By Bill Gallagher, CFP®, MPAS®
In a recent Smartasset study, “Where Retirees are Moving – 2021 Edition”, they examined data from states and cities across America to determine the most popular locations for retirees. Based on the results, Florida and Arizona top the list of where retirees are moving. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas round out the top five states. This is not surprising as these states are associated with favorable climates and tend to be more tax-friendly for retirees than other states. In addition, these states have a lower cost-of-living and offer more affordable housing. Retirees on a fixed budget are finding these locations to be desirable. However, while these financial benefits do exist, it is important for retirees to make sure they think through some of the non-financial aspects of relocation including:
- Moving away from family
- Moving away from their social network
- The availability of healthcare.
For most people, their family is more important to them than anything and where they derive their most enjoyment. Retirement is a time when you can focus on spending more time with your loved ones and enjoying the richness they bring. Whether it is spending time with your children, taking care of the grandchildren, or bonding with other family members, retirement can be a great time to strengthen the family ties. Retirees who are contemplating relocation in retirement must bear in mind that they will potentially be moving away from family. While this may not be a concern for some retirees as they tell themselves that the children and grandchildren will visit a few times per year or that they will travel back home to see them, sometimes things do not work out this way. Travelling can be expensive and with adult children busy in their careers with grandchildren in school, it may be difficult for them to visit as frequently as you would like. In addition, your health may prohibit you from travelling back home to visit. All of this results in less frequent visits than planned. And while technology will allow you to meet with your family virtually, I think it is safe to say that it is not quite the same as an in-person visit. Family can also be especially important as you age, potentially relying on their help. It is tough for family members to deal with aging issues from far away.
Some retirees have spent many years in their home. Perhaps they moved in soon after their marriage and decided to build roots there. After years of being involved with the children’s school and being a part of the community, they built a strong social and support system. Unfortunately, they cannot take that same network with them if they relocate. This is not to say that you cannot build a new social network after relocation. In fact, many people enjoy building new relationships and getting involved in a fresh community. However, building relationships can be difficult for many. If health becomes an issue, especially in the beginning stages of being in the new community, it could be even harder to build the same type of support system they had at home.
It’s inevitable that as we age, we will all need some level of health care. Whether it is access to a geriatric physician, a specialist, a hospital, a rehabilitation center, or a continuing care facility we need to make sure that we have access to these facilities during the time in our life when we will need them the most. Therefore, it is important to understand not only the types of healthcare facilities you will have access to in the new location, but also the quality of the care available. The last thing you would want to do is to move from an area with a high-quality level of care to a place where the care is drastically lower. For some, after their family, their health is the most important consideration. Therefore, you want to make sure that you will have access to the care you will need when you should need it.
For all of these reasons, it is important for retirees to make sure they understand the non-financial impacts associated with relocation. These include being away from their family for an extended period of time, building a new social network and support system, and their access to high-quality health care facilities in the new location. My recommendation for those thinking about relocating in retirement is to do their homework. Do not settle on a location just because it is popular. Consider renting as your first step of the process. Renting a house in different locations will provide great insight to the local community and climate. This will also give them the chance to see what it is like to be away from their family and friends. The last thing you would want to have happen is to rush a decision and end up regretting it down the road. As with most aspects of life, where you retire is not a “one-size fits all” decision. Decide on your priorities, do your homework, and even try living in various areas before you finalize a move. These steps will almost certainly lead to the retirement of your dreams!
Horan, S. (2021, February 17). Where Retirees are Moving – 2021 Edition. Smartasset. https://smartasset.com/financial-advisor/where-retirees-are-moving-2021#:~:text=In%202019%2C%20there%20was%20a,more%20than%2027%2C900%20moved%20elsewhere.