How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

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Topic Author
gowest
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How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by gowest »

Hi everyone,

I don't post very often, but I read these forums regularly (both the "investing" forum and this "not investing" forum). I've really come a long way in my understanding of retirement planning and, more importantly, financial independence. I have a question about retirement planning. I'd love to read your insight and experiences and stories.

DW and I are 46 and 44, and we have kids who are 14 and 12, and it seems clear that both are headed for eventual college (starting in 2025 and 2027). At that point, I expect our expenses will go way down. We have already saved for college, and we'll no longer be paying for their private school (K-12), and we'll no longer need or want our big house (which will be paid off next year), etc. And then soon enough, they'll be out of college and on their own (rather than returning to the nest, we hope!).

With our future (kid-free) reduced expenses in mind, we probably have enough $$ right now to consider ourselves financially independent, and especially so if the investment accounts rise in value. Regardless, I will keep working for a while--maybe until age 55, but perhaps not that long--which will truly let us solidify our FI position.

So DW and I are looking ahead and trying to think about what we're going to do. That has two core aspects: (1) Where are we going to live? (2) What are we going to do? The answer to the second question is relatively simpler for us, since we have hobbies and interests, and frankly we can do those most anywhere. So the real question is the first:

Where are we going to live?

How does one decide?

Right now we live in a MCOL city that has been great for my work and raising the kids, etc., but it's not going to be our retirement city. Part of us thinks: sell everything except the basics and then buy a gently used motor home in order to tour the nation for a few years, and then decide. Part of us thinks: downsize and move to the beach in a cute, walkable beach town. But maybe that'd be too small for us. Anyway...

Now it's story time! ... Tell me, please, how did you decide where to live for retirement? If I had a better handle on our plans, then I'd have something more specific to work towards, and I could plan (both mentally and financially). Maybe this post is just my musings, since the answer is such a personal decision. But I thought I'd post anyway and see where this goes.
JTcheek
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by JTcheek »

I don’t have an answer for you since this is something we haven’t decided on yet either. One consideration I would offer is to not underestimate the value of your existing social network at your current location. I’ve seen people decide to sell everything in order to move to retirement locations in the mountains or at the beach only to be surprised at how hard it was to meet new friends and settle into a social network. In my parents case they left behind a bunch of great friends they had know for decades. It takes a while to build those kinds of relationships all over again.

Also, while it’s not as not something as important in your mid-50s, easy access to a broad range of quality healthcare providers is something that’s important when choosing a retirement location. I’ve known older people that have had to drive an hour each way for an appointment with a specialist. Again, maybe not a big deal when you are 55, but it’s a consideration as we get older.
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22twain
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by 22twain »

gowest wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:44 amRight now we live in a MCOL city that has been great for my work and raising the kids, etc., but it's not going to be our retirement city.
Why not? Does something about it actively turn you off, or is it simply "meh" and not "retirement-y" enough?
It's "Roth", not "ROTH". Senator William Roth was a person, not an acronym.
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gowest
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by gowest »

JTcheek wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:07 pm ... One consideration I would offer is to not underestimate the value of your existing social network at your current location. ...

Also, while it’s not as not something as important in your mid-50s, easy access to a broad range of quality healthcare providers is something that’s important when choosing a retirement location. ...
These are great points. Thank you!
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gowest
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by gowest »

22twain wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:17 pm
gowest wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:44 amRight now we live in a MCOL city that has been great for my work and raising the kids, etc., but it's not going to be our retirement city.
Why not? Does something about it actively turn you off, or is it simply "meh" and not "retirement-y" enough?
Hi. Thanks for your comment. For our retirement, we plan to live in the U.S., but beyond that we're wide open. So when we think about where we'll want to live, we'll have the financial means to choose anywhere in the entire U.S. Our current city, while wonderful for what it is, wouldn't be anywhere near the top of that list. I don't even know which cities are on that mythical list, but I feel fairly certain one of them isn't our current city. It's definitely not "retirement-y" enough. The only reason we live here right now is because my job is available (in any practical sense) in a limited number of cities, and this is a great one among those. Basically, it's a great place to live for my job and for raising a family, but it's not going to be our retirement spot.
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Firemenot
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by Firemenot »

If I were you I’d move now to a place you could very likely see yourself retiring. Social connections are about the most important thing for living a fulfilling life in retirement. And it’s much easier to make social connections with kids still in the house. And then there’s a much higher chance that your kids will end up in the same regions as you. Your 14 year old is still young enough to move to a new place and have a good run with new friends.

This is exactly what we did and it worked out great. Moved around 40. We decided what was the point of staying until retirement and then moving. And we’d have more of a long-lasting social network to fall back on in retirement. I continued to work my job, but now remote, and my wife got a job in the new location.

