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Should I Move in Retirement?

For many, there comes a time in life around fifty years of age (or later) when the question arises: "How long am I going to live here?"

There could be several possible triggers for this question:

  • Retirement
  • An empty nest
  • Health problems
  • Job transfer
  • Living costs
  • Lifestyle choices

You may find more than one of these triggers comes into play for your situation.

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Popular Reasons for Moving

Retirement

The approach to retirement frequently raises the "where will I live" question. In our younger years, daydreams of carefree hours in temperate climates defined retirement thinking. But, as that date grows nearer, serious consideration turns to specifics about desired conditions and how much cost you can truly afford.

Empty Nest

Parents whose kids have flown the coop face the decision of whether to stay in the house. With fewer bodies in the place, some might feel it's too much room. In that case, deciding where to move takes priority. On the other hand, others may want space for visitors or to convert otherwise unused rooms for different purposes like an office, craft room, or entertainment center. Empty nesters who go this route may also renovate the house to accommodate "aging in place" with everything from grab bars to handicap-accessible bathrooms and kitchens.

Click here to learn 10 great strategies to overcome empty nest syndrome!

Health Problems

Aging typically brings health complications that could spur thinking about moving to a new place. While renovations to an existing residence can help with health challenges, relocating to an entirely new environment could make sense. This might mean living in a warmer climate, moving to a new home with one level, or even seeking a higher support setting like assisted living. In addition, some people might move closer to a potential caregiver in case their health should take a downturn.

Job Transfer

While relocation for employment reasons is common overall, older workers are less likely to relocate for a job. A 2022 survey by Allied Van Lines showed that respondents over 45 moved much less frequently due to a job change compared to younger groups.

Age # Moving for a Job Change
18-24 17.8%
25-34 37.2%
35-44 23.8%
45-54 9.5%
55 and over 6.6%

Cost of Living

After years of saving while working, retirement reverses the money flow causing retirees to talk about "living on a fixed income." Understandably, one's sensitivity to the cost of living sharpens in this situation. Many retirees, therefore, consider relocation to lower their expenses. This may involve moving to a lower-cost state, especially one without state income taxes.

Lifestyle Choices

As we advance in years, we may be motivated to reassess what's important in life. Even if your current residence satisfies basic needs, you may feel compelled to do something different. The impulse may arise from:

  • Wanting to be closer to family, especially grandchildren

  • Divorce or the death of a spouse

  • Interest in experiencing a new geography or living arrangement

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The Emotional Toll of Moving Later in Life

Even if the arguments for relocation make sense, don't underestimate the emotional impact of moving away from a home of many years. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Giving Up Familiar Routines

    Moving to a new place upsets established life patterns. The rhythm of day-to-day activities changes, and we must adjust. The adjustment process is stressful. Things we were accustomed to doing easily now take additional thought and time to accomplish.

  • Relationship Disruption

    Moving away from friends or family leaves an emotional void. We depend on our relationships to help us feel connected and loved. Lacking these can lead to loneliness and depression. Plus, making new friends often takes time.

  • Grief

    Like losing a loved one to death, moving can also lead to feelings of grief. After years of living in one place, feelings of loss may outweigh the attractive aspects of a new locale for a time.

Navigating Medicare - Simle Idea, Complex Reality

The Callahan's Story

In May 2022, Dan and Tish Callahan moved from their Plymouth, MN, home of 32 years and renovated a lake home about an hour away. Their prime motivator was to enjoy lakeside living in a quiet rural setting. While they achieved their primary goal, the adjustment process was challenging.

One issue was no longer having long-time friends and neighbors close. While they like their new neighbors, they are wary of the upcoming winter months. "I think one of the big pros of living here is the neighbors," said Tish. "However, a con is that many of the people that live in our proximity here at the lake are snowbirds. We're waiting to see what winter will bring."

The Callahans noted that despite the beautiful setting, amenities like grocery stores and restaurants were further away. Also, they kept their established healthcare providers, so a trip to the doctor or dentist takes 60 minutes each way.

Thinking about others who might be in a similar situation, Tish has some advice. "Be ready for the emotional transition, for being a little bit in limbo. Recognize that there are going to be some issues emotionally. You're going to like things about the new place, but you'll also miss things about the old place. I don't want to say you'll have regrets, but there are some things you definitely miss."

"When you recognize and understand this, it is best to just go with it rather than fight it. Sure, at first, I thought, 'I don't know if I'm going to like this because of the things I'm missing.' But I said to myself, we'll figure it out. You slowly embrace what you knew were the good things. For instance, we found out that our next-door neighbors, who were snowbirds, are seriously considering a permanent move here, and they're wonderful people. So, there was already a blessing in the process."

Moving later in life can bring great satisfaction, but it's not all roses. Older adults contemplating a relocation need to consider all the pros and cons before committing to a move to a new home.
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