Recently retired, you’ve sold your home at the top of the market, you’re flush with cash from all the home equity you’ve realized, and now but one question remains: Where are you going to live next?
A thousand thoughts dart around in your head: “There was that charming little town we visited on our vacation last year,” “We want to be close to the grandkids,” “We want to live in a place where our money will go further.”
You haven’t faced this many choices since you were a freshman in college trying to decide between majoring in psychology or pre-med. Your emotions whipsaw between exhilaration and fear.
Most people struggle to come up with an answer, but the truth is, many actually don’t even raise the question, and, as a result, they stay put. According to Realtor.com, 85 percent of retirees stay in the area where they raised their families.
But if you’re in that adventurous 15 percent who, after selling your home, really want to open a new chapter in your life, here are some beginning, important questions to ask:
What do I really want to do with my life?
Again, it’s probably a question you last asked yourself when you were 18 or 28, not 68. But this time, there’s probably less pressure from trying to please your parents or meet the expectations of others. Be brutally honest. Daily walks in the woods? Teaching cake decorating? Giving back?
Am I okay with renting?
Renting allows you to dip your toe in the water instead of diving in with both feet and living with the consequences. Perhaps, that ocean paradise you saw yourself enjoying to eternity stays fogged in most of the day, or that idyllic little town with all those quaint gingerbread houses doesn’t have local vet for when your poodle, beagle and Yorkshire Terrier need care, or the doctor’s office down the street from your new home doesn’t take Medicare patients. If you rent for six months or a year, you won’t be throwing money away, you’ll be buying good insurance in the event you want to move on sooner than you thought.
And if you find a place where you can truly picture yourself living for the rest of your life, ask your local lender about a Reverse Purchase, which allows you to purchase a home without using all your financial resources. Indeed, you never have to make a single mortgage payment as long as you live in the home. You will, however, have to show your lender that you can maintain the property, pay all property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, HOA and other related property charges over the life of the loan.
How’s my health?
As we get older, the wheels start coming off. It’s a fact that insurers know only too well. The ambulatory elderly (people who can still get around) fill between 9 and 13 prescriptions a year, so having a pharmacy close by will be a big consideration for many. And, of course, finding new doctors whom you like and trust, and, who also accept Medicare could be challenging.
Can technology fill the void of not being there?
You can text, Skype, Facetime and Facebook your children and grandkids all you want, but it’s not the same as a real-life cuddle or embrace. That said, what if you decide to retire in the same town as your kids, and then they decide to move? Maybe, technology is the best solution for filling the void.
How am I going to get around?
I’m not talking about getting around Amsterdam or New York City for that big trip you have planned, I’m talking about frequenting local shops for a daily doughnut or a cup of coffee so you can rub shoulders with the locals. If you no longer drive, will there be someone to pick you up and give you a lift?
Do I enjoy making new friends?
Are you the kind of person who can leave one social circle and easily start up with a new set of friends whose names you’re just getting to know? Living in isolation can be worse for your health than smoking, some say.
The questions above are just a start. You no doubt will raise others like, which places offer inexpensive living costs, low taxes, pleasant weather and year-round activities that will engage you. Those “Best Places” rankings can be awfully fun to peruse, but don’t let them sway you, too much. They change more often than celebrity hairstyles.
Perhaps, the best question to ask is not, “Where should I live in retirement?” but “Where can I lead the best life for the rest of my life?”