Geography is a big deal when we start to think about retirement. Most of us either want to travel or to live somewhere else–or both–once we leave work. There is great peril in making these decisions lightly, yet much of what we use to decide comes from a few vacation trips or someone else’s opinion of the value of going there.
Travel is an important way to learn. Living somewhere different is guaranteed to push you out of your ruts. But take the time to figure out what you really want before you buy the RV or put the for sale sign on your current home.
Take the time to be sure you’re going somewhere you really want to go. If all you plan to do is lie on the beach, it’s a whole lot simpler to go to Florida or San Diego, or even the shore of Lake Michigan in August, than to deal with the hassles of international travel.
Why do you want to go to this place? If you yearn to watch them run the bulls in Pamplona, you’re pretty much talking about a trip to Spain. But if you want to watch something exciting that involves large four-legged animals with horns, there are probably plenty of options closer to home.
Make sure you want to experience doing whatever you are going to do at that location before you commit to an expensive trip. You can zip line many different places. Is it important that you do it in Costa Rica? If so, fine. But at least ask yourself the question.
And the question is even MORE essential if you’re thinking of LIVING somewhere else. Unless you’ve been uniquely successful at not collecting possessions, getting all your “stuff” from here to there is a major undertaking. Just the cost to rent a U-Haul is enough to give you pause these days.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Moving costs money once you get to the new place, too–for everything from utility deposits to a new trash can. And the costs aren’t just financial. You will need to find a new doctor, tax person, hairdresser/barber, mechanic. You will need to figure out which grocery store is the best and where to buy your favorite version of coffee. This may be the best set of challenges you could ever hope to find, but take the time to confirm that likelihood before you start packing boxes.
The questions to ask are the same whether you’re looking at a permanent move or a significant travel adventure:
* What about this location makes me want to spend the time, money, and energy to be there?
* Is this location the best way to get that?
* Are there other ways to honor this need that would give me the same thing–or maybe even more–for less money, time, and energy?
* Is there any way to try this on a small scale before I commit to it in a major way? Do I need that?
Please don’t think I’m telling you this based on a few Caribbean cruises and downsizing from a house to a condo in the same community. I tend to deal in MAJOR geography–a 67-day cruise involving calls on five continents (missed South America and Antarctica) and a permanent move from the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies to the Pacific Northwest, for example.
There are many reasons to move. But there are also many pluses about where you are. Those tend to get lost in the romance of “going somewhere else” once you start to explore the possibility. Consider both sets of pluses in your decision-making. Know what’s important to you that makes you want to change your geography. But be honest with yourself–and your spouse or anyone who’s going to be part of it–about what you will be leaving behind. And about what you expect to achieve with the change.
A downturn makes you take a longer look before you spend money, so this is the perfect time to learn to do geography on purpose. Don’t just wander around so you can say you’ve been somewhere else. Choose your geography with a clear idea of what you want and how the new environment is going to be key in helping you get it.