Retirement move as travel alternative

Is home still sweet?
A dear friend visited. Newly retired, she's trying to determine whether her retirement income will accommodate her passion for travel.

She and her partner, childless, have a four-bedroom house, two cars. Over a glass of rosé, we discussed whether that setup would make sense when he retires this winter.

She wondered, How can we trim our expenses to afford more trips? What about home exchanges?

I mentioned newly-retired friends who, like her, looked warily at the ever-rising costs of travel. Others are concerned about the environmental effects of tourism. A number of these people have said, "Instead of costly occasional trips, I want to live somewhere that lifts me up every day."

This is an option for those not required to stay in their former locations for work or family reasons. These friends are avid travelers, but don't have limitless funds. Some of their moves:

Swedish cottage
- Toewe downsized from her large Stockholm apartment to a small one, then built a tiny, simple, energy-efficient cottage in the Swedish countryside, where she lives from spring through fall. (She sublets the apartment.)

- Pat and Vicky are selling their  townhouse in Toronto and moving to Palawan Bay, Philippines as permanent residents.

- Krista and Martin sold a house in Ottawa and moved to the Kootenay region of British Columbia, to hike and ski to their heart's content. They rent for the time being. This location is also closer to their child and his family.

Travel is a splendid and edifying adventure, but it is also a consumable, something the safari ad does not point out, but your Visa bill will.

My in-laws took another route; they sold the family home twenty-five years ago, took early retirement, bought an RV, and hit the road for sixteen years, fusing their home with travel. Now in their eighties, they have traded the RV for an apartment and road trips. My MIL recently said those sixteen years were the best of her life.

There are drawbacks to the strategy: cost and labour of a major move, adaptation to a different climate, culture or language, availability of services, especially health care.

Partners might find it tough to reach agreement on 'the right place'. Maybe your first choice will turn out to be too expensive or impractical. But before you think "Oh no, I (or we) couldn't", keep an open mind.

It's never too early to start your research. When I began this blog over three years ago, a move was not on the radar. Now, here we are in Montreal, a year after we decided to start looking. That was fairly fast; Pat and Vicky are in year four of the Philippines move, ETA January 2012.

You might opt for a full move or divide your time initially, but given that the major expense categories for seniors are housing and transportation, if you can find a permanent setting that delights you, aim for that.

Of course I'm biased; we are thrilled with our choice. Not all retirement moves work out; perhaps you have stories of some that didn't. 

But if you're intrigued, why not consider, calculate and investigate? Sometimes, the best room with a view is your own.

En vacances

Time to be inspired by the real  
passages of Paris 
and take a much-needed rest;
Pdesp closes
the weeks of Oct. 10 and 17. 

Thank you for stopping by.
See you Tuesday, October 25. 


Anonymous said…
At 47 years of age, I am finally starting to think about things like this now, hubs is ten years younger but still we haven't given a single thought to our future, I don't think we will travel much, we won't have the finances for it but I've even travelling since I was 17 so I'm not too bothered but it really is time to think about the other important things, where and how we will live when we retire - phew the years are rattling by.
Parthenope said…
I have decided to do just this. I'm moving from the UK to Italy while I'm still young enough to do it and enjoy it. If I don't do it now - I'm 59- it will be too late.
Lunachance said…
An important thing to consider before selling everything and moving is -- what happens if you do not like your choice??? If you will be moving to a totally new area (or somewhere you have not lived in a long time), consider renting out your current home for 6-12 months while you explore your choice. Then, if it is not what you wanted or expected, you can afford to move back "home." There are a couple of women from my quilt guild who moved when their husbands retired. Well, neither of them liked the climate or offerings of the destinations. But, they sold their homes in a hot real estate market and could not afford to move back.
I guess the lesson is to prepare for the worst and do not be afraid to take your time.

Duchesse said…
Bourbon&Pearls: I didn't think about it at 47, but it was in the back of my mind. I did think about housing costs and resale value of my home then.

Partenope: The 60s can be what one of my friends calls "the last fit decade", and while that sounds depressing, and we may beat the odds, I have observed that there is a limited time to bank on mobility. Good for you!

Lunachance: This is an important point. My friends visited the areas (more than once) before moving. We were advised to do rent our house for a year and see but we did not want to be absentee landlords, return to prep the house to sell, and move again within our new city (from a rental to a place we own. That's costly.) and the market was hot. So we made the leap. There are advantages to both strategies.

Yes, taking one's time is essential.
We just became Empty Nesters and for the first time I see myself living in a different place...I appreciate your encouragment to research early. I think I will do just that!!!
déjà pseu said…
We're trying to travel as much as our work allows *while* we're still healthy and working. After retirement, probably less. We're starting to seriously think about retiring to Napa. We both love the area, it fulfills my desire to live somewhere with seasons, but relatively mild ones, and San Francisco or skiing are relatively easy road trips. We'll see. I'm 54, le monsieur is 52 so it's not imminent, but we're starting to put the pieces together.
Anonymous said…
Have a wonderful time in Paris.
Vivienne said…
We're already planning for our retirement move from the US to Ireland, which won't happen for 10 years. We've lived there before, so we're not terribly worried about being happy there, but there are tons of other logistics that need to be arranged, so 10 years doesn't seem like too long!
have a glorious vacation,
Susan said…
This very topic is on our minds. We have a wonderful farm and farmhouse 85 miles from our big city. It is a place of real contentment, beauty and refuge, but a bit too isolated as we someday become elderly.