We moved 1000s of miles away.
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by stoptothink »

Firemenot wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:38 pm If I were you I’d move now to a place you could very likely see yourself retiring. Social connections are about the most important thing for living a fulfilling life in retirement. And it’s much easier to make social connections with kids still in the house. And then there’s a much higher chance that your kids will end up in the same regions as you.
This. Much easier to figure it out and start developing roots now, then when in retirement.
Impromptu
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by Impromptu »

For me the biggest factor will be proximity to family, children, and grandchildren. These are the reasons I will not retire in a foreign country, or move to a remote part of Alaska, to some beach or mountain cabin, or some ultra low cost of living midwest rural area, despite there being some appeal to all of those options. While travel isn't too hard these days compared to horse and buggy days, travel is still a hassle.
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Fulltimer
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by Fulltimer »

gowest wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:44 am Part of us thinks: sell everything except the basics and then buy a gently used motor home in order to tour the nation for a few years, and then decide.
We had the same thoughts, although we were also using the MH to escape cold WI winters. We have been fulltiming for over 4 years now and are no closer to finding our permanent retirement spot😃
almostretired1965
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by almostretired1965 »

Interestingly enough, my wife and I seriously considered doing both of the ideas you came up with. My wife and I do not have children nor any relatives that we are very close to in the next generation so there are no familial ties that would dictate where we go. She is from Massachusetts and I grew up in the Maryland suburbs of DC. Other than the years we were in school in Boston, we've spent all of our adult lives, until recently, in NoVA and Charlottesville.

Based on our travels we sort decided that somewhere out west (starting with CO/TX) would be where we would like to settle. The initial idea, one that we've toyed with since ~ 2000, was to take around 2 years to travel around various places that might be good candidates, spending a month or two in each place. The plan was to start in Texas and establish residency. A mobile home was a possibility, another was to simply find short term rentals or extended stay hotels. Here is short list of places we would have considered: Austin, San Antonio, Boulder, Ft. Collins, Salt Lake City, Jackson, Boise, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Louis Obispo, San Diego, Lake Tahoe. I"m sure as we moved around, other choices would have come into play.

Anyway, about three years ago now, I had had enough of my then job. We had been living in a rental at a lake community near Charlottesville for several years and the owners were planning to come back and would only renew the lease for an additional 6 months. We had been FI for a couple of years by then and decided to just go ahead a resign at the end of the summer and proceed with our plan. At the time, we thought it might be fun to spend 6 months in a beach town on the east coast before we moved to TX so we started looking at interesting locations in NC between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. Out of nowhere I got contacted by recruiters for two of the big tech firms about permanent roles in Seattle. Both jobs were quite interesting and hey, now we can get someone to pay for our move out west! Anyway, I got an offer shortly thereafter and the rest is history. We've since moved my elderly parents out here, just in the nick of time, 2 months before the start of the Pandemic. We really like it here; the only drawbacks are the rather gloomy winters, somewhat elevated cost of living compared to what we were used to, and the level of petty crime/homeless situation.

At the moment I plan to work for another year or so before retiring all together or moving to a part time role. At that point we will likely move out of the Eastside to somewhere else not too far from the coast, e.g., Bellingham, Vancouver, Olympia, etc. At least while my parents are alive, I don't think we will move out of the state unless the tax situation on income/capital gains becomes draconian.

I have no plans to buy a place for now, though we might at some point once things are really settled.
gowest wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:44 am
Right now we live in a MCOL city that has been great for my work and raising the kids, etc., but it's not going to be our retirement city. Part of us thinks: sell everything except the basics and then buy a gently used motor home in order to tour the nation for a few years, and then decide. Part of us thinks: downsize and move to the beach in a cute, walkable beach town. But maybe that'd be too small for us. Anyway...

Now it's story time! ... Tell me, please, how did you decide where to live for retirement? If I had a better handle on our plans, then I'd have something more specific to work towards, and I could plan (both mentally and financially). Maybe this post is just my musings, since the answer is such a personal decision. But I thought I'd post anyway and see where this goes.
Last edited by almostretired1965 on Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Quirkz
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by Quirkz »

I'm about your age and my wife and I have had similar conversations the past few years. For us, one of the first steps was choosing travel with retirement at least in the back of our minds. So, not the entire purpose of a vacation, but leaning toward picking places where we thought we might at least consider, to get to know the areas better. Go see places you're interested in. Go back for a second stay if you think you might really like it. Talk to some of the locals about quality of life while you're there. (Particularly since you mention cute walkable beach towns, do research into what you might need for access to supplies, medical care, airports, etc.)

Also obviously it's good to have some conversations with your partner about the other usual big factors: weather, town size, geographic features (beach, mountain, river, desert, forest, whatever you prioritize), proximity to friends and family, etc.

This time last year we lived in Colorado, but we'd been saying for a while that on retirement we might consider moving to the Oregon coast. Both of us had intended to head out that way at one point or another before being sidetracked by other life choices. A few years back we had an extended vacation to Portland and then a tiny town on the coast and absolutely loved all of it. My wife took a girls' trip back out and reaffirmed how much she liked it, and we'd both been trying to figure out when we could go back. Maybe a year ago we finally decided why wait for retirement, and after casually looking for a while the perfect job opportunity showed up in Salem, Oregon and I took it. It helped that our kids were younger, covid had made a mess of their school year anyway, and some other factors made it relatively easy to move now instead of wait. I realize you've got a pretty strong job motivation for staying where you are until retirement and that makes sense.

Even after getting to Oregon we're not sure that we'll stay in Salem forever. At the moment the plan would keep us here until the kids are out of college and retirement, but at that point we're still debating whether we head for the coast, try a different town, go mobile for a few years, etc. We'll probably spend the next 15 years driving all over the state trying it out from different angles to see what we like the best.

