For many of us, moving on retirement is a huge decision, to go or not to go? Of course there is no right answer, no one size fits all, but I thought I would share some of the thinking that we went through in making our decision to move.
First a word about our former home. We lived in the country about 5 miles from the nearest shops or facilities, the house wasn’t enormous but we had a 1/4 acre of garden. We had a few close neighbours but, like us, most of them had lived there for 30 years or more and were starting to move away, in order to downsize post retirement.
Things to consider
That brings to the first consideration about moving on retirement, possible loss of community. This was not really an issue for us. The neighbours were moving anyway, neither of us had ever worked in the local town and although we had local friends, our friends and relations were scattered all over the south and south west of England. I found it fascinating that when we told people (other than close friends) we were moving to Salisbury the standard response was ‘have you got family there’ or ‘do you have friends there’ as if these could be the only possible reasons for moving to a place. Obviously moving to be nearer to family, especially when you have grandchildren, is often a motivation, but in our case our son is still relatively young (24) and living in a shared house in London, so there is no knowing where he might end up!
Second consideration was how much to downsize, or did we in fact want to downsize at all? In our case the main aim was to downsize the garden. Brian has arthritis which has made it increasingly difficult to manage the garden even with help, so that downsizing the garden was a necessity for us. In terms of the house it seems to me to be vital to consider your future lifestyle. Do you need individual space to pursue your interests? In my case I was definite that I needed studio space and this became a major search criterion. Do you need space for frequent visitors or large numbers of visiting grandchildren? How much are you arranging your life to suit your family? How much to suit yourself?
At this point it may be a good idea to really drill down to find out exactly what you want. One way of doing this is to envisage your ideal home in retirement, writing down an exact description. Where is it located? Town or country? How big is it? If you are with a partner what kind of space do you need to live happily together. Are you looking for a forever home, i.e. in the event of reduced mobility will that staircase take the chair lift? Doing this type of exercise can really help clarify what it is you want as well as set an intention that may help you achieve it.
Then there is leisure time. You will probably have loads more of this (although it may not feel like it). How do you want to spend it? Although we loved living in the country our interests are not in the main what I would call country interests. We like theatre, film, music, visiting historical houses and gardens and are keen to learn new skills / enhance existing ones in our retirement.
In particular it is important to consider the lifestyle you want to develop for your retirement. When we were working we loved our home in the country, it provided us with a real retreat from the stresses and strains of the working world. It was important to look out of the window and see garden, trees and fields stretching away. However, one thing that retirement can bring is loss of companionship. All those work colleague you saw everyday or on a regular basis and whose life was to some extent entwined with yours. How will you replace those kind of relationships? Do you even want to? How will your future living location impact this? All things to consider.
The final consideration is transport, in particular driving. Would your new life be sustainable if you can’t drive? We had a real wake up call just before my 60th birthday when I developed a hole in my retina. This fortunately proved to be fixable, but it did make me think. How could we continue in our present house if one or both of us couldn’t drive? The conclusion I came to was that we couldn’t, I certainly would have felt totally trapped. Trapped in paradise perhaps, but trapped all the same. This led us to thinking that we needed to seriously consider public transport links in our search for a new home. We wanted easy access to London as well to visit theatres, galleries etc.
Again it really helps to be clear about what you want. Make lists, write ideal scenarios, really drill down. Decide which are the ‘must haves’ and what you are prepared to compromise on. Then be prepared to see it all change when you fall in love, as we did, with something you previously thought unsuitable!