7 Reasons Not to Move in Retirement

If you're happy with where you live, there's no reason to relocate in retirement.

Retired Couple in the Kitchen
Getty Images
By Emily Brandon

It might seem fun to move to a new place in retirement that has nice weather, more leisure activities or a significantly lower cost of living. But there are also many drawbacks of moving away from your friends, family and support system. Most people don't relocate in retirement, and those who do tend to move only very short distances. Just 6 percent of those age 60 and older changed residences between 2008 and 2012, and more than half of the people who traded places stayed within the same county, according to Census Bureau data. Here's why you may not be better off if you move to a new place in retirement:

Save money. Moving is expensive. Selling a home and buying a new one comes with a variety of transaction costs in addition to the move itself. Remaining in a home in which you have paid off the mortgage eliminates one of your biggest monthly bills. While you still have to pay taxes and maintenance costs for the home, those expenses are likely to be a fraction of your former mortgage payments. Eliminating your mortgage before retirement and then living mortgage-free can significantly improve your retirement finances.

Services you like. If you have been living in a community for many years, you probably have a doctor you are comfortable with, an auto mechanic you trust and someone who cuts your hair just the way you like it.
You may also know the quickest route to the hospital, the best way to get to the airport and which routes to avoid during rush hour. If you start over in a new place, you will have to invest the time to find each of these services and perhaps test out many options to find one that meets your preferences. "When you keep people in their familiar environments, they know the neighborhood and they might still have some friends nearby," says Debra Drelich, a geriatric care manager and founder of New York Elder Care Consultants. "People want to stay at home."

A social network. Having a lot of friends nearby can certainly enrich your retirement years socially. "One of the comforts of staying in the home is the familiarity of knowing a neighbor for 40 years who is right next door," says Joan Roover, founder of A Thoughtful Move, a service that helps senior citizens relocate. "People often go where there is a sense of community and social support." A community of friends and acquaintances becomes particularly important when you retire because you have more time to spend with friends, and it's easy to become isolated once you no longer go to work every day. Your social network also helps you solve problems by offering advice about who they hired to fix the roof or help shovel snow. And if you plan to work in retirement, previous work contacts can help you find a retirement job. Aging can be much more difficult if you don't have a group of people to help with the challenges.

Proximity to family. If you currently live near your children and grandchildren, you'll get to experience the joy of watching your grandchildren grow up. Adult children and older grandchildren may also be able to help you when you need it. It will also save you money if you don't have to pay for small chores family members can easily help with, including changing a light bulb or a ride to the doctor. "Being surrounded by people who care about you is literally good for you," says Robert Bornstein, a psychology professor at Adelphi University and author of "How to Age in Place: Planning for a Happy, Independent, and Financially Secure Retirement." "Research shows that older people who have a lot of social contact are healthier, live longer and they have fewer illnesses and fewer hospitalizations."

Memories. Your family home and the community your children grew up in likely contains memories in every corner. This may be the place your children took first steps, lost a first tooth or where you shared many other special moments, which can be difficult to leave behind. "While some may find [a move] invigorating, others may be unprepared for the transfer trauma of leaving behind a longtime family home," says Andrew Carle, founding director of George Mason University's Senior Housing Administration.

An advance plan for your later years. You may need to bring additional services into the home or make changes to the layout to prepare for the limitations of aging. "If physical and/or cognitive needs increase significantly within three to five years, you may want to ensure next-level services are available, or at least proximate," Carle says. It can be easier to locate and test these types of services in your own community before you need them than to try to find them from afar. You can also retrofit a home to make aging easier in advance of when you need those features. "Some people might want to modify that home so that the master bedroom is on the first floor, and since going up and down the stairs makes carrying laundry difficult, people often relocate the laundry room to the first floor so that it is more physically convenient," Roover says. "They may adapt the shower and tub so that they don't risk falling."

You like it. You likely chose your current home because you liked many aspects of the house or community. That doesn't necessarily change when you leave your job. Over the years you've probably made improvements that suit your needs and tastes. If your current community continues to meet your needs as a retiree, there's no reason to pick up and move to another one.

