When preparing for retirement, there are quite a few things to do ahead of time. Making sure that you have a good handle on spending vs. how much income will be received from pensions, social security and retirements accounts such as 401(k)’s is clearly one of the biggest items. Knowing many people will be retired for 15, 20 or even 30 years, it becomes important to also look at the quality of life issues so retirement can be enjoyed and provide fulfillment. Because many people move or downsize in retirement, consider the following when making your plans.
Where: Not all towns are created equal. Some have larger populations of young families, so the schools get a larger portion of the town's funds, and the services for retirees may be limited. In looking at where to live in retirement, do some research on towns that have larger numbers of retired people and have strong community support in providing some of the services below. Danvers, Massachusetts is a good example of a community in New England that offers a lot for retirees. See this article for why (link: http://northofboston.wickedlocal.com/news/20170315/danvers-ranked-ninth-best-place-to-retire-in-massachusetts).
Activities and learning: Because work takes up a large portion of our lives, retirement can be a time to rediscover ourselves and find out what activities make us happy, or to spend time doing the things we already enjoy. One of my clients enjoys woodworking and is saving enough money so when he gets to retirement he can attend a woodworking school that is not far from where he lives. His goal is to build fine furniture for friends and family. Within some communities, the local senior center will have a large budget and dedicated people to provide many experiences and activities in which to enjoy.
Medical: As we age, many of us will have to deal with certain health issues, perhaps minor, but sometimes more serious. For some with pre-existing health ailments, it makes sense to retire closer to good quality medical care. Where I live in Massachusetts, there is an abundance of high-quality medical facilities. Some specialize in caring for people with specific medical issues, so considering your own health history in relation to where you will live is important.
Transportation: Having access to mass transportation can provide a level of freedom to get out and easily explore the areas in which we live. Some communities with larger populations of retirees will also have more services to help seniors live well by providing access to transportation such as car services or to a doctor’s appointment or just go out to the grocery store.
Community: Each community is different and will provide different opportunities. Try to match up your personal interests with the values that a new town might have. For example, if you enjoy American history, a town like Lexington, Massachusetts might be for you. They have a very active community of volunteers that are involved with the preservation of their rich history as it relates to the revolutionary war. In fact, the original organization called the Lexington Minutemen still exists. They do historical re-enactments and have participated in many presidential inaugurations.
Taxes: Some towns offer great tax incentives for senior home owners which can be a big plus in maximizing your cash flow. The most common incentive is where a town simply offers lower property tax rates to people that are reaching the age of social security. Another incentive that is becoming more popular is property-tax-deferral programs. These are programs that allow retirees to pay a very small amount of property tax while they are alive, and upon their passing the town then recoups from your estate what should have been paid all those years.
Retirement, for many, will span several decades so it is worth looking at where you live and what activities are available. Take up a new hobby, get a degree, or volunteer for that organization you have always wanted to support. Also consider seeking the counsel and coaching of a trusted financial advisor that will help you come up with a game plan for your future. In working with clients, we want to help provide guidance that will allow for your “Golden Years” to be a rich and fulfilling time.
*All rates of return are hypothetical and not indicative of a specific investment.