When my wife, Catharine, and I moved to Tucson 2 1/2 years ago, we happily traded the snowy winters of upstate New York for the warmth of the desert. But — much more importantly for us — we also moved to within a short drive of our son, daughter-in-law, and our new grandson.
Now we’re able to see them multiple times a week (mostly at their invitation!) and Catharine, now retired from her career as a magazine editor, is doing yeoman duty as a babysitter and enjoying every moment of it, with the possible exception of an occasional tantrum. (But that’s OK, she can usually calm me down with a chocolate croissant or some clam dip.)
For baby boomers, many of whom are now retired or nearing retirement — usually with more flexibility in time and often looking to downsize (as we did during our cross-country move) — relocating to be nearer to family is a good solution to a number of wants and needs.
Of course, relocation comes with costs, above and beyond moving expenses. Like us, you’ll no doubt be leaving longtime friends behind, and, if you are downsizing or simply trying to cut down on what to pay the movers, sometimes valued possessions must be sold, donated, or even tossed.
And, if your family situation dictates that you move overseas, those wrenching decisions are multiplied even more and anxiety can set in.
But the rewards of making such a move can be great. And, in checking out your potential new location, at the very least you can turn it into a nice vacation!
Some Initial Considerations
If your adult children have moved to another country, you may have considered moving closer to them.
Being nearby to help out with babysitting and ferrying any grandchildren around — or even moving in with your children to create a multi-generational household — could bring benefits to all involved.
If you have a spouse, and you’re essentially happy with living where you are, you may still have had that awkward conversation about how you would cope if one of you were left alone — making the thought of living near your children and grandchildren even more attractive.
There could be substantial benefits to an overseas move. If the cost of living is lower than in the U.S., you could enjoy higher living standards. You’d have greater financial means to dine out more, go to the theater, or treat your family on special occasions.
A house or apartment abroad may cost less to rent or buy, giving you an opportunity to create a comfortable nest egg or legacy for your children.
And of course, the greatest benefit of all will be to be able to spend more time with your family.
Moving abroad, even to be closer to family, can be intimidating. But careful planning and foreknowledge can help alleviate your concerns.
If you’re considering an international move (or just an initial visit), first check to make sure your passport is up to date and not near expiration.
If the country has a different language than your own, you can sign up at your local adult education center for a beginner’s course in that language.
Familiarize yourself as much as possible with the country you are considering moving to. The internet gives you the means to investigate healthcare, climate, religious freedom — anything that’s important to you and your quality of life.
Also, look into schools available for your grandchildren in your possible new location. Their parents might welcome some financial assistance — if you’re able to do so — to make sure they receive the best educational opportunities there.
Whether you’re considering moving to Canada, Panama, France, Singapore, or points in between, check out the top schools in those locales.
For instance, there’s an excellent international school in Singapore, which — with its tropical climate, multicultural population, recreational opportunities, and some of the world’s best food — makes for an inviting combination.
And Don’t Forget…
Ideally you would spend a long visit to your new location before making that all-important decision to move — and, most likely, the worst that can happen is that you’ve had a good international travel experience and learned some things about another culture.
Consider also that this location may not be where your family will stay for the long term; their work may dictate where your son or daughter and family will live and for how long.
If you do move, make every effort to meet new people — perhaps joining a new church or club, or volunteering for some worthwhile projects — once you’ve settled in your new home.
And along those lines, remember: If you rely too heavily on your family for resources, you may wear out your welcome quickly.
The bottom line: By making such a move you could discover many new interests and more activities than you could have imagined during retirement.
NOTE: For an excellent guide to moving discounts of all kinds — including for seniors — check out this piece from moveBuddha.