• February 2013

The Do’s and Don’ts of Relocation in Retirement

By Michael Egan, CFP®
Partner, Egan, Berger & Weiner, LLC

Many of our clients will end up relocating in retirement. Some of them will move locally and others will leave the state.

There are many important factors to consider before making a move.

Below are do’s and don’ts to help you decide what’s best for you:

What to Consider:

  • Location (location, location). Proximity to family and friends is critical as you age and need more help with day-to-day activities. If you can’t or don’t want to live near family, at least choose a home near a major airport. That way, if family members do need to visit, they will be able to get to you easily—and back home.
  • Proximity to good medical care. Also, a short drive or walk to a supermarket is one of the top things retirees say is important to them. A great website to determine the walkability of your potential neighborhood is www.walkscore.com. Getting “away from it all” may sound great, but it isn’t always the best idea, especially as we get older.
  • Resale value. You never know when something is going to happen that will make you need to move again. Sometimes the death of a spouse or significant other triggers the move. Sometimes it is health issues. Sometimes it is the needs of other family members. But it happens more frequently than you may think. Make an unexpected move easier on yourself by choosing initial retirement housing that will sell quickly.
  • Established neighborhood versus new neighborhood. Stay away from new construction in a community where the builder will be building for several more years. That way when it is time to sell, you’ll only be competing with other sellers, and not the builder, too. Buy existing construction that meets your needs whenever possible. Your best resource is always a good local realtor. If you’re moving out of the area, try to get a referral from your local realtor to a realtor in your new location.
  • Renting. If relocating out of the area, the best approach is to “test-drive” the new neighborhood. Try renting for at least one year before you make a decision on buying. A significant percentage of retirees end up relocating shortly after making the move to what they thought would be their “dream location.”

What to Avoid:

  • Don’t buy the most expensive home in the most expensive neighborhood. Also avoid doing so many upgrades to the home that you will never get your money back. Making your home much more lavish than the other homes in your neighborhood limits the potential number of buyers for your property should you need to sell quickly.
  • Don’t buy more house than you need. For most retirees, only one or two people will be living in their homes. Yet many retirees buy homes equal to or greater in size than the homes they had while their children were young.
  • Don’t make a decision solely based on tax reasons. More square footage equals higher maintenance costs and higher taxes. Downsizing usually makes a lot of sense, even when you relocate to a less expensive area.
  • Don’t do it all by yourself unless you want to! For help with downsizing, consider consulting with a Senior Move Manager. Visit www.nasmm.org for help locating someone in your area.

_Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Voya Financial Advisors, member
SIPC. Egan, Berger & Weiner, LLC is not a subsidiary of nor controlled by Voya Financial Advisors._

Note: I would like to thank my friend Steve Gurney, editor of Retirement Living Guide, for his input on this article. See our interview, below.

Steve Gurney founded “Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook” in 1990.

Drawing from the experience of observing his family caring for Steve’s aging grandfather, he created a comprehensive publication to help others in the same situation.

Over the next few years, he expanded the publication to three regional editions, DC metro, State of Maryland, and the Philadelphia region. In 1998, Gurney sold his company to Greater Washington Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Washington Post Company. He continues to serve as publisher.

Following is our Q&A with Gurney, who tells us more about his business and shares his unique perspective on retirement.

EBW: Tell us about the “Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook.” When did you start it, what is your mission, and how many people read it each month?

Steve Gurney: I founded the publication after my grandfather had lived in a nursing home. I found it interesting that there were guides to apartments, new homes, and many other lifestyle choices, but nothing that summarized senior living options in an objective manner. We print 50,000 copies, with regional editions covering the entire Mid-Atlantic. Our goal is to give our readers an objective resource to find aging-in-place solutions, expert assistance, and senior housing options.

EBW: In addition to the dozens of ads offering useful products, services, and resources for retirees, you publish articles on—among other topics—moving and downsizing, specialized care, and how to age in place. How does this information help the population you are focused on?

Steve Gurney: We aim to help people understand all of their options. In fact, one of the unique features of our publication is that it lists all the senior housing options available. Armed with this information, our readers are able to narrow their choices and make a transition knowing all the options available. This can be a tough transition, but reviewing all the choices can give you peace of mind.

EBW: Many of our clients consider relocation in retirement. How would a reader best utilize the SourceBook if they were considering moving once they retire?

Steve Gurney: Many of our readers who are interested in relocating have found it helpful to compare the choices in the region they currently live in to the region they are investigating. Many times this can result in some interesting solutions.

You might be surprised at how many people dream of relocating, but when they weigh their connections and familiarity with the region they live in now, decide instead to stay put and travel more in retirement.

EBW: Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you? How did you get starting in the publishing business? Why did you choose to focus on the senior and retirement community?

Steve Gurney: I am 47 years old and I have been in this business for nearly 24 years. Over the course of my career, I have visited more than 500 senior communities and interviewed countless individuals and families about this transition.

Several years ago, I realized that though I was viewed as an expert in the field of senior housing, I had never actually spent the night in a community. This led me to an interesting two-year project where I lived temporarily in five different senior housing communities.

I found these five communities to be the best “neighborhoods” I have ever been a part of. I found that the residents cared about each other more than I and my neighbors care about each other in the idyllic suburban neighborhoods I have lived in.

If our neighborhoods are going to support “aging in place,” we need to break down generational walls and be more supportive of each other. Young families can assist elders with transportation and household chores, and elders can help with tutoring, etc. In addition, we can do a better job of integrating residents of senior housing communities with the neighborhoods surrounding them.

EBW: What are your plans and goals for the future for the SourceBook, and for your own retirement?

Steve Gurney: Our goal is to help push organizations looking to serve seniors and families to be more innovative and creative in their offerings. I try to encourage less age segregation and more intergenerational programming whenever appropriate.

Personally, I am looking at walkable neighborhoods and college campuses as an ideal location for my own retirement. That being said, I view my own retirement as more of a “graduation” to a very important chapter in my life.

I hope that my financial planning affords me the freedom to have choices, and I would like to explore trying something new that can help put a smile on my face every day and enable me to help others.

Click here for more information: www.retirement-living.com

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