Finally, since you mentioned cute beach towns, if hot weather isn't mandatory, Oregon has a whole bunch that might be worth checking out. Happy to make more specific recommendations if you want any.
namajones
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by namajones »

JTcheek wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:07 pm I don’t have an answer for you since this is something we haven’t decided on yet either. One consideration I would offer is to not underestimate the value of your existing social network at your current location. I’ve seen people decide to sell everything in order to move to retirement locations in the mountains or at the beach only to be surprised at how hard it was to meet new friends and settle into a social network. In my parents case they left behind a bunch of great friends they had know for decades. It takes a while to build those kinds of relationships all over again.

Also, while it’s not as not something as important in your mid-50s, easy access to a broad range of quality healthcare providers is something that’s important when choosing a retirement location. I’ve known older people that have had to drive an hour each way for an appointment with a specialist. Again, maybe not a big deal when you are 55, but it’s a consideration as we get older.
All good points.
vrr106
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by vrr106 »

gowest wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:44 am Part of us thinks: sell everything except the basics and then buy a gently used motor home in order to tour the nation for a few years, and then decide. Part of us thinks: downsize and move to the beach in a cute, walkable beach town. But maybe that'd be too small for us. Anyway...
We're still not at this point but enjoy discussing our plans anyway. I would personally much rather do short term rentals vs motor homes. You can find rentals for all types of retirement-y lifestyles - beach, golf, mountains, even city. I don't know if a motor home will give you a good sense for what it is like to actually live in that town.
Last edited by vrr106 on Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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gowest
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by gowest »

stoptothink wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:42 pm
Firemenot wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:38 pm If I were you I’d move now to a place you could very likely see yourself retiring. Social connections are about the most important thing for living a fulfilling life in retirement. And it’s much easier to make social connections with kids still in the house. And then there’s a much higher chance that your kids will end up in the same regions as you.
This. Much easier to figure it out and start developing roots now, then when in retirement.
Thanks for these thoughts, stoptothink and Firemenot. Your point about the importance of social connections is very well taken, and a great point for us to consider. But I don't think it's feasible for us to move anytime soon. I am still working and will keep working for 5-8 more years (something like that), and for my work I need to be in certain cities, none of which are candidates for retirement (NY, Boston, Chicago, DC, Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Austin, LA, San Francisco--that's about it).
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gowest
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by gowest »

vrr106 wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:26 pm
gowest wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:44 am Part of us thinks: sell everything except the basics and then buy a gently used motor home in order to tour the nation for a few years, and then decide. Part of us thinks: downsize and move to the beach in a cute, walkable beach town. But maybe that'd be too small for us. Anyway...
We're still not at this point but enjoy discussing our plans anyway. I would personally much rather do short term rentals vs motor homes. You can find rentals for all types of retirement-y lifestyles - beach, golf, mountains, even city. I don't know if a motor home will give you a good sense for what it is like to actually live in that town.
This seems like a really good idea. Maybe we'd keep our current home as our home base while we decide where to live, and then try living in certain areas for a month or so at a time--long enough to get the feel for it and at least try to estimate the other seasons. Thanks for the suggestion.
sailaway
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by sailaway »

We are planning stages. Cruise the sailboat for awhile, then maybe RVing, then staying out in the RV until we find someplace we want to put down roots.
JayDee37
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by JayDee37 »

My fiance and I are a little older than you (46 and 47) and our two youngest kids are 13. We are thinking of doing the same once we are able (i.e. the kids are all out of the house and we have financial ability to stop working)--getting a little RV and traveling throughout the Americas for the first several years of our retirement. We will probably end up settling in a little cabin in the mountains somewhere, rather than a beach town, but who knows?

For cute little beach towns in California (listed from North to South), check out Mendocino, Half-Moon Bay (in the SF Bay Area), Capitola (near Santa Cruz), the area around San Luis Obispo, and Carlsbad (just north of San Diego).

I also agree with the posters who emphasized the ability to maintain your social ties in retirement, and proximity to good medical care. I have seen how extremely critical both of these things are for my parents. So, so important.
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fourwheelcycle
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by fourwheelcycle »

gowest wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:24 pm
JTcheek wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:07 pm ... One consideration I would offer is to not underestimate the value of your existing social network at your current location. ...

Also, while it’s not as not something as important in your mid-50s, easy access to a broad range of quality healthcare providers is something that’s important when choosing a retirement location. ...
These are great points. Thank you!
I agree. My wife and I are New Englanders, so this is the region we know the best. I have suggested moving to Portsmouth, NH, or Portland, ME, both with access to good health care and easy access to Boston and Maine coastal vacations. From our other vacations, I would add Sedona, AZ and Bend or Portland, OR to the list as good places to live, although I don't know anything about about health care in Sedona or Bend.

Having said that, my wife, the boss of our family, has issued an edict that we will stay where we are - due to both of the reasons noted by JTcheek.
EnjoyIt
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by EnjoyIt »

gowest wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:44 am Hi everyone,

I don't post very often, but I read these forums regularly (both the "investing" forum and this "not investing" forum). I've really come a long way in my understanding of retirement planning and, more importantly, financial independence. I have a question about retirement planning. I'd love to read your insight and experiences and stories.

