Many American workers dream of punching out for the final time, packing their suitcase, hopping on a plane and permanently relocating to a new city or even state in retirement. What those retirees probably don’t anticipate are the variables and unexpected costs that inevitably come with moving: housing costs, taxes, insurance and access to quality medical care. Then there are the intangibles: Does the community offer the amenities I’m looking for—a mix of interesting dining options, for example—and will I fit in politically, socially and culturally?
So what should retirees do? Uproot themselves and hope they can roll with the punches, fit in and assume they planned and invested enough to deal with the costs? Here’s an unusual, but practical, suggestion: Take a trial run. The following four steps can help pre-retirees understand what it would feel like to be part of the community where they want to retire.
- Rent a house. By being in a house for several weeks, you’re forced to do the types of things you would if you lived in the community permanently: go to the grocery store, interact with residents, find different restaurants, that sort of thing. You also are “playing house” and will see things you wouldn’t otherwise experience in a hotel.
- Subscribe to local media and join community Facebook pages. These publications and groups cover communities from a hyperlocal angle. You’ll gain an intimate knowledge of the area’s makeup, social scene, key players, crime rate and other issues—things you might not otherwise learn until after moving.
- Establish a relationship with a real estate agent. Undergoing the process of finding an agent before the time comes to permanently relocate has some serious advantages. The agent has ample time to learn about you, your family and your needs and will be more valuable to you down the road if he or she knows you better.
- Rinse and repeat. If possible, start the trial period as early as possible, even if you have years to go before retirement. When you’re still working, use some of your vacation days to spend time in the community and mimic the retirement experience. Better still, make multiple trips during various parts of the year to rent in different areas of the community.
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