The Surprising Benefits of Residential Mobility in Retirement
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on NewRetirement.
It’s easy to believe that the majority of retirees move for retirement – moving to Florida, taking off for Mexico, buying a house on a golf course in Arizona or North Carolina. And, many potential retirees are certainly talking about it.
However, residential mobility is not the reality. In fact, the vast majority of retirees stay put. And residential mobility is becoming increasingly rare for all Americans.
Mobility has steadily declined since a recent peak in the 1980s. New research finds Americans today who say they intend to move are 45% less likely to have done so than people of the 1970s.
Staying or aging in place is especially true for retirees. According to AARP, only 29% of retirees plan to move for retirement. Sixty-seven percent want to stay in the community where they currently live and 63% want to stay in their current home for as long as possible.
Let’s see why and what are the advantages of residential mobility.
Why have relocation and mobility stagnated?
Recent research published in American Psychologist examines the trends contributing to stagnation and the cultural dynamics of declining residential mobility.
Researchers believe that more and more people are feeling blocked. They say, “Americans, it seems, are increasingly finding themselves locked up in places from which they wish to escape.”
The following trends can contribute to making relocation more difficult:
- Housing costs
- Bureaucracy, especially regulations associated with professional licensing requirements (According to the Niskanen Center, approximately 25% of American workers need a state license to do their job. And renewing a license in a new state can be expensive and time consuming.)
- Zoning restrictions that limit the supply of housing in desirable locations
According to the researchers, wanting – but feeling unable to move – leaves “people wondering if their other efforts in life will be rewarded”. This leads to a defeatist approach to life.
The advantages of mobility
Researchers write about the possible psychological implications of staying put, which can be particularly interesting for an aging population whose members want to stay alive.
They theorize that there are negative cultural effects of residential stagnation and write that as mobility has declined, levels of happiness, fairness, and trust among Americans have also declined.
Although the researchers have no evidence that stagnation leads to a decline in happiness, fairness, and trust, they see a correlation in the trends and believe that shifting may be a forcing function that enables renewal and a cascade of positive rewards, including:
When you move to a new location, you are forced to start from scratch. In doing so, you define yourself by your own personality traits, not those you have surrounded yourself with.
And, being willing to consider moving is a reflection of your ability to live your life on your terms, find the perfect place, and have the energy to make your dreams come true.
There is often a financial component to relocating – seeking a better job, higher salary or lower cost of living.
More optimism and risk taking
Moving is often associated with being more optimistic. It takes a leap of faith to move.
Moving is a risk, which can be positive – no risk, no reward after all.
More openness and less mistrust
When you move, you need to make new connections, which can naturally make you more open and tolerant of new people. When you stay put, you have an existing network of people you know and trust, which is great, but it can also make you less open to new ideas and different types of people.
Opt for a better place to age in place
Most people want to stay as independent as possible for as long as possible. However, the family home may not be the best environment for old age. The AARP study found that of those who want to move, 49% are looking for lower costs and an easier-to-maintain home.
Benefits of staying put
Family and friends are everything. If you have a well-established network of people you know, love and rely on, moving can be a bust.
Most people love where they live
The reality is that people love where they live. A study revealed that 81% of people are somewhat or very attached to their current city. A Gallup study found that social offers are — no matter where you live — the reason people love their community.
Social offerings vary by location, but people connect with their community based on where they can meet other people – parks, restaurants, museums, events, etc. – and the feeling that members of the community care about each other.
What does your location and housing plans look like in your retirement plans?
Have you modeled a relocation as part of your retirement plan? What about using home equity as a way to fund retirement?
In addition to allowing you to model downsizing and relocation, the NewRetirement Planner allows you to model leveraging the equity in your home to help fund long-term care, living expenses, or as a source of relief income in the event of a financial downturn.
What do your finances look like when you consider your housing as part of your overall plan?
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