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April-May 2015

10 Years in Print: Special Edition


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Before You Start Packing

By Ray Lewis


My retirement clock is still counting down.

In the February-March issue of ONE Magazine, I listed several things we should do during the last year of employment. I want to continue that line of thought in this article.

One of the most important decisions retirees face is, “Where should we live?” When my wife Ida and I were younger, we thought we would move back to our hometown when we retired. Our family lived there. We had friends there, but time brought about change. Over the years, our children grew up, we became grandparents, my mother-in-law moved in with us, and my own mom passed away. Going back home would not be like going back to the home we left 40 years earlier. Our family and friends did not sit around waiting for our return. They went on with their lives and experienced the same changes we had.

So what should we do? First, we pray for the Lord’s guidance. Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” We depended on Him for direction during our working years and will continue to trust His leadership in retirement.

Then we consider our options. Do we stay in Nashville where our children grew up and consider it home? Do we stay here but look to downsize? Do we move to be near our children and grandchildren? Do we move in order to take advantage of new ministry opportunities? Do we look for a warmer climate, a colder one where we can enjoy the snow, or perhaps some place in between?

My first thought is, “There is nothing better than being near the best two grandchildren in the world.” We would enjoy getting to attend ball games, recitals, grandparents’ day at school, impromptu pop-in visits, and many other activities we currently miss out on because we live several hours away. Are these reasons enough to pack up almost 50 years of history and move to a place where the only people we know is family?

Deciding where to retire isn’t a simple process. You must consider a list of things before calling the moving van. Here are a few key items to research before you start packing:

  • Cost of Living. One of the first things to consider before moving is, “Can I afford to live there?” Check the cost of living in your desired area and make sure your money will last. The area you choose can greatly impact how far your retirement dollars will stretch. Determine projected income including pension income, savings, Social Security, investment income, and/or part-time employment income. Compare that figure with projected living expenses such as utilities, groceries, gas/transportation, taxes, and possible health care costs. It is crucial that the new location fit your budget.

  • Healthcare. One of the major concerns when considering a new location should be the availability of quality healthcare. Due to age, most retirees need these services more than before. Check out local hospitals and health facilities for both quality and proximity to your home. It can also be helpful to research retirement communities in the area, in case you require such services later on.

  • Taxes. If you’re thinking about a move to another state, it’s a good idea to check the income taxes, real estate taxes, and even the sales tax rates for the area you’re considering. The tax burden varies widely from one location to another. Federal taxes change little, no matter where you live, but state and local taxes vary. Property taxes also fluctuate from state to state, and even city to city.

  • The weather. Shoveling snow is obviously not ideal for retirees, but neither is a summer filled with 100-degree scorchers. It is important to find a place with a median temperature and conditions where you and your spouse are both comfortable throughout a long-term retirement.

  • Family and Friends. The hardest part of relocating is leaving family and friends. Will you be able to see your family and loved ones? Don’t move so far away that you never get to see your friends, children, and grandchildren. Being near family and friends is critical as you age and need more help with day-to-day activities. If you choose to live close to family members, however, remember they had their own friends and activities before you moved. Don’t expect to be the center of their world just because you move near them.

  • Crime. No one wants to live in a high-crime area. By researching crime rates and statistics for various areas, you can learn more about the safety of a town or neighborhood. Local police are happy to discuss concerns you have about the area. Crime reports let you review crime statistics for different neighborhoods. How will you feel walking around the streets?

  • Part-time employment. You may want (or need) to work in retirement to supplement your income. If you plan to work part time, do you have an opportunity to earn an acceptable paycheck doing something you like doing? Check it out in advance.

One of the greatest benefits of retirement is having time to do the things you enjoy most. Finding the right place to live is an important part of that equation. Through careful homework and by considering all the alternatives, you can ensure your retirement is everything you want it to be.

About the Writer: Ray Lewis is outgoing director of the Board of Retirement. He and his wife Ida live in Antioch, Tennessee. For more information about retirement and financial planning, contact the Board of Retirement at (877) 767-7738 or online:


©2015 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists