Retirement isn’t a time where you surrender yourself to old age. It’s a new chapter, without the worries of work and filling most of your days with the goal of earning a living, because you’ve spent 40 years already doing this.
Retirement is freedom to live the way you’ve always dreamed. It’s liberation, relaxation and, daresay, even fun. Yes, fun. With the average life expectancy being 83.64 years (with that number trending upwards), retirement is rich with experiences and ticking off more of your ‘bucket list’.
To retire comfortably, it’s necessary to start reverse-engineering your dream life, post-work.
This is the stage of your life where it’s okay to be a little bit selfish. The kids have their own independent lives, so you can look at the things you’ve always wanted to do with your time, like volunteer or learn a new skill. There’s no one-retirement-fits-all plan – the beauty of this time is you get to call the shots.
What kind of lifestyle do you imagine?
Reflect on the life you’d always envisioned for your retirement. What feels right for you? What makes you excited, inspired, comfortable and confident? Think about how much money you’ll need to maintain this lifestyle.
Consider your hobbies, a business, kids and grandkids, pets, friends, community, health, the weather, convenience and safety. This will guide one of the most important questions: where will we retire?
The beach, city or nature?
Where you live will have a major impact on your retirement. Whether you remain in your family house, downsize in the same community or move altogether, where ‘home’ is for you will influence how your retirement plays out.
A retirement village in the city suburbs is extremely different to a beach house by the ocean.
Beach towns, for example, attract more people during the summer months. Are you happy living in an area that has a high-season, or would you prefer a more remote, private lifestyle? Do you expect to have regular visitors? If so, make it easy for them to travel to you.
Do you like getting outdoors in your spare time? Are you more of a mountain-hike person, or perhaps an avid camper? In your search, look for locations that are close to National Parks so that you can easily satisfy your desire to be close to nature.
Or maybe you plan to continue city-based activities during the week and help your kids with babysitting. A residential development on the city’s outskirts, alive with a connected community, could be your lifestyle preference.
Let your reflection guide you
It’s worthwhile doing a test-run in a couple of different places. Book a visit to each region to get a feel for life there.
What’s the community like? How’s the weather year-round? Are there areas well located to public transport, health facilities and shopping centres? If you plan to do casual work or volunteer, are there opportunities present? Is it easy for people to come and visit?
Talk to as many people as possible. Connect with other retirees, spark up a conversation at a café, and drop into the police station to get a sense of how secure the neighbourhood is.
Living somewhere is very different to taking a holiday. Invite family and close friends over for the day, so you can get their thoughts, too.
Once you settle on an area, it’s a good idea to rent first (if you plan to buy a house again)… that way it won’t be a big deal if you change your mind, one year in.