Thinking About Where To Live In Retirement

2013-02-21 14.48.28Like all good strategists I’m planning for my retirement, which will probably come some time in the next 5 years.  Retirement will bring with it the biggest change in my lifestyle since I became chronically ill about 13 years ago.  Such a huge change requires careful consideration and one of the biggest considerations is where to live.

Debbie and I started to seriously think about this last year because while we have loved living in St Annes there are other options out there.  Since that first discussion every time I’ve been away since then I’ve been lightly conscious of weighing the options. I’ve not got itchy feet, but having lived in 15 different homes so far I’m not afraid of change either. Unfortunately uncertainty brings with it it’s own problems though, so with this blog post I’m drawing my considerations to a close.

On our travels over the last year we’ve started looking with more interest at estate agents, strolled down residential streets, and tried to really get the feel of the places we’ve visited. Personally I’ve tried to be particularly conscious of how I’ve felt returning to St Annes after a time away.  I’ve seen may places that seemed to be perfect at first, until I really thought through the downsides to balance the up, places that were too isolated for winter, too expensive or too hilly for the bad days.

I’m now at the point where I have a much better sense of what I’m looking for in a place to retire and I’m a little surprised, at first I thought it was going to be all about wonderful surroundings, but I’ve realised that after only a few months I would soon get used to those.  What seems to matter most to my ‘easy to please’ brain is ‘liveability’, let me explain.

For me a great place to retire, needs to encourage me to live well for the long term.  It’s easy to fall in love with a new place when the sun’s shining, my legs are eating up the hills and everything is new and delightful.  It’s another thing to keep living well through the cold winter days, when every step is a struggle, I’m looking for a friendly place that people love, a place of relaxed ease.  As I will be retiring early I need a place that keeps me interested, a place that gives me the flexibility, energy and opportunity to keep me engaged in learning new things and creating. It also needs a cost of living that leaves me with enough pocket money to meet my modest expenses.

So I’ve been working through what it means for a place to be liveable in retirement and I’ve come up with the following personal list, Debbie and I are mostly like minded:

  1. I need a place where Debbie and I know we can both be happy and the kids will want to visit as they make their own way in life
  2. I want to live in a place that’s improving, a place that it’s residents take pride in and love, a place with a future, that’s safe, where people are friendly and look up and smile when they pass
  3. I want to live within easy walking distance of the everyday conveniences of life, both now and as I get older, where there’s rarely a need to get in the car to get to the shops
  4. I want easy access to a wide range of easy walking and cycling routes, that allow me to shelter from the winter winds but also glory in the summer views.  These walking and cycling routes need to be accessible even when I’m feeling rough, they need to tempt me to move, not confront me with challenges that give me an easy excuse to stay home.  When I want a challenge though I’d like that to be not too far away
  5. I’d like to be within walking distance of open views and water, sea breezes, carrying refreshing clean air, I’ve known these daily for almost all my life
  6. I want access to much broader range of walking options within a short drive.  No matter how good a place is if it’s all you ever experience it becomes stale
  7. I need access to great cafes so I can take reading and rest breaks as often as needed, so I can keep a solid daily routine that gets me out of the house no matter what the weather or how stiff the body
  8. I’d like easy access to restaurants, cinemas, libraries, galleries and practical shopping, places to provide variety and stimulation
  9. I need to be able to afford a house that gives me space to express myself, to keep learning new skills, to create new things and to grow more of my own food
  10. I want the buzz of a lively place, but not the crush of a busy place

As I work through my list of a dozen candidate places to live then I find myself consistently coming back to St Anne’s.  Although we arrived here more by accident than design, it’s become a part of who we are, we have lived in many places, but St Anne’s is the one that feels most like home.

St Anne’s ticks all the boxes.  It’s a small town, but with the facilities of a much larger one.  It’s incredibly practical and convenient.  It has a huge range of cafes and restaurants, with long and short, sea front and sheltered woodland walks.  It has cycle rides to suit the winds and the buzz and fun of a seaside town. It’s full of happy memories and mostly happy people who love it too.  It has Debbie’s church and my health club.  St Anne’s is not isolated, a short hop inland is leafy Lytham with it’s high end shopping, a cycle or tram ride in the other direction is practical Blackpool with it’s fantastic beaches, lively piers, cafes, theatres and shops. When the winds in the right direction Cleveleys is only a cycle ride away with its crashing waves and sunsets.

St Anne’s has one minor downside, we rarely see the waves that a seaside town deserves, because it has a very high sandy beach, but because of that we get to enjoy an amazing dune system.  Global warming may threaten the dunes a bit, but it will also bring the waves closer to shore.  The government has decided that it will ‘hold the line’ for at least 100 years against sea level rise, that will be enough for me!

Our house is perfectly located, has space for everything I need, although some of my plans for growing more of my own food might require a little creativity, as I think of gardening though I’m reminded that there are allotments not too far away.

You might wonder why I’ve been considering this so long before I retire, but for me it doesn’t seem too far away, 2-5 years is a blink of the eye once you pass 50 and preparation takes both time and money.  Our house is in need of some investments that we would defer if we were planned to move, but will embrace if we decide to stay.  Once I started to consider options last year they started to worm away at my brain, for a while this was interesting and diverting, but after a while it became negative, consuming too much energy, dragging me into the future rather than focussing on the moment.  It’s time to make a decision.

After talking with Debbie this week, we are setting aside considerations of moving, we’ve decided we are happy with where we are, and it’s a good feeling.  Years ago I read a book called the The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, it’s well worth reading, but the message is simple, too much choice is bad for us, make a decision and be content with your choice.  Sometimes though I need to look at the options in order to realise just how lucky I already am.

The photo is of a small stretch of our amazing dune system, which isn’t just great to look at but provides a good workout, easily as taxing as the Lakeland fells or Scarborough’s cliffs but just 5 minutes from the door.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

5 Responses

  1. Allan Rothwell says:

    Liked the post, we retired 3 years ago highly recomended. We used to live in Tyneside but after 40 years there fancied a change of scene, Chose St Annes, so glad we did, fabulous area, all those people who moan should try living in some parts of Tyneside that I won’t mention but are absolutely awful! A few thing we found, Streetlife forum really handy, the Bowland Hills great for walking (but not cycling, too many hills). The main criteria for us for a house was that it had to be South or South West facing back garden with enough space to build a conservatory. So whenever we stopped to look at a house for sale the first thing I did was to step into the road with my compass and if the back garden was North or East or North east facing or whatever it was rejected and we drove on even though some houses seemed good. We finally got one that was perfect and already had a conservatory and looked over a field so no houses blocking the view. Sounds like the house should have cost a fortune, no way! Cheaper than a 3 bed terrace in Heaton in Tyneside which was ‘ideal for commuting to work’ how sad! So fab house, gets the sun from 11am to sunset, fab for sitting in the garden in the wonderful summers I think we have had the last 3 years. Summers in Tyneside did not exist, just slte grey skies all the time. So enjoy retirement highly recommended.

  2. Thanks Allan, fortunately I managed to retire a little earlier than I expected to when I wrote that poost, I retired in June and it was a fantastic summer, not enjoyed November as much! I will have to try Bowland, as I normally go to Rivington and The Lakes. Retirement posts here and favourite walks here

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