DW and I are 46 and 44, and we have kids who are 14 and 12, and it seems clear that both are headed for eventual college (starting in 2025 and 2027). At that point, I expect our expenses will go way down. We have already saved for college, and we'll no longer be paying for their private school (K-12), and we'll no longer need or want our big house (which will be paid off next year), etc. And then soon enough, they'll be out of college and on their own (rather than returning to the nest, we hope!).

With our future (kid-free) reduced expenses in mind, we probably have enough $$ right now to consider ourselves financially independent, and especially so if the investment accounts rise in value. Regardless, I will keep working for a while--maybe until age 55, but perhaps not that long--which will truly let us solidify our FI position.

So DW and I are looking ahead and trying to think about what we're going to do. That has two core aspects: (1) Where are we going to live? (2) What are we going to do? The answer to the second question is relatively simpler for us, since we have hobbies and interests, and frankly we can do those most anywhere. So the real question is the first:

Where are we going to live?

How does one decide?

Right now we live in a MCOL city that has been great for my work and raising the kids, etc., but it's not going to be our retirement city. Part of us thinks: sell everything except the basics and then buy a gently used motor home in order to tour the nation for a few years, and then decide. Part of us thinks: downsize and move to the beach in a cute, walkable beach town. But maybe that'd be too small for us. Anyway...

Now it's story time! ... Tell me, please, how did you decide where to live for retirement? If I had a better handle on our plans, then I'd have something more specific to work towards, and I could plan (both mentally and financially). Maybe this post is just my musings, since the answer is such a personal decision. But I thought I'd post anyway and see where this goes.
First let me congratulate you on your success and future successes. We have come to a similar realization a few years ago. the town we live in was great for making money, but not so great for what makes us happy so we have been traveling a lot. Our goal over the last few years has been to check out different regions that we may want to live in. We would rent a house for a week or so and explore. We have been to tons of cities and finally came to our own personal conclusion. I don't think the exact location matters for this discussion, but it does have the following which is important:
1) Reasonable cost of living which knocks out Bay area type places.
2) Weather shouldn't be too cold or too hot such as Arizona, Maine, Vermont, or Texas
3) We wanted to have reasonable access to nature which knocked out a lot of big cities
4) We wanted a location that isn't on the far edge of liberal such as Portland Oregon (sorry Portlandians, just our view) We prefer something more middle of the road but willing to lean a bit conservative or liberal.

My advice for you is to check out all those areas, try and take some long vacations there and explore. Eventually you will find what you will like. Half the fun is figuring it out. Then, when you actually decide, rent a place there for a year and see if it fits your needs. If you do plan to get a motorhome, then before you buy, rent and check it out for a week or two.
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chazas
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by chazas »

stoptothink wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:42 pm
Firemenot wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:38 pm If I were you I’d move now to a place you could very likely see yourself retiring. Social connections are about the most important thing for living a fulfilling life in retirement. And it’s much easier to make social connections with kids still in the house. And then there’s a much higher chance that your kids will end up in the same regions as you.
This. Much easier to figure it out and start developing roots now, then when in retirement.
Well I tried this once in my 40s and then again in my 50s. I ended up back in the original place both times.

And to address the OP's question - I have no idea. I'm hopefully a couple of years away, and I've set myself up to retire comfortably where I am, but I am still tempted to move somewhere with a warmer climate.
Last edited by chazas on Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
jebmke
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by jebmke »

Initially we had probably five criteria that I would consider primary. In no particular order.

quality of life
health care quality and access
climate (weather)
proximity to friends and family
available infrastructure

When it came to making a final decision, family proximity was over-weighted due to health issues in spouses family. On a micro level I will say that we failed to fully understand the variability on the health care front that can occur within a fairly small overall geography and how that might affect us as we age. In other words, without impacting the other four criteria, we could have made a different choice that improved health care quality and access by making a different choice at the "community" level.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
Firemenot
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by Firemenot »

gowest wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:26 pm
stoptothink wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:42 pm
Firemenot wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:38 pm If I were you I’d move now to a place you could very likely see yourself retiring. Social connections are about the most important thing for living a fulfilling life in retirement. And it’s much easier to make social connections with kids still in the house. And then there’s a much higher chance that your kids will end up in the same regions as you.
This. Much easier to figure it out and start developing roots now, then when in retirement.
Thanks for these thoughts, stoptothink and Firemenot. Your point about the importance of social connections is very well taken, and a great point for us to consider. But I don't think it's feasible for us to move anytime soon. I am still working and will keep working for 5-8 more years (something like that), and for my work I need to be in certain cities, none of which are candidates for retirement (NY, Boston, Chicago, DC, Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Austin, LA, San Francisco--that's about it).
My job is similarly only really available in major metros. But don’t under-estimate the power of quitting, especially post-Covid. I’ve been remote now for 5 years. I’m still a total exception but they need me too much to show me the door.
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JoeRetire
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by JoeRetire »

gowest wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:44 am Where are we going to live?

How does one decide?
One decides the same way one decides where to live pre-retirement.