We've considered something radical in retirement, like moving to Santa Fe. I think we will rent there first, if we continue to be intrigued by that idea.

We've also considered selling our four bedroom house and buying a two bedroom condo for ease of maintenance.

Very timely topic, Duchesse
Jane M said…
Oh, this topic strikes a chord with me as well. We bought a second home 8 1/2 years ago, after renting in the area for 3 years and having some family there even before that. But living in a resort area is not all it's cracked up to be for me. Turns out that our former lovely neighbors have moved or died and we are surrounded by absentee investors who bring in new, uninterested renters frequently. I also miss the diversity of ages and cultures which make my northern home less "safe" but much more dynamic. I am fortunate to have the option to choose....and my choice will be to sell both places and consider a new place but adding what I have learned about myself and my desires. I do second the RV lifestyle since my parents did it for years and met wonderfully adventurous and delightful people across the US and Canada. I laughed at them at the time but they made a terrific decision.
Duchesse said…
Pam: The research may confirm you want to stay where you are, but it's fun to consider choices and if you do stay, you know why- it's not just inertia.

pseu: Perhaps you would like to spend more time visiting the 'contenders'. Often different when you rent a house or apt. and pretend you live there, to when you go as a tourist, staying in inn or hotel. Beautiful area!

kathy peck: Thanks, looking forward to visits with friends.

Vivienne: Exciting! A big plus to return somewhere you've lived, decreases the unknowns.

susan: My brother and his wife, who (78 and ?), still live on their farm in OR, but one son and his wife built on the property, and help them. There are ways to stay in the country, but the distance from services becomes more of an issue.

A friend retirement-moved to Santa Fe from DC. Took her several years to adjust (and she wanted to move back) but now loves it.
Duchesse said…
Jane M.: There are many options, and of course the market to consider. I have never wanted to maintain two homes, but my mother did it till 89!

The RV "gyspy" life is loved by many, but you need a really tight relationship to be happy living in a small space. (My in-laws were stellar examples!) Also, when the RV eventually wears out, very costly to replace, unlike your house, you did not build equity.
We may take a trip or two but are happy in our small bungalow. Retirement will probably see us getting another Golden retriever and walking daily enjoying our neighbourhood and city.
Have a great time in Paris!
SewingLibrarian said…
Have a wonderful holiday!
Susan Tiner said…
I think about this too. We want to try to take a few more trips while we're still young and mobile and will probably travel less later. We're really happy where we are.

I'm so pleased Pseu might be a neighbor in the Napa area someday :).

Have a beautiful time in Paris!
Duchesse said…
hostess: Yes, people who love it right where they are can simply enjoy more of the same!

Sewing Librarian: Thank you, hoping for the beautiful fall weather we've had here, in Paris.

Susan Tiner: One of the factors for our move was seeing a chart the chief actuary of a major insurance company presented to an internal group, re financial planning for retirees. The big spike for travel expenses 5 years in the early 60s. Then there was a gradual decline, tailing off (but not completely ending) in the late 70s. I thought, if I live as long as my mother (99!) that's a lot of years when travel is not that easy, so where do I want to be?
Someone said…
Interesting! We (I: 47, he: 34) have been working on this question since we met (in 2003), because we each came from cities that we knew didn't quite meet our needs.

We have done major moves twice already, with a third planned in the next few years. We've experienced both owning and renting. Our travel so far has been quite modest, but I've seen his taste for it grow a bit, so I anticipate more adventures ahead.

What I wonder is whether we'll ever *really* settle on a home town. The thought of staying in a home for more than 10 years (which I did once, in childhood), or in the same metro for 20 (once), has become rather foreign. It sounds wonderfully relaxing... ;)
materfamilias said…
The last few years have seen us manage some good travel while working keeps the wallet relatively full and while the legs still do the walking. I think you're wise to emphasize the importance of the place we spend most of our days. For most of us, travel is only sustainable for a relatively small percentage of our year, and contentment such as Hostess enjoys goes a long way. We will eventually end up in a city, near our grandchildren (an important consideration) with shopping, culture, public transit nearby.

As for you, now that you're well settled in Montreal, you're ready to enjoy your favourite kind of travel -- have a lovely vacation in Paris! Perhaps LeDuc might convince Christophe to put that wonderful lemon dessert back on the menu. . .
Tiffany said…
We can't travel much at the moment, being in the stage of life that involves a mortgage and school fees; and we're unlikely to retire until our 70s. I have thought about this, and what I would like to do - and I believe Spouse agrees - is relocate (different country) when the kids are both at university, so we can spend some time living and working somewhere other than Sydney.

