Location, location, location and other details are important when deciding where to live in retirement. This article outlines several points to consider.
For the majority of people, the most important decision in making the retirement living decision is the location. Will you remain in your pre-retirement community that you are familiar with? Where are your friends, connections and social contacts? Or will you make a change, perhaps to a different or warmer climate? To a more rural setting? Or maybe closer to the city where health care, transportation, resources and cultural activities are more accessible?
Once the location is determined, the physical space becomes important. Will you stay in the same home you’ve always lived in and “age in place?” If you decide to do that, if may become necessary to take a good hard look at your home and make sure that it is equipped to be safe and easy for you to live in for the next 20 – 30 years or so of your retirement.
For those who don’t desire to stay in their pre-retirement home, there are endless choices:
· Downsize to a smaller home, or apartment (ideally, where you can live all on one floor – these are more age-friendly for the future).
· Move into a senior-only community so that you can associate with people that are in your same life situation, whether that is simply an independent community of homes, or an organised community with supports and care.
· Live in a shared home situation — think of older adults sharing the same living space, expenses, and providing support and resources with one another.
· Depending on your financial situation and need for support (you might decide to move in with family members or they might decide to move in with you.
So, how do you go about making your decision about where and in what kind of house/housing facility to live in retirement?
· Develop your criteria – What kind of climate are you looking for? How active do you want your social life to be? What kind of access to you want to healthcare and other facilities? Make a list and search locations that fit your criteria. Take the time to visit the locations you are considering and interview friends and family who have chosen to live in those locations to understand the pros and cons.
· Identify neutral professionals to guide you – they can be the decision partners to help guide you through your decision making process. First and foremost, will you be able to afford the transition and be able to afford to live in the new place long term along with any other financial goals that you might have.
· Do a trial run – once you have narrowed down your ideal living location and housing, do a trial run, if possible. This might mean taking a trip to the new location and trying out similar housing by renting for at least a short period of time or do a trial night or two in a new community.
· Consult your family – Understand that sometimes your family have their own ideas about what you should be doing in your older age. This is to communicate with them your wishes, to let them know what your decision process was and why, and to get their (hopefully) ultimate buy-in. Even if they don’t completely agree with your decision, it is best to help them understand your overall plan. After all, it is YOUR retirement and you are still in control.
· Put together a transition team – Once you have made your ultimate decision about moving (if you indeed, are making a change), put together a team to get you transitioned to your new location and home. This could include specialists to help you downsize your current home, help you decide what to keep and take to the new place, what to get to family/friends, what to donate, and what to recycle/trash. There are specialists to help you stage and sell your current home, and then those to help you actually get moved into the new place as easily and efficiently as possible.
To move or not to move, that is the question. And even deciding not to move — aging in place — does not mean that there are not choices or changes to make. But if you do decide to make a move, it is a process that takes planning, and one that should not be taken lightly. Give the process serious consideration and thought — it is a large part of your potential retirement planning picture.