I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one of our predicted retirement activities was travel. This is what we would do – we didn’t. Another grand plan was that with the freedom both psychological and actual that retirement would bring, unfettered, we would live for six months at a time in different parts of the world, New York came to mind for some reason – we didn’t do this either. You know all about our moving from house to house and this is about as close as we’ve got to our retirement travel ambition. But that’s not to say I have stopped thinking about travel in various guises. Another version that reared its tantalising head just recently might be put in the form – when you retire, should you move house or even country? The question came up because I heard about a colleague who, when he retires, was moving with his wife to the Isle of Arran (see above). They’d bought a house there I believe so they must be serious. I have been to Arran but only passing through on the ferry to Mull of Kintyre. I think it’s fair to say that it’s quite remote, certainly true to say that this will be a very different life-style from the one they’re currently living outside Leeds. I think they may have family connections on the island (I’m not sure) so maybe not quite so remote but certainly different.
Of course any retirement change that involves some form of travel to, or in this case, remaining in an exotic location, for that is how the Isle of Arran seems to me, definitely gets my attention. Is this that missing link I’ve written so often about? What they are planning to do seems pleasantly close to what we thought we would do – and haven’t. But then I had a realisation. I think I wrote a while ago about my increasing sample size as more people I know retire. The sample currently stands at around 9 or 10 mostly couples. And when I looked at this sample, the chap who is going to Arran (he was once my boss) was the only one who was moving to enjoy (hopefully) retirement in a different place, country even. A Lollards friend (the name of our ex-cricketers dining club) sold up in Leeds and moved to York, does that count? Way back we knew two couples who sold up and moved on when they retired but they don’t really count because we’ve completely lost touch with them which I guess is what happens when you move house / country when you retire. Mrs Summerhouse’s sister had planned, prior to her retirement as a nurse, to sell up and move to a cottage by the sea until she worked out it meant starting all over again with friends and stuff.
We know people with second homes (boo hiss) who spend more time there now they are retired but they had these properties before they retired and they have retained what we call ‘our main residence’, so I don’t categorise this as moving. So it set me wondering about whether moving either house or, house and country when you retired, was a good thing or not. What are the pros and cons of such a move? I had a think and this is what I came up with, in the pros column :
Well, although only one of my friends / acquaintances have done it, we know a lot of people do do it – off to Spain for instance, I believe this is the favourite for Brits although it may be different post-referendum, so there must be something in it. In this case, it’s cheaper and there’s more sun (could there be less than this summer?), for example. If you want more sun of course, not everybody does.
In addition, moving house whether here or abroad, may bring about a genuine clean sheet with which come as many possibilities for a new life as imagination and finances allow. As ‘pushes’ go it’s a big one but maybe that’s what some of us need.
It encourages a person to throw off the shackles of their working life, a bit like me promising to be a new more relaxed person when we went to live in New Zealand. A chance to reinvent oneself. A fresh outlook on life
Moving allows for a paired down lifestyle – a lighter life, less possessions maybe because the house is smaller, downsizing I believe it is called. Dare I say down-sizing your friends might also be a plus, although if you live somewhere nice the bastards will probably come and visit.
And finally, because moving house is an adventurous, even brave, thing to do, there may go with it a self-esteem boost. One of my hobby horses about retirement. You didn’t just sit back and take whatever was thrown at you, you took your retirement by the throat or whatever part of the anatomy you choose. So if one of your retirement values is to be adventurous, moving house would fit neatly into this value.
So that would seem like quite a lot in the positive column but you might want to ask yourself, are you running away from your old life style or towards a bold new one? Maybe the latter is better than the first but then I don’t know what somebody else’s life is like. In addition to this cautionary note there are other potential downsides to moving away.
I think you could take all of the above and rewrite them as negatives – bravery translates as foolish; a clean sheet can be genuinely unsettling and lead to a paralysing insecurity and so on.
Another of those old hobby horses of mine – retirement can be an unsettling time of life anyway, so moving away from all you know may simply compound your unsettledness. Maybe you should get used to the ‘being retired’ state in a known world before heading to the unknown. Although if you’re returning to your roots, like my colleagues above, and a bit like us with our Derbyshire cottage, it may not be quite so unknown. A danger maybe to this sensible approach is that when you do get settled into retirement the inclination / need to move reduces and human inertia takes over.
Then there’s all the dull stuff – health care, cost of living being greater than you thought, loneliness, missing your children if you have any?
That’s enough for now, where on all the above criteria you place yourself depends on what kind of person you are or, maybe more important, want to be, which in turn depends on your retirement values and for more about that aspect of a retirement life you need to go back to one of my first blogs – Retirement and mission statements.