This article was first released in the Fall 2018 state journal of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, PMEA News.
Do you know where you’re going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?
Where are you going to, do you know?
Do you get what you’re hoping for?
When you look behind you there’s no open door.
What are you hoping for, do you know?
Lyrics to “Do You Know Where You’re Going To?” and the “Theme from Mahogany” by Michael Masser and Gerald Goffin
Sung and recorded by Diana Ross, Mariah Carey, and Tina Arena
What are the three most important factors to consider before choosing your retirement destination?
Much has already been discussed and archived here at this blog-site about definitions (“the what”) and strategies (“the how”) for a happy retirement. And deciding to retire (“the when”) is a very personal issue, something in which only you and perhaps your closest family members may have a voice at the appropriate time and setting.
Now, what about “the where?”
According to many advisors, including Melissa Phipps in her The Balance blog-post “Find Out Where You Should Retire” (https://www.thebalance.com/where-should-i-retire-2894254), your deliberation may be affected by a number of influences:
- Personal preference: stay local or go elsewhere?
- Your health and mobility
- Proximity to family, children/grandchildren?
- Human services, recreation, history/cultural attractions, shopping, and transportation
The US Census Bureau reports that 49 out of 50 people over the age of 65 stay right where they are when they retire. Phipps advises, “If your current hometown is affordable, close to friends and family, and near activities and entertainment you most enjoy, why move for the sake of moving? Instead, consider whether the need for change can be satisfied through more frequent brief vacations, or by purchasing an inexpensive weekend getaway home.”
However, are there advantages to downsizing and leaving your current abode?
You may want to read “Should You Downsize in Retirement?” by Casey Dowd of Fox Business at https://www.foxbusiness.com/features/should-you-downsize-in-retirement. I also recommend https://www.newretirement.com/retirement/your-complete-guide-to-downsizing-for-retirement-12-tips-for-a-happily-ever-after/.
Posted on The Motley Fool is Christy Bieber’s article “Where Should You Retire? These 5 Factors Will Help You Decide” (https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/19/where-should-you-retire-these-5-factors-will-help.aspx). She focuses on that scary “e” word – economics.
“The world is your oyster once you no longer need to work – you could technically move anywhere. But there are, of course, practical considerations in deciding where you’ll live – and while dreaming about a mega-mansion on the beach may be enjoyable, it’s also important to make a viable plan. Your choice of location can affect how much you need to save, how long your money will last, and even what happens to your health and to your legacy.”
Most of the online retirement gurus recommend careful and comprehensive research, even spending time to visit and “live awhile” in the places on your “short list,” and educate yourself in these areas:
- Population, economy, attractions, and general info (visit the Internet sites of the local Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Agency, and visitor bureaus)
- Climate (review interactive climate data tools from the National Climatic Data Center)
- Cost of Living (see “cost of living comparison calculator” of the Council for Community and Economic Research)
- Crime Rates (read the PBI’s annual “Crime in the United States: Uniform Crime Reports”)
- Health Care (check out the U.S. News & World Report “Guide to the Best Hospitals” data base)
If you are looking for a book on the subject of “where to live in retirement,” there are many. At least, be sure to check out the 2007 revised edition of The New Retirement – The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life by Jan Cullinane and Cathy Fitzgerald (Rodale) with more than 30 new recommendations for specific communities to consider for retirement, plus updated home prices and cost-of-living figures for existing communities, new niche lifestyles including club living, spa living, communities that are also cities, and moving where there is free land, and an expanded section on second homes.
If you are still a little “unsettled on where to settle” and enjoy taking online quizzes, check out these links (to which, although fun, I cannot vouch for their validity):
Although geography may play a crucial role in this debate, so does your choice of floor plan. (One could argue that the other three most important factors in choosing a retirement destination are mobility, mobility, and mobility!) When I retired in 2013, I suffered severe pain in my Achilles heels requiring ten weeks of challenging physical therapy. During recovery, I walked my two puppies past numerous one-story ranch structures in my neighborhood, feeling a little jealous that I had to return to a split level with its multitude of stairs – four sets of five steps! The trend in our area for new construction for retirees is a one-floor patio home with a “great room” (kitchen, dining and family/game room areas) that incorporates the safety and ease of future “senior access” while accommodating the needs of multi-generational use of the residence, with these practical design elements:
- Wheel chair access, especially in the bathrooms
- Pull-out and pull-down shelving
- Multi-level counters
- Remote control blinds and windows
- Slip resistance floors
- Open floor plan
- Bright, functional lighting
- Flat-panel light switches
Finally, this is too important an issue to “pull any punches” without a few more resources (below) for your consideration. Good luck, and happy trails, retirees!
- How to Pick the Best Place to Retire (Kiplinger) https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T037-C000-S004-how-to-pick-the-best-place-to-retire.html
- The Best Places to Retire in 2018 (U.S. News & World Report) https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/best-places-to-retire
- Where Should You Live in Retirement (Wall Street Journal) https://www.wsj.com/articles/where-should-you-live-in-retirement-1510542841
- Where Should You Live After Retirement? (CBS News) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/where-should-you-live-after-retirement/
- 11 Critical Things to Consider When Choosing Where to Retire (MoneyTalksNews) https://www.moneytalksnews.com/11-critical-things-consider-when-choosing-where-retire/
© 2018 Paul K. Fox