Should I move when I retire is a question often asked by retirees and those planning retirement. Equally important, I think, is the question, “How independent am I?”
The question is very important because, for any retired person or couple who desires to retire and move, a strong sense of independence is essential for success.
Your post-retirement happiness depends on it. It makes no sense to make a significant move only to find out that you’ve made yourself miserable instead of happy.
Take this example of why I think independence is important.
When Rebel Retiree and I looked for places to move, we made it a practice to visit area shopping centers to get a feel for the people and places in the region.
On one occasion, while standing in the snowy parking lot of a local mall, we spoke to a middle-aged woman who generously gave us her impressions of the area.
Her relocation hadn’t turned out as planned. Clannish is how she described the people in the rural town. She had difficulty finding a church where she felt accepted.
Furthermore, she asked if Rebel Retiree and I had a good relationship. That was very important, she explained. You may have to spend a lot of time together, especially if you don’t acclimate to the community as readily as expected, she said.
We considered her advice but knew that the small town in the northern Rockies would suit us just fine. Over 15 years later, we still love the place and its independent people.
My story is not meant to discourage you from moving when you retire. On the contrary, I support and encourage people who choose to relocate.
However, it is meant to illustrate the differences in individuals that must be taken into consideration.
Moving when you retire, regardless of distance, requires independence, commitment, and sometimes courage to face any challenges that may arise.
In this article, I’ll share additional personal insight plus the benefits and drawbacks of moving to help you decide if you should move when you retire or stay put.
Why do you want to move when you retire?
Are you moving out of necessity or desire? It’s essential to remember there’s a difference.
One is necessary, while the other brings enjoyment or satisfaction.
Is your motivation to save money, be closer to family, or follow a dream?
Be truthful with yourself because the answers will generate different emotional responses.
The emotional responses are indicative of where your heart is. It’s best to go over those feelings before you move than after.
Regardless of necessity or desire, if you prioritize your values, and have a longing for a different lifestyle, a retirement move can open up a whole new world of adventure and opportunity.
Benefits of moving when you retire.
Moving when you retire has several advantages. Benefits can include a lower cost of living, better health, and a positive outlook on life.
Many baby boomers worry about their futures. They fear running out of money for necessary living expenses. One way to keep expenses down and stay within a budget is moving to another state with lower property taxes, no sales tax, or a lower cost of living.
This could have powerful results on your post-retirement life and give you the financial freedom to focus on what you truly value.
Fulfill a lifelong dream
Fulfilling a lifelong dream or passion often requires motivation. And moving after you retire is an excellent way to get out of a rut and reverse a stagnant lifestyle.
Oftentimes it’s easier to attain goals when we put distance between peer pressure and herd mentality.
Improve your lifestyle
Are you maintaining a pre-retirement lifestyle? One that’s no longer practical as when you were in the workforce? By letting go of a big house and costly toys you don’t need, you can eliminate the waste of high maintenance bills such as insurance, utilities, storage, and so on.
Stop paying for what you don’t use and focus on what you value. You may find that you can afford things that you thought you couldn’t.
Happiness is high on the list of importance for retirees. Yet, many retirees are prone to miswanting – the coveting of something that we mistakenly think will make us happy. Comparing ourselves to others causes stress and reduces happiness. Moving can give you a new perspective.
It can help you break free from a retirement comparison thought pattern, resulting in a happier attitude towards growing older.
A healthier lifestyle translates to a happier retirement. For example, we all know that exercise is good for our health and longevity. If you move to a walkable town and leave the car in the garage, you make a conscious choice towards a healthier lifestyle.
In the same way, a rural community with an abundance of outdoor activities where you hike and bike in the summer, and cross country ski in the winter opens the door for improved health.
Cultural and recreational opportunities
If you plan your move wisely, your new home will have amazing cultural and recreational opportunities. Think about what you want in entertainment and look for places with those amenities. Do you want to live in peaceful surroundings where you can easily connect with nature?
Is the hustle and bustle of a big city your cup of tea? With this in mind, I’ll say that you don’t need a big city to enjoy a visit to a museum or a night out at the theatre. Rural communities like the one where Rebel Retiree and I live regularly offer seminars, workshops, and plays – many of them free of charge.
Before moving north, Rebel Retiree and I lived in a hot and humid climate. Having lived there for almost 50 years, we were sick and tired of it. Now, we experience 4 distinct seasons, and love it! With that said, weather affects all of us physically and mentally.
It can quickly change our mood from negative to positive, or vice versa. If you want to escape the heat or the cold, moving to a different climate can have overall benefits to health and well-being. Most importantly, find a retirement haven that suits you!
Drawbacks of moving when you retire.
Everything isn’t always as expected. This can be especially true when moving a great distance.
Expense of traveling to visit relatives
Before moving when you retire, factor in the costs of airfare, gasoline, and automobile wear and tear. That’s because visiting family could be expensive, especially if you move far away.
Despite the fact that retirees often say they want to travel, many of us are on a budget. If you are accustomed to frequent visits with friends and family, moving may mean you visit less often because of travel costs.
Missing family and friends
Besides the financial cost of travel, there’s also an emotional cost of missing family and friends. It takes courage and commitment to decide to move away from loved ones. Because in all likelihood, you won’t be able to spend as much quality time with family and friends as you did previously.
Although we have social media, texting, Zoom, and other forms of internet access for staying in touch, it’s not the same as being there.
Not fitting in with the people where you move
When you move to a new place, most people have already established their own groups. Unless you’re comfortable making friends, it could be difficult finding a church or group where you are at ease.
As mentioned above, take into account your relationship with your partner when planning a retirement move. You can provide moral support for one another if the people in your new surroundings are more culturally and politically different than expected.
Being alone when a spouse dies
The fear of loneliness is a major stressor for aging individuals. While you may find yourself alone at some point in the future, regardless of where you live, moving when you retire could make the death of a spouse more difficult.
Because grieving without a support network close by could be hard. When planning a retirement move, consider how you’ll handle being alone if your spouse dies.
Weather is worse than expected
You moved to a state where you vacationed because the weather was glorious! Now your dreams of lounging on the beach in summer, or skiing near your mountain chalet have come to fruition. However, reality has set in.
You weren’t prepared for the number of rainy days or cloudy skies you’d have to tolerate. The weather makes you grumpy. Even though you retired to your dream spot, living year-round in a place is different than vacationing there for 2 weeks.
Family could pick up and move away
Oftentimes retirees want to move nearer to family. It’s based on the idea that they’ll be a big part of their grandchildren’s lives. They may also picture a support network as they age. In spite of good intentions, it’s not always a good idea for retirees to move closer to family.
Aside from the fact that adult children and their spouses have their own life, they aren’t always happy about parents moving closer to them. Then, there’s the real possibility of their relocating for business purposes, or otherwise. For this reason, don’t be disappointed because you had unrealistic expectations of children and grandchildren.
You’re the only person who can decide if you should move when you retire.
With that said, there are a number of benefits to moving. And I encourage you to seriously consider it.
For one thing, when you move away from friends and family, it’s often easier to implement a value-based retirement lifestyle.
Additionally, avoiding comparisons to how your family and friends are handling retirement frees you to fulfill lifelong dreams.
Conversely, there are drawbacks. A move when you retire may be fraught with challenges such as costly trips to visit friends and family that could put a strain on your budget.
Again, there’s nothing saying that if you move near family, they will not decide to move as well.
The takeaway is to evaluate your independence and weigh the benefits and drawbacks before deciding if you should move when you retire.
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