You have plenty of places to choose from if you decide to move post-retirement, but you should also know that sometimes, staying where you are is the best option.

You need to learn how to decide whether to move or stay in your house in retirement and several factors could influence your decision. Here’s a guide for how to know if a retirement move is right for you.

How to know if a retirement move is right for you

Moving after retirement is only for some. You shouldn’t feel like you have to go somewhere brand new for the next stage of your life. Whether finances or connections hold you back, you can still find plenty of things to be excited about in the community you love. However, some people can’t wait to get away from the place they spent the last however many years working all day.

Pros of moving in retirement

Moving may improve your mental health and boost your psychological well-being. Moving to a place you’ve always dreamed of is a great way to make the most of your retirement and ensure you have a steady stream of activities to keep you busy, regardless of where you go.

Moving to a place you’ve always dreamed of is a great way to make the most of your retirement.

Retirement relocation can also be helpful if you have goals you want to achieve in a particular location. For example, even though you’re out of the workforce, you may want to go back to college for your personal development, which can help you achieve new things or discover interests you didn’t know you had.

You should also look at the reasons why you’re moving. Are you moving because you need to move to a different place with more care or do you just want a change of scenery? Only about 2% of older adults relocate to enter a care facility, so you’ll likely be moving to a new apartment or home. Living in a new place could be great, but you should ask yourself if you can afford the new mortgage upon retirement or if that’s one of the cons of retirement relocation.

Cons of moving in retirement

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to relocating after you’re retired. You may not be able to predict how a space will serve you after you move there with full accuracy. You may have places you like to vacation to, but whether those spots are great to live in may be unknown to you until you live there. You must thoroughly research any area you’re interested in to ensure it’s safe for you and everything you ever wanted from your new forever home.

When you move, you’ll also likely lose your community. With a loss of community, you risk isolation, which can bring you health issues like depression or cognitive decline — all of which can be avoided if you have a good support system wherever you end up.

You should also examine where family members are. It’s one thing if you want to move to be closer to them, but you must consider the consequences of moving farther away from your family. They will be your greatest support system and you should keep your family within reach in case you need them.

How to decide where to live after retirement

There’s no one right answer on where to live after retirement. Your retirement move should match what you desire most from your golden years. Retirement is when you catch up on everything you want to do, whether it be certain activities or traveling the world. Find a location that suits your needs well.

For example, you may see the value in exercise as you get older to keep yourself active, avoid excess falls or help manage your health. In that case, you may want to relocate to a place with a thriving outdoor activities sector. Alternatively, finding an area with plenty of indoor gyms that feature classes for older adults might be enough for you and you could choose your location based on another factor.

Some of the reasons you may choose a particular location include the following:

  • Affordability: How reasonable is it that you can live comfortably in this area?
  • Climate: As you get older, you may prefer somewhere warmer to live full-time.
  • Family: How close is this destination to your family? Can you get to them in a reasonable amount of time? Do you want to be near your grandchildren to be part of their lives and see them grow?
  • Health Care: As you age, you may want to consider how affordable and good health care is in the region you want to move to. Fortunately, there are no changes in coverage if you have Original Medicare and move to a different state, but if you have Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D, you’d need to enroll in a new plan.
  • Memories: If you have good memories in a place you vacationed, you may want to live there full-time.
  • Safety: You’ll want to live somewhere you can feel safe and not worry about yourself or your belongings.
  • Transportation: If you don’t own a car, you’ll need to choose somewhere with good public transit.

Every person is unique, so your reason for moving in retirement might look different than those listed above. You must analyze yourself and what you would want out of a new place. Some things may matter more to you than others, so you should always look at your individual needs and wants rather than what other people think.

Retirement relocation checklist

Moving in retirement can be complicated — especially if you’re worried about not packing everything you need. Knowing how to plan and execute a successful retirement relocation can help the moving process go that much more smoothly, allowing you to focus more on the good times you’ll have rather than worrying about forgetting something. Here’s how you can quickly and efficiently learn what you need to do before moving.

1. Learn what to save

As you pack up your current home, you may face more clutter than you could have ever imagined. Decluttering is crucial to understanding what you need or can do without — especially if you’re downsizing. You may even notice you have less anxiety once your home is clutter-free. That feeling might continue after you move, knowing you have only the things you need in your new home.

2. Complete the paperwork

You’ll be changing addresses, meaning you need to forward your mail elsewhere. Updating your address is necessary for several circumstances, including having an up-to-date driver’s license and voter registration.

You’ll need to change your address at several institutions, including financial ones and with professional memberships. You also want to ensure your mail goes to the right place, so remember to update your subscriptions! Make a list of these places to change your address so you can do it all at once in a day.

3. Save your documents

If it looks important, it likely is. You need to find several ways to save essential documents to ensure they move with you when you pack up everything. The best way to verify you have all the necessary documents is to protect the original copies in a fireproof and waterproof box while also having digitized copies on a flash drive you keep with you.

Some documents you should save include:

  • Contact information
  • Personal assets
  • Income tax returns
  • Passports, social security cards, birth certificates, and other identifiers
  • Wills and trusts
  • Bank account numbers
  • Pets’ veterinary records

You can also include information on your possessions, which could be helpful in an insurance claim if you worry about something happening to your stuff. Paper copies can often fail, so you should prioritize creating additional digital copies. Even if you never look at the digital copies of your paperwork, they can still be helpful in a pinch.

4. Create a “first night” box

The day you move in, you likely won’t feel like unpacking — especially after you’ve driven or ridden a long way. The “first-night” box ensures you have everything you need for the first night in your home in a single box, which allows you to minimize frustration from searching for things you need the same day you move in.

Aim to include things like toiletries and linens, which you won’t be able to rest well without. You might also add all your medication so you can take it first thing when you wake up.

5. Pack one room at a time

It might be easier to go through things by category when you declutter. However, when you pack things away to move, it’s best to go by room. That way, you can label the boxes and unpack them when you’re ready to tackle a certain room in your new home.

For example, boxes for a formal dining room might wait until after you unpack your kitchen or bedroom, so you don’t need to include anything you put on display with your kitchen items, even if they’re technically dishware. Everything will have its opportunity to be unpacked.

How to plan a stellar retirement move

Some people opt to age in place, while others consider moving after retirement — a right they have been looking forward to for years. A retirement relocation checklist can help you minimize some of the anxiety, but moving in retirement is a choice you must make for yourself.

Do the pros and cons of moving after retirement line up with what you thought? It’s a decision only you can make for yourself. Your retirement move may be the best choice you’ve ever made.

Mia Barnes is a writer and researcher with over 3 years of experience covering nutrition, wellness, and health-related topics. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, an online healthy living publication.