As baby boomers, we have always gone through life knowing that countless other Americans were sharing experiences very similar to our own. We felt this way when we stepped onto college campuses in the 1970s, when we had children in the 1980s, and when we sent those children away to college in the last decade. Now, boomers have a new shared experience looming on the horizon: retirement.
Most of us have been planning for retirement for years. We have savings accounts, a sense of our post-career plans, and a person with whom we want to spend those twilight years. But even the most well-planned of us are still faced with one key decision, a decision that we hesitate to make: should we retire in our hometowns, where we have lived and worked for years, or should we somewhere distant, warmer, and more senior-friendly?
Destination retirements have been popular for decades, but contrary to common perception, just as many retirees choose to stay in New York and Chicago as those who flock to Palm Springs, San Diego, and Boca Raton. What, then, is the right path for you and your spouse?
If you have been asking yourself this question recently, here are a few considerations you may want to keep in mind:
Due to the economic climate and the decline in the stock market, many of us are approaching retirement with less money saved than we had originally planned. Consequently, price and affordability should certainly factor into your decision. But this does not mean that a destination retirement is the more expensive option, especially if you currently live in a major metropolitan area. So before you decide to stay put and seek out title loans in AZ, MD, or NJ, consider this: while a retirement community in California may be more expensive than one in Ohio, there are numerous college towns across the South that offer affordable living, pleasant climates, and excellent access to healthcare and cultural events. If you’re looking to be more frugal in your retirement, leaving the big city and eschewing the popular senior destinations may help you drastically reduce your costs – and can do so while still providing you with a destination retirement.
Beside inertia and financial concerns, family is the element that most often keeps retirees in their hometowns. Even despite today’s highly mobile society, a large percentage of Americans still live in close proximity to family members, whether they be children, cousins, siblings, or elderly parents. If you have a strong family grounding it’s hard to leave all this behind. In light of this, your retirement decision should certainly take family into account. Ask yourself: Do I still have strong familial ties to the place I live? Would I be able to regularly see loved ones, even if I choose a destination retirement? How important is family proximity compared to other factors, such as weather, cultural opportunities, and affordability?
As we approach retirement, we simultaneously approach the point in our lives where we are no longer defined by our jobs and our careers. Similarly, we will now have time on our hands to pursue other interests – interests that will surely come to define us. The unique interests you hold, personal plans you have, and activities you plan to pursue should fundamentally factor into your retirement decision. If you enjoy big city culture, a retirement community may not be your best bet, even if the climate there is better. If you seek a social scene that is highly senior-friendly in focus and in nature, urban anonymity and small town life are probably options to avoid. And if want to partake in outdoor activities, make sure that you retire somewhere close to nature. Your place of residence is no longer burdened by your career; consequently, it’s time to pursue your interests.
Keep these considerations in mind when you go about making that decision – the decision of where to retire and spend the rest of your life. While every place has its own pros and cons, it’s important to arrive at a decision – and to live somewhere – that will ultimately make you happy.