I had joined a discussion on relocating during retirement and was asked to start a thread where retired couples can discuss how they planned for retirement. This is not a financial discussion but more the nuts of bolts of deciding where to live and what to do.
We had moved a lot during our working years so were not attached to any particular area. Once we began talking about retirement (about 4-5 years before we thought we would retire) we quickly agreed that our big house in a rural area had been fun while we were working but not what we wanted for retirement. We read articles on "top places to retire" and discussed the pros and cons of the areas that most appealed to us. We wanted to stay in the eastern part of the US and be closer to an airport and a town or city where we could find a smaller house and both cultural and volunteer opportunities. We then began visiting some of the cities that appealed to us to see what they were actually like. In the end the issue was settled when our youngest daughter told us they were planning to start a family and wished we would move closer to them. They had moved to Charlotte, NC and that matched all our "must haves" for a new location. Although we had bought and sold many houses throughout our lives, finding a house to downsize to was harder. We were unsure how much space we needed or what we would do in the space. . My husband isn't a visualizer so after seeing houses we would go home and go through each room and I would point out what wouldn't fit in each house we had seen. It helped him "see" how we would live in each house. It was much more difficult than we expected but we are happy with the house we picked
In addition to talking about where we wanted to live, we also began discussing what we would do with ourselves during retirement. This was very important because my husband had always been a Type A, totally devoted to his job person. He had no outside interests or friends outside his co-workers. I had always been involved with our daughters' schools and community activities so it was important that he learn to relax and become involved. Fortunately, he realized this was a big issue and he was very concerned about being bored in retirement. We felt being in a bigger city would offer more volunteer opportunities and he was able to identify things he would like to be involved with right away. Throughout his career he had never read fiction but we got a library card and he found some authors he liked and that began a new hobby for him. He made the transition so well that I think some of his co-workers must have lost a lot of money in the office pool betting he would be back working in a short time. We do some volunteer work together but mostly each of us have found our own niches in the community.
We had also discussed when we would retire and, he wanted to work awhile after 65. Since we were relocating, we would both retire at the same time and this would give me some extra years to work. However, this turned out to be the only planning that didn't work out. My husband had had a series of non-life threatening health issues that were getting him down. I came home from work one day when he was 62 and he announced he was ready to retire! I talked him into waiting to return to work and see what his feelings would be then. A month later he still was talking retirement but we realized we did need to work another year for me to vest in a small retirement plan. Everyone was shocked when we retired the next year but we have never regretted it.
How have others planned their retirement?
jocee, thank you for starting a discussion thread! It is so great to see how you and your husband planned. I am eager to see how other couples made these important decisions.
taconner, you wrote a blog post about your wife retiring before you: Navigating the New Paradigm. It would be great to hear an update on how things are going. Please share on this thread!
My wife retired in June & immediately went back to Georgia to help her 96 year old mother relocate to a retirement community. After returning to Texas & being retired for a total of two months, her previous employer called & asked if she would come back part-time as senior management had imposed a hiring freeze & the department couldn't hire for her position, but were authorized to hire temps. Since she was returning to her previous position they had what they considered a win-win. My wife is extremely well organized & I know her bosses missed her greatly. With the fall semester approaching at the university where she worked, she opted for 2 1/2 days per week which is the maximum authorized for temps. Her complaint is that she was not retired long enough to get into a retirement pattern, however she feels that 4 day weekends are not bad. Since she is about 6 months from her full retirement age (FRA) with Social Security I was pleased to see that she would likely end her temporary position about the time she reaches FRA & we would then apply for her social security. Actually I think this situation is ideal as if offers her to slowly move from her full-time job & ease into retirement. Many of the articles I read on retirement suggest that working part-time is a good alternative to full retirement if you can swing it. The one thing I enjoyed during the short time when she was fully retired was her ability to handle all those niggling chores we don't always get to during the week due to other commitments.
In the three weeks or so since she has returned to work, I notice that her bosses are already wanting more than 20 hour weeks so it will be interesting to see how that works out. She says that 6 months is all she is willing to work although her bosses mentioned that they could hire her for a total of one year if she was willing to extend further. I suspect she will likely work 6 months & bag it for good.
About 17 years ago my employment approached the end of a renewable contract of ten years and more. I knew this job would be ending. At the same time a new employer (my "final") agreed to hire me three days a week. Trouble is, the new place wanted me to work Monday - Wednesday - Friday - the original employer was fine with my working there on Tuesday and Thursday. Each day I certainly had to know which destination was my work that day (I was using public transportation exclusively). Eventually I wound up without the old be with the new 3 days per week. I had 2-day weekend as well as Tuesday and Thursday off. That was 1997 and once I went full-time the end of one year, I continued full-time work until end of June, 2009. When I look back, this easing up for many months may have helped me in the transitioning. This month begins the fourth year of joint retirement - spouse and I. We were 67 years old three years ago.
"How have others planned their retirement?"
