Let’s face it, nobody gets younger with time, and as you age you will need more medical care. Some of us have special needs already so a particular type of medical care and facility and specialist is necessary. Most communities with a lot of retirees have the usual elder care type of clinics and small hospitals. They specialize in heart ailments, hip replacements, eye surgery, rehabilitation, diabetes treatments, and general well care.
But if you need an allergist or immunologist or liver or kidney treatment or some other specialist that treats the average person then you may want to consider living near a larger city. Big cities seem to have the larger more respected universities and many times they come with a university hospital that has oodles of specialty doctors ready to bill your insurance company.
Then there’s the inevitable dementia and Alzheimer care facilities that you may need to consider in time. We all hope that will not be a problem, but all too often it seems to go that way for one part of the team, and the other spouse will likely want to live close by if a treatment facility is called for.
Will the doctors in the area accept your medical insurance? This is a big one, so call and triple check that out before you subscribe to an insurance plan. These days a lot of doctors are opting out of Obamacare, and not accepting some exchange plans, so check carefully. You also want to locate necessary medical professionals before you have an emergency and need them. Referrals are often the best, but there are some websites like Healthgrades that you can check out.
It also makes sense to get a copy of your medical records from all of your regular doctors and keep them yourself. You will also have to have your doctor transfer your records to your new doctors. Sometimes a doctor will charge you for those copies, but often if the new doctor requests them directly there is no charge.
Objective House Hunting Criteria
Are you empty nesters? Do you want to downsize, or upsize? Do you need space for your kids to live with you, or just to visit? Will they be bringing their kids? How long will you need this house before it becomes too big or too large to take care of? Do you want a townhome where the maintenance is done by the community or are you into riding lawnmowers and acres of property and gardens?
Everyone’s priorities are different. “Why do you want something so big?” I hear that a lot. We figure our kids will be with us for the next bit, so we want to accommodate them and make sure they have enough activities and work opportunities in the area. I’m guessing that this next home is for 5-10 years before our girls settle into their lives and families. Who knows where they will end up, but once they start a family of their own I know we will want to be somewhat close by for babysitting, birthdays, holidays and Sunday dinners.
When you access a realtors site and enter search parameters you will have a bunch of homes in the area returned for you to look over. Those criteria limit the list down to homes that fit your needs. Of course, not all sites give you such detailed search parameters, and not all listings are properly entered, so results vary. Some of our objective home criteria has been:
- Master bedroom on the main floor (we are all getting older and steps are going to start sucking)
- A light and bright kitchen, since we spend enough time in there
- 4 bedrooms: master, one for each girl, and one to act as a quilt studio for Laura
- A bonus room for me, because I need a man cave for my hobbies
- A 2-3 car garage
- Good curb appeal, with a porch on the front if possible
- Some space and privacy, we don’t want a house on house neighborhood
- A community where we can meet people and socialize
- Not a 55+ community, we are not there yet
Subjective House Hunting Criteria
Some criteria is subjective and some objective, so it still pays to drive by the homes you find and see if you like the area before you call and inconvenience your broker to set up an appointment to see the inside.
We found that the subjective criteria was more important to us, as long as the objective criteria was met. It definitely pays to look at Google Maps when you have the address and see what the neighborhood looks like. You may find a beautiful house, but it could back on a huge shopping center or industrial complex.
