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Thinking of relocating in retirement? 4 things to consider


Retiring and moving is common, but it’s not as common as you may think.

First, there are almost 30,000 recipients of our weekly newsletter, and we have 18,000 clients, and I would estimate that 95% of them spend at least some time weighing the viability of the retirement relocation question.

But while nearly everyone considers what retirement would be like in a new city, state, or country, and while about 1.5 million people retire each year, only about 225,000 Americans annually retire and immediately move to a new region.1

That’s because when it comes down to the actual move, it may or may not be as practical as it is exciting.

A retirement relocation? If you’ve already done it, you’ll probably see some of what you experienced here.

And if you haven’t?

Here are 4 things you need to think about before you take the plunge.

1. Moving to a resort town is no vacation

Lots of people plan vacations years in advance. Then we travel to those places and get to live in hotels with views, lay on white sandy beaches, tour, and enjoy endless dinners out.

But, obviously, moving lock, stock, and barrel somewhere new is a challenge. (And this is especially true if we move to a foreign country.) We’re forced to set up our lives as locals, and that means dealing with the traffic we mostly avoided as tourists, along with the challenges of ancient, entrenched, unfamiliar bureaucracies that can be incredibly time consuming and frustrating.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from clients who have relocated to places like Paris or Spain is that after only a few months, not only are they homesick, but the day-to-day obstacles of life in an unfamiliar place are hard to adjust to.

That’s not to say that I haven’t had clients who have moved to exotic locales and loved it, because I most certainly have. But whether you want to move abroad, or to a domestic resort town in a sunny state, it’s important to visit your destination for an extended stay during each season. Also, make sure to ask yourself (and your partner) whether your expectations for the move might be too heavily inspired by the experiences you’ve had as visitors.

2. Medical care

I don’t want to throw water on the fire of inspiration, but retiring to a small, coastal town in Oregon will quickly lose its appeal if the nearest hospital is two hours away. Not to mention the arduous task of finding new care providers whom you like and trust.

And as for moving abroad? It’s worth remembering that even from countries in Europe, that each year millions of people from around the globe travel hundreds or even thousands of miles for important medical procedures that we take for granted here in the U.S.

So, before you move, make certain that you not only know the local healthcare standards, but that you know the protocols for how to pay for them. (Medicare coverage overseas is virtually non-existent.)

3. Friends and family may not visit

I have clients who moved overseas. They stayed two years, and when they returned, the main reason they cited was that they missed their friends and family.

Most of us have children and a well-developed social network. And numerous studies have shown that one of the absolute musts of a happy retirement is proximity to friends and family, which is good for us both mentally and physically.

That’s not to say you won’t make friends in your new home. But just accept that moving your physical, financial, and social life to a new state or country is a big task, and for most of us, it will come with unforeseen emotional challenges.

4. Can you really afford it?

One of the biggest reasons that people retire and move to a new area has to do with money. Sometimes, moving is a necessity. We move to a country (or state) that is less expensive to make our nest egg last. That could come in the form of lower taxes, a decrease in housing costs, cheaper healthcare, or most likely a combination of all of these.

But don’t forget that moving costs a lot of money. Make sure you balance the cheaper cost of living that you’ll enjoy at your new home with the expense it takes to get there.

 

After years of hard work, moving somewhere cheaper or warmer during retirement seems natural.

I mean, why keep shoveling snow?

Well, that fact is, that as an advisor for almost 30 years, you’d be surprised by just how many people I’ve spoken to who miss shoveling snow once they move away from the place that they’ve long called home.

Relocating could be the answer to all your dreams. Just make certain that you speak to your advisor and work with him or her to make sure that all your financial, social, and emotional needs will be met. 


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