Retirement: Where Will You Live?

Retirement: Where Will You Live?

The choices seem endless. Downsize to a condo, move to warmer climes, split your time in two or more places, be a ski bum, or beach bunny, or live in an RV and hit the road? It’s a big decision, and potentially expensive if its the wrong one. How do you choose?

Set Your Priorities

Retirement can give us the freedom to live wherever we choose since we are no longer tethered to the job. That untethering can lead to perhaps impulsive decisions, or decisions based on marketing myths more than what’s really important to you. “Where to live in retirement” is the second most googled question on retirement after “how much money do I need”.

Take the time to really think about the lifestyle you will thrive in, what’s really important to you, and what you can afford.

Here are some factors to weigh and rate in terms of importance:

  • Sense of Community:  Being connected to others has shown to promote wellness in our next3rd. If this is very important, a small town may be best for you. Not so important, then you may like condo life. Think this through. When are you happiest?
  • Climate and Topography: We of the north dream of going south each winter. Is it really a dream? Think of more than escaping the cold. What about humidity, altitude and landscape? Do you crave forests or cacti, open plains or mountains, oceans or lakes? What kind of critters creep you out?
  • Family: How far away do you want to be from your loved ones? Think of grandkids, but recognize your kids are mobile and can move again. Consider ease of travel to visit your kin.
  • Access to Good Healthcare: This may become more of a priority as we age. Are good hospitals nearby, medical services and supplies? What does your health plan cover? Are there additional costs to consider?
  • Standard of Living:  What are your (affordable) comfort levels? Expect sterile grocery stores and reliable electricity, or do you enjoy perusing the local markets, tasting the street food and not minding the power outages? Do the streets need to be pristine or can you manage dirt roads and potholes? Consider the infrastructre, roads, potable water, waste management, electricity, gas for the car, public transit, internet access as well as the comfort of your residence.
  • Personal Growth: The beauty of the ‘new retirement’ is the opportunity to keep growing. What opportunities exist for new learning, or hobbies, or voluteering or travel? Can you find a path to your purpose?
  • Lifestyle: What acitivites do you want to pursue? Dining out, going to the theatre, the big game, cycling, boating, travel? Want to be in the action of the big city, or enjoy the outdoors in a smaller community? Near an airport or cycling paths, universities or colleges, artists or outdoor enthusiasts? Curling or gardening? Imagine a month of retirement. What will you do?
  • Affordability: We don’t want to be house-poor in our next3rd.
    Consider the cost of your preferred lifestyle and standard of living when weighing the options of your residence. Do your research – what is the expected cost of living? Get an honest assessment of your current home’s value if you are considering a change. Don’t forget the cost of moving which may include new furniture, window coverings and perhas landscaping. Be realistic with your budget. A good financial planner can help you understand your annual ‘draw’ from your retirement nest egg.

Try Before You Buy!

Sometimes we dream of living in our favourtie vacation place, or escaping the work of maintaining a home and moving to a luxury condo. Test your dream first before making this big decision!

That’s what my hubby and I did this winter. My dream? Living in a mountain village, skiing, hiking, biking – you get the drift. My hubby’s dream? Warm ocean climate, fishing, strolling local markets, long beach walks. Hmm. We tried both this winter and learned a few things. We need to compromise. He loved the ocean lifestyle but not the mountain life, and I was vice versa (loved sunshine but not the humidity).

We were considering selling our home, living at the cottage in the summer and somewhere else for the winter. We realized we’d rather visit the mountains and ocean than live there. We researched downsizing with the help of a wise realtor and wealth manager. In the end, we learned we were financially better to stay put, and we wouldn’t be happy in a higher density community.

The experience of testing different retirement lifestyles brought clarity of what is right for us, and saved us from making an expensive and regrettable mistake.

Care to share?

Leave a Reply