Here’s a list of the subjective criteria that we considered important. Yours may be different:
- Do we like the area (subjective)
- Do we like a particular neighborhood, community, house (subjective)
- Is there water nearby for kayaking or strolling the beach (water front/water view)
- Is there sufficient public golf nearby (Google Maps)
- Is there a quilting club or network in the area (Google Search)
- Can the girls find meaningful work nearby or is it just retirees and tourism (Local Community Websites)
- Is there a good mix of general activities, clubs, and social networks in the area (Local Community Websites)
- Are there enough good restaurants to enjoy (Local Community Websites)
- Is this a flood or hurricane threat area (Google Maps)
- How is the heat and humidity in the summertime (Local Community Websites)
- Are there decent hospitals and doctors in the area to cover our particular needs (Local Community Websites)
- What are the demographics in terms of education, ethnicity, and financial (Google Search)
- Is there an international airport nearby or only a small local one (Google Maps)
- Are there colleges nearby (Google Search)
- What is the local music scene and do they have concerts in the area (Local Community Websites)
- What other entertainment is available (Local Community Websites)
- What is the proximity of shopping for food, clothing, malls (Google Maps)
- What is the cost of living here (Google Search)
- What are the winter months like (Google Search)
- Do they get an influx of tourists regularly, or host a bike week and such (Local Community Websites)
Leaving Friends Behind
Our kids certainly had some friends in elementary and high school. They also had the usual bouts of adolescent drama. But both of them came back from the first year of college and said they were much happier with their new friendships. The new college kids have more in common with them than the kids who stayed at home and either worked or went to a local school.
I think this is a fairly common occurrence. Going away to school is a big developmental phase in a child’s life. They are on their own for the first time, responsible for their own study habits and time management and leisure time distractions. They grow up quite a bit in that short time. Those new friends are also experiencing the same things, and that forms a bond.
Plus, once they graduate they very well may be looking to move elsewhere in the country to start their careers. We, as parents, cannot control or predict where they will end up or what they will do with their life. It is theirs to live, and that’s the way it should be. We can still be there to pick up the pieces and console them when life’s troubles rise up to tickle their feet. Once a parent, always a parent. “Support” is our middle name, in many different ways.
So, our daughters are really not very concerned about our moving away. They are not terribly connected to our current neighborhood anymore. Sure they have one or two close friend they will miss, but life moves on, and they now know that new friendships are possible, and those can sometimes prove to be more fulfilling than old ones. Of course, there is nothing like an old friend who has been with you through those events that you don’t ever want to tell your parents about, and can relate all of your faults and foibles and embarrass you on a moment’s notice. Those are the people you invite to the annual golf trip and settle right in as if no time has passed at all. Lifelong friends, regardless of the distance between you, may actually come and visit you in your new home more than once.
The big question is what and where are they going to end up? Well, there’s no way to predict that until they get to that point in their lives. In the meantime, if you are determined to move away from your home you lived in for the last 20+ years, you have to balance your options. Consideration for the kids is a priority, but so is finding the balance that makes your retired life fulfilling. The responsibility of a parent never ends, all we can do is continue to support our kids and understand and honor their decisions, and help them through the rough spots. Some of that will break your heart, and tears will no doubt be shed. But some of that will be laughter and upside surprises. Hey, it’s going to happen anyway, no matter where you live or what you decide. May as well find a place where you can sip a nice glass of wine in comfort and watch a beautiful sunset.
Work Opportunities After Relocation
Do we move where the local activities meet our needs, or do we compromise on some of that to make sure there are work opportunities for our kids if they decide to live with us for a while? Whew, that’s a tough topic.
Yes, we want to have enough space in this new house for the kids to come and visit, and maybe to stay with us for a while. We are not looking at a smaller cottage because we are not yet in that stage of our life. The kids futures are in flux and we are still needed in their lives until they settle into their careers and relationships. So this is an interim retirement house for us that will allow us to play a bit while we still can.
Finding a place that has enough industry and a growing economy for the kids careers is likely to leave out many coastal communities that cater primarily to tourism and retirement and leisure life. Living in a place where there is enough potential work opportunities for them means living somewhere near a city, in all likelihood. We are finding out that, as much as living near a city meets many of our checklist goals, it tends to miss on the “feel good” factor. Our heart is just not into it. We definitely feel better emotionally in a coastal community. For others it may be in the mountains, or someplace fairly remote with plenty of open space. None of those make a perfect place for a kid to start a career, unless it is in hotel management, hospital services and elderly care, or tourism.
