According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American moves 11.7 times throughout their life. While increased mobility, afforded by advanced technology and transportation, opens up professional doors that would have been unheard of a generation or two ago, it also makes it harder for extended families to remain geographically close. For seniors with adult children who live a distance away, relocation seems the most viable option for staying connected. But is it always the best choice?
If you and your adult children have already established your own routines with miles between you, relocation will require some adjustments. Even if you have a healthy relationship with your child, you will have to set boundaries to ensure that both of you maintain your own lives and a comfortable sense of space and privacy. Guidelines may include frequency of visits, length of visits, and whether it’s okay to “pop in” unannounced—on both sides.
When considering relocating to be near an adult child, think about how you’re going to spend time in your new location. While you may be moving closer to see your children and grandchildren, they will most likely be busy with work and school during the day. Will you get a part-time job? Volunteer? Join a local senior club? Make sure you plan to invest enough time developing your own interests and relationships so you won’t have to depend wholly on your family for community and purpose.
Assess the financial impact of moving, especially if you have more than one child who has traveled far from the nest. Costs of living can vary wildly, and those numbers may determine where—or even if—you should relocate. Another significant financial consideration is renting versus buying. While buying may seem like a smarter investment, renting may better fit your needs, especially if you’re still on the fence about the move. Renting will also reduce or even eliminate maintenance responsibilities, making for a simpler life that affords more opportunities to spend time with your family and friends.
Whether it be a change in health, finances, or a job, the unexpected is bound to happen. You can’t control every circumstance or outcome, but you can try your best to plan for a variety of scenarios. One thing is for certain: the earlier you start discussing options with your spouse and/or children, the better. Spend some time putting together sample budgets. Visit senior living communities near your current home, but also tour some in your adult child’s community. Give yourself plenty of options, so when it’s time to make a change, you’ll have the confidence you’re making the best choice available.
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