Decide what is important to you and your family. Decide what you could afford.
Find a place and location that fits your needs, desires, and financial ability. The possibilities are virtually endless.

You must have some ideas about what you like. You must have some ideas about what you don't like.
Of not, just let your wife decide.
Last edited by JoeRetire on Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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kaudrey
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by kaudrey »

We are a little older than you, but my DH is already retired and I am retiring at the end of this year (at 52). We talked about it for several years, and ended up....buying a house in October 2020...30 miles from where we lived. We are northern VA, and we moved farther out in the suburbs. I'm 100% telework and likely will be until I retire.

We decided to stay because, like you, we didn't have a set place in mind. We have friends here, we love DC, and we are close enough to my relatives who all live in New England (my husband's family is in TX, but he would never want to move back there for various reasons). So we realized that staying here, near to good airport options, near our friends, within a day's drive of family, etc., made sense. The problem for us was the actual house we lived in and its location - it just wasn't working for us anymore. So we found a great house we love, in an area we love, and plan to stay here for the long haul.
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by jebmke »

JoeRetire wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:50 pm One decides the same way one decides where to live pre-retirement.
Not in my situation. I decided I wanted to live in the city/state/country where my job (edit: or school in early years) was. Very often that was in a place that would not have met my criteria for retirement location.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by phxjcc »

gowest wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:44 am Hi everyone,

I don't post very often, but I read these forums regularly (both the "investing" forum and this "not investing" forum). I've really come a long way in my understanding of retirement planning and, more importantly, financial independence. I have a question about retirement planning. I'd love to read your insight and experiences and stories.

DW and I are 46 and 44, and we have kids who are 14 and 12, and it seems clear that both are headed for eventual college (starting in 2025 and 2027). At that point, I expect our expenses will go way down. We have already saved for college, and we'll no longer be paying for their private school (K-12), and we'll no longer need or want our big house (which will be paid off next year), etc. And then soon enough, they'll be out of college and on their own (rather than returning to the nest, we hope!).

With our future (kid-free) reduced expenses in mind, we probably have enough $$ right now to consider ourselves financially independent, and especially so if the investment accounts rise in value. Regardless, I will keep working for a while--maybe until age 55, but perhaps not that long--which will truly let us solidify our FI position.

So DW and I are looking ahead and trying to think about what we're going to do. That has two core aspects: (1) Where are we going to live? (2) What are we going to do? The answer to the second question is relatively simpler for us, since we have hobbies and interests, and frankly we can do those most anywhere. So the real question is the first:

Where are we going to live?

How does one decide?

Right now we live in a MCOL city that has been great for my work and raising the kids, etc., but it's not going to be our retirement city. Part of us thinks: sell everything except the basics and then buy a gently used motor home in order to tour the nation for a few years, and then decide. Part of us thinks: downsize and move to the beach in a cute, walkable beach town. But maybe that'd be too small for us. Anyway...

Now it's story time! ... Tell me, please, how did you decide where to live for retirement? If I had a better handle on our plans, then I'd have something more specific to work towards, and I could plan (both mentally and financially). Maybe this post is just my musings, since the answer is such a personal decision. But I thought I'd post anyway and see where this goes.
The FIRST thing to do is decide on your "key care-abouts"...that is YOURS, not Joe Boglehead nor SUZORMAN.com nor *ANYONE*else.com


Art
culture--however YOU define it (Branson? The MET? Troubador? MOMA? Cadillac Ranch?)
weather--Is Fargo reallly that bad? Or If you are watching TV and playing bridge, who cares if it is 124* in Palm Springs?
transportation--including airline hub
health care--you may be Jack LaLane now, but eventually you will require a specialist; maybe even a teaching hospital. Even worse, you S.O. may need one--and a 3 hour drive to the closest Med School Teaching Hospital is not ideal at any age, but in your 80's simply not doable daily.
shopping--including, the availability of [fresh] grocery items.
natural beauty--however you define it
political climate--if you even care about it
taxes--the whole "round trip": real estate property, income--including SS and Pension, sales, person property (if you have a boat and a plane some "low tax" states are not good)
utility costs--sewer in this city is $200/month? Yup. Water in the desert is $25/month? Yup
property costs, including HOA fees
cost of services--because when your 90, you don't want to be climbing a ladder to replace smoke detector batteries. But the thought of paying some snot-nosed kid $200 to do so may force you up the ladder--don't do it.
crime
First responder capabilities
sports teams
participatory sports availability, whatever you like: golf, tennis, senior Olympics, target shooing
population density
Friends--caution...they are probably going through the same process and may move to Nampa.
Family--including the likelihood that children and grandchildren will be there in 20-30 years. This isn't 1961 Mayberry--people move--more and more because they HAVE to.
And without offending anyone, the last criteria is difficult to express...but regional differences in behavior toward others is real. Just be aware--I won't go further due to fear of getting "MOD'd".
...and on and On and ON

Do a forced ranking 1 through N.

Give each a weight, if you have 10 criteria, then #1 is worth 10 and #10 is worth 1--or whatever.

Then whittle your list of cities.

Then go there for a month during the best and worst times of year.