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Aside from perhaps moving away from grand children and some family members...the areticle writer's reasoning for NOT moving is beyond ridiculous. This is especially the case if you live in a high cost area like parts of metro NY or in certain parts of CA and are retiring. Just the saving in real estate taxes alone is often worth the move. You have to be made out of money to live in some of these places. Would you rather spend your money on real estate taxes or take a few nice vacations each year? There are many wonderful places you can live in this country. Also, how unadventurous and provincial are some people? They should live in the same place their entire lives? How boring!!!. To think about not having any adventure or change in one's life is just sad. I am a NY'er and lived there over 50 years.. And, while there are many things to like or "love" about metro NY, there are tons of things that make that area a less than desireable place to live in as a retiree... the high cost of living, high taxes, traffic, general congestion, less than great weather and stress levels alone are enough reason alone to get out of Dodge. Staying put in one's old neighborhood for 50+ years or not moving very far seems a little "old school" to my way of thinking. This is especially the case with the mobility and communications people can avail themselves of these days. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. I'm happy I moved and would consider another move somewhere down the road if I get bored where I am living now.

January 23 2014 at 5:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


January 23 2014 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the number one resaon to move in retirement #1 You live in Illinois

January 23 2014 at 12:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In the Obamanation of no livable wages and no retirement what other option does one have?

January 23 2014 at 12:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jimmy_branch's comment

Jimmy, You need to get out more. 140 MM people have jobs and most of them are thriving. It could just be that they know enough to avoid certain dysfunctional personality types.

January 24 2014 at 8:16 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

People tell me I'm crazy for leaving but I did not want to die chasing the American Dream.Paying $2000 a month on a house payment and working 6-7 days a week at 14-16 hours a day. Why? So I could tell people I lived and worked in Sunny Southern California. San Diego County to be exact.

Made the choice to leave and move back to Coleman, Wisconsin. a.k.a. the quiet Village of Coleman. Best choice I ever made. Wish I had done it sooner. Going to go fishing this spring and start to save up for my John Deere sit down lawn mower . Next winter comes the Electric Snow Blower..... sleep in till 10am and go to sleep when I feel like it.

January 22 2014 at 11:07 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

NY totally sucks, most corrupt companies in america, justice system does not work at all, to many corrupt cops, park police, biggest criminals in the state, town justices selling out the system, drug dealers thinking they run this state, which they basically do, rather live in Afganistan its alot safer.

January 22 2014 at 8:20 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Change is good, especially for the unattached and single. south florida is a foreign country and wanting to be in a friendly environment a nice perk. Politicians are ugly no matter where you go.
As stated, "when one door closes, another opens". Go for it.

January 22 2014 at 8:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

People might be happy with where they live TODAY --- but this writer seems to assume that neighborhoods (and people) never change. No one lives in a time warp. As you get older, your needs and priorities will change.

Once-nice neighborhoods tend to deteriorate over time. Old friends (and relatives) get sick and die. Additionally, as you get older, a big priority has to be to live in an area with a very good hospital and other medical services.

Senior couples might have lived 40 years in the same house. But, that is not the norm, today. Their grown children are very likely to need to relocate for employment reasons. Instead of working 30-40 years for one company and then retiring with a pension, a younger worker will probably change jobs 6 or 7 times during their time in the workplace. Possibly, this will involve an interstate move.

There is also no escaping the fact that many cities are in dire need of funds to maintain city services. The solution for that problem is always increased taxes. Property taxes will be the first target. People might have paid off their home mortgage, but they have no protection against constantly increasing property taxes.

Older homes also need expensive maintenance. A new roof is not cheap. Neither is retrofitting and/or modifying your home to accomodate mobility problems due to aging.

Granted, a major move is expensive. But staying where you have lived for many years is not cheap, either.

Whether, or not, to move to a retirement community is a tough decision. And it's definitely not the sunshine and rainbows image that this writer has painted.

January 22 2014 at 7:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

You must be a faux snooze banana Repulic con. I guess you appreciate the world recession that 'W' got us into. Of course you probably blame Obama for that and everything else that makes you feel better about yourself. Try moving to red state Mississippi., I hear they have some great deals on trailers down there.

January 22 2014 at 6:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

# 1 reason to move, if state is run by democrats.

January 22 2014 at 4:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply