A 15-year quest to find the perfect place to retire

S.F. Ehrlich Associates |

May 15, 2019

If you’re in your late 30’s or 40’s, you might find it nonsensical to think about where you might live in retirement. After reading about Beth and Chuck, you may want to rethink your position.

At first glance, one might find a 15-year journey to find the perfect place to retire a bit excessive. But is it?

Writing in the Wall Street Journal1, Beth DeCarbo tells the tale of how she and her husband spent that amount of time to find their perfect place, not to mention visits to 21 cities. Interestingly, the journey didn’t start as they approached retirement; it began when Beth and her husband, Chuck, were in their 30’s.

As they watched their friends buy vacation homes and spend their money on ‘stuff,’ Beth and Chuck began a discussion that’s relevant to all of us: Where did they want to be in 20 years? What did they want their lives to look like?

One of the key components when they started their quest was the preparation of a financial plan. But that was the easy part.

“We created a spreadsheet that itemized our must-haves. These attributes, we agreed, would be non-negotiable. Drafting this document was illuminating (and crucial) because it raised the other major difference in our personalities: Chuck likes being around people and a sense of community. I want a remote location and plenty of solitude.”

The must-have list included such items as “superfast internet service” (so they could both continue to work remotely), “to be near a major medical center and transportation hub, have all four seasons, access to outdoor activities and be near a college town.” In addition, “Chuck wanted to be close to a golf course and in a gated community so that he felt the house was safe when we travel. I wanted it to feel secluded, with at least an acre of land and killer views.” As the author stated: “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”

In the end, after years of work, they settled on a community in South Carolina. They both knew it when they saw it and realized that it checked all of their boxes. They were home.

Before signing all the papers to buy their dream lot, they (wisely!) called their financial planner to go over all the numbers. When they heard that their financial plan worked, they were ready to make an offer.

While a 15-year quest and visits to 21 cities might sound excessive, it actually makes a lot of sense. Clearly, it’s a significant commitment, but if it pays off handsomely in the end, it’s hard to dispute.  



1 Decarbo, Beth. “Our 15-Year Quest to Find the Perfect Place to Retire.” The Wall Street Journal, 21 Nov. 2018.
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