Part 3: Embracing Life Transitions

June 12, 2024
Part 3: Embracing Life Transitions

This marks the final chapter in our 3-part series on navigating Medicare after 65. We’ve covered securing healthcare coverage at this crucial milestone and explored strategies for planning your financial future. Now, let’s shift gears and focus on the exciting adventure that awaits; embracing your golden years!

Retirement is arguably the biggest life transition you’ve faced since you moved out of your parents’ house and became an independent adult. Just like then, the transition can be scary, but ultimately, retirement is an adventure, so embrace it!

With any transition comes change, so let’s look at some of the potential lifestyle changes you may be facing and how you can successfully navigate them.

Moving to a New Home

With retirement, you no longer have a job to be at five days a week, no longer have kids to raise, so you may ask yourself, “Do I want to stay in this house?” Perhaps you want to relocate to a warmer climate, plan to travel, or feel you don’t need a big house for just the two of you.

Whatever your reasons, moving out of your family home can be a huge transition. The decision is not one you want to make lightly. Let’s look at the “whys” behind a decision to sell or stay, the implications of moving in retirement, and how you can prepare for this huge life transition.

Financial Impacts: Housing is often one of the most significant expenses in retirement. Many retirees see downsizing their home (selling their large family home and moving to a smaller home) as a way to save money or even make money. But that’s not always the case. Even if you have a “big” house, how old is it? Have you remodeled, or does it need work? Is it in a desirable location? Are you in a hot housing market? Many people overestimate how much they’ll get for their “big” family house, so set realistic expectations. In turn, you also need to be informed about the cost of real estate in the area you’re looking to move to. If that “smaller” house is in a hot market, you may be getting less home for more money, with the proceeds from selling your “big” home not going as far. Is it in a new development or planned community? You may be looking at substantial HOA fees. If you’re looking to relocate out of state, what are the property taxes and insurance costs compared to what you’re paying currently? If your motivation for moving is purely a financial one, do some serious number crunching to ensure you come out ahead and not in a financial hole.

Practical Reasons: You’re not getting any younger, so if keeping up your home is becoming a physical challenge, downsizing can make sense. A smaller, newer home can mean less upkeep and maintenance, so not only are you putting in less work, you also have more time for your retirement pursuits. But if the physical strain, work, and upheaval of packing and moving is something you’d like to avoid, “rightsizing” your home can be the way to go. Rightsizing is about adapting your home to better fit your current and future lifestyle needs. This can mean renovating or remodeling your current home (instead of moving) to make it more accessible and senior friendly, organizing possessions that genuinely contribute to your quality of life in retirement (and getting rid of those that don’t), and turning your family home into a low-maintenance, enjoyable environment for yourselves as a retired couple.

Emotional Factors: The decision to downsize your home is ultimately an emotional one. You’re selling and moving out of your family home. While it is your house to sell, remember that this is the place your children and grandchildren return to and consider “home”—and it’s about to be sold out of the family. This is something you’ll want to discuss as a family, or at least make them aware of your decision. The emotional impact of this decision may not hit you until the house is sold and you’re sorting through a lifetime of belongings you can’t all take on your move. It is important to acknowledge these emotions, so give yourself time to process and grieve the loss (as that’s what it is). Take pictures of your house for a memory or scrapbook and “will” special items to children, neighbors, or friends so that they live on in their homes.

While your decision to move may be a logical one based on practical needs and/or financial security, be honest with yourself about the emotional aspects of it. Give yourself time to really think about where you want to live and the type of house you want to live in for the remainder of your life. Which will best enhance your overall well-being and provide the greatest satisfaction: a newer, smaller home without the worry of upkeep or living out your days in the home where you raised your family? Whichever you choose, be at peace that you’re making the right decision for you.

Changes to Your Relationship Dynamics and Social Connections

In planning for retirement, you may be thinking of all the logistics (healthcare, income, housing) and excitedly looking forward to having all your time for yourself and your dreams. One thing you may not have thought about is the impact retirement will have on your relationships.

Here’s how some of your relationships can be affected and how you can strengthen them (and possibly make some new ones along the way):

Work Friends and Colleagues: You now have none! The people you used to see five days a week for eight hours a day, you won’t be seeing anymore—at least not with this regular frequency. While you may not consider all your work colleagues to be “friends,” the loss of this regular social interaction can be quite jarring. If you do have “work friends,” getting together to hang out and catch up now requires aligning very different schedules. As the workplace is no longer what bonds you together, you may struggle to connect with your work friends, wondering if the job was the only thing you had in common.

To maintain these relationships, consider getting together with an event or activity as the focus, rather than just dinner or happy hour where the conversation can easily become about work. Also, look at how you’re now filling your weekdays and the potential new connections to make. If you’ve joined a pickleball club, taken up art lessons, or are volunteering for an organization, you now have new “work colleagues”—fellow participants with similar schedules and interests as you. Start making friends!

Spouse: Retirement can be a time to reconnect and deepen your relationship, or it can be the time when it falls apart. Going from only seeing each other at nights and weekends to now being home together every minute of every day can be A LOT. And when you go from being a married working couple to one of you retired while the other is still working, you now have completely different schedules and a new set of challenges.

Having a happy marriage in retirement requires communication and planning. You and your spouse need to discuss and agree upon your retirement date(s) and what your retired married life is going to look like—how you’ll spend your time, what passions you want to pursue, and how much of this you’ll do together versus individually. You now have more time to spend as a couple, but it’s also ok (and important) to maintain your independence and individual identity. That’s who your spouse fell in love with in the first place!

Kids: Even though your kids are now adults themselves, they’ve only known you (and probably still see you) as the reliable hardworking provider dedicated to work. While you may have been dreaming of trekking through the Himalayas or having your own pottery studio for years, these kinds of revelations may have your kids asking, “Who are you and what did you do with my parents?” You’re ready to go out and live your fullest life, but your kids may be concerned about your fitness, health, and safety. From their perspective, they’re trying to protect you. However, this new stage in your life can be the beginning of a new stage in your relationship with your children—one in which your kids feel like (and act like) they are the parent and you are the child. This role reversal is only going to deepen as you age and your kids become your caregivers.

Have a conversation with your kids about your goals for retirement and your wishes for care as you age. Then, include them in some of your retirement activities and adventures (like a weekly round of golf or going on a family trip). Just because you’re no longer working doesn’t make you any less of a responsible adult or their parent, so make sure everyone’s clear on their respective roles and responsibilities within the family—both now and in the future.

Retirement is the start of a new chapter in your life, one in which you own your time and finances—not your boss or job. You’re in control to explore new opportunities and create the fulfilling life that you want. After 65 years, you’re entitled to be a little bit selfish!

Turning 65: Your Roadmap to a Fulfilling Future

This concludes our 3-part series on “Turning 65? Here’s What You Need to Know About Medicare.” We’ve gone beyond just healthcare coverage, exploring financial security and strategies for embracing life transitions that come with turning 65.

The Wandacare Team of licensed Florida Medicare agents is ready to support you as you enter this next chapter. See how we can help secure your healthcare coverage and peace of mind as you turn 65.

Contact Wandacare today!