“The Company You Keep”: Lifestyle and Housing Decisions
Have you begun to think about “what’s next?” for your “retirement transition” years? What’s most important to you when you think about where to live? Some people want to “stay put,” renovating their current home to accomdate changing health needs over time and/or to use the “village model” of sharing services as you age. Other people want to downsize but stay in the same geographical area. Still others choose a new location based on factors such as climate, activities, closeness to health care facilities and/or being near friends or family.
If you plan ahead you have the opportunity to think individually about what’s most important to you and then talk with your partner about what you both want and/or talk and explore options with friends or other family members. In addition, if you know the lifestyle you want you can make better financial decisions. It takes time to work out a plan, so it’s helpful to start early.
But, don’t be dismayed if you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late to start thinking about these issues. You can expolore possibilities by talking with others, getting accurate information and using the Internet to research ideas. If finances permit you can travel and explore areas you’re considering or rent in an area ( for a few days or a few months) to see what the area is like on a day to day basis.
The boomer population has many more options for living situations than our parent’s generation, and each choice offers both possibilities and challenges. Relocating and “starting over” without knowing people can feel daunting. As Ann Carrns points out in her recent NY Times article, “The Company You Keep,” one of the biggest challenges of relocating after retirment is making new acquaintances.”
To avoid this problem, some people decide to move to be near friends or relatives, or to move with their friends to a new location. Still others choose to create a “co-housing” situation or to join an already existing community. ”Co-housing” is a community designed so residents can socialize, share services and have some meals together and the “senior co-housing movement” is expanding. Other people decide that a Continuing Care Retirement Community offers the best option.
What is clear is that there is no “right way. “ We learn from positive psychology that our sense of well-being comes from a sense of connection, community and purpose and meaning thoughout our life. Each of our situations is unique and no ”one size fits all”.
I recommend Ann Carrns”s NY Times article, ”The Company You Keep. “ Learn about some of the people she talks about and their choices. I’m quoted in the article and The Couples Retirement Puzzle is mentioned. Copy and paste this link into your browser. ) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/16/business/retirementspecial/a-retirement-home-with-familiar-neighbors.html to read the article.