When you reach retirement, you may start thinking about downsizing. Many retirees look forward to moving out of a larger home and into a community for seniors, closer to family, or to a smaller space. Whether you’re tired of cold winters or want to escape from the city, making a move is a great way to embrace retirement. In fact, a 2009 study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College indicates that retirees who move are generally happier than those who stay in their original locations.
Moving during retirement can help retirees transition away from a workaday life. The change often reduces maintenance responsibility, lowers the total cost of living, and places retirees in a more socially inviting environment. Moving also gives any mover a sense of excitement regarding the future. Here are some tips for creating a positive moving experience anywhere in the country:
1. Always visit first. You may have a picture in your head about what life is like on the coast of Florida or in the warm climate of Arizona, two of the most popular destinations for retirees. However, retirement rarely aligns with the images you see on retirement community brochures. Taking time to visit the area and experience the traffic, proximity to family, and the cost of living will quickly help you make a decision about community fit.
2. Consider taxes. Taxes can significantly impact your disposable income, particularly if you move from a state with a high rate of taxation to one that does not impose income taxes. In addition to income, look at property and state taxes before you set your heart on a location that might stretch your retirement budget too thin.
3. Look at an area’s demographics. Using Census data, you can easily find information about the number of seniors located in a specific location. In addition to learning about the formal data, take the time to talk to residents about the number of active individuals in the community who are in your age group. Finding a new social group in retirement can enhance the experience a retiree has after moving.
4. Make a shortlist of amenities you need and want. Regardless of age, amenities play an important role in choosing a new home. Before you start looking at any condos, beach houses, or communities, consider the amenities that you really need or want. Think about fitness, community organized activities, proximity to shopping and health care facilities, and maintenance.
Think practically about the amenities that will serve you well now and what you may appreciate in 10-15 years. Some communities offer valet services from your home to a doctor’s office, salon appointment, or out shopping.
5. Buying vs. renting. Purchasing a new home gives retirees added flexibility to make modifications and pass on ownership in a will. Renting, on the other hand, does not require as much of a financial commitment up front and may offer valuable amenities. Retirees who are not interested in home ownership may find renting a home less stressful.
6. Think about different types of retirement homes. Retirees can choose from a number of living environments based on location and how long they plan to stay in their new home. Just a few of the different types include:
● Active adult communities. These home or condo-based communities often have age requirements of 55 or 65 or older. The property may offer scheduled activities as well as numerous active lifestyle amenities including walking trails, gyms, and workout classes.
● Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). CCRCs offer services based on the natural aging process. Residents can move from an independent living area into an assisted living or nursing home environment as time passes. If you plan on spending the rest of your life in your next home, give these unique communities a thorough evaluation.
● Homeowners’ associations (HOAs). Often more independent than the previous two examples, HOAs still provide more community involvement than other types of properties. HOAs are great for retirees who want to live in a mixed-age environment and enjoy community amenities such as maintenance, landscaping, and recreational outlets.
7. Are you moving yourself or hiring a company?. The actual move plays a major role in the decision making process. The size of your new home, the distance away from your current home, and community requirements may all affect moving decisions. Modern moving companies can do everything from packing to putting boxes in the appropriate rooms. Look for deals from moving companies and always double check your mover’s credentials. Some companies unfortunately try to take advantage of retirees.
8. Ask for help. If you need it, ask your family and friends for help. Whether you need help deciding on a location or arranging the move, getting more people involved can reduce the stress associated with a big move. Use this time to pass down some heirlooms that you won’t need in your new space, and treat the moving process as a fun time for the whole family.
9. Take pictures. Record your old home before you start to pack or move to your new home. Having images will help you reorganize your belongings and account for certain items after the move. Share your pictures later with grandchildren or new friends, because every house you live in holds special memories.
10. Organize packing for an easier transition. Trying to dig in unmarked boxes after a move can irritate even the most laid back person. Pack items you need immediately in a clear box and take it with you. Label all other boxes by room and contents to make unloading and unpacking an easier process.
Give yourself the time you need to sort through your house, find the perfect place, and make the move. Once you’ve settled into your new home, you have the opportunity to explore, make new friends, and spend time doing the things that you love.