Where shall We Live When We Retire?

In the retirement workshops and programs that I run, the question of “where shall we live when we retire?” comes up frequently. Housing decisions have a far-reaching impact on your life satisfaction and well-being in retirement. I have identified five big questions to be considered when deciding where to live in retirement:

  • Geography – what locations are you considering? Seashore? Mountains? Urban? Rural? What amenities are you looking for? What kind of lifestyle?
  • Sociology – where are your friends, family, social networks, activities? A social support network is one of the most valuable assets to one can have as we age.
  • Psychology – feelings about one’s home and home ownership. Is your home part of your personal identity? Are home-based activities such as gardening what give meaning to your life?
  • Physiology – preparing for aging. How will you live in your home as you age? Your housing wants and needs will be quite different at age 65 than at age 90.  What design features should you be seeking for the present and the future?
  • Financial – housing expense will probably be your biggest cash outlay going forward, and that can greatly impact your lifestyle. What can you afford? How can you get the best housing for the money?

For many people, there is no decision.  They are going to stay right where they are, that is, to age in place.  However, that place may not be the right place for the long haul, so for some people, the housing decision means finding a more suitable place in the same community.

Other people choose to move to another town, another state, or even another country.  The primary reasons for doing so are:

  • To move to an area where there is a lower cost of living, especially taxes
  • To move closer to family members
  • To live a different lifestyle such as the beach, a golf community, and enjoy a warmer climate, or even a different culture

In researching this question, and going through my own decision process, I realized that there wasn’t much material out there to help people struggling with this issue. So, I have written a book on this subject.  It is in the editing stages, and I hope to have it available as an E-book in the next few months.  While it is written for Boomers planning their own retirement living, there is information here that will be helpful for people helping aging parents or family make these decisions, especially when it comes to care needs.  One thing I found is that many people are unaware of the services and care levels provided in different types of senior housing.  I hope this book will remedy that. Look for it soon.