The best thing about retirement that finally you can live anywhere you want. You no longer need to live closer to where your kids go to school or your work. Instead, you can move to a place with beautiful views, a better climate, a lower cost of living, or just a place you were dreaming about.
However, deciding on where to retire can be a difficult task. It will take a lot of time and effort. Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes people make when they choose a place to live in retirement.
You need to envision it, set up the priorities, do the research, make a list of areas, and then visit several places before you finally decide where to move in. Besides the financial issues such as cost of living and taxes, you need to consider the weather, amenities, environment, and how close you want to live to your family.
Planning to move in retirement can be exciting and stressful. However, some common mistakes can ruin even the most carefully planned retirement.
To help you make smart decisions, I came up with a list of 5 Common mistakes to avoid:
1. Not visiting enough places before deciding where you want to live.
Have you thought about your retirement priorities?
- Do you like to live closer to the beach, golf course or near the mountains?
- Do you want to move into an active adult community, a small town, or prefer rural areas?
- Have you discussed your plans with your spouse or partner?
Every retirement website recommends doing detailed research before you commit to one place. The internet has lots of information on retirement communities, places to retire, and the cost of living there. It is a good idea to start planning early before you retire so you can avoid the costly mistake of moving around until you find the place you really like.
Start with creating a checklist of your priorities because it would help you narrow down the number of places you want to move in.
It will be smart to visit the places on your wish list if you are still working. Internet research is great, but often you need to see a place with your own eyes. Because while everything looks amazing online, a half an hour drive to the nearest grocery store can ruin the comfort of your daily life and would become a huge inconvenience.
This website provides you with tons of information for the best retirement communities, active adult communities, and places to retire. If you are at the beginning of your research, start with this website to get some ideas and then decide if you are ready for a visit.
When you travel, make sure to explore the town you like as a potential “best place to retire”. Drive or walk around and decide what you like or dislike about the neighborhoods. Take a tour through any active adult communities if there are any in the area.
It is always a good idea to talk to locals and ask questions about their life there. If you are planning to visit several neighborhoods do not forget to take notes so you can refer to them later. Recently I read that some people even prepare pros and cons spreadsheet while visiting retirement communities.
When you visit a place, do not spend all your time near the hotel. Walk around, visit neighborhoods to get a sense of people. For me, the ideal place to move in would be the place with:
- Walkable streets
- Close to shopping areas
- Close to parks or green spaces
- Short drive to the beach
- Access to public transportation
- Proximity to medical facilities
Another tip for avoiding common mistakes is to visit your favorite place during different seasons. Weather is an important factor, and you want to make sure that you like your new home in all seasons.
I do not like hot and humid weather, so even we want to move to Florida I cannot stay there during the summer. Because of that, we would need to have another place where we can escape the hottest months of the year.
2. Not renting before buying a retirement home.
I am sure you heard the stories about retirees who regret that they did not live in the area before they bought their retirement home. It is so easy to get excited about the community or new development that seems to meet your dreams. But once you settled down it might be too late to realize that you miss the comfort and amenities of your old life.
It is hard to really know a place before committing to that area unless you rent it first. But if you do not want to rent a place before you buy it, make multiple visits during different seasons to get a feel of this area you will call home for a long time.
Renting a home in the neighborhood you like can help you live like a local. Also, renting make sense if you are considering a move to a new lifestyle. In retirement, we are planning to move from the suburbs to a city. It will be a huge change in lifestyle for us, so we want to test it out for a few years by renting an apartment and see if we like it there.
Renting can also be a temporary step if you are not financially ready to buy a house. More retirees are renting these days because they do not want to be in charge of maintenance or yard care.
Buying a home at any stage of life is a major purchase and not a quick decision. It costs a lot to move to a new home, so you have to plan wisely.
It is important to remember that your retirement life can last for 20 or 30 years. Therefore, you need to find a home with an understanding of your long-term needs. It is great If you healthy right now, but it might change in the future. If one of the spouses gets sick, you will want to live closer to the medical center for regular appointments rather than travel for hours to see a doctor.
The best advice is to rent before you buy because you will get fewer surprises in the future. Otherwise, it can be a costly mistake.
3. Moved to be closer to family.
Many people move to be closer to their children and grandchildren when they retire. In many cases, it is a great idea.
But the situation might reverse, and you will be chasing your children around the country if they choose to relocate. You do not want to be in situation when you move to the area and then find out that your family will be moving away.
4. Not doing your due diligence before moving to a new place:
Moved to the wrong environment.
That is a common mistake for many retirees. That is why you need to make sure that the location meets all your needs before you move in.
Everyone knows that staying socially active makes you happier and healthier in retirement. But where are you going to meet new friends? Does a new place have social events, clubs, or gathering places? Is it close to a coffee shop, pool, library, or movie theater?
We live on the east coast. Here everything is close enough if we want to drive for a few hours to get to another state or town. But if we move to Texas or Arizona, I will miss the variety of New England scenery and proximity to a familiar environment. Everything will be far away if we want to have a change of scenery.
If you are planning to move to one of many retirement communities, make sure that it will be a good fit for you. I would recommend renting a unit and spend a week there. Go to the restaurant where everyone eats and see if you like the food and ambiance. Go to the games room, swim in the pool, and talk to residents about life in the community.
The best advice is to find a place that matches your lifestyle when choosing a place to retire. Hence, do not move to a rural area if you love going to museums and theaters.
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No access to good healthcare.
Keep in mind that access to good healthcare and medical facilities is a must when looking for a place to retire. When you are in your 60s and 70s, you are still active and healthy and probably need only routine doctor visits.
But as you grow older, you will need access to retirement facilities, home care providers, and transportation for people with disabilities. And you do not want to move to another place in search of better healthcare in your late 80s.
5. Not considering the design of your retirement home.
That is a common mistake for many retirees when they buy for today and not for tomorrow. You are healthy and active today, but unfortunately, your mobility will decline with age. That is why you need to consider the design of your home with the idea of how it might change in the future.
Everybody loves living in a new two-floor modern-designed home. But what happens if one of the spouses will lose mobility and will be in a wheelchair? How will you go around the stairs? It will be stressful to start looking for a single-level house while trying to sell and move out of your brand-new home.
Have you thought about if your house is accessible for your future needs?
You might not need it right now, but life can change very quickly in 10 or 15 years. It will add a lot of stress and money if you need to renovate your home later to fit your physical abilities.
The important thing to remember that if you are moving to a new place make sure that your house is a comfortable place to age. In the end, it can be expensive and difficult to remodel a place with lots of stairs, a second-floor master bedroom, tall kitchen counters, narrow doorways, and more.
Choosing a place to retire may be one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Hence, do not make it in a rush. Take your time and choose wisely.
But do not be discouraged by the amount of work you have to put in upfront. After all, you will benefit greatly by living and enjoying the retirement of your dreams.
What are your top retirement mistakes to avoid?
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