Planning for and enjoying your retirement

Top six mistakes when moving in retirement


Comments (5)

Mistakes when moving in retirement.

When Dave Robb, 57, sold his half of his business in favour of an early retirement, he and his wife had some important decisions to make. At the top of their list was pursuing their passion for skiing, so they decided to leave their home in Dundas, Ont. and set off for Vernon, B.C.

But much as the Robbs love their life in Vernon, they are now planning to move back to Ontario to be closer to their family. As they have  learned, deciding to relocate is about much more than just picking a nice place to live in retirement. There are a variety of factors you need to consider.

If you’re looking for a great place to retire, be careful to avoid the following six common mistakes:

1. Jumping in too quickly

Budgeting for an extended vacation in the area you think you’d like to live is a good way to avoid making a big decision too quickly. That way you can take the time to really get to know the community you’re planning to join.

“Get involved with things that allow you to meet people and make friends,” says Robb, who spent the first few years of his retirement bouncing back and forth between B.C. and Ontario before moving to Vernon full-time. “Take the time to explore and try different areas — move around.”

2. Assuming you’ll never get sick

Ensure you have access to the health and wellness services you need — you may be healthy now, but it is important to plan for the future.

“Access to good medical care as you age is very important,” says Robb, adding that his wife works in the hospital system and has seen many people who’ve had to travel far distances for the treatment of serious illnesses. “You also need to ask yourself if you move far away from family members and have serious health problems, who will be there to help you?”

Take the time to research the availability of doctors, hospitals and other wellness services you’ve grown accustomed to in your current home base.

3. Neglecting to consider the climate

In Robb’s case, he wasn’t trying to get away from winter. In fact, he and his wife wanted to move to a place with great winter ski conditions. But often those thinking of moving to a new area fail to consider what it would be like to live in a different climate.

Understanding the typical weather patterns of your new home is very important, both for your health and your peace of mind. For example, do you tend to get a bit depressed without your daily dose of natural sunlight, yet are opting to move to a region known for its rain? Are you moving somewhere to get away from the winter, but aren’t sure how much you’ll love the constant heat?

4. Ignoring cost-of-living expenses

The Sun Life Canadian Unretirement Index shows that 71% of Canadians who have written a financial plan are confident they will have enough money to enjoy the lifestyle they want in retirement. Creating a plan, and making sure you budget carefully for all your needs, is one of the most important considerations when planning to relocate.

Making sure you have a good grasp of basic cost-of-living expenses, property taxes and how much you’ll need to spend to visit your family will help ensure a smooth transition to your retirement destination.

If you don’t already have a retirement income plan, consider consulting with a financial advisor to help you get started.

5. Forgetting to check work opportunities

The Sun Life Canadian Unretirement Index also found that 39% of Canadians want to be working at age 66, while 62% believe they will have to be working at this time.

Robb, who found a job as a ski instructor in Vernon, is not alone in choosing to work part-time after retirement: 13% report they’ll be working at age 66 to stay mentally active and 12% say the reason is they enjoy their job or career. Interestingly, 27% believe they’ll be working at age 66 to earn enough money to pay basic living expenses.

6. Overlooking family considerations

When thinking about relocating in retirement, it’s critical that you have an honest discussion with your spouse. “It is very important that your partner is in line with what you’re doing,” says Robb. “These decisions can be a test of your marriage.”

What Robb and his wife realized over the years, was that while they loved their lifestyle in Vernon, they weren’t happy living so far away from their two daughters.

“If I could move both my girls here we’d be as happy as can be,” says Robb. “But odds are they’re going to get married and have children back in Ontario and my wife and I don’t want to be long-distance grandparents. Our kids also don’t want to have us living so far away.”

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Veronica Farlette on

We plan to retire to the province where all of our children live but not in the same town. That way we can buy a property that’s affordable and suited to our needs. A bungalow or rancher (no stairs) on a bus route for when we should no longer drive but still need to go to Dr’s appointments etc. I moved out of my country of origin and had to get used to the idea that I had a limited amount of “visits ” with my parents left. Not so bad when they are healthy, but of course as they age they need more help and I can’t go over and stay for long periods with them.

Ann on

There is no guarantee that family will be able to take care of you if you get sick. It also puts tremendous pressure on them if they feel obliged to, and they may end up resenting you.

Leigh on

Trying to stay near your grown children is commendable but when they move for career opportunities etc it might become a fruitless excercise with them being scattered across the continent or even the world. For the couple in Vernon to move back to Ontario is undestandable but it might turn out they spend the money to do so just about when their daughters move elsewhere.

    Grant Oxner on

    Good point Leigh. One of our daughters moved for her career from her home province of Nova Scotia to the same city where we were in Ontario. Unfortunately, we were already in the countdown to our move from Ontario to Nova Scotia. The other daughter lives and works in England. My sister in law and her husband are struggling with the desire to move out of their home province but, are reluctant to leave their children and grandchildren behind. However, they only see them three or four times a year for a couple hours during hectic weekend afternoons. In fact, living further away could result in longer visits when they do get together and better quality time with their grandchildren.

Grant Oxner on

Perhaps an addendum to the sixth common mistake, Overlooking family consideration, is the importance of the network of friends that you establish over the many years of living in one place. It is mentioned briefly in the first ‘mistake’ but, I can’t stress enough the importance of having a network of people you have a history with.

We moved to what was intended to be our ‘forever’ home two years ago in advance of retirement some few years down the road. And while separation from family was a challenge, the more important piece for us has been the loss of that very important network of friends. They’re accessible by email, IM, Skype, or the good old telephone. However, none of those methods of communication are as good as a chat over tea in the living room.

As a result, while everyone comments about how much they envy us living in a beautiful new home located on an oceanfront beach, now that the bloom is off the rose we are finding it somewhat lonely and isolated. The community we reside in has been welcoming and have lots of activities to partake in. However, it takes time and a concerted effort to replace those comfortable relationships that are built over many years of knowing each other and sharing of innermost thoughts.

So, my advice is to be aware of the importance of friendships and make sure you do make the effort to get out of the four walls of your new digs to contribute and participate in the community you have chosen to call ‘home’.

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