Then move.
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gowest
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by gowest »

phxjcc wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:17 pm The FIRST thing to do is decide on your "key care-abouts"...that is YOURS, not Joe Boglehead nor SUZORMAN.com nor *ANYONE*else.com

...

Do a forced ranking 1 through N.

Give each a weight, if you have 10 criteria, then #1 is worth 10 and #10 is worth 1--or whatever.

Then whittle your list of cities.

Then go there for a month during the best and worst times of year.

Then move.
Excellent list and procedure. Thank you!

I'm really enjoying everyone's responses--they're helpful, reassuring, insightful, etc. Keep 'em coming!
sport
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by sport »

It's a personal decision in many respects. For example, we bought a house suitable for retirement in the same area we have always lived in. Some people would rule out Cleveland OH because of the cold winters. However, the cold weather does not bother us much and we dress for the weather. Many of those people want to retire in Florida to take advantage of the warm climate. IMO, cold weather is more desirable than hurricanes. In addition, while you can dress for cold weather, you cannot dress for the very hot summers in the south. Besides, the cold kills off the mosquitoes. :twisted: So, what is right for us, is not right for others and vice versa. You have to decide what is important for YOU, not what others might want.
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gowest
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by gowest »

jebmke wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:12 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:50 pm One decides the same way one decides where to live pre-retirement.
Not in my situation. I decided I wanted to live in the city/state/country where my job (edit: or school in early years) was. Very often that was in a place that would not have met my criteria for retirement location.
I agree, jebmke. My decision for my career was based on the offers I received. I basically had 3 choices in 3 different cities--that's it. For the one I chose, it seemed to be a great employer with great people, and the city seemed good. All of that turned out to be true, but at that point in my life (fresh out of school) I was the beggar not the chooser. For retirement, on the other hand, I am the chooser--that's a far different analysis than the decision where to live pre-retirement.
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gowest
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by gowest »

sport wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:25 pm ... You have to decide what is important for YOU, not what others might want.
Thanks very much. All true, and good points. In helping us decide what is important for us, I'm finding it helpful to see how others approached this same issue.
chazas
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by chazas »

kaudrey wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:51 pm We are a little older than you, but my DH is already retired and I am retiring at the end of this year (at 52). We talked about it for several years, and ended up....buying a house in October 2020...30 miles from where we lived. We are northern VA, and we moved farther out in the suburbs. I'm 100% telework and likely will be until I retire.

We decided to stay because, like you, we didn't have a set place in mind. We have friends here, we love DC, and we are close enough to my relatives who all live in New England (my husband's family is in TX, but he would never want to move back there for various reasons). So we realized that staying here, near to good airport options, near our friends, within a day's drive of family, etc., made sense. The problem for us was the actual house we lived in and its location - it just wasn't working for us anymore. So we found a great house we love, in an area we love, and plan to stay here for the long haul.
Howdy, neighbor. This may well be why I end up retiring where I am now. I have also found that cost of goods and services in my exurb (Manassas) is significantly less than when I lived closer in (Arllngton, DC) for everything from gas and groceries to home improvements. I can still walk to bars and restaurants and the VRE. I also love all my neighbors, which didn't happen closer in.
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JoeRetire
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by JoeRetire »

jebmke wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:12 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:50 pm One decides the same way one decides where to live pre-retirement.
Not in my situation. I decided I wanted to live in the city/state/country where my job (edit: or school in early years) was. Very often that was in a place that would not have met my criteria for retirement location.
You misunderstand. I'm not saying your work locale and your retirement locale should be the same. I'm saying the process for deciding the retirement locale is the same as the process for deciding the prior locale was.

You decide what you wanted (to live where you worked). And you will decide again based on what's important to you when you no longer have a workplace as an anchor.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
Mr.BB
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by Mr.BB »

My DW and I have been having this conversation for a while. One plan is to stay where we are on travel more. Other choices are Florida, Arizona, California. There is so many aspects to consider (not only financial). One of the best lines I read once on this board was basically how locations are rated (VHCOL, HCOL, LCOL). "There are reasons and values why some places are considered HCOL", but you have to think about what is important to the both of you.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
fposte
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by fposte »

My retirement is happening in two weeks, and the reason I can afford to retire at 58 is I'm living in a low to medium COL college town. I have strong social ties here, there's reasonable health care, and I really like my house; I expect in retirement to have more time to do the short jaunts to bigger cities with greater amenities and entertainments. The biggest drawback I was anticipating was that it's not a convenient place to fly out of, but my travel intent has changed significantly in the face of COVID. As a single person, I'm looking to a CCRC as a long-term care plan and I've got my sights on a particular one in town.

So I'm rooting where I'm planted with the occasional vining excursion.
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by RootSki »

I keep telling my wife, that we should be flexible about our retirement location, to the extent that we probably will want to live near where ever our son decides he wants to plant roots, as I just can't see us ever living hours away. We will be FI no matter what.
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by kaudrey »

chazas wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:39 pm
kaudrey wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:51 pm We are a little older than you, but my DH is already retired and I am retiring at the end of this year (at 52). We talked about it for several years, and ended up....buying a house in October 2020...30 miles from where we lived. We are northern VA, and we moved farther out in the suburbs. I'm 100% telework and likely will be until I retire.

