Retirement is a time of new freedom after decades in the workforce, and one of the things retirees discover they are free to do is move somewhere new. Relocating after retirement can offer a number of benefits: the opportunity to enjoy a warmer climate, live near family, reduce taxes, or lower the cost of living. But retirement relocation can have pitfalls, too, so it’s important to think about your motivations, not to mention your needs and resources, when moving after retirement.
Everyone’s situation is different, and what’s right for one retiree might be emphatically wrong for another. We’ve created something of a retirement relocation checklist so you can make an informed decision about when, where, and how to go.
Consider Family Matters When Moving After Retirement
The first thing you need to think about is your reason for considering moving after retirement. If you are like many retirees, a primary motivation for relocating is to be near adult children and grandchildren.
If you want to move to be near family, discuss the possibility with them. If you hope to live with them, of course, they need to be fully on board with the plan. But even if you expect to live on your own, it’s important to discuss your plans. Do you share similar expectations for how often you will see each other? Would you be happy continuing to live in the new location even if your family members need (or want) to relocate elsewhere for some reason?
The opportunity to be near family is a great reason to move. Just remember that if your motivations for moving depend on other people, making sure you are on the same page with them is important, and communication is key.
Look at the Big Financial Picture
Likewise, if you are planning to relocate for financial reasons, how confident are you that the move will achieve your goals? Are you planning to move to help your retirement savings last longer? Do you have significant assets that you want to protect from taxation?
What you want to achieve financially can dictate whether and where you move. Some states have no state income tax, some have no state estate or inheritance tax, and some have neither. However, states need to get their revenue from somewhere, so you could find yourself facing exorbitant property taxes or a high sales tax that bites into your budget.
Sitting down with a retirement planner can help you identify your financial resources, needs, and goals, and to create a realistic budget. The last thing you want is to move, only to find that you can’t afford to live where you’ve landed, or that you’ve moved for anticipated tax benefits that didn’t materialize. You may not be able to prevent financial setbacks from occurring in retirement, but you can plan to minimize their impact.
Anticipate Health Needs
Don’t overlook your health when planning on moving after retirement. Think about any health conditions (including mental health issues) you currently have, and your relationships not only with a primary care physician but any specialists you need to consult. How easy will it be to develop similar relationships in your intended location? It’s important to establish connections with care providers before you need them, especially for specialists who may have a months-long waiting list for appointments.
Don’t just think about your health today, either. You might be in terrific health right now, but the reality is that even the fittest seniors are likely to encounter more illness as they age, and more serious illness. Make sure your retirement relocation destination works not only for your current needs, but for an older, potentially more frail future you. That includes not only the availability of care, but a home you can safely navigate.
Decide Whether to Own or Rent (or Something Else)
If you’ve been a homeowner, moving after retirement creates new options. You may want to purchase a smaller place with less upkeep. You might decide to rent, using the equity from the home you sold to support your lifestyle in retirement. You may even choose to get on board with the “Golden Girls” trend, sharing living quarters with one or more roommates. Doing so can help you not only save money, but make social connections and avoid isolation in your new locale.
If you’re thinking ahead to a time when you may not be able to live independently, you may want to consider a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). In a CCRC, you can move from one level of care to a higher level as needed on the same campus. For example, many CCRCs have independent living apartments, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities. Moving to a CCRC has pros and cons, but one advantage is having a built-in community after you relocate.
Plan to Maintain Existing Social Support Systems and Build New Ones
Speaking of communities, don’t underestimate the importance of the social support systems you’ve built during the years you’ve spent in your current location. You may be so accustomed to having familiar family, friends, and neighbors around that you haven’t anticipated what it may be like to start fresh, especially if you’re moving to a locale where you don’t have family or other social ties.
If you’re set on moving, get on social media and connect with existing friends and acquaintances (if you haven’t already) so you can easily stay in touch after you move. When you get to your new location, don’t allow yourself to become isolated. See if there’s a local Newcomers Club. If you’re religious, join a house of worship. Research organizations or charities that are meaningful to you and look for volunteer opportunities. Moving opens new doors, but remember that it will take some time to build up a social support system.
Don’t Forget Your Estate Plan
If you are moving to a new state, you should at a minimum review your existing estate plan to ensure that it comports with the laws of the state to which you are moving. You may want to update your estate plan altogether after you move. Remember that your estate plan consists not just of your will or trust, but of any powers of attorney and advance healthcare directives you have in place. It’s important that those incapacity planning documents are effective and valid so that you can get the help you need, when you need it.
Contact Us If You’re Planning on Moving After Retirement
There are many factors to take into account when considering retirement relocation. To learn more about the pros and cons of moving after retirement, and to set yourself up for success, contact Estate Planning & Elder Law Services to schedule consultation with an attorney who can help you weigh the tax, financial, estate planning, and other considerations involved in a move.