If you are over the age of 40, I would venture a guess that this question has been asked by one spouse, or both, during a vacation. While on a leisurely bike ride along a coastline, relaxing at a shaded sidewalk café along a tree lined street with a cloudless sky above, or recounting the activities of the day on a balcony beneath a canopy of stars, one mate has proposed the question. Pleasant memories and the benefits of unwinding from pressures of the daily grind blend to create what seems the idyllic locale for a time when life will hopefully be less complicated. “Honey, we need to live here someday!”
The idea of relocating for retirement has been the subject of several articles of late. On March 4, John Waggoner wrote about it for the AARP, and Audrey Conklin did as well for Fox Business on April 23. Both articles approached the topic from a practical view of taxation rather than charming venues. Each article was based upon the fact that 14 different states do not levy taxes on retirement income from defined benefit plans.
Since the Christian Churches Pension Plan has offered a defined benefit pension plan for ministers, missionaries, faith based non-profit workers, educators, and others since 1969, we found these articles of particular interest. Both writers noted that people reduce their taxes in retirement by relocating to Tennessee, Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Hawaii, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Wyoming, Washington, Texas, or South Dakota. The same tax advantages are provided for benefits provided through 401(k) plans except for the states of Alabama and Hawaii which do tax 401(k) income.
There are wonderful places to live in any of the states mentioned in these articles. A couple looking for their “dream location” in retirement has an enormous array of climates, scenery, and cost of living options among any of the fifty sates! However, before making the decision to purchase a new home and hire a long-haul moving company, we think there are serious questions to be considered by every couple or individual. Just as a carpenter measures twice before putting the saw to a piece of wood, careful examination of many issues can prevent a serious case of relocators remorse.
How important is it to you and your spouse to be near family members during your senior years? If a couple chooses to relocate, will they be improving their opportunities to visit with children and grandchildren? If we choose to relocate to THE idyllic spot for the two of us, are we moving to a location that will attract visits from family? Another, less often considered question is, if we choose to live near our children, what will the chances be that they will relocate due to career or family concerns? If we move closer to our family and they need to move to another place, will we find ourselves needing to relocate again? The answers to these and other emotional questions are not going to be the same for every couple. It is wise to ask for input from others whose lives are similar, but the answers for any family may differ widely.
Will the place that provides us the opportunity to ride our bicycles near the shore also provide opportunities for a church life that fits us as a couple? Do not allow the beauty or the convenience of lifestyle to diminish the importance of the spiritual connection. We need to consider the faith tradition and congregational personality found in a new area. Are we, as a couple, the type of people who enjoy accepting new challenges to grow and build a new ministry in a new congregation? Will we find a congregation that welcomes us? We seldom learn the answers to these questions on weekend or vacation visits. Would it be possible to spend a month in the area before relocating?
Will there be opportunities to make ourselves useful if we move to this place that has seemed like a wonderland on vacations? Many people think that life with nothing to do sounds wonderful…until they find there is NOTHING to do. How will we be spending our days?
There are so many questions about 1) the general cost of living, 2) the availability of quality healthcare (none of us ever plan to need a health specialist until we suddenly do), entertainment and so much more. We encourage caution whenever relocation is considered. What seems picturesque while sharing coffee on a quaint shaded street may create an entirely different emotional response when it is impossible to find a physician to treat your physical issue or you go months without physically being in the presence of your children or grandchildren. Drinking coffee on the balcony at sunrise may seem ideal, but it may be quite different eight months later if you have nothing to do and no friends to visit.
Honey, should we move here when we retire is not a simple yes or no question.