I think for us it has been a combination of common interests and compromise, not necessarily in that order!
We were fortunate in that we both enjoy healthy, active outdoor living. We like water related activities and we enjoy golfing together. And we both wanted to be within a reasonable drive of both our adult children so we limited our range to the southeastern states.
There were also things that didn't interest us; things like big cities, heavy traffic, and crime, although the convenience of a few stores, restaurants and small-time entertainment was important. My wife felt strongly about health care facilities, exercise and a replacement church home. We both knew we wouldn't survive forever without some sort of life outside of our hobbies and fun-type stuff so we gave consideration to volunteer opportunities and identified at least a couple of those.
Then there was the comfort zone thing. We own a vacation condo in a place that pretty much meets all the requirements, although good health care may be a stretch. Over a number of years that place has become almost like our real home in that we've made a few friends and know our way around pretty well. It may not be a place where we can maintain our lifestyle as we grow older but neither of us is willing to forgo the active retirement years and rush into to slower paced one that is bound to come eventually. We've acknowledged that someday we'll probably have to grow up and move on but we'll make that adjustment when we have to.
The two obstacles were the lack of seasonal change that we both enjoy, and my 85 year old mother in law who my wife can't leave on her own. Visits with our daughter in the mountains should satisfy our needs for seasonal change. The MIL situation is always part of our retirement discussions but, for now, we simply need to be pleased happy that we still have her and that she's reasonably healthy and capable.
One last issue is that my wife is still 3+ years short of being able to retire, and will still need to work 2 years after I pull the plug. That should give us the time we need to make gradual financial adjustments, get our home ready for sale and ease our way into the next phase of life.
"... felt strongly about health care facilities ...although good health care may be a stretch." I can't say exactly that the health care here is a stretch. There are several good size hospital systems here and there are some large medical facilities, including university-affiliated ones, in 3 larger metro areas within 2-4 hours. However, after observing some poor choices by much loved relatives and friends, we have focused on what to do if really challenging and complex medical issues arise. Our approach is to get in the car or get on the plane and get to the absolute best facility that we can identify for the extraordinary condition. This has happened for 2 in the family when both a complex and another life-threatening condition arose. We got ourselves quickly to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and received outstanding and skilled attention with excellent results. Love that place!!!
The moral is to have a plan and then execute quickly when you can't just drive downtown to get the best care in the world. GOOD LUCK!!! :-)))
I find it hard to disentangle the financial aspect from retirement planning, because when both spouses work, retirement is inevitably a question of financial timing. We began planning financially in our 40's because we were struggling to recover from bankruptcy. This drove not only questions about money and income, but also career moves and overall lifestyle. It made us think about what we wanted from retirement.
This planning wasn't a linear process. We did it in "fits and starts" - I changed jobs on a fairly regular basis; spouse had one employer start to finish. We had a lot of uncertainty about budget numbers and where the money would come from. Didn't help when spouse suffered a severe stroke at age 50 -- but it did focus my attention on getting him to retire earlier than he had planned. He enjoyed his last job and boss very much, but I convinced him to join me in retirement at age 56.
He doesn't like to travel but indulges me in my preference for local (and very occasional long-distance) trips centered around food. We are both semi-geeks and require hi-speed Wi-Fi connections for several hours daily even when traveling. He has his hobbies, I have mine; we never run out of things to do! Amazon Prime loves us, and we love them back .
Biggest challenge in retirement? Paring things down. Living in a place for years means we've accumulated way too much stuff. Books, clothes, personal possessions - just way too much stuff. Love those charities that send a truck around to pick-up! We just donated a box of assorted office supplies - labels, DIY cardstock, transparencies (Powerpoint) - to a local school; they were thrilled. Another charity takes good work clothes, so once a year we weed things out and drop them off, for people who are going on office interviews but don't have anything nice to wear.
Always have a long to-do list to get around to. Replace a pair of garden trellises, hire a handyman to do some minor jobs we can't, update our trust and legal docs (it would help if I'd do my filing more often...I HATE filing!), getting solar put on our roof this fall so working on the paperwork now, get ready for a visiting relative in a few weeks, update my three blogs (one of which needs to be completely redone, ugh), etc. etc. Never ends!!
I like filing so much that half our basement is packed (along one wall) with 4-drawer metal filing cabinets (letter size)
dating all the way back to entering college in 1962.
I particularly appreciated how you helped your husband find interesting things to do during retirement. I am also a bit work focused, but I have plenty of things besides work that occupy me on days off, so maybe my concern about being bored and lonely after we retire is excessive.
We have not retired yet, but are already making plans for three years from now.
From my thoughts, retirement is about cash flow so we plan on having the house paid off by the time we retire. We owe no other money and all of the cars are paid for. After that it will be utilities, taxes, etc.
For something to do we are very active in many organizations and looking forward to the time we will able to spend more time. I plan on working very part time and we have a small business that will need some tending to but three years, three and 1/2 months.
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