We decided to stay because, like you, we didn't have a set place in mind. We have friends here, we love DC, and we are close enough to my relatives who all live in New England (my husband's family is in TX, but he would never want to move back there for various reasons). So we realized that staying here, near to good airport options, near our friends, within a day's drive of family, etc., made sense. The problem for us was the actual house we lived in and its location - it just wasn't working for us anymore. So we found a great house we love, in an area we love, and plan to stay here for the long haul.
Howdy, neighbor. This may well be why I end up retiring where I am now. I have also found that cost of goods and services in my exurb (Manassas) is significantly less than when I lived closer in (Arllngton, DC) for everything from gas and groceries to home improvements. I can still walk to bars and restaurants and the VRE. I also love all my neighbors, which didn't happen closer in.
Hi! We are in Herndon, and love it.... :)
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Bogle7
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by Bogle7 »

1. I think phxjcc has a good list of aspects to consider.
2. But, don't over analyze. I have Engineering and MBA degrees and refused to make a spreadsheet.
3. Take your top 5 criteria and eliminate places.
a. For example, we eliminated every state that has bugs. We live in bug-free environment now and are not going to change that.
b. For example, we eliminated places without major hospitals. Not so important at age 55, but will be more at age 70+.

Of course, we cheated. With our criteria, the optimal retirement location was our current state. So, we downsized slightly while moving across town.
Old fart who does three index funds, baby.
Carousel
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by Carousel »

Bogle7 wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:58 pm a. For example, we eliminated every state that has bugs. We live in bug-free environment now and are not going to change that.
b. For example, we eliminated places without major hospitals. Not so important at age 55, but will be more at age 70+.
Serious question. Which states have no bugs?
fourwheelcycle
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by fourwheelcycle »

jebmke wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:12 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:50 pm One decides the same way one decides where to live pre-retirement.
Not in my situation.
Not in our situation either. I finished grad school, on the east coast, two years before my wife. I spent those two years commuting an hour and a half each way, on a train connector, train, and city bus. When my wife was ready to look for her first job, I asked her to look anywhere in the northeast except the Boston to Washington corridor. Fortunately, we ended up with jobs in an interior New England town that attracts its own fair share of FIREs from across the US. We raised two children here, and according to my wife, we will be staying here.
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JoeRetire
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by JoeRetire »

Carousel wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:04 pm
Bogle7 wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:58 pm a. For example, we eliminated every state that has bugs. We live in bug-free environment now and are not going to change that.
b. For example, we eliminated places without major hospitals. Not so important at age 55, but will be more at age 70+.
Serious question. Which states have no bugs?
There are no states with no bugs. Some have fewer than most.
Apparently, Iceland has no mosquitoes though.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
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Bogle7
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by Bogle7 »

Carousel wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:04 pmSerious question. Which states have no bugs?
The dryer parts of:
Colorado
New Mexico
Idaho
Utah
Arizona
Nevada
Old fart who does three index funds, baby.
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JoeRetire
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by JoeRetire »

fourwheelcycle wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:07 pm
jebmke wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:12 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:50 pm One decides the same way one decides where to live pre-retirement.
Not in my situation.
Not in our situation either. I finished grad school, on the east coast, two years before my wife. I spent those two years commuting an hour and a half each way, on a train connector, train, and city bus. When my wife was ready to look for her first job, I asked her to look anywhere in the northeast except the Boston to Washington corridor. Fortunately, we ended up with jobs in an interior New England town that attracts its own fair share of FIREs from across the US. We raised two children here, and according to my wife, we will be staying here.
Another misunderstanding.

I never suggested that you should retire in the same locale where you worked. I only suggested that you had a process to decide where to live when you were working. You'll use the same process to decide where to live when you are retired.
- you'll decide what matters and what don't matters.
- you'll decide what you can afford
- you make your decision using those factors.

Apparently you already did that (or more properly, your wife already did that).
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by jebmke »

JoeRetire wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:11 pm
fourwheelcycle wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:07 pm
jebmke wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:12 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:50 pm One decides the same way one decides where to live pre-retirement.
Not in my situation.
Not in our situation either. I finished grad school, on the east coast, two years before my wife. I spent those two years commuting an hour and a half each way, on a train connector, train, and city bus. When my wife was ready to look for her first job, I asked her to look anywhere in the northeast except the Boston to Washington corridor. Fortunately, we ended up with jobs in an interior New England town that attracts its own fair share of FIREs from across the US. We raised two children here, and according to my wife, we will be staying here.
Another misunderstanding.

I never suggested that you should retire in the same locale where you worked. I only suggested that you had a process to decide where to live when you were working. You'll use the same process to decide where to live when you are retired.
- you'll decide what matters and what don't matters.
- you'll decide what you can afford
- you make your decision using those factors.

Apparently you already did that (or more properly, your wife already did that).
That's technically true but if my employer says "we need you to move to xyz for four years" you either say yes or you go find another job. Easier said than done. That said, I did turn down a move but based on my assessment that I had one ticket to play and the second time would not be optional.

edit: but I should put some context here - I moved over 20 times as an adult before retirement so there was only one time in 20+ where I had any decision criteria that mattered.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
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LilyFleur
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by LilyFleur »

I think social connections are very important, especially for single people. And most of us will become single, sooner or later.

