Stan's World - Where to next?

S.F. Ehrlich Associates |

May 15, 2021

Though I like to believe it’s my Honest Abe appearance that encourages total strangers to reveal things to me that wouldn’t normally be discussed with other strangers, it’s more likely that we’re all so desperate for social contact that people are willing to talk to anyone. Even me. 

While waiting in a doctor’s exam room recently, I had an interesting conversation with a nurse. It started when he told me how tired he was from working so hard. I told him I was sorry. Then he told me how lucky I was that I was retired. I revealed that I still worked…as a financial planner. He then shared that he didn’t know where to retire because living in Jersey was so expensive. (FYI: If you live in New Jersey, when we talk amongst ourselves, we usually use the term Jersey. We also call the beach ‘the shore.’ I would get into the whole Taylor ham vs. pork roll debate, but there’s not enough time.)

Even a five-minute pro bono client gets my juices flowing, so I opined that people who live and work in New Jersey often retire in New Jersey because they want to be near their family. That insightful comment was met with: “I don’t care about my family.”

As I don’t have a degree in counseling, and considering there were numerous scalpels within arm’s reach, even I was quick to realize I should tread carefully. He wasn’t leaving (he was seated with his legs crossed), the doctor couldn’t come in until the nurse completed the screening questions, and it was apparent to me that the conversation wasn’t over. My new BFF realized he was sitting in front of a person who could potentially render worthwhile advice (or so he thought), and advice would be forthcoming. (Did I mention the scalpels?)

As his mask repeatedly kept drooping below his nose, and as all I wanted to do was get treated and get out, it took me mere moments to reveal the benefits of living virtually anywhere in the lower 48. I started with the obvious (Pennsylvania & Delaware), went through the Carolinas, passed through Florida, and was quickly in the Southwest. The room felt like it was getting warmer, and it appeared to be growing smaller.

He nodded as I completed my tour of the states, reached for a scalpel, and tore off the sterile sheathing. I didn’t think my advice was that bad and felt markedly better when he laid it on a sterile gauze for the doctor to use. Mission accomplished?

My conversations with clients about their retirement destinations seem to span the globe, or at least the lower half of the lower 48. Admittedly, I am intrigued as to how some destinations are ultimately decided.

Moving closer to family or friends is a fairly common objective, as is the desire to live in warmer weather if you’re from a colder climate. Other obvious attractions: affordability, good medical care, lower taxes, indoor and outdoor activities, sports and other entertainment.

When it’s your turn to find a retirement destination, consider the advice I give to anyone sitting in front of me: do a dry run. Do your research, find a destination (or two), and then go and spend a week in a hotel in that specific locale. If the one-week trial goes well, return and rent a home or condo for a month. Meet with a realtor; talk to the locals in restaurants; find a supermarket where you would enjoy shopping. After that degree of exposure, you should be able to conclude whether the community is for you. And if you’re still uncertain, go back and rent for a few more months. That advice is the same if you’re moving across the state or seven states away.

Figuring out your next move should take more time than a chance conversation in an exam room. Considering whether or where to relocate is a really big deal. I promise you that the cost of making a mistake is far more than paying for a few weeks of rentals.






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