Many of us dream of moving to a new and exciting location after retirement. Whether the desire to move comes from wanting to be closer to family, the hope for a slower or faster pace of life, or to enjoy nicer weather, there are a number of reasons why people pull up stakes to explore somewhere new. Sometimes, though, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Make sure to do your homework and think twice before moving in retirement.
A few weeks ago, I ran into one of Jim’s former work colleagues who retired a couple of years ago. We knew she and her husband had moved to Fort Collins, CO, so I was a bit surprised to see her. After some small talk, she told me the whole story about wanting to leave small town life for a bigger city with the added benefit of being closer to their children.
In reality, she and her husband hated the city. There was too much traffic. They didn’t know anyone, and their children were so busy that visits had to be scheduled several weeks in advance. They ended up moving back to our hometown. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but they sold their house before moving and bought another house in the new city, which they also had to sell. After two home sales in two years, they are currently renting and hoping to buy another house a few years down the road. It makes me wonder if all this could have been prevented.
Moving Is Expensive
Hopefully, when nearing retirement, your home is paid off or at least has a decent amount of equity. Making a profit on the sale of your home home and downsizing can be a great way to increase a retirement nest egg, but make sure moving is the best idea. Selling a house after less than two years means more in taxes and costs thousands in realtor commissions and closing costs. Be very sure that you love your new location before buying or selling any real estate.
Vacation is Not Real Life
One thing our friend said that really resonated with me was how much they enjoyed visiting Fort Collins before moving there, but it was always during vacations. Don’t all places seem awesome while on vacation?
I’ve been told by at least a dozen tourists over the years how much they would love to live in Telluride. In reality, houses are expensive, job prospects are few, and you have to drive over an hour for most amenities. No one cares about those things on vacation, but it makes real life lots more real.
Likewise, every time we go to San Diego, I think I want to move there. Realistically, the traffic, taxes, and high cost of living would probably make me beg to come back home to rural Colorado. So how do you know when to move or when to stay put?
Give Your New Town a Trial Run
When Jim and I retire, we plan to take year and travel around the county, spending a few months in places that appeal to us. We’ll become locals in a sense and see what life is like when we aren’t staying in hotels where other people take care of us.
I would encourage anyone contemplating a move to try spending at least a month in your new location before making any permanent decisions. Even if rent out your home and become a tenant in your new locale, that’s much better than selling or buying a house too soon.
Are Your an Introvert or Extrovert?
Some people are social butterflies who make new friends easily and have no problem stepping into unfamiliar social situations. Other people make friends slowly and don’t enjoy having to start over in a new place. If you are coming from a small town, the feeling of being the small fish in a big pond could intimidate your efforts to fit in. Retirees moving from a big city to a smaller place might not understand the pace or mentality of small town life.
Living Near Family Can Be Stressful
In our friend’s case, she felt that she saw her family more living further apart because on vacations, together time was planned. Once they lived closer geographically, family visits were always something that got pushed to the back burner because everyone felt they could do it later. Moving closer certainly doesn’t guarantee family harmony.
I’ve also seen retired grandparents leave work and move closer to family only to be saddled with babysitting duties. Most grandparents are eager to help out, but if adult children begin to take their services for granted, it can produce family stress. Everyone wants to be valued and appreciated. Early retirees also want to have time to do their own activities without always being on call.
I have at least a decade before seriously considering whether or not to move in retirement, but I don’t think it’s ever too early to plan ahead. We always intended to test out any potential retirement spots, but now I think we will certainly give each place a good trial run and think about how moving might affect us socially or mentally. We might decide that home sweet home is sweeter than we originally thought.
Do you think you’ll move in retirement? Would you spend more or less time with out of town relatives if they moved closer?
Image: Flickr Creative Commons