Earlier this month, we visited the Big Island of Hawaii for a week and had a great vacation. We went to the beaches, saw turtles, visited Kilauea volcano, snorkeled and just had a blast. We have been to Hawaii a few times now, and every time we visit I want to move there. The weather is warm, the sun is shining and people are friendly. What could be better? Unfortunately, we can't move right now, but Hawaii might be a good retirement destination for us when we're both fully retired.
Retirement is the perfect time to relocate for many of us. Not being tied down to a particular location anymore makes relocation a real possibility. Most retirees stay put in the same location because they've built a network of friends and acquaintances over many years. However, some retirees take a chance and move to a different city, state or even overseas. They might want to be
Everyday life at home is quite a bit different from a vacation, and you need to check if your destination can support your lifestyle.
Of course, deciding to move after a great vacation is probably a bad idea. Experiencing life as a tourist is much more fun than being a local. Here are five things to consider before retiring to a new location:
Check with your partner. The first thing you need to do is get on the same page with your partner. Sometimes we assume our spouses would like to relocate, too. Your spouse probably has a whole set of requirements that you haven't thought of. She or he might not even want to relocate at all. It is best to sit down and talk about what both of you would like before getting invested in a particular location. My wife enjoyed our trip to Hawaii, but would she really move there? I'm not so sure.
Amenities. When we go on vacation, we try to have fun and enjoy it as much as possible. Money is less of a concern, and we try to do all the touristy things. Everyday life at home is quite a bit different from a vacation, and you need to check if your destination can support your lifestyle. Some people enjoy theaters, museums and ethnic food. If you like all the amenities a big city offers, then moving to Kona, Hawaii probably isn't the right move for you. On the other hand, if you like a relaxed lifestyle and enjoy nature, then it might be an ideal retirement destination. You need to figure out what you want to do in retirement and see if the new location is a good fit.
Rent for a while. To fully explore a town like a local, you need to live there for a while. A one- or two-week vacation is barely enough time to see the sights and get familiar with the main roads. It's a good idea to visit during various seasons to see if you still like the town in summer and winter. Kona might be perfect in the winter, but it might be too hot and humid in the summer for some people. If possible, try renting for two or three months so you can explore the town like a local and see if it lives up to your expectations. The town might not have the grocery store you like, or perhaps the traffic is worse than you thought. It's much easier to evaluate a location after living there for a few months.
Cost of living. One advantage to moving is the possibility of lowering your cost of living. Hawaii is a bad destination in this case because everything is more expensive and they have a pretty high state income tax. Check housing prices, tax codes, medical costs and other cost of living items to see if you can afford a particular location. Most of us probably would rather move to a more affordable location after retirement due to the reduction in income.
Family. If you're relocating to be near family, you need to check if they are planning to stay put. Even if they intend to stay put, life throws curve balls pretty frequently. If your children move for employment or other reasons, would you move along with them? Another way to lower the cost of living is to combine households, so talk with your children to see if they are receptive to this idea.
It's easy to fall in love with a particular place when you're on vacation, but living there can be entirely different. Relocating is a great option when you retire, but you still need to do your homework before making a big investment in a home. There is no substitute for experiencing life as a local for a while to see if you'll really be able to enjoy a potential new location in retirement.