Moving in Retirement: Talk It Out

Decrease the chances of family strife and discuss moving in retirement long before you make your decision.

retired couple in their home

The top U.S. states where domestic retirees are moving in retirement are South Dakota, Oregon, and Vermont, according to a recent study by United Van Lines. An increasing number of retirees also are moving abroad to destinations like Canada, Japan, and Mexico.

Deciding where to spend your retirement can be a big decision. Before you reach that point, have a conversation with your spouse or significant other about whether or not to move. Moving in retirement may have a significant impact on you and your family, says Sarah Whitten Munson, CFP®, Senior Vice President and Senior Wealth Planner for Wells Fargo Private Bank.

"Moving in retirement can be a complicated and emotional topic for you, your spouse, your friends, and even adult kids, who may grieve the change and possibly the sale of the family home," Munson says.

To make the decision easier on everyone involved, Munson says to talk about your options for moving in retirement a year or more before making a final decision. That will give you time to test out different retirement destinations and prepare everyone for the change.

"A move can be a fresh start and a great reason to adopt new hobbies, habits, and traditions." —  Sarah Whitten Munson, CFP®, Senior Vice President and Senior Wealth Planner, Wells Fargo Private Bank

Get on the same page as your partner
In a perfect world, you and your spouse or partner will be on the same page about moving in retirement. However, if you're not yet in agreement, it's important to openly discuss it, advises Munson.

Talk together about your motivations for moving. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Finding a warmer climate
  • Downsizing your home so you're responsible for less maintenance
  • Getting closer to kids and grandkids
  • Experiencing either a more urban or more rural area

"Once your partner understands why you're interested in moving, they may get on board with the idea or suggest some good alternatives," says Munson.

If you're single, talk to trusted friends or other advisors. They can help reality-check your idea of moving and make sure you've considered all your options.

Give kids plenty of notice
Even though it's you who's moving, don't underestimate how much your decision may affect your children and grandkids.

If you're selling your home, for instance, you may need your kids to sort through their yearbooks, trophy collection, and other stored belongings. The kids may also want to spend some nostalgic days at the house before you leave it. All that takes time. Don't spring this information on your kids, suggests Munson.

Think about location, too. If you're moving away from where your kids live, you may want to discuss ways to stay connected. For instance, you could consider helping them with the cost of visiting you a few times a year. "And if you're moving to be closer to your kids, you should really have some longer, candid, advance conversations about everyone's expectations," says Munson.

For instance, are you assuming you'll celebrate more major holidays with your kids? Do you expect your nearby kids to help coordinate your care as you age?

Consider your children's expectations, too, and talk them through. "Your kids may hope you'll regularly babysit the grandkids if you move nearby," says Munson.

Test-drive your retirement spot
Munson suggests a trial run before moving in retirement. Rent an apartment or condo there for at least three months before you make a decision about moving. Use the time to explore different neighborhoods, get a feel for the area's social and political atmosphere, research local amenities, and more.

"It's much wiser to spend some money on rent than to sell your home and maybe buy another one only to then decide you've made a mistake," Munson says.

If you're considering moving in retirement, be sure to let your Wells Fargo Private Bank relationship manager know. Your advisor can help you review cost-of-living issues and possibly some significant tax implications related to your move. "Our goal is to help you assess your financial situation, giving perspective as you make choices that can help you enjoy this new phase of your life," says Munson.

Once you finally settle on where and whether to move, the real fun begins. "A move can be a fresh start and a great reason to adopt new hobbies, habits, and traditions," suggests Munson.

Teri Cettina writes about personal finance and business from Portland, Oregon, and is a frequent contributor to Conversations.

What can Wells Fargo do for you?

Whether you’re nearing retirement or have already reached retirement, Wells Fargo Conversations offers a diverse blend of content to help provide options for your life’s second act.

Wells Fargo Wealth Planning Center, part of Wells Fargo Private Bank, provides wealth and financial planning services through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and its various affiliates and subsidiaries.

Wells Fargo & Company and its affiliates do not provide legal advice. Wells Fargo Advisors is not a legal or tax advisor. Please consult your tax or legal advisors to determine how this information may apply to your own situation. Whether any planned tax result is realized by you depends on the specific facts of your own situation at the time your taxes are prepared.

This information is provided for educational and illustrative purposes only.

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