One option is to wait a few years more to move until the kids grab a foothold on their future. It is possible that our foothold will be in the area where we live now, and that would certainly bash any relocation plan somewhat. Do we close our eyes and just go to the place that suits us best, or append their potential needs onto our criteria, or wait it out for a while? Do we “snowbird” it to Florida for a few months in the winter, and live the rest of the time somewhere a bit more amenable to them? None of these choices is perfect, or easy. Of course, a move does not mean we have to stay there forever. Circumstances change and we can change with them, but moving again is a lot of work, and an expense to be considered too. I guess time will tell.
This was lifted from a Motley Fool article:(http://www.fool.com/retirement/2016/07/29/planning-for-retirement-these-numbers-really-matte.aspx?source=eptmsmlnk0000001&utm_campaign=article&utm_medium=feed&utm_source=msnrss,DividendThe%20Motley%20FoolThe%20Motley%20FoolThe%20Motley%20Fool,model%20houseThe%20Motley%20FoolThe%20Motley%20FoolThe%20Motley%20Fool,money%20bagsThe%20Motley%20FoolThe%20Motley%20FoolThe%20Motley%20Fool).
Age is only a number, but some of those numbers are very important. Here are a few age milestones that it pays to be aware of, whether you are already retired or approaching one of these “numbers”.
50: You can sock more money away toward retirement in a 401(k), a 403(b), an IRA, and some other tax-advantaged retirement savings plans using a “catch-up” contribution. For traditional and Roth IRAs, IRS contribution limits for 2016 allow you to put away an additional $1,000. If you have a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan, then the catch-up amount jumps to an additional $6,000.
55: If you leave or lose your job in the year you turn 55, then you might be able to withdraw money from a tax-deferred savings plan without paying a 10% tax penalty. That can happen as long as you qualify for one of the exceptions listed in the federal tax code. At 55 you also may be eligible to receive pension benefits from some employer plans if you’ve accumulated enough years of service at your company.
59-1/2: You can usually withdraw money, without owing a 10% tax penalty, from tax-deferred plans such as IRAs, annuities, and, provided you’ve retired or left your job, employer-sponsored savings plans like a 401(k).
60: You can receive reduced Social Security benefits if you are a widow or widower.
62: You may be eligible for full pension benefits from your employer, depending on the plan. And if you choose, you can begin to receive reduced Social Security benefits. “Reduced” means you’ll receive 20% to 30% less than you would receive if you waited until your full retirement age — and your spouse’s benefit may be reduced even more.
65: You can receive full pension benefits from most employers. And you normally qualify for Medicare benefits.
67: If you were born in 1960 or later, then 67 is the earliest age at which you can claim full Social Security benefits.
70: You should begin to collect your full Social Security benefits if you haven’t already. There is no additional benefit increase after you reach age 70, even if you continue to delay taking benefits.
70-1/2: If you have a traditional IRA or an employer-sponsored retirement plan like a 401(k), then IRS rules mandate that you take your first required minimum distribution, or RMD, by April 1 of the year following the calendar year in which you reach 70-1/2 years of age. For each subsequent year after you begin taking RMDs, you must withdraw your distributions by Dec. 31. You do not have to take RMDs from Roth IRAs, and if you’re still working, you do not have to make withdrawals from your employer-sponsored retirement plan.
- An IRA can be opened for a child that has taxable earned income. You can gift a contribution to an IRA on behalf of a child or grandchild, but it can’t exceed the amount of actual earned income they make, and claim on their taxes, from lawn mowing or some other job. Even if you hit the maximum annual IRA contribution amount of $5,500, that’s still well below the annual gift tax exemption ($14,000 per person in 2016).
- You can still fund a ROTH IRA even if your income exceeds the thresholds for a ROTH contribution (ROTH IRA’s allow you to withdraw money tax-free, where regular IRA’s withdrawals are taxable as income). There are two ways: you can convert an existing IRA to a ROTH IRA at any time, or you can first contribute to a regular IRA and then convert it to a ROTH in the same year Contributing to a regular IRA does not have any income level restrictions. You will just have to pay the tax on that ROTH conversion.
- You can contribute to an IRA for a non-working spouse, even if they have no earned income of their own. One of you has to be working and have enough earned income for both IRA contributions and you file a joint tax return.
