Affordable homes, low state taxes, renowned medical facilities, strong continuing education programs and temperate weather are some of the many incentives that spur seniors to relocate after retirement. According to CNNMoney.com's "25 Best Places to Retire", Durham, North Carolina; Hanover, New Hampshire; Lexington, Kentucky; and Prescott, Arizona top the list of the most desirable locales for aging Americans to find refuge after their working years. But contrary to the conventional wisdom that moving is always the best choice, there are some potential challenges that the 65-plus demographic needs to be aware of when transplanting into a new environment. (For related reading, also see Top 6 Ways To Ruin Your Retirement.)
TUTORIAL: Retirement Planning
Replacing Support Services and Trusted Advisors
Thomas E. Bator, an estate planning lawyer and investor advisor with Nichols & Pratt, LLP in Boston, says, "Many of my clients who move far away from their original homes have a difficult time finding support services that they can trust, as their capabilities decline and their advisory network from home is further away." For example, Bator says one of his clients was victimized by an investment scam after moving, and another mistakenly canceled the homeowner's insurance.
Finding a New Social Network
Departing a lifelong home also probably means leaving behind friends, family and a sense of community. One of the questions to ask before making this life-altering decision is whether you can rebuild your social network and a sense of stability in a new city, region or country.
Paying for the New Lifestyle
Although the prospect of lower living costs is the impetus for many seniors to pack up their bags, seniors should be aware that there's a spectrum of different costs on top of the price of real estate. Richard Barrington, a spokesperson for MoneyRates.com, suggests checking out state tax rates, property taxes and property insurance costs - as well as getting up to speed on the state of the local economic climate (unemployment, sales tax etc.).
Adjusting to an Unfamiliar Climate
A sunnier, warmer climate may be good for mental health and the soul, but older Americans are also more susceptible to health problems caused by the heat. With aging, the sweat glands are less efficient and circulation worsens, and medications and conditions like high-blood pressure make it more likely to be impacted by a heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Burdening Family Caregivers
As seniors grow older, it's inevitable that they'll need more assistance from others, and it is likely family members will be pitching in from long-distance. According to an article in The New York Times, three out of four relatives spend at least a day a week helping out a family member from afar.
The Bottom Line
Start by talking to family and friends about your plans to retire away from home, and get their feedback. Dive into some research about the spot of interest, and read some local news stories to get the gist of other ongoing issues that could affect the landscape of the community in the future. (For additional reading, also check out Will You Have To Delay Your Retirement?)