How to plan for a retirement sea change

Published on: May 28th, 2019

Retirement is often described as the ‘golden years’, and that’s exactly what it should be. One thing that often crops up in retirement plans is moving out of the city for a new lifestyle. Often termed a sea or tree change, this move can make sense for retirees – as proximity to the city becomes less important, lifestyle can take a front seat.

A coastal or country lifestyle can often seem romantic, but before diving headfirst into planning life in an idyllic new location, consider some of the practical implications.

Doing this before you fall in love with a property will ultimately help you to make better financial and lifestyle decisions.

Here are my tips for planning your sea change:

Be aware of the financial implications

The obvious one is how much a property is going to cost versus how much yours will sell for, and how this difference will impact your retirement plans. However, one that is often overlooked is the difference in cost of living. The average cost of things like utilities or groceries can vary state by state and even region by region. You can research this online, but the best test is to spend some time living in the area before you move. 

Be clear about your reasons

People choose to move for many reasons, and while lifestyle is, of course, a key one, other factors can influence your decision. You should be clear about these at the outset and keep them top of mind so that you don’t make an emotional decision. For example, if you want to be nearer to the grandkids, falling in love with a property 100kms away won’t meet your goal. While the drive might seem doable today, how practical is it as you age?

Be aware of your needs long term 

A lifestyle change is exciting, but it’s worth considering how the location will facilitate your needs, not only today but into the future. Being near the beach might be great for those morning swims, but what services are going to be critical in the long term? Think about things like proximity to health services, shops, and transport. You might be happy to drive to these places today, but will that always be the case? Good proximity to services with the beach nearby might mean the property costs a little more, but it could be the best decision in the long run.

Be realistic about property needs

Many retirees choose downsizing options, such as apartments or townhouses, and while can be great from a maintenance perspective, you also need to consider how they will facilitate your lifestyle. Of course, you may have to compromise, but there may be a middle ground. For example, if you are a keen gardener, you might consider ground floor apartments with small gardens or properties with a community garden nearby. You also want to keep a practical mindset; that country house might be picture-perfect, but is the maintenance of an older home something you want to contend with into the future?

Research your location  

Of course, as with any move, looking at the property market and understanding what you can afford is critical, but with a lifestyle move, there are other factors at play. What community and social groups or clubs exist? It’s likely you are leaving most, if not all, of your social network behind. If you are a tennis player, for example, is there a local club and do they have a social competition? As a retiree, you will have more time on your hands than ever before; make sure your location will enable you to do what you love and build social connections.

Your new location might have active community groups on social media, and it’s worth joining these. They can offer great insight – from the things people enjoy to social issues that are occurring in the community.

Visit in different seasons

This might seem like an obvious one, but bear in mind, you should make more than weekend visits to check out properties. If you can, stay for a few weeks at different times of the year, in a residential area. Living like a local and doing everyday things can help you understand what the community is about, get a sense of the cost of living, and an idea of what the different seasons are like. In areas that are holiday hotspots, the community and lifestyle can change noticeably with the seasons.

Seek professional advice

At the end of the day, a sea or tree change is all about a better lifestyle, and there is no reason you can’t achieve it, with a little forward planning. Making sure you choose the right type of property, in the right location will set you up for many happy years of retirement.

It is a big decision, and one that can have far-reaching impacts, so it’s well worth getting professional advice, from your financial planner to get an understanding of any financial implications, as well as local real estate experts, such as buyer’s agents, who can help you understand the local area.

General Advice warning

The information provided in this blog does not constitute financial product advice. The information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for specific professional advice. Apt Wealth Partners (AFSL 436121 ABN 49 159 583 847) recommends that you obtain professional advice before making any decision in relation to your particular requirements or circumstances.