Family is one of the most beautiful and precious gifts given. The bond you build with your family lasts a lifetime and can add meaning, depth, and fulfillment to your life. For many people, their family members are scattered across the country as they construct careers and start families of their own.
Many retirees consider moving closer to their grown children and grandchildren, making that move a central component of their retirement plan. While the idea of shared birthday celebrations, cheering from the sidelines, and regular family dinners seem like a natural extension of your life, there are several elements to consider before packing your bags.
Today, we are going to explore the intricacies that come along with moving closer to family in retirement.
Does the location fit your retirement needs?
If your family is there, what else is left to consider? It turns out, there are a whole host of factors that require your attention. Relocating in retirement is a significant step and to ensure that you can live a happy and healthy life in your new spot, you can’t let all of the other elements that comprise your retirement plan go on the backburner.
Let’s take a closer look at a few.
Quality healthcare systems
A robust healthcare system should be on the top of your list as you evaluate your potential move. You should prioritize your health both now and in the future, meaning you need to do your due diligence and look into the healthcare facilities near the area. Ask yourself,
- Where is the nearest hospital and is there easy access to it?
- Does the area have the specialists you need?
- Will your insurance coverage need updating? (Medicare Advantage Plans, for example, are location-specific, meaning you might need to change coverage before moving).
It’s also wise to look into long-term care facilities and home caregiving options. Each state differs in pricing, so make sure you take those changing costs into account.
Cost of living changes
Most likely, you’ve built your retirement plan that supports your lifestyle in your current location, so how does a move impact the numbers? Evaluate the cost of living in your new area by looking into the following:
- Home prices. A move from Tulsa, OK where the average home price is about $137,000, to Savannah, GA, where the average home price climbs to about $191,000, can put a serious strain on your finances. Take a look at the average home costs in your area including property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and upkeep.
- Taxes. Each state has its own tax code, some of which are better or worse for retirees. Before you move, check to see if your retirement benefits like Social Security or pension funds are subject to state taxes. Understand your other tax requirements like income tax and sales tax to get a clearer picture of your changing tax obligations. There will likely always be tradeoffs, a state like Florida that doesn’t have any income tax comes with higher sales tax, and depending on where you live, a higher cost of living overall.
- Entertainment. Dinner at a downtown Denver restaurant will produce a much higher bill than grabbing dinner at a casual restaurant in Broken Arrow, for example. You want to know what your regular activities will cost you like dinner, golf, exercise classes, etc.
If your cost of living will significantly increase, how will your savings plan need to adjust to meet those rising goals? It might mean delaying retirement or decreasing your lifestyle spending, either way, it’s important to be prepared before you move.
Your day-to-day life is the benchmark for your retirement lifestyle. Does the new area support your lifestyle goals? What volunteer organizations and activities are available? Can you still start your passion project or encore career? To find happiness, you must be able to do the things that bring you joy along with spending extra time with family.
The other key element here is building a new social circle. In your area, you likely have neighbors, friends, and colleagues with whom you regularly interact. How can you build those same connections in your new area? While your family does come with a built-in support system, you can’t solely rely on them for your social calendar.
Have you set appropriate boundaries with your children and vise versa?
Boundaries are a central tenant of a healthy and robust relationship, and if you decide to move closer to your family, you’ll need to have these crucial conversations that set the right boundaries for you and them. Clearly expressing your expectations will help you iron out any wrinkles in your plan to avoid frustrations or miscommunications.
Tackle critical questions like,
- How often would you like to see your children and grandchildren?
- What limits or guidelines do you want to set around babysitting, errands, or other day-to-day chores?
- Can either of you simply stop by at any point and how much notice would each person like?
- What role, if any, do you expect your children to play in your life, i.e long-term care considerations, household chores, regular home maintenance, etc.
Both sets of families deserve the opportunity to help craft how this changing dynamic will work. You might think that you can stop by whenever for dinner, but your kids would prefer notice since they work full-time and the grandchildren have a myriad of activities. Your kids might assume you are a built-in babysitter, but you would prefer to have adequate notice or set times each week so you can build your social calendar.
Have you planned for the unexpected?
Life is continually bobbing in a state of flux, and it’s necessary to plan for potential changes to your lifestyle.
Consider this: you’ve moved closer to your children and have been in your new area for a few years. At a family dinner, your daughter tells you she was recently offered an incredible new position that requires a move and she is likely to take it. What would you do?
Bouncing state to state isn’t likely how you pictured your dream retirement unless you fancy yourself an intrepid traveler. Will you be happy in that location without your kids? Are you willing to follow them to a new place? If you have multiple children, will moving end up costing more in plane tickets and travel expenses?
Think through all of these scenarios, even if you think that this type of thing would never happen to you. It’s best to be prepared so you can make the most of your retirement together.
Take your new location for a test drive.
The best way to see if a new location is right for you is to test it out. Try to spend some meaningful time there, about a month or so outside the holiday season to truly test out your day-to-day life.
- Have you found a good neighborhood?
- Is the city pet friendly?
- Can you walk to the grocery store?
- Have you met the pastor at the local church?
- Do you like the person who does your hair?
- Does the gym have the workout classes you enjoy?
- Is it an easy drive (or other transportation) to your kids?
All of these daily activities will give you a taste of what your life would really look like in a new area. How can you take the time to test out a new area? Bank some extra vacation days, ask your boss if you could work remotely for a month or so, find another branch you could go into for a little bit, etc.
Moving near family in retirement can be a rewarding and magnificent component of your retirement lifestyle. With the right planning and preparation up front, you can make it a smooth and happy transition for you and your family.
We are family-centric here at Step by Step and love helping retirees live a fulfilling life. If you’re considering a move in retirement, schedule a call with our team today. We would love to help you align your money with your goals.