Retirement can be a time to sit back and settle into a place you already know well. With your newfound free time you can better enjoy the already familiar surroundings of your neighborhood. Retirement gives you an opportunity to really savor what you have, and appreciate all of the little things that you might have taken for granted. If you have all you want in your current location, what could be better?
But some people see retirement as an excellent opportunity to try something new. They long to explore new things and experience different surroundings. After spending a significant portion of their lives in the same place, retirement offers the opportunity to live somewhere else. Perhaps you could move somewhere with four clearly-defined seasons that each bring something new. Or, if you have had it with the snow, you could find a place with moderate temperatures where the sun always shines. If thoughts of a change in latitude make you happy, retirement is your chance to do it.
When selecting a new place to retire, here are some things to look for:
Public transportation. What kind of bus and train coverage can you expect? Also take a look at the services available specifically for senior citizens. You'll need access to an airport if you plan to travel in retirement. Efficient public transport can reduce your need to deal with traffic or other driving challenges.
Senior-friendly design of your home. Minor adjustments to your home can make life easier and safer as you age. Moving to a new location can allow you to seek a new house with senior-friendly features or add them before you move in. Consider adding good lighting inside and out to see where you are going, cabinets and doors with easy to manage handles and knobs, and kitchen cabinets that are not too high or too deep. Also, take a look at single story houses and homes with fewer steps.
The weather. Many retirees move to warmer climates where they can permanently avoid snow, but some people also like to avoid extreme heat. Remember to consult with your spouse about his or her weather preferences. You will need to find a place with an average temperature and conditions that both of you are comfortable with.
The cost. If you can sell your current home and move to a place that costs significantly less, relocating in retirement can make financial sense. But if you must go from no mortgage or small payments into a new long-term mortgage you'll need to carefully calculate the financial impact. A different climate may seasonally spike your utility and electric bill, so don't be taken by surprise. And don't forget to consider increases in property taxes and insurance that can come with a new purchase.
Proximity to family and friends. Moving to another state or foreign country can be exhilarating, but it also puts a lot of space between you and your family. And with the added distance, some family members may not be able or inclined to visit as much. Proximity to family and friends should be an important consideration in your plans to relocate.
Availability of medical facilities. Check out the local hospitals and health facilities for both quality and proximity to your home. It can also be helpful to research retirement communities in the area in case you require such services at a later date.
Local attractions. As you explore your new locale, look for special places that you might hope to frequent. Perhaps you will find a candidate for a favorite restaurant within walking distance or an intimate coffee shop where you can start the day with a steaming cup and a fresh croissant. Also consider how close you are to natural beauty such as oceans, mountains, and forests. Since you have the option to choose where you move, this is your chance to get close to as many attractions and scenic points of interest as you can.
Local populace. Will you be among the oldest members of the community, or will you find fellow seniors in sufficient numbers? In could be easier to connect with people who grew up in similar times and share similar interests. Consider relocating near a college or university, which will often bring speakers and concerts into town. A little variety in the local population is a good thing, but you don't want to be the only senior in the town.
Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only the Beginning.