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4 Factors to Consider before Moving in Retirement

While a recent survey indicated that most baby boomers plan to “age in place” and not move during retirement, over one-third of baby boomers do intend to move, and given increasing life expectancies, it is likely that health issues may drive an even higher proportion to move eventually, regardless of their stated intentions prior to retirement.  Among those planning to relocate in retirement, some want to move to areas with a lower cost of living, better climate, or close proximity to their adult children, while others may stay in the same area but desire to downsize, upsize, or move into independent living facilities.  In order to avoid movers’ remorse, we suggest considering the following factors before making a decision to move in retirement.

Don’t Move Just for Family.  Some retirees wish to move close to their adult children (and grandchildren) to maximize time and minimize travel involved with visiting loved ones. However, most articles on the subject advise exercising caution when considering a move for the sake of being close to family.  Mike attended a conference last year in which the presenter discussed data indicating that living close to family was actually negatively correlated with satisfaction in retirement.  There are many possible reasons for this, which one should consider before making a move:  given work and other commitments, adult children/grandchildren may have less time to spend with you than you desire to spend with them; you may not have a well-developed social network or regular activities in the new location as compared with your old home; etc.  If you do plan to move close to family, be sure to communicate with them to establish proper expectations on time spent together and consider how you will meet new friends and find new activities in your new location.

Rent Before You Buy.  Regardless of the reason for moving to a new region in retirement, it may be advisable to test the waters before taking the plunge.  Rent a house or apartment there for a few months to a year as a trial run before making the decision to buy.  Even if it is a location in which you have spent significant time vacationing or visiting in the past, renting for an extended time period will give you a better idea of what life will be like there day in and day out.

Rent And Don’t Buy.  Alternatively, you could rent (either in a new region or in your current location) and never buy a new home.  Some of our clients have found renting in retirement to be an enjoyable and relatively stress-free endeavor–allowing the upkeep and repairs for their home to be someone else’s problem, giving them the freedom to travel without worrying about the security or condition of their home, etc.

This could also be a desirable option for those wanting to maintain multiple residences in retirement.  You may have always dreamed of buying a second home at the beach, but perhaps renting an apartment or condo near the beach could be a less costly and less stressful way of accomplishing the same goal.  In addition, by renting, you can try out different locations from time to time, allowing you to enjoy new experiences offered by the new location.

Take Advantage of Independent Living.  Over the past few decades independent living facilities have sprung up across the country, offering services and amenities to seniors at different stages of life.  Renee regularly visits a family member at one facility in the DC area and likens it to a “college campus for older folks,” given the plethora of activities and services provided within a relatively condensed area (though the five-course dinners in some independent living facilities are clearly beyond compare to the old “mystery meat” of college dining halls).  We have had several clients move into such facilities and wish they had moved in earlier so that they had more time to take advantage of the activities and, similar to renting, to enjoy not having to worry about repairs and upkeep for their home, etc.  We advise all clients to at least consider this option by their early 70s, and if they decide against it, to think about if/how their living situation would need to change in case of health issues in the future.

If you are considering a move in retirement, please feel free to call and talk through your thought process with us, since our clients’ experiences have given us some insight into the variety of options available to you.


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