- Alimony counts as earned income, but you need to receive at least as much alimony as you contribute, up to the $5500 limit for 2016, or $6500 if you are over 50.
- If you are covered by a retirement savings plan at work you can still contribute to an IRA, but that IRA contribution will not be tax deductible on your annual return.
- You have until April 15 of the following year to make an IRA contribution for the previous year. That gives you 15 ½ months to make a contribution for a given tax year, and you don’t need to make it all at once, you can make several contributions as long as the total doesn’t exceed that $5500 limit, or $6500 if you are over 50.
- You can set up automatic contributions to your IRA each month. That eases the pain of making that lump sum contribution during tax season, and it will let you buy securities in your IRA throughout the year, taking advantage of any dips in the market.
- If you are age 50 or older, you can save an additional $1,000 in any of your IRAs each year. That’s why the contribution limit is $6500 for those over 50.
- If you convert a regular IRA to a ROTH IRA it makes sense to do it early in the year. That gives you plenty of time to save for the tax consequences of that conversion, or to make other tax saving transactions to offset the taxes due on that conversion. If you change your mind, you also have more time to act—until October 15 of the following year (the extended deadline for tax filing) to undo the conversion. You can also convert as much or as little as you want, conversion is not subject to the $5500 limit.
- If you no longer work for a company—whether you are retired or changed jobs—you can convert eligible non-Roth 401(k) money to a Roth IRA.
- A Roth IRA conversion is a taxable event. If your state has an income tax, the conversion will likely be treated as taxable income by your state, as well as for federal income tax purposes. Each states tax rules are different however, so check on it before committing to a conversion.
- ROTH IRA’s are not subject to Minimum Required Distributions (MRD) when you turn 70 ½ the way regular IRA’s and employer sponsored retirement plans are. If you miss taking your full MRD, there could be a big penalty—50% of the MRD not taken.
- Saving money in a ROTH can allow you to pass tax-free inheritance money to your heirs. Inherited money from a regular IRA is considered taxable income to your heirs. Talk to your estate planner about using a ROTH as part of your estate plan for more details.
- Qualified withdrawals from a Roth IRA don’t count toward the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) threshold that determines your Medicare surtax, so it can limit exposure to that.
Bet you didn’t know all that, I didn’t know all of it before I began researching and writing this post.
This is one of the harder things to face when you relocate. Everyone wants to believe that your friends will come and visit you in your new home, and maybe they will, once. Family have to love you, so you will likely see them again after that initial visit. Maybe that’s a mixed blessing for some. Sure, it is hard to leave good friends behind. All those dinners out, shared experiences, hanging out, old war stories are not gone. They are in your memories; it’s just that you may not have opportunities to create new ones with those same people. You will have to meet other, new friends wherever you relocate to. Yes, it will happen, and those new friends will become close friends eventually. They just won’t know about that embarrassing time when you did … (ahem). Searching for a new home is not so much about leaving friends as about finding a place where you can make those new ones that will fill your life with laughter.
We made a few mistakes in our initial home search. Yes, we made some exploratory trips to areas we were considering to get an initial flavor and see if we wanted to explore the area in more depth. That was good, but for that in depth search we tended to focus on finding a nice house and then considering the area and the community. I think for the next phase we will do it the other way.
I now believe the first priority will be to find a community that has what we want. The community is most important to finding new friends with similar interests and a similar lifestyle. Living cheaply in a small cottage retirement community where most residents are over 65 and kids are prohibited may not be suitable for those in their mid 50’s.
Our kids have also stated that they want us to be happy, so as much as we are considering their future and opportunities when we move they are telling us that that should not be our first consideration. We have some great kids, and it is hard to take ourselves out of that protective mode. But I get their point, they will be working and we will be playing. We need to have distractions in the area that meet our leisure time needs. Plus, they want to be able to come home to our new place and visit the “country club vacation home” where mom and dad live. It’s a great draw to get them to visit more often, and maybe, just maybe, it will help our current friends in their decision to come and visit more than once.
