Relocating in Retirement

Sandra Cleveland |

One of the many doors that opens when you retire is the option to move.  Where you live is no longer dependent upon where you work.  If you want to stay in your current home, you can get the benefits of familiar surroundings and enjoy having the time to become more deeply engaged in your community. 


If, however, you want to move for financial or health reasons, to be nearer to family, or just for a change of pace or climate, retirement is your golden opportunity to relocate.  If you want to move, but just don’t know where, here are some questions to ask and things to consider in order to help you find your perfect location.


What kind of place do you want to live in?


·         What kind of climate do you enjoy?

·         Do you want to live at the beach?  In the mountains?

·         What size city do you want to be in?

·         Do you want a walkable city with mass transportation where you won’t need a car?

·         Would you like to be in a traditional retirement community?

·         What kind of medical facilities do you need access to?

·         Do you want a place to enjoy outdoor activities - hiking, biking, golf, or sporting events?

·         Do you want to be near a cultural center with theater, concerts, museums, and fine dining?

·         Would you like to be in a college or university town?

·         Do you want to live in just one location, or split your time between two or more?


Expand your horizons!


Don’t be afraid to consider broader possibilities - you don't even have to stay in your home country! In the last decade or so, numerous retirees have started moving to countries like Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and many islands in the Caribbean.  Not only are these countries near enough to the U.S. to be in the same time zones, but they also make it easy to travel back and forth. Their vibrant ex-pat communities and lower cost of living are also big selling points for many retirees.


If you want to explore options like these, search out ex-pat forums online for any country you decide to consider.  These forums are great places to connect with people who have already made the move and to get tips and basic information on practical matters, such as how your income taxes might be affected or how real estate business is transacted, etc.  Follow up with the appropriate professionals on what you learn to make sure you understand the implications these things will have for you.


Whether you decide to go abroad or stay closer to home, make your wish list of requirements, narrow down your search, and then visit the places you’d like to try out.  If you want to stay in the U.S., check out the places you’re interested in on AARP’s Livability Index.  Once you’ve identified a place you’d like to consider seriously, go back for a longer-term stay.  You can rent a house, do a home exchange, or house-sit for someone who’s away. It’s a great idea to find a way to “live” in that location for a couple of months to test the waters before you are ready to commit to a new way of life.


-Sandra Cleveland-