Living Apart, Together?

Retirement comes with myriad decisions – most made jointly with a significant other, and while these decisions have been years in the making, one still stands out as being a difficult choice for couples to make – deciding where to live when they retire.  Some couples even avoid the question for years, only to bring it up last-minute and still argue about their retirement location possibilities.  It’s important to note that the shift in the retirement dynamic throughout the years has definitely changed the way retirees view their future, and while many will still work into their retirement years in order to feel comfortable with their finances, others are seeking out exotic destinations or travel plans to fulfill dreams they’ve had their entire lives.  But what happens when the love of your life doesn’t see your vision?

Despite the shared vision, numerous conversations and compromises that couples make, there are still difficulties that can arise.

There’s a new phrase popping up in the retirement vocabulary – living apart, together.  More and more retiring couples are finding that the only solution to their difficulties in agreeing on a retirement spot is to simply go their separate ways.  No, this doesn’t mean that they are divorcing or ending a relationship, it simply means that they are physically separating from one another to follow their dreams – dreams that they could only accomplish in non-working years.  As many of those in relationships know, compromise is the name of the game.  But with a decision as hefty as retirement, sometimes compromising just isn’t good enough.  The type of independence brought on by living apart, together, is turning the tide in couples’ talks about moving.  However, it’s the lack of talk that’s bringing about the issues of where to retire among couples.  

In a 2009 study, Fidelity Investments found widespread disagreement and a lack of communication between spouses approaching retirement: some 60% of couples in the study didn't agree on when they would retire.  That makes it difficult to even think about moving.  The majority of married individuals met either before, early-on, or during their careers.  They planned their lives around each other, including their “future.”  Unfortunately, for most, their “future” doesn’t include retirement scenes.  It is scary how many spouses don’t know their loved one’s dreams and aspirations for retirement.  What’s the best way to avoid an 11th hour bombshell?  If couples begin to talk about what’s important to each of them and how they’d like to spend their retirement years, they can develop a shared vision together.  Sometimes, though, that’s easier said than done.

Despite the shared vision, numerous conversations and compromises that couples make, there are still difficulties that can arise.  Everyone thinks about moving in retirement differently; moving represents freedom and the ability to take off and start anew.  For some, the ability to own multiple homes in different locations is an excellent solution but this opportunity isn’t present for many retirees.  Some may have a set financial plan with the ability to settle in one spot for the remainder of their years.  Others may be able to travel and wish to visit places they’ve dreamed of all their lives.  For decades, only one in ten Americans has moved in retirement, but that mindset is changing.  A survey last year by AARP showed that two out of ten boomers said they may move sometime later in life.  Another study by Del Webb found that 42% of people age fifty and up plan to move in retirement.  

The generation quickly closing in on their retirement years, the baby boomers, are changing the way they view retirement.  With higher life expectancies, medical advances and an increase in the years spent in retirement, the retirement dynamic couldn’t be more varied.  Don’t forget the increasing long-term care costs, inflation and economic fluctuations as well as the introduction and increase in the sandwich generation – those caring for their aging parents, paying for their children’s education and saving for retirement.  If you haven’t created a detailed plan for your future, please call me. Stangier Wealth Management can coach you though these and other important planning decisions.  Together, we can create a road map that will incorporate both visions and help you enjoy the retirement you deserve. 

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