I’VE BEEN RETIRED for a decade. During that time, I have often wondered what it would be like to live somewhere else. Europe, with its rich history, seems like an exciting option. If not Europe, why not move to another part of the country, like Old Town Alexandria in Virginia? Rachel has a son and sister living in the area. We’d be close to Washington, D.C., and other interesting new places.
As I ponder that question, I realize my life’s foundation is in California. Just like your house needs a strong foundation to survive earthquakes and floods, so does your life. When it comes down to it, your life is only as good as the foundation it rests upon: your relationships with friends and family, health care providers, local financial institutions and others. The trust you develop with these people is crucially important. The memories you have living in your house and community are also part of that foundation.
As you get older, it’s harder to build a new foundation in another part of the country, because you aren’t as active and mobile as you once were. It also takes time. Trust and close friendships are not established in one day.
It isn’t just you who can be affected by a move to a faraway location. It’s everything in your life. Even pets can feel the effects of losing a strong foundation. My parents had a dog named Brandy. When she was eight years old, they moved to another town.
My parents said Brandy would cry when she saw an old toy that she used to play with at their old house. They thought the toy reminded Brandy of her previous life: the times when the neighbor’s cat would eat her food, the dogs that would walk by, the backyard she used to play ball in, the walks through the neighborhood. My parents thought Brandy was happier in the old house and wanted to move back.
I’m just like Brandy. I would miss my eclectic group of friends, including Ron, who doesn’t eat anything red, green and yellow. Bob, who broke up with his girlfriend because she kept leaving the lid of the toilet seat up. Eric, Rob, Craig, Jeff, Colette and Tom at the gym. Lunches with Al and his wife Mable.
There are also my doctor, pharmacist, dermatologist, optometrist and dentist, who I have so must trust in. Greg, my automobile mechanic, who has been servicing my cars for 30 years. My old college buddy Chuck and his wife Marie. All my ex-coworkers: Steve, Cindy, Diane, Gayle and Stan, who I still stay in touch with. The next door neighbors who are willing to help in an emergency. My family connections, including my sister Diane, brother in-law Wayne, and relatives Barbara, Kent and Linda.
I’m not willing to give up this strong and well-built foundation on the chance that I might be happier in a new place. If we move to Virginia, there’s no guarantee that Rachel’s son and sister will always stay there. What happens if one of us passes away? The other one would be alone in a place with a weaker foundation, including fewer friends and a less trusted medical support team.
Rachel and I decided we’re staying in California. We still want to experience what it’s like to live in other parts of the world. We decided to try different places for a month at a time. We’re interested in Boston, Quebec and perhaps even Prague, in the Czech Republic. But Los Angeles county will always be our home. We’ll always spend enough time here to make sure our foundation stays strong.
Dennis Friedman retired at age 58 from Boeing Aerospace Company. He enjoys reading and writing about personal finance. His previous articles include Let’s Take a Ride, I Can’t Do That and Subtraction Mode. Follow Dennis on Twitter @dmfrie.