Considering relocating away from family in retirement? Find out the pros and cons and how to manage life if you do
By Kimberly Blaker
When you’re finally able to retire, a new and exciting chapter in life begins.
You no longer have to dedicate your time and energy to a job or raising kids. For many retirees, this means a return to focusing on their own wants and needs.
One of the most significant changes new retirees often consider is moving to a new city or state.
The idea of relocating is an exciting way to embrace your new life. But it’s also a big decision you may want to consider carefully, especially if it means leaving family behind.
Living in a place you want
During earlier adulthood, people often relocate based on their jobs or the best location to raise a family.
Retirement provides you the opportunity to choose where you want to live just because that’s what you want, therefore, eliminating many factors to consider.
There are many reasons retirees choose to relocate. Most often, they want to live in a place that offers them a better way of life.
A significant factor retirees consider is choosing an area where they’d love to live. Maybe you live in a suburban area but really enjoy nature and hiking. Or perhaps you’ve lived and worked in a crowded city for years, but would rather spend your time relaxing by the beach.
After you retire, you’re better able to prioritize your personal preferences when deciding where to live. Think about what things you enjoy and the type of environment that makes you feel your best to help narrow down your options.
Another important factor to consider is affordability. If you’re thinking about moving after retirement, you may want to consider downsizing. If all your kids are grown and gone, you probably don’t need as much space. Plus, you may have different needs that are better served with a smaller home.
Retirement means you likely have less income than you did before. So having a smaller mortgage or rent payments, lower property taxes and insurance, and less maintenance and repairs can save you a bundle. If you’ve got equity in your home or home values in your area have risen since you purchased your home, you might even make a profit from selling it.
Do you currently live in an area with a high cost of living? If so, you may be able to find an area you’d enjoy with a much lower cost of living, thereby offering you multiple benefits.
The pros and cons of relocating
Deciding to move away from family and friends after retirement is a big decision. Creating a list of personal pros and cons is a helpful tool to help you process all the factors. Everyone has their own unique pros and cons based on various aspects. The ones below can help you get started. But don’t forget to add your own.
• Leaving behind obligations, old drama or bad memories
• Getting a fresh start
• Finding a more appropriate place for your stage of life
• Finding a new community with whom you have more in common
• Leaving an area that has a younger population and a family focus
• Saving money by downsizing or living in a less expensive area
• Being away from familiar and special places
• Having to develop new routines
• Not getting to see family and friends regularly
• Starting over anew takes a lot of effort
• Needing to make new friends and find new social outlets
• Moving can be difficult and stressful
How about the kids, grandkids?
One of the biggest hesitations retirees have about relocating is that it’ll take them away from their kids and grandchildren.
If you’re used to living close to them and enjoy the benefits of living nearby and spending lots of time together, leaving family behind can be difficult.
You may feel relocating is right for you, yet you’re still worried about living so far away from your loved ones.
Fortunately, there are many ways to keep your relationships strong, even from a distance.
Moving away from family and friends is easier than ever before because of all the technology now available for keeping your relationships close through virtual connection. Gone are the days of delayed communication through limited means. You can now easily see your kids or grandchildren at the push of a button.
Through social media, you can follow them to see regular updates, pictures and videos of important things happening in their lives. It’s just as easy to have direct communication at any time using text messaging and phone or video calls. Video calls can give you the feeling you’re right there with your family. At the pace technology is advancing, long-distance communication will only continue to get better.
In some ways, living away from your family can make seeing each other even better. When you live near family, you may not put as much effort into seeing each other or the quality of your time together because everyone’s lives are so busy. If you live further away, the times you get to spend together will be more focused, special and memorable. You can travel to each other’s locations or meet for vacations together for a fun change of pace. The time leading up to visits can be fun too with countdowns or sending messages to each other as the visit gets closer and your excitement builds.
If you do move away
If you do decide to relocate, the best thing you can do is go into it prepared, so it’s a great experience from the start. You’ll want to begin by figuring out precisely what you want out of your new home, town and life to narrow down the places that make the most sense for you to move to. Even if you already have a dream location in mind, know the reasons why you want to live there and that it’ll actually meets your expectations for retired life.
It’s a good idea to visit any new places you’re seriously considering relocating to and spend time there. You’ll want to be familiar with the area you choose to relocate to. Check out the city or town, including the more mundane aspects of it, like places where you’ll run errands. Talk to locals, also, particularly those at a similar stage of life, and get their perspective. Realtors and librarians are both excellent resources for getting more information about what your potential new hometown has to offer.
Once you’ve relocated, look for ways to get involved and become a part of your new community. Leaving your old home also means losing the relationships and routines you were used to. At the same time, as a new retiree, you have a lot more time on your hands than you’re accustomed to. So find healthy and fun ways to fill that time to ensure you’re taking advantage of your new opportunities.
Look for group classes that align with your interests or offer the opportunity to try something new. There are often classes specifically for senior populations where you can meet other people to build new relationships and enjoy retired life together. Both the local library and city recreation department are helpful resources for finding these classes and groups.
You can also go online to Meetup.com to find various social groups with a broad array of activities and interests. It’s a great way to do the things you love and make new friends who have something in common.
Retirement is a time of change that can be both wonderful and daunting. So whatever path you’re considering, weigh your options carefully to find the best situation best suited for enjoying your new life.