But then there’s the reality that they may indeed be living with us for a bit before they fully get their feet under them and their careers bloom. That means, wherever we live, there has to be more industry than bars and restaurants. Retirement communities are not hotbeds of industry. The coast of the Carolina’s is great for retirement, but not so much for kids in their 20’s trying to find meaningful work opportunities. So, be a responsible parent or be a good-time seeking retiree? Decisions, decisions.
The best way to reduce the stress surrounding the thought of a move is to do your research beforehand, then list and organize your priorities, then make actual visits to the areas you are considering.
There is a ton of information on the internet about everything. Most communities have their own pages where you can request visitor guides and see a calendar of upcoming events. There are also several good retirement magazines available where they talk about and review areas of the country and individual communities. Of course those magazines have many advertisers who would be glad to send you info on themselves, or offer you a “deal” to come and visit them.
Once you get a start and have gathered some ideas about what you want, it often pays to start making a list. Put down your priorities; assess your needs for housing and medical services, shopping and other conveniences, consider how long you expect to live in this new home. Do you want a master bedroom on the main floor to avoid stairs? Will friends and relatives be visiting often, making a guest room essential? What are your hobbies and are they readily available? How close are your conveniences, restaurants, hospitals, airports, etc.? Is there a community pool and recreation center with an active event calendar? These (and many more) are essential questions that need to be asked and answered.
The internet is a start, but nothing beats making an actual visit to the area. Meet with the realtors and talk to local people. Go into the shops and see what things cost and how friendly the help is. Above all, ask questions. If you have the opportunity, and you have narrowed down you choices, it makes sense to rent a place in your community of choice and try it out for a few months. That will take the pressure off of house hunting and give you an opportunity to relax into the environment. Get some local maps and a GPS. Subscribe to a local community newspaper. Become more than just a tourist. We found it good to sit at the bar during lunches and dinners out and talk to the locals that also sit there. It’s a great way to meet people and find out the scoop on the area.
Getting rich enough to retire is hard to do, but it is impossible if you let your fears get in the way of becoming rich, or at least rich enough to retire comfortably.
- Fear of Failing – Failing is a legitimate fear, but you shouldn’t let it paralyze you from trying new ways to make more money, especially if you are still relatively young. If you want to start a business or try your hand at investing, first you need to get educated about the risks. Just knowing what those risks are lowers your risk of failure tremendously. Take some management and finance courses at your local college, your fear level should drop dramatically after a little knowledge seeps in.
- Fear of Becoming a Target – Money can inspire envy and jealousy from friends and family. Every wealthy person probably has to deal with a few critics or jealous people in their lifetime, but they don’t let hate get in their way.
- Fear of Being Rejected – If you still pout about getting shot down for a junior prom date, you might fear thought of a potential business partner dismissing your vision. If you truly believe in your project, then you will exude confidence when presenting it. You need to be an expert in what you are proposing, then believe you have nothing to lose, while still be aware of potential failure points so you can recognize them when they rear their ugly head and overcome them.
- Fear of Never Having Enough – To become rich you have to pursue abundance. It is impossible to do that when you obsess over bills, obligations and the erroneous belief that there will never be enough. First, focus on the right priorities, then take stock of what you already have, expressing gratitude for it, and fixing your eyes toward the prize, one day at a time.
- Fear of a Past Financial Trauma – Are you in permanent survival mode where getting wealthy is the least of your concerns? This is where most people are today, especially after the 2008 recession. Did you know you could have doubled your money had you invested it at that time? It wasn’t a tragedy – it was an opportunity for a shrewd investor. Surviving a bankruptcy or something similar is an accomplishment. Learn from that experience and you can do anything you set your mind to.
- Fear of Excessive Debt – Not all debt is bad debt. You’re going to have to rack up some debt if you want to succeed in life, whether it is a student loan, a car loan, or a mortgage. You need debt to get good credit, but stay on top of your credit payments. Debt is not free money, it is an obligation.
- Fear of Trusting a Financial Professional – It’s hard to know who to trust, especially with your hard-earned money. When meeting a financial advisor be prepared, get educated and ask intelligent questions. You might even want to bring along someone who has more experience than you in these matters, like an accountant, then check their credentials and ask for referrals.
