What surprises have you experienced on your retirement journey?

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AUTHOR: Rick Connor on 6/24/2024

VICKY AND I took a 2-week road trip through North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. We spent the Easter weekend with 3 of her siblings and numerous nieces and nephews and their families. From there we drove to Savannah for 4 days of southern charm, beautiful architecture, and great food. After Savannah we drove to Kiawah Island for the wedding of one of my best friend’s daughter.

Meeting fellow retirees, and hearing their stories is always fascinating. On our road trip through I was exposed to quite a number of interesting stories. They have some interesting similarities, and differences. A few categories came to mind.

  1. Staying Put. The first couple’s children lived in two different parts of their state, about 2 hours apart. Instead of moving to a new town near one of the kids, they downsized a mile away from their long-time home. By staying in their community, they were able to maintain their connections with friends, doctors, and their routine.
  2. Chasing Children. Two couples moved from Pennsylvania to be closer to children and grandchildren. One couple moved right after they retired. The other couple was able to move while still working; their employers supported remote work with some travel.  The second couple had lived in North Carolina in the past, and they had friends in the area. The first couple left a large extended family and friends.  They have close family nearby, and are working on making new friends through Pickleball and volunteering. They are finding new doctors, and learning the area.
  3. Splitting Time. Our fourth couple spent their adult lives in Rochester, NY. The wife’s family had a vacation home in Michigan’s upper peninsula, that they enjoyed. They bought a place there and moved there after retiring. But the winters were brutally cold, and they decided to look for a second home in a warmer climate. They did a multi-year search in different southern towns. They settled on Savannah, and bought an historic home near the town’s main park. They love the history, architecture, and food.  They spend half the year in Savannah, and half in Michigan. We also met a number of folks who were returning north from their wintering in Florida.
  4. Hitting the Links. While we were waiting for the wedding to start, we met a couple from Rumson, NJ. They lived a few miles from our new home in Monmouth County, NJ. Their retirement was all about golf. They bought a place on Kiawah Island so they could golf year-round. They spend from New Years to May in Kiawah, and summers in NJ. They return to Kiawah for some of the fall. They belong to golf courses in both locations. They also said friends love to visit.

I was intrigued by these different retirement stories. Retirees have lots of different reasons for choosing their retirement life. A few common themes were following children and grandchildren, looking for better weather, and flowing a passion. The one common denominator, however, was that they each had the resources to make the choices that fit their desires. Our retirement journey has taken several twists that weren’t planned, but have worked out well. I’d love to hear what retirement surprises HumbleDollar readers have experienced.

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