7 mistakes people make about where to live in retirement

Senior Couple Walking Along Winter Beach With Pet Dog

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The choice of where to live in retirement is an important one. Getting it right the first time is important because it can be costly to sell up and move again if you make the wrong choice.

Here are seven mistakes people make when choosing where to retire. They are mistakes you can avoid.

1. Moving to your holiday place

When we’re on holiday we’re usually in a relaxed state, and often the location is picturesque. Being away from the grind, noise, and daily routine allows us to see the beauty in our holiday spot. It also gives us a chance to look at the local real estate agents’ windows and dream of it as a retirement spot.

Beware of the ‘holiday seduction’. It’s important to ensure that you visit many times and ask a lot of questions about the area before moving. Also, just because you’ve been on numerous holidays in the area does not necessarily mean you ‘know’ the area. It can be a very different place in the ‘off’ season.

2. Moving too far away

The allure of warmer weather is often the reason ‘southerners’ move north in retirement. ‘I never want another (insert the location) winter like that again’ is often the comment from people who want to move.

Moving too far away can be emotionally and financially costly. If it doesn’t work out, the cost of moving, legal and real estate fees, as well as the packing and unpacking can be draining. People who move again in retirement are sometimes referred to as ‘Half Backs’, because they may move ‘half way back’ to their previous location.

3. Not having a Plan B (or C)

If you do decide to move when you retire, do you have a ‘Plan B’ or even a ‘Plan C’? It’s strange that there is usually a lot of planning for a big trip, with some contingency plans, but there is not always the same amount of care given in moving away from a location where people may have spent many years.

People who have moved a lot in their careers (army personnel are a good example) may have had to be more adaptable. Perhaps such people do have A and B plans, and possibly more. Considering as many ‘what ifs’ as possible is a sensible part of the retirement planning process.

4. Not visiting in all seasons

‘Beautiful one day, perfect the next’ has been a slogan in one state of Australia for many years and this is often what is experienced by tourists on holiday. Visiting a location in all seasons, and not just the ‘perfect’ ones is advisable. What is it like to live in ‘cyclone season’, in ‘frostbite season’?

A council on the Sunshine Coast gives out information regarding keeping safe during a cyclone. Similarly, a council in Tasmania includes warnings about snakes in the area, while there are warnings about mosquitos in river and lake areas of Victoria.

5. Assuming living will be cheaper

Downsizing and moving to another area may release some funds for retirement and the cost of living in a new area may seem less expensive, but is it really? Live near a tourist location and you may find that prices increase when tourists are in town.

Work out how the cost of food, fuel, transport, rates, heating/cooling compare with your current location.

6. Moving to be near family

We often hear of people saying they intend to move to where their family have moved. Perhaps the family needs some help or perhaps you need help. Before moving, consider what would happen if the family moved again, would you also move with them?

The mobility of the workforce today often means there are several moves in careers and this can be to different parts of the country—and, indeed, the world.

7. Not speaking with the locals

It’s often surprising to hear that people haven’t gone and spoken with locals before moving to ask what they like or are not so keen on about an area. Where do you find such people? Service clubs such as Lions and Rotary may be of help, as are bowling and golf clubs.

If you want a different opinion, ask the editor of the local newspaper (they’ll know the issues) or the Tourist Information Centre (which is often staffed by volunteers who have retired to that location).

For a chat about the security of an area, the police or Neighbourhood Watch are usually happy to oblige.

Jill Weeks is the author of 21 Ways to Retire and co-author of Where to Retire in Australia and Retire Bizzi. She is a regular contributor to ABC radio.

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Category: Where to Live

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