Where to Live in Retirement?

Where to Live in Retirement?

Once you turn in your company badge, where will you hang your hat?  In your current home, a smaller one, or move to an entirely new city, state or country? 

Decisions, decisions.  For my wife and me, this was relatively simple.  We currently live in Laguna Beach which is an amazing place, but our families are on the East coast 2,000 miles away.  As we approached retirement, we had two choices.  Live in Atlanta near my family or Chicago near my wife’s family.  I caught my wife in a weak moment, glass of wine in hand, and we chose to move to Atlanta.  

There are many options retirees face as they consider where to live in retirement.  All of these take some thought and planning to arrive at the best answer.  The good news is, you have many options.  The bad news is, you have many options.  If you have an idea of where you will live - good for you.  If not, here are some things to consider as you map out your options.

The Same Zip Code

Do you want to live in your current home or buy a new home in the same zip code?  If so, this simplifies many things like friends, doctors, understanding cost of living, etc.  If you are staying in the same general area, the main consideration is to have a home that you can afford.  Ideally, living mortgage free is the ultimate goal.  If you are not one of the lucky ones that can payoff their home, then build a retirement budget that contemplates a mortgage, property taxes, and expenses to maintain a home.  You do not want to be a house-poor retiree.  Treat your home as an asset that you can leverage in the future.

A New Zip Code

Have you always dreamed of living at the beach, living abroad, or moving to a retirement community?  Is that your dream?  These are typical responses when future retirees talk about their next journey in life.  All of these are wonderful choices but require some planning to make the best of the move.  After all, you want to avoid moving back - right?  That’s not cool.  Here are some things to consider as you move to a new location.

  1. What type of home would you like? Single family, townhome, condo, or the craze right now - a tiny house.

  2. What’s your budget? Establish this upfront since housing is your most significant expense in retirement. If you can pay cash, that’s awesome; now you have more beer money.

  3. Where to live? Narrow your choices based on your budget, activities you enjoy, and cost of living. Remember, you will be on a fixed income so day-to-day expenses can add up. Its great to move to the beach, but many beach towns are very expensive. Go in, eyes-wide-open.

  4. Arrive at a decision together. Moving is quite stressful so making the decision with your spouse is critical. You know the saying - unhappy spouse means long days at the retirement community.

Finally, do a trial run.  Unless you are very familiar with the location, I recommend spending considerable time there before buying.  Up to a year, if you can make that work.  Visiting a place and living there full time, is very different.  Many retirees fantasize about moving to a new location only to find their day-to-day life is different.  Also, making new friends, finding new doctors, etc., can be quite overwhelming.  Hey, if the new location doesn’t work out, you can always find another.  That will be fun as well - you have nothing but time.

Here are two great resources.  Forbes publishes an annual survey of The Best Places to Retire and LendEDU analyzed the Top 500 U.S. cities for retirement.  Check them out.

So, do you know where to live in retirement?  Will you move?  If so, are you heading to the beach, the mountains, a city, or retirement community?  All are great choices.

I would love to hear from you, help you, and answer your questions.

Good luck and let's #RetireHappy.


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