Should You Move Closer to the Grandkids?
Many pre-retirees or retirees wonder whether the transition into retirement should be used as a chance to relocate – especially if it means moving closer to grandchildren. The family-wide benefits can be significant: potentially lower costs, a feeling of family closeness and purpose, and for adult children the possibility of an extra hand with the kids.
Here’s how to think through the decision, talk about it with your children, and figure out whether it might work for you.
Making the move
As with any housing decision in retirement, there are numerous factors you may want to consider – before adding children and grand-kids into the equation.
You can start by putting some numbers together:
- Your current housing expenses. Be sure to include property taxes, maintenance, and any HOA fees.
- The probable cost of housing in the new location. Again, don’t forget about all the extras.
- Your lifestyle expenses now and any projected changes later. For example, maybe you’ll need to buy a new car, or pay for heating in winter.
Not every housing decision that involves extra costs is a mistake, but it’s important to be aware of these possible budget changes from the outset. That way, you can make a fully-informed decision.
Second, consider the practical aspects of moving. You’ll probably need to:
- Familiarize yourself with a new city – where to buy groceries, how to navigate local governance, and where and how to make new friends.
- Find new providers for medical, dental, and other services.
- Integrate yourself in your new environment with hobbies, work opportunities, or entertainment.
Again, for many retirees, this isn’t just a cost: it’s an adventure. But these are issues worth thinking about ahead of time. Building a new social circle can take time, and the significant changes of moving can be exhausting if you’re not prepared.
If you’ve thought through these issues and are still excited about the idea, it’s time to research the moving process itself.
Defining your role as a local grandparent
Not every retiree wants to move closer to their grandchildren, but for those that do, there’s an extra layer of care you’ll want to take.
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Namely, it can help to coordinate with your kids.
This is where open communication comes in. As you consider making the move, talk to your children about where and how you could potentially integrate with their lives.
We suggest you spend time thinking and talking about:
- How often you want to see each other. Are you respectively thinking once a week or month for dinner, or a more informal multiple times per week?
- How involved you’ll be with childcare and babysitting. What do you want to do, and is your help wanted?
- Where you’ll want or need to be. Would it make sense to live in the neighborhood, or would you all be happy just to be in the same city or general vicinity?
- The broader family dynamics and emotions. What are everyone’s fears, concerns, and hopes for the arrangement?
The critical thing to remember about these types of conversations is that they should allow everyone to openly express their thoughts and feelings. This can be a surprisingly tough issue for retirees and their children alike – opposing feelings about independence, family, and how to do things can easily come up.
Our advice? If the discussion gets difficult, remember your role as the parent. It’s helpful to have a solid grasp of what you’re hoping for, and to simply listen to and hear your child’s feelings, thoughts, opinions, and concerns.
Will it work?
You’ve thought through the financial and practical issues, and if it’s relevant to your situation you’ve talked to your kids. Is it time to make the move?
If it’s feasible, consider doing a trial run first.
Spending a few months in a new city can help you get a lay of the land before making your final decisions on where exactly to live and what exactly to do.
This is particularly important if there are significant cost of living differences between your existing city and your new one. We tend to bring our “old prices” with us when we move, and it can take time to adjust. Giving yourself a trial run can give you this opportunity in a low-pressure way. You might realize that the cost of your idea is simply too high compared to what you can afford, or you might find that this seemingly cheaper new city comes with expenses you weren’t expecting.
If you’d prefer to jump in, you might want to consider renting for a while before buying, if that’s a goal. This will help you suss out the local housing market a little more. Spending time in different neighborhoods as a local can give you more insight into which one might be a good fit, as well as helping you get an understanding of local prices, supply and demand, and other idiosyncrasies.
Starting a new adventure
All in all, a relocation can be a great way to kickstart retirement as a new and invigorating adventure. But that adventure can be much improved by taking the time to think through the various aspects of moving and making projections about what you can expect.
That way, regardless of your choice, you’ll be making it with full information. In our opinion, there’s no better way to make a decision.
Are family finances on your mind?
Retirement is a time when many people start to look past their own planning and towards their hopes for children and grandchildren. That widening focus can help you build a lasting legacy for your family, but it isn’t a simple process.
We call it multi-generational financial planning, and our free guide can help you get started.
Learn about the key issues involved in planning past a single lifetime – and how to make the very most of it for your family.
Click here to Download Keeping the Whole Family on Track today!
Keeping the Whole Family on Track
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