harder the adjustment will be. Expect to feel lonely, bored, or frustrated at first. Your attitude will probably change a lot once you discover the assets of your new home.
Relocation in retirement can leave you feeling satisfied and happy or extremely disappointed. You will probably learn new things about yourself and your preferences. Taking the time to do careful research and doing a try-out before you buy will increase your chances for a successful relocation.
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