For some people, retirement is falling off a cliff: one day they’re employed, the next they’re not, and no one comes along to direct the future. Uncertain kindergarteners have (hopefully) loving parents and an understanding teacher to light the path ahead, but at 65, 70, and beyond? We’re on our own, without a map.
Which is why it pays to have a plan.
Where to Retire
Seniors might start with the real estate professional’s catchphrase: location, location, location. Where do you want to live? If someone loves their present home and it suits their needs, or can be modified to help them age in place, perhaps with a HECM at the right time, remaining on known turf may be ideal.
According to WalletHub’s annual survey of the best places to retire, based on affordability, quality of life, health care options and available activities, a trio of Florida cities tops the list for 2017 — unsurprisingly. But in addition to Orlando, Tampa, and Miami, Scottsdale and Atlanta rank high, as do Salt Lake City, Honolulu, Denver, and Las Vegas.
Much depends on the type of climate and resources a senior wants. What was a destination a generation ago is different today. While some people (especially Boomers) may fancy making Jimmy Buffet’s branded Latitude Margaritaville a retirement reality, others will prefer a very different ambiance than summer camp for sixty-year-olds.
Baby, You Can Drive My Car — Or Let the Car Drive You
Being able to get around is also critical. Seniors who choose to retire to a place like Los Angeles, for example (#23 on the WalletHub list) had better make sure they have a reliable car.
Pretty soon, though, it may not matter if a senior is no longer able, or willing, to drive. A few weeks ago the US House of Representatives passed the Self-Drive Act to expedite the introduction of autonomous cars: automobiles that literally live up to their name. Self-driving cars have vast implications for senior housing: in lieu of a retirement community with jitneys or paratransit buses for those with limited mobility, autonomous cars will expand elders’ ability to live independently where they most desire to retire.
Going to the Dogs
Companionship is a mainstay of life that is especially essential in our later years. If an elder doesn’t want to relocate but feels he or she ought to be near the kids for company, there’s another solution: a four-footed friend.
Though you may think getting a large dog is a surefire way for a senior to create both companionship and safety, some aging experts disagree. Not about the benefits of an older adult acquiring a canine buddy, but that size matters: they believe smaller is better — and not because someone has downsized with a HECM for Purchase!
The experts say smaller dogs are easier to handle on walks, and may even fit comfortably on their human friend’s lap. From pugs to poodles to terriers, here are 15 breeds a pooch-seeking senior might love.
And if an elder is unable or unwilling to care for a live animal, these interactive substitutes may fill the need nicely.
Retirement and Spirituality: The Inner View
Beyond the right home, in the right location, with the right reverse mortgage, the right transportation, and the right human and animal companions, retirement also presents an opportunity to turn within and embrace life’s larger questions.
The time may finally be right to explore meaning and purpose in a deeper way, possibly leading a senior in an entirely new direction late in life. Consider:
- Colonel Sanders began franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken at 65;
- Frank McCourt published his breakthrough novel, Angela’s Ashes, at 66;
- Grandma Moses had her first solo art exhibit at 80;
- T. Boone Pickens launched the BP Energy Fund at 68, and at 89 says, “I didn’t make my first billion until I was 70. We are allowed second, third, fourth, and fifth acts — and who knows how many more.”
- Champion runner Fauja Singh’s marathon time was just over eight hours at age 100, somewhat slower than when he was a mere 92 and could do the 26 miles in five hours, 40 minutes.