My father loved meeting his group of buddies for breakfast down at the local diner.

My mom would have had a much more difficult time after my father died without her friends and her church community. Going to church and lunch afterwards meant at least several hours of human connection every week. They also looked out for her safety and helped immeasurably in convincing her to go to a CCRC where she already had friends. That was quite tricky as she was very smart and hugely in denial about her cognitive decline.
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by coalcracker »

Another vote to consider staying in your current location, especially if your social connections are robust. I had always thought I would move out of my current MCOL City, but in the past few years we’ve developed some really close friendships with other families and we would be, frankly, quite sad to leave.

We are not empty-nesters for another dozen years, but I think at that point we are more likely to take extended vacations (perhaps for months at a time in the winter) than move outright.
quantAndHold
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by quantAndHold »

Carousel wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:04 pm
Bogle7 wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:58 pm a. For example, we eliminated every state that has bugs. We live in bug-free environment now and are not going to change that.
b. For example, we eliminated places without major hospitals. Not so important at age 55, but will be more at age 70+.
Serious question. Which states have no bugs?
California.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
Firemenot
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by Firemenot »

quantAndHold wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:53 pm
Carousel wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:04 pm
Bogle7 wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:58 pm a. For example, we eliminated every state that has bugs. We live in bug-free environment now and are not going to change that.
b. For example, we eliminated places without major hospitals. Not so important at age 55, but will be more at age 70+.
Serious question. Which states have no bugs?
California.
+ 1. Where I live in California there is no need for screens. Have never been bit by a bug in my town. There are biting mosquitoes in the Sierras. I was in for a surprise my first trip to Yosemite.
stoptothink
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by stoptothink »

Firemenot wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:57 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:53 pm
Carousel wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:04 pm
Bogle7 wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:58 pm a. For example, we eliminated every state that has bugs. We live in bug-free environment now and are not going to change that.
b. For example, we eliminated places without major hospitals. Not so important at age 55, but will be more at age 70+.
Serious question. Which states have no bugs?
California.
+ 1. Where I live in California there is no need for screens. Have never been bit by a bug in my town. There are biting mosquitoes in the Sierras. I was in for a surprise my first trip to Yosemite.
I wish my immune system would have realized there are no bugs in California, as I almost died twice in childhood after going into anaphylaxis from bug bites I got at my home in Los Angeles.

Certainly less "bugs" than some other places I have lived, but they definitely exist.
quantAndHold
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by quantAndHold »

JoeRetire wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:11 pm
fourwheelcycle wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:07 pm
jebmke wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:12 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:50 pm One decides the same way one decides where to live pre-retirement.
Not in my situation.
Not in our situation either. I finished grad school, on the east coast, two years before my wife. I spent those two years commuting an hour and a half each way, on a train connector, train, and city bus. When my wife was ready to look for her first job, I asked her to look anywhere in the northeast except the Boston to Washington corridor. Fortunately, we ended up with jobs in an interior New England town that attracts its own fair share of FIREs from across the US. We raised two children here, and according to my wife, we will be staying here.
Another misunderstanding.

I never suggested that you should retire in the same locale where you worked. I only suggested that you had a process to decide where to live when you were working. You'll use the same process to decide where to live when you are retired.
- you'll decide what matters and what don't matters.
- you'll decide what you can afford
- you make your decision using those factors.

Apparently you already did that (or more properly, your wife already did that).
I would suggest, though, that 90% of people are where they are either because that’s where they need to be for their job, or because it’s where they grew up or went to college. So intentionally choosing a place based on quality of life issues is a new concept to a lot of people.

In our case, we picked a place we had lived previously and liked. Our criteria was the best quality of life (by our own definition of quality) that we could afford. Some of our criteria was based on access to friends and family. Some was activities, weather, lack of bugs (seriously), accessibility of travel opportunities, availability of medical care. We ended up in a VHCOL city, but it offered us the best quality of life for us, and we could afford it.

We would actually have preferred to be in the Bay Area closer to family, but we couldn’t really swing it financially.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
quantAndHold
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Re: How do we decide where to live for our retirement?

Post by quantAndHold »

stoptothink wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 4:01 pm
Firemenot wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:57 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:53 pm
Carousel wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:04 pm
Bogle7 wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:58 pm a. For example, we eliminated every state that has bugs. We live in bug-free environment now and are not going to change that.
b. For example, we eliminated places without major hospitals. Not so important at age 55, but will be more at age 70+.
Serious question. Which states have no bugs?
California.
+ 1. Where I live in California there is no need for screens. Have never been bit by a bug in my town. There are biting mosquitoes in the Sierras. I was in for a surprise my first trip to Yosemite.
I wish my immune system would have realized there are no bugs in California, as I almost died twice in childhood after going into anaphylaxis from bug bites I got at my home in Los Angeles.

Certainly less "bugs" than some other places I have lived, but they definitely exist.
True. There are no places with zero bugs, and that isn’t a bad thing. I mean some of them, like honeybees, are necessary for a healthy ecosystem pretty much everywhere. But some places definitely have fewer of the annoying kind of bugs. The coastal west coast definitely qualifies in that regard.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
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