Enjoy Paris!
Duchesse said…
Someone: Some people never alight for long, that may never appeal. I too have friends who have lived 4 years here, a decade there, and are still moving. It's another model, and I'm guessing a life of continual stimulation and interest.

materfamilias: Le Duc has found Christophe appreciates Japanese artisanal whiskeys, but I'm not holding my breath!

Tiffany: Moving while continuing to work is another idea. Another friends of mine and his wife went to Sri Lanka to run an orphanage. But that's another post!
Tiffany said…
I'd love to hear the Sri Lankan orphanage story one day ...
Anonymous said…
My parents are inspirational - they hosted several people for house swaps so that they had places to stay as they spent a year travelling around Europe. When they weren't house swapping, they lived out of a van. This was when they were 50.

Even when their marriage broke up and my Mum got cancer at 60ish, she travelled and made the most of her life.

PS - have a lovely trip and thanks for your inspirational blog. I'm not in your demographic, but it's so lovely to see you and your community living rich, fulfilled lives. It gives me hope.

william said…
Duchesse, I'm thrilled you are going to Paris this fall! We are planning to go next spring for my husband's birthday, our third trip, and on this one we also hope to lay some plans for a longer stay, when I really do retire.

I have a burning question and would like to ask you what you think of these shoes:
I have ordered them and now am not sure about the style even though they are great for what I need (flat shoes into which I can put my orthotics, walk easily, and most importantly with my weak ankles, not fall down! But I am worried now that they are incredibly ugly and not chic. Please tell me what you really think! Thank you so much!

Frugal Scholar said…
Thanks for this thought-provoking piece. As you know, these issues have been much on my mind.
Duchesse said…
Francie: They are sneakers, and for sneakers, cute, with the Chanel-ish quilting. I like patent, too- a wipe cleans it of splatters. If you keep the clothing very simple, they look good, but since they are over $300, maybe Mephisto has a lace-on or brogue you could use if they are not quite what you want. It's hard to judge the shoe without knowing your wardrobe.

Know you have problems with our feet and the joy of really being able to walk is worth any amount.

I am in Paris now, jet-lagged but happy- not blogging but wanted to answer you.
william said…
Duchesse, you are kind to write such a thoughtful answer about the shoes after your long trip! Thank you for those really good point-- that they are basically sneakers and also Chanel-like (sort of!) Anyway, I had to special-order them and will go pick them up tomorrow and consider whether they really are "the thing!" Bonnes vacances and have a wonderful time!!!
Anonymous said…
Thank you so much for taking up this topic! A good walk-through of ideas and options.
Annette said…
We divide our time between our seaside house in the netherlands in the summer and a very basic retreat in africa ( senegal) in the winter. So always nice weather and not too costly!
Jacqueline said…
We used to divide our time (at the beginning of retirement) between Toronto and Florida. It didn't take me too long to realize Florida was not for me, (mind numbing) but we didn't want 12 months in the city either. Our solution? We sold both places and moved to Niagara on the Lake. While the climate isn't Florida in the winter, it is blessed with the protection of the Niagara Escarpment, so is a little milder than the city. The little town is elegant, beautiful, charming, historical, on the edge of both the Niagara River and Lake Ontario and in the heart of Ontario wine country. Should the urge beset us, it is a mere 100K drive back to the city and family or during wintry February (and the funds are available) we can slip across the border to Buffalo Airport and find a cheap-ish flight to visit all those friends we made (and hosted) in our time in Florida. It has taken me over 40 years to find a place I love to live. Waking up here every day is such a blessing.
helen tilston said…
We love to travel too and will at the drop of a hat. I rather like living in a place for at least six months.

I am your new follower and look forward to knowing more about your blog

Helen Tilston
PS I found you through Tish Jett
Duchesse said…
Annette: Beautiful places both, with a distinct contrast of cultures.

Jacqueline: I know NOTL well (after living in Toronto for 30 years) and you describe it well for readers unfamiliar with the area. Appreciate your telling us about revising your first choice. Not sure if this was your case, but I've met several women whose enthusiastic golfer spouses sold them on golf-centric location and they were massively bored.

Helen: Welcome and thank you. Tish and I just had a long lunch today, which was a delight.
déjà pseu said…
Oh, I'm so happy you were able to meet Tish!!
Elizabeth said…
I am 49 ( 50 in a month !) and my partner is 59. We are selling our suburban house and moving to a more expensive, but two blocks from the beach, smaller home in the our same city- Long Beach, California. Our new home is a beautiful 100 year old bungalow within walking distance to the beach, restaurants, shopping, etc. The home also has a studio apartment in the back. This will be a lifestyle change and more like the places we love to visit when we travel. When we retire we would like to continue traveling but if we can't we will be living in a home that feels like a vacation.

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