Finding Your Retirement Home

Tina GleisnerStarred Page By Tina Gleisner, 11th Jul 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Retirement

Retirement planning covers many topics from finance, to working or volunteering and where you want to live in retirement. When looking for a retirement home, it's important to know how you will spend your time, in order to find a new city and state to move to. And even if you've bought several homes in the past, buying what might be your last home purchase has it's own challenges.

Picking Criteria for Your New Home

Sometimes it's easy to pick a new home because there's a job there, or you need to move closer to an aging parent to help care for them. Eventually you reach the age where it's time to start planning for retirement and yikes, it's really scary. For several years we hoped our children would make the decision for us but time is moving on, and we realized it was time to make a move sometime in the next few years. We plan to have a mortgage and feel it will be easier to do this while we've got paychecks (as banks aren't comfortable with entrepreneurs).

We started building a list of cities we might enjoy living in, with plans to visit them over 1 to 2 years. The criteria to get on our list included:
- Within 1 hour of a Southwest airport, for visits to grandchildren, friends, etc.
- Within 1 hour of a city, with at least a half million people in the greater metropolitan area.
- Large number of colleges and universities, to take classes and attend sporting events.
- Ability to walk, ride bikes and attend cultural activities.
- Reasonably dark skies within 1 hour, and low humidity (no jet stream).
And non-negotiables - high-speed Internet and good health care.

And our list of cities got pretty long with help from friends and people we shared our ideas with.
- East coast - Ft Myers/Naples, Norfolk, Salem MA, Annapolis,
- West coast - Seattle, San Juan Islands, San Jose/Santa Cruz, north of San Diego, Ashland, Bend
- Interior states - Albuquerque, Denver/Boulder, Phoenix/Tucson, Austin/San Antonio

We travel a lot but when the list kept growing, we realized we needed to pare it down. The real issue was conflicting priorities. My husband is an amateur astronomer who wants more than 300 days of clear (no clouds) nights, while my preference is for ocean (or a good substitute) views nearby.

Visiting Cities to Learn What You Like / Don't Like

In parallel we started looking at travel schedules, and added a city from our list to each planned trip. When both spouses are used to traveling independently, this can get tricky. You will reduce costs (time and expenses) though, and with a long list of cities to visit, this made the most sense. It also helped clarify the types of activities we’re involved in today, and expect to continue for years to come.
- November in Tucson, while my husband attends his first Arizona Science & Astronomy Expo.
- July in Phoenix, after my business conference and before my husband competes in the International Barbershop contest in Las Vegas
- August in San Diego, while my husband attends a barbershop event in Reno. We are coordinating with friends from San Jose (former neighbors in New York and California) who want to move there too.
- January in Ft Myers/Naples, while we're in Tampa for a family vacation around the holidays.

Which leads to the question, where do our children live? Our older son and his family live outside Orlando but plan to relocate to the west coast in the next few years. Our younger son is entering his senior year at Temple University in Philadelphia, and hopes to live/travel around the world.

Retirement Planning Surprises

We just got back from our first city visit to Phoenix. Phoenix is more of a snowbird location because the temperatures are over a 100 degrees Fahrenheit for most of June through September. During the summer you live in air conditioned houses, cars, etc. The good news is the other eight months are so nice you don’t need to put the heat on more than a few days. My advice is to visit prospective retirement locations during the worst part of the year, like Phoenix in July. You’ll quickly learn if you can live there, because you might plan to split your time between 2 homes but life happens, and you might end up year round residents in one place.

Phoenix has 20 to 30 days (nights really for astronomy) where the skies aren’t clear. The surprise was finding a nearby city, Fountain Hills, that doesn’t have any street lights. As the realtor began to describe the city, it became increasingly obvious that this was the absolutely ideal home for my husband. With this setting he can build an observatory in the backyard, and he won’t have to drive hours like he does today, to find dark skies. So the real surprise is we’ve decided to move to Fountain Hills and my water views will be a pool in the backyard.

Maybe the exercise of putting the list together gave us a base for comparison, and yes the reality is most of the cities on our list would never deliver clear skies with little/no humidity.

For more help finding your new retirement home, visit Home Tips for Women.
... or to follow my retirement journey, as we've picked our city but there's a lot more work before we move in.


Retirement, Retirement Home, Retirement Living, Retirement Planning, Retirement Strategy

Meet the author

author avatar Tina Gleisner
Serial entrepreneur from a handyman business, to marketing services other handyman owners & now teaching women homeowners how to maintain their homes & make improvements to build financial security.

Share this page

moderator Steve Kinsman moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


Add a comment
Can't login?