With baby boomers apparently retiring in droves, I’ve been reading a lot about retirement and retirement planning lately. I’m also currently assisting my own boomer parent in retirement planning, which can be an eye-opening experience for someone with 30 years or more to go until his own retirement.
As I’ve worked with this boomer, I’ve realized that there is more involved in retirement happiness than just having enough money. And while money can certainly play a huge role in how smoothly those golden years progress, there are other factors – sometimes related to finances, sometimes not so much – that can make a big difference in retirement satisfaction.
Location, location, location
Location can play a huge role in just how satisfied you may be with your retirement. From things to do like hiking and geography (waking up to mountains, a lake, the ocean, etc.), to the climate (whether you’re outside enjoying yourself or stuck inside eight months of the year), there are any number of ways that location can affect the satisfaction you feel with your retirement.
Location can also affect your retirement happiness due to its impact upon your finances. Providing free things to do may help to keep you happily entertained on a tight budget. Things like property taxes and home insurance levels, the cost of food and entertainment, and other expenses associated with the cost of living in a particular area can weigh heavily upon retirement satisfaction.
Proximity to family
While family members can be a real pain in the rear at times, they can also be extremely helpful and valuable assets in retirement. The can provide a sense of safety and security that neighbors and friends might not. Whether it’s helping out with a home repair project, giving you a ride to the airport or store, hosting a weekly family dinner, or just stopping in for a game of cards or to check up on you, having family close by could provide a nice security blanket in your golden years.
Safety and security
Family alone might not be enough to keep you safe and sound in retirement though. And a large part of how happy you are in retirement could be linked to your peace of mind. Considering area crime rates, the security of your home and neighborhood (Does your neighborhood have a community watch or similar program?), proximity of local police, fire, and emergency services, distance to area hospitals, and similar aspects related to your personal safety can be critical to retirement happiness.
Infrastructure, transportation, and convenience
The condition and quality of area infrastructure could also play heavily into retirement satisfaction. Will you be losing power regularly or live in a location that’s inaccessible due to floods, snow, impassible roads, etc.?
Having to drive an hour or more to get to the local store or post office might not bother some people, but it could be a severe imposition to others. While some people might initially like the idea of seclusion in retirement, they may not always consider just what this seclusion means when it comes to things like going in to town, being able to get to area health providers, pharmacies, and hospitals, and address similar factors related to convenience.
The costs involved in such situations related to fuel, wear and tear on a vehicle, and the distances that must be safely navigated could also be issues. Being able to walk to nearby services rather than drive 40 or 50 miles on snow-covered roads is something that could affect the overall well-being of a retiree.
Therefore, before jumping the gun and assuming that having enough money is the end all and be all of retirement planning, you might want to consider all those other factors that could affect your happiness moving into and throughout your golden years.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.