Where do you plan to live when you retire or start your next chapter in life? Some individuals and couples hope to remain in their current homes as long as possible. However, this may not always be practical. Choose wisely when thinking about relocating.
The amount of upkeep required, the number of levels in the home and overall costs including taxes and repairs have to be considered. Realistically, a move might be a wise option. However, there are certain considerations that must be taken into account before moving; some considerations include proximity to family, the overall cost of living, access to medical care, transportation, social opportunities, and overall lifestyle preferences. In addition, opportunities for employment (full or part-time) might be important to consider as well.
The Active Adult Community Option
One option is an ‘active adult community.’ These communities typically are restricted to adults 55 and over. My Life Site lists some pros and cons of active adult communities. Advantages generally include some exterior maintenance, amenities such as pools, clubhouses, and more, and opportunities to socialize with peers. These advantages are generally covered by homeowner association dues. One large drawback for some is the lack of age diversity.
The Rural, Affordability Option
If the cost of living is a primary concern, another option might be to move to a rural area. I live in Sutherlin, Oregon, a rural community of over 8000 people that is drawing a lot of retirees from larger cities and from other states.
More Than Demographic Data
If a retiree just looked at the demographic information available through the U.S. Census Bureau, many rural communities might not look that attractive to some people. For example, in my community, the poverty level is 18.91 percent. The median household income is $37,080. The median value of owner-occupied homes is $136, 600. Shopping in the immediate area is limited. Approximately 28% of the population is 60 and over. Like many rural communities, my community is generally conservative.
What you won’t learn from reading is what it is like to live in a particular community. Overall, my community is friendly and inviting. I live in a place where neighbors and community members typically help each other.
Demographic Diversity: Westside, Eastside, and In-Between
I lived in Portland, Oregon most of my life. After turning 50, I decided I wanted a full-time encore teaching position at a community college. With so many younger people applying for limited positions in the Portland area, I ended up having to look at openings further from home. I was offered a position at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Sutherlin is just north of Roseburg.
I live on the Westside of Sutherlin within a couple of blocks of a community pond. The pond area includes a 2-mile walking trail. Most of my neighbors are in the 55+ age range. Several in my community have moved into this area from California, Washington and from larger cities. We live within walking distance of a golf course and bike riding distance of some great wineries. We also live about 7 miles from Cooper Creek Reservoir and a little over 50 miles from the ocean. The weather is drier and warmer than in Portland. Housing on the Westside of Sutherlin is generally more expensive than on the Eastside.
Cost of Living
A local contractor said homes in my community are generally being sold for between $300-500k. However, these homes are considerably cheaper than they would be in a populated area like Portland. For example, the asking price for a 2900 Sq. ft home directly across from the golf course is $485k. Could you imagine what the asking price would be for this home in Portland, Seattle, or San Francisco?
Perceived Pros and Cons
When I walk the dog, drivers who pass me in their cars often wave. I know my neighbors and they know me. I enjoy the fact that I live in a friendly community. Recently, I conducted an informal survey among several of my neighbors. I wanted to know what drew them to our community, what they like, and what they miss.
Most of my neighbors said that the recreational opportunities, the region, and the cost of living were very attractive. Several expressed concerns about the lack of medical access (finding doctors who accept new patients or Medicare patients). One man in his seventies said that he wasn’t that concerned about medical access because he was very active and healthy. Most of my neighbors mentioned the lack of shopping in the immediate area.
Some of my neighbors still work. Others enjoy golfing and recreational activities or are active volunteers in the local community. Many of us have discretionary income and most of us contribute one way or another to our community.
In many ways, my immediate community is similar to an active living community. However, we do have a few children in our area—something many of us see as a bonus.
If you are thinking about choosing a new location to start your next chapter, do your homework. Look beyond demographics. Visit areas that have some appeal. Talk to people. Visit some local businesses and enjoy some of the local recreational opportunities. There is often more to learn than meets the eye.
I have lived in Sutherlin for 15 years. I just retired from teaching in December and have no plans to move back to Portland. Why? I have learned that U.S. Census Data doesn’t tell the whole story about a community.