Where to Retire: Is the Savings Worth Relocating?

By | September 20, 2012

Have you ever read some of those best places to retire and wondered how many people actually move to retire? I know that I have questioned the reality of moving to retire some place. While retiring in Costa Rica may sounds nice, there are many reasons to avoid moving when you are reaching retirement age.

Many of you who are planning to retire in the next few years are probably thinking about where to retire. Before you make your plans to relocate, you should consider whether the financial savings are worth the sacrifices that you are forced to make when moving elsewhere.

Why People I Know Don’t Move to Retire

All of my grandparents and friends’ relatives who are retired did one thing after retirement: stayed put. That’s right. Almost everyone I know did NOT relocate. While CBS gave a great list of 10 best places to retire, I can’t help but wonder why anyone would move, especially when I think about the retired folk that I know. While it’s nice to dream, it makes sense that many people don’t move after or for retirement. Here are some of the popular reasons:

  • Health Issues – If you are old and having trouble with your health, you may not want to search for another doctor. If you have found a doctor that you know and trust, that is invaluable. Why go through the hassle of searching for a new one when you can stay put?
  • Family – Many retired folks also want to spend the extra time with their family. While some may dream of golfing each day or laying on the beach, I would bet that many people long to see their grandchildren grow up. I know my grandparents loved spoiling me when I was a kid, so it only makes sense.
  • Lack of Stress – Anyone who has moved before knows the precise word to describe moving: stress. I absolutely hate moving. I know that I will have to do it a few more times in my lifetime, but I don’t look forward to those moments. Your entire life is thrown into disarray and you are forced to do countless hours of packing, unpacking, and organizing. While it may be more manageable if you aren’t working, it still isn’t desirable.


Reasons to Relocate for Retirement

As much as I would like to say that people don’t need to think about moving, I know that’s not the case. The average and/or median savings for retirement is well below what Americans need to survive. Because we all enjoy eating out and buying nice things, a great way to save money in retirement is to relocate. But, that’s not the only reason why people would relocate. As I imagine it, there are several reasons why people move for retirement:

  • Money – The first and most obvious is money. There is always going to be a cheaper place to live. Whether it is for state tax benefits or lower cost of living, there are many affordable places to live that can save you money. If you have limited cash, than relocating may be your only option to avoid outliving your savings.
  • Weather – I used to joke with friends that retired folks can’t handle the cold weather because they often traveled south for the winters, but it seems to have a bit of truth to it. Even as a young adult, I now appreciate mild winters and nice weather. Sometimes relocating in retirement has nothing to do with saving money and everything to do with finding the best weather to live in.
  • Dream Location – Many of us work hard for our entire lives so that we can fully enjoy retirement. While I don’t live by this philosophy, I can certainly understand it. If you work for 40 years to pay the bills, you deserve to enjoy your retirement years. Why not get a beach or lake house and enjoy the small luxury. You deserve it.

To put it simply, if you are moving in your retirement years for the sole sake of keeping a few extra bills in your wallet, you will probably regret it (unless you have no other choice). But, if it is something that you want to do and you don’t have to sacrifice a lot, then go for it. There’s no time like the present.

Do you plan on moving in retirement? If so, is savings your primary motivation for relocating?