When you’re thinking about relocating in retirement as a widow

Are you considering relocating in retirement as a widow?

Knowing where you want to retire to – and why – can help you to create a financial plan that’s anchored by a clear, location-focused goal. However, there are also several additional considerations to keep in mind before taking the leap to retirement as a widow. From financial concerns to thinking about your plan for long-term quality of life, picking the best location for you isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly.

Get Clear On Your “Why”

Many retirees look to move for one reason or another. Downsizing to pay off a mortgage before retiring, or relocating to a more scenic area might sound appealing. For widows, relocation can offer the opportunity to accomplish several different things. You might want to relocate to:

  • Be closer to family
  • Start fresh somewhere new
  • Move near a place that you and your spouse always felt connected to (a favorite vacation spot, etc.)
  • Live near a specific area that supports your ideal lifestyle (the mountains for hiking, etc.)

It’s important to dig deeper beyond the urge to relocate to understand your reasoning. Determining where you want to live is a big part of life – especially during retirement. Without a full-time career to hold your attention and give you purpose, you may end up finding a connection with others, and a structure for your lifestyle in your surrounding community.

Knowing why you want to move can help you to determine the perfect location for you, and to avoid a major lifestyle change you may later regret. For example, if you want to move because your home is a reminder of your spouse, and you are worried about keeping up with a mortgage payment or extensive home maintenance and yard work in retirement – you may look to just downsize in the area you already live.

However, if you live in an area you don’t enjoy, or are further away from family than you’d like to be, you might look to relocate to a new city or state entirely. Relocation isn’t something that should be taken lightly, and you should feel confident that you’re making a decision that will meet your needs both now and in the future.

If You’re a New Widow – Hit Pause Before Making Any Major Decisions

While I believe that in many cases relocating in retirement makes sense, if you’re a new widow you may want to hit “pause” before making any major decisions about where you live. Right now, your life has changed dramatically. Sometimes, there’s an urge to move forward with more big, life-changing decisions because the death of your loved one feels like a catalyst to start new.

Some widows feel the need to relocate, change careers, pick up a new hobby, sell a large portion of their furniture or belongings, or make another big lifestyle change immediately after their spouse passes away. Although pursuing change and forward movement at this time may feel most comfortable for you, making decisions that can have a lasting impact on your lifestyle and your finances may not be wise. Waiting a year or more until the dust has settled on this new chapter in your life may help you make a decision about where you want to live, and why, with a clearer mind.

Of course, if you’re still set on relocating, this isn’t to say it’s a bad idea for you – even if you are newly widowed. In an effort to ensure that you’re making a wise decision for your future, discuss relocation with a financial planner, or family members who love and support you.

Create a Worst-Case-Scenario Strategy

If you’re planning to relocate somewhere away from your current support network, it’s going to be important that you take the time to do some long term planning. Questions you need to answer before relocating might be:

  1. How will I receive the medical care I need if I move away from friends, family, or my current medical team?
  2. If I need long term care in the future, how will I make that transition in a new area?
  3. If I’m still grieving, or having a tough time after I move, is there a support network close by that I can access?
  4. What’s my plan for potential natural disasters? (this is especially relevant if you’re planning to relocate somewhere like Florida or California)
  5. If I move closer to family, will I be completely reliant on them to fill my time?
  6. How can I connect to a new local community in a meaningful way?

Answering these questions realistically can help you to paint a picture for if everything goes smoothly in your new location, or if you encounter a worst-case-scenario. It’s important to plan for both! Imagining a scenario that you’re happy with and putting your blinders on to anything problematic can cause financial problems down the road.

If you’re struggling to decide whether or not relocating in retirement as a widow is right for you – and for your financial situation – I encourage you to reach out. I’d love to talk to you about your new lifestyle goals, what you want to accomplish in this new chapter, and how relocation can play a part in your plans.