Where Do You Want To Live When You Retire?
By Ann Harrison
Make a move or stay put? That’s a question you need to ask yourself when you’re thinking about your retirement, isn’t it? After all, the decision about where and how you live can be crucial to you getting the retirement you deserve.
If you are thinking about moving house, consider the following questions:
• What factors are important to you when considering where to live?
• Do you want to stay in your current area or move further afield?
• Do you want to move to a home that you could live in for the rest of your life or are you open to another move at some stage in the future?
• Would you like to be closer to your family - parents, children, grandchildren, a sibling with whom you could provide mutual support?
• Do you want to be part of a community? Would that be a retirement community or a mixed community with different age ranges of people living in it?
• What would your ideal lifestyle be?
• Do you need to relocate to be near activities you love and will you still be able to access those activities if you become unable to drive?
• What features of a neighbourhood would be essential? What would be desirable??
• How far would you be prepared to walk to essential facilities? How far would you be prepared to drive to, for example, a supermarket or hospital?
• Do you want somewhere smaller or larger?
• Do you want a flat/apartment or a house?
• Garden or no garden? Flower beds (weeding!) or lawns?
• Do you want somewhere that is easy to manage and keep clean or is this not an issue yet?
• If you and your partner fail to agree about where you will live, how will you find a compromise?
If you're planning a move to a completely different area, consider living there for a trial period first (unless you already know it very well) before you commit yourself lock, stock and barrel. Consider renting a home in your chosen location for 6 months - this should give you enough time to check out the area and find out if it's the sort of place you expected. If you can't manage a 6-month stay, at least take a holiday there and make sure that you have a good look round at different times of the day and on different days of the week.
If you are thinking of a move abroad, check out your chosen location at different times of the year. The quiet peaceful retreat you visited in Winter could be a tourist hell-hole in Summer, complete with price hikes, water shortages and hordes of drunken teenagers.
If you want to stay in your current home, it may be prudent to spend some time thinking about your physical environment and how well it meets your needs now that you are retired and, potentially, spending more time at home.
Your physical environment consists of your home, your home office or hobby space, your car and your garden. Whenever you enter someone else's home, office, car or garden, you immediately get a feel for the kind of person they are. What is your physical environment currently saying about you?
Take your living space, for example:
• What do the colours in your living space say about you?
• What sounds can you hear?
• What does it smell like?
• How about the quality of the light - is your home light-filled and airy, or dark and dingy?
• Do you have broken equipment lying around?
• Have you any unfinished projects that need to be completed?
• Which is your favourite room? What makes it your favourite room? What activities do you do in there? How do you feel when you are in this room?
• Does your home reflect your personality? If not, what would need to happen for this to occur?
If you have a garden or yard, what is it like?
• Is it well-kept or full of weeds and overgrown?
• Is gardening a chore for you or a pleasurable activity? Why?
• Do you get pleasure from looking at your garden?
• Is your garden filled with your favourite plants or plants that the previous occupant of the house left behind?
• Does your garden reflect your personality? If not, what would need to happen for this to occur?
If you have a home office or hobby room, what does it say about you?
• Is it a clean, orderly, well-organized space?
• Is it full of clutter, difficult to find things in?
• Is it filled with unfinished projects?
• Are your files easy to find and in good order?
• Does this space reflect your personality? If not, what would need to happen for this to occur?
Is your car well-maintained and serviced?
• Are you driving the make and model of car that you feel reflects your personality?
• Is the exterior of your car clean and polished?
• Is your car interior clean, fresh-smelling and clutter-free?
• Does your car reflect your personality? If not, what would you need to happen for this to occur?
What does your clutter and broken equipment say about you?
• That you are tired and lethargic?
• That you are afraid to let go of old and broken-down things (suggesting a 'scarcity' mentality rather than an 'abundant' one)
• That you are unable to let go of the past?
• That your time management skills are poor and that you don't have time to fix things?
• How does your clutter and broken equipment affect you?
I know that it can be difficult to be surrounded by beautiful things and have well-maintained, up-to-date equipment if you are on a fixed income and maybe don't have the energy you had when you were a young buck (or doe). However, I also know just how much of a refuge home can be. I am conscious of the need to make the best you possibly can of your resources in order to create a warm, comfortable haven that nurtures you and makes you sigh with relief when you close your door on the world at the end of a difficult day.
Make your home clean and clutter free and keep it that way. Consider keeping only items that are either useful or beautiful. Make your surroundings comfortable, welcoming and aesthetically pleasing. Surround yourself with objects that give you pleasure and colours that make you feel good.
Make your environment fit your intended lifestyle. For example, if you don't like or want to drive, live somewhere within walking distance of the places you want and need to be or make sure you have easy access to public transport.
If you are remodelling your home or looking for a new home that will suit your needs as you grow older, visit the AARP site at www.aarp.org and type the words 'Universal Design' in the 'SEARCH' box. This will lead you to a collection of articles and checklists about using Universal Design principles in your home. (Homes that have universal design features are much easier to use for people of all ages, heights and levels of health and ability.)
If you have a choice about where you live, choose a place that suits your personality, feeds your soul, is populated with like-minded people and makes you feel alive. Don't stay in a dismal, dead-end town just because you were born there or because that's where you went to university or that's where your employment took you and you never moved away afterwards.
Finally, get out into nature as often as you can and bring nature into your home too. If you don't have a garden, get some beautiful potted plants. Many people like to have fresh flowers in their home but they can be expensive. If you can't afford to buy yourself flowers regularly, buy flowering plants instead (or plant them from seed and get the pleasure of watching them grow). Put a small table in a lovely sunny spot and eat your breakfast there. Put window boxes on your windowsills and a bird feeder outside your window. I have never exactly considered myself to be a bird-watcher but since I moved into a house that has patio doors overlooking a thick hedge, I have been fascinated by the birds that nest there every year and their antics often make me laugh out loud.
And finally, ask yourself the following questions:
What would my perfect living space look like?
Where would I live if I could live anywhere in the world?
What type of a house or flat would I live in?
What would my view be like outside the window?
What colours would I use?
What artwork would I decorate my home with?
What would I like to hear around the place?
Ann Harrison is a certified retirement coach, 2young2retire facilitator, pre-retirement trainer and author of ‘The Retirement Detox Programme: 40 Days to Get Your Retirement Back on Track’. For regular retirement-related news updates, visit her blog at http://www.contemporaryretirement.typepad.com/ or catch up with her via her website: http://www.ContemporaryRetirementCoaching.com
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