Ten years before retirement is not too early to start thinking seriously about where you would like to live after retirement. But like all the other aspects of retirement planning, you have to stay flexible and adjust your thinking to changing conditions.
There are a large number and variety of personal circumstances that will affect your choice of a retirement home. To get you thinking along constructive channels, let's touch briefly on some of the myraid questions associated with the various options that may be available.
Would you like to stay in your present home? Here are some of the aspects of that course of action that are likely to have an impact on your decision.
Will you be able to afford the costs after retirement? Remember that in a lower tax bracket the deductions for interest and taxes become less attractive.
Will your health permit you to continue living there? This question relates to the maintenance and housekeeping chores, location of laundry and storage facilities, stairs to climb, bath or shower safety, etc.
How about family and friends? Is it likely that they will be moving to other areas? Is the neighborhood changing?
If you have children who have moved to another part of the country, it is usually not a good idea to follow them. Aside from the possibility that they may move again -- maybe several times -- you need a social circle of your own generation, not of your children's
What about distance and transportation to shopping and to your preferred religious institution? To the kind of cultural and recreational activities you are likely to spend more time on? To health facilities -- of increasing importance as you get older?
If, for whatever reason, you plan on moving from your present home, then you have a whole set of alternatives to choose from.
You can stay in the neighborhood; move to another section of the same city or county; relocate in another state; or even go to a foreign country.
Assuming your financial circumstances will permit the whole range of choices, you can live in a one-family house (detached, semidetached or town house); but a duplex with the expectation that rental income from the second unit will reduce your own net cost; find an apartment; live in a mobile home; or even become a "full-timer" in a recreational vehicle.
You may want to consider a retirement community. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes and offer a spectrum of services ranging from little or none to almost complete life-cycle care.
For many of the kinds of housing mentioned, you can rent; own outright (or jointly with whoever holds your mortgage); selected a condominium; or join a cooperative.
For each of the possible alternatives you need to look at essentially the same kinds of questions I mentioned with regard to your present housing. In brief, you need to select the location and type of housing -- and form of ownership -- that will provide an environment that fits your retirement life style.
You have probably noticed that there are no answers here -- only questions. If you want to develop some answers that fit your individual situation, visit your local library. There are many booklets and books available on the general subject of retirement planning and the specific question of selecting a retirement home.
Several magazines are published that deal exclusively with the problems of the retired and of people approaching retirement age. Some of these are associated with organizations dedicated to addressing the interests of the retired and near-retired.
If you have been nurturing a cherished dream over the years -- perhaps of living in a cottage by a lake -- better dust it off and take another look at it. Imperceptibly over these same years your life style is likely to have changed, and perhaps you would no longer be happy living that dream.
Probably the most important single piece of advice I can give you: Don't make an impulsive jump to a new situation. Whether it's a different kind of housing or a new part of the country, do lots of preliminary research.
Talk to people who have made similar moves before you. If it's possible, try out the new ways before you make them permanent. All your initial moves should be tentative, so that you can reverse course without strain if it turns out to have been in the wrong direction. At the same time, don't stangate in a pre-retirementenvironment that is no longer right for you.