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Secrets to a Successful Retirement

Secrets to a Successful Retirement

Jan Cullinane

A discussion of the key elements to successful retirement, including tips on keeping fit, staying busy and deciding whether to relocate.

Actionable tips. What shall I do in retirement?  Imagine you have five years left to live. How would you spend them? Now imagine you have 24 hours left to live: what are your biggest regrets? This will help you focus on what you should do in retirement.  What were your interests when you were younger? Sports, theater, reading, playing in the band, exploring, painting, building forts, riding your bike, playing school? Think back to what you loved to do with your leisure time as your younger version, and this can provide a key for fresh retirement pursuits, including volunteer activities.  If you’re part of a couple, discuss key issues ahead of time: when to retire, where to live, upended roles, new financial realities, and shared and separate interests. It’s also worthwhile to discuss your role in your children’s/grandchildren’s lives: e.g. lending/giving money, full-time babysitter, emergency babysitter, “been there done that.”  Will you work in retirement? Just a reminder about the statistics: many more people say they plan to work in retirement than actually do work in retirement. So, have a Plan B…and a Plan C. What about relocation?  Don’t plan on aging in place but then get stuck in place. Be proactive about moving, rather than waiting for an emergency to spur you to a decision.  Integrate universal design principles into your home (e.g. “comfort height” toilets, curbless showers, first-floor masters) whether you stay in your existing residence or move.  Create a wish list of what you want in a new location and home, and remember to project out 20 or more years. Try out a potential community in all seasons. A beautiful summer day may be quite different than a day in the depths of an icy winter. A crisp fall afternoon may be buggy or horribly humid in the summer.  Check out a potential area for flight paths, sounds of the highway, planned zoning for nearby vacant land, or businesses nearby that would be unpleasant neighbors (e.g. strip joint, turpentine plant).  Be sure newer communities touting amenities have them already in place or will build them. If you’re thinking of moving to an active-adult community, remember that the newer the community, the younger the average age. The opposite is also true.  If you’re single, take your “posse” with you! Or, search for communities with built-in activities, such as masterplanned or active adult communities, or consider cities. This makes it easier to meet others.

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