- Fear of Looking Stupid – Fear of failing is common to everyone. If that fear prevented you from investing in something that you have researched and believe in, you might miss out on the next Apple Computer. Saving face at the expense of losing out won’t make you rich, and it stops many people. Education is the answer. Read some books on investing that are simple and easy to understand. The same can be applied if you’re thinking about starting a business or embarking on any other type of financial risk.
- Fear of Losing Friends – If your friends don’t like you for who you are – rich, poor or otherwise – they weren’t your friends in the first place. But watch out for making gold digger friends once you are rich.
- Fear of Giving Up Guilty Pleasures – Understanding the difference between a need and a want can increase your future investment potential. Manicures, landscapers and maids are not a need. In the early stages of making a fortune, you need to make some sacrifices and cut back or eliminate your discretionary expenses. Make a budget identifying your true needs, your wants, your savings and debts. You may find out that you are the one that’s standing in your own way.
Let’s back up a bit and begin to examine the idea of relocation in general. We happen to live in a very expensive part of the country. Yes, wages are higher to help us pay for living on Long Island. But so are taxes and the cost of just about everything. Population density is squished, unless you are really rich and can afford more. We do have the benefits of being able to eat at some amazing restaurants of almost any type within a short drive. We have beautiful beaches and fairly pleasant weather, though it is no San Diego. We have New York City, the center of the world (according to those that live here anyway). Believe me, being close to NYC is a mixed blessing at best. It has allowed us to work and raise a family and save enough to retire at a good age, but we missed out on many of those wholesome things that only exist in calmer parts of the country.
Sure, we took nice vacations and saw a few parts of the world. We gave our kids experiences that they otherwise might not have had. We’ve seen some great plays on Broadway. I’ve been able to make my career in “The City” and, as the song goes, “if you can make it here you can make it anywhere”. But as much as NYC is a place to make a career, it is not a place to retire unless you are a true city person, willing to live in an apartment and deal with the millions of people who live and visit here.
So the word relocation has been on our lips for the last 10-15 years. We started looking years ago when Charlotte NC was beginning to boom. I had several job possibilities there, but for one reason or another they never came to fruition. Life gets in the way sometimes. My mother died and we had to care for my father for a few years before he passed away. We did decide to build out the house as the girls got older and that prevented us from seriously considering a move for a few years. So here we are now, older, wiser, and still wanting more from life than our current home can provide. Let’s face it, living on a 60 x 100 foot piece of property can only provide you with so much privacy and quality of life. Yes, that’s pretty much the average plot size for an affordable home on Long Island. It gets pretty tight.
Traffic is a problem, pretty much all the time. People, in general, are the same everywhere. Of course there is a larger than average dispersion of assholes, which may seem like more than elsewhere because of the population density, but then again, maybe there’s just more assholes here. There are plenty of stories of Long Islanders moving south and hating it. They miss their conveniences, and that is understandable. But as time goes by the annoyance of the crowds, and the traffic, and the costs, and the stress, and the understanding that life is easier elsewhere intrudes on your psyche and makes you want to leave to try it out in a nicer area of the country.
We did that … try it out … and it is true. People are nicer elsewhere. The cost of living is about 30% cheaper. The quality and size of your home is bigger and better for less money. The taxes are lower. The conveniences are still there, just a slightly longer drive away. We can come back for visits, airplanes and airports do exist elsewhere. And, once again, people are nicer. There is nothing quite like a teenager saying “excuse me, sir” as opposed to returning an arrogant sneer or jibe. Respect for the elderly has its place, but it certainly isn’t on Long Island.
Our next home may not be our last. Once our daughters find their place in the world and start their families we expect to live somewhere in closer proximity to them so we can visit our grandchildren and share their lives. That may be 5-10 years away though, so we are searching for a landing pad that is not Long Island and that will transition us into a better life. After all, we earned it. It’s our lives, not anyone else’s, and we have to make it worth living. Of course there will be compromises, but that’s what life is about. It will all work out in the end because we have each other, and that’s really all it takes to make a house a home.