You may ask yourself, what makes for a fulfilling retirement? What retirement criteria are priorities? A sizable nest egg? Your financial situation when you retire is surely important, but the retirement criteria I’m focusing on before I retire includes much more than finances. For one, what am I going to do with all of that free time? Let’s face it, you can only spend so much time working on the house, piddling in the garage, and visiting relatives. So, what’s the plan?
Fulfilling Retirement Criteria
#1 THE NEST EGG – FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE
Fortunately, my wife and I diligently focused on improving our financial situation during the past decade. For example, we read financial books and articles. We took action and drastically cut wasteful spending. Also, we sold a bunch of stuff we really didn’t use or need. The extra cash allowed us to significantly increase the percentage of our income we save. In addition, we created multiple revenue streams and recurring revenue: we own a business, we own rental properties, we established an income stream from our investments, and so on.
One more important action we took includes hiring a true fiduciary financial planner (recommended). We created a retirement budget and modeled our expected cash flow for the next 30 plus years. The solid financial plan we created gives us comfort we’re on the right track for retirement. It all adds up and we believe we are financially prepared for retirement. But, finances alone won’t make for a fulfilling retirement. What other retirement criteria do we need to consider?
#2 THE NEST – WHERE TO LIVE IN RETIREMENT
It’s a big decision and I think it is one of the most important to consider before you retire. Do you move (downsize)? When you move and where you move are decisions with significant ramifications. There is a long list of retirement criteria for this category. Some of the things we desire include:
- Lower to modest cost of living: doesn’t need to be the lowest available, but beneficial for retirees. Taxes in retirement coupled with our retirement budget is one consideration when selecting a retirement location.
- Access to excellent health care (Best Hospitals by State/Region)
- Smaller home with low maintenance, possibly a maintenance free retirement community but not a requirement
- East Coast Location: mild climate, but not too hot. Although Florida offers a lot to retirees, it might be too hot for us. We currently live in Virginia. It is the furthest north we want to live with respect to climate.
- Above average energy efficient home with modern amenities (i.e., solar power, smart home, etc.)
#3 THE COMMUNITY – SOCIAL
Having a lot of time to do whatever you want is a good thing. But, it may get old fast if we are alone. The desire to be involved in a socially active community is an important retirement criteria for me. I believe it is one to consider before retiring. Don’t wait until you retire. Get active with the things you expect you’ll be doing when you retire. Give yourself the opportunity to test the waters. Develop a network of friends that share your interests and passions. We are considering:
- A community that’s stimulating with nearby access to cultural activities such as museums, club house, community center, university, etc. We want plenty of new things to do with a network of friends.
- Walk-ability: coffee shops, restaurants, and fitness facility within walking distance and an active, engaging community with walking paths near or on the water (i.e., lake, ocean, canals, etc.)
For example, my wife and I enjoy hosting an annual Summer Solstice party for a large group of friends. And, we currently have a great outdoor living space. It includes a large yard, big deck, and patio. Many of the folks that participate are friends that belong to our fitness club as well as work friends, and neighbors. But, if we move to a smaller home with few friends nearby, what then? I believe it is important to consider how your social activities will change in retirement. Something to consider before you retire.
#4 THE TIME WELL SPENT – TRAVEL, HOBBIES
For many of us, we can’t wait to retire so we can travel the world! That’s fulfilling. Well, the pandemic put a damper on that for a while. And, after a few years of travel extravaganza it might get a little old dragging luggage through airports and train stations.
I love to explore and travel to new places. We do plan to travel more when we both retire. It seems to us the best time to plan our travels is relatively early in our retirement. We’ll be a little younger and likely healthier now then in the future.
Some use the term, “the go-go years” – early in retirement (travel & explore). Next comes the “slow-go years” (less travel). Subsequently, the “no-go” years (limited travel and mobility). The gruesome facts of aging. We’ll all slow down as we age so plan for it accordingly.
With respect to hobbies, the options are endless. Become an artist, photographer, quilter, golfer, musician, volunteer, and the list goes on. Whatever your passion, consider experimenting with new or old hobbies before you retire. If you plan to make things in the garage, buy the tools you’ll need while you’re working. If you plan to paint, take an art class while you’re still working.
I enjoy making things. I’ve been doing just that with my discretionary time for years. I made the fire-table that’s on our patio in the photo above. I built the patio and deck too, but that’s another story. [Here’s a post on how I made the fire-table]. Although I enjoy it, I can’t see myself spending a significant amount of time in the workshop when I retire. Been there, done that. So, I often ask myself, what’s next?
When I was much younger, I spent a considerable amount of time visiting National Parks; hiking, biking, fly fishing, and learning about different environments and cultures. For one, I plan to get back to it when I retire. I’ll visit a park or cultural center at least two times a month. No holes barred, whether near (local) or afar (overnight travel). It’s great physical exercise and good for your mental health.
Fulfilling Retirement – Summary
For one, we personally don’t stress out as much since we have established our retirement criteria and developed a plan. Although we no longer “need” to work, we’ll continue doing so a little longer given it is likely wise. The important thing here, it’s our choice. Planning where you’ll retire requires research as well as some sole searching. What do you really want to do when you retire? How much can you really afford to spend based on your retirement budget?
Location, location, location holds true for retirees. What you’ll do with your time can either be an adventure or another rerun on Netflix. It’s a choice. Let’s chose the adventure. An adventure well planned, well executed – a fulfilling retirement that starts sooner rather than later.