10 steps to successfully retire and relocate

January 14, 2013
Brunswick Forest

Article credit to: Southeast Discovery

January 10, 2013

We hope your 2013 is off to a good start and thought it would be useful to provide what we believe are important steps to take before retiring and relocating or finding the ideal second home.  As you make your plans for 2013, and how to go about this process, we think you will find this article to be a productive read.

1.  Sit down and make a list of your financial assets.  The equity in your home, 401k and other retirement accounts, non-tax sheltered investment accounts, other real estate holdings and any other assets you may own.  This is the moment in life for you to know what your net worth is and what assets you’ll have available to invest appropriately to contribute to your retirement income.

2.  Meet with a financial planner once you have a list of all of your financial assets and have organized this information.  If you haven’t been working with a financial planner all along, we would suggest doing some research before you select one.  Ask a good friend, family member or colleague you trust for a referral.  Interview several if necessary, find out how they are compensated, what their investment philosophy is and how they work with clients in your stage of life – to help their clients achieve their goals.  This is an important selection and you want to choose someone you are comfortable with and one you feel is both competent and knowledgeable. Once you have chosen a planner or met with one you’ve worked with for years, meeting will be very helpful as you’ll be able to get a clear picture on where you are at financially.  Based on your expectations and how you want to live in your retirement years, with the help of your financial planner, you’ll be able to determine whether or not you can afford to retire now or if it would make sense to defer retirement.  And if so, until when?

3.  Prepare your home so it will show well when on the market.  Before meeting with realtors, to interview and get their analysis on what your home is worth, it would be a good idea to walk around your home and look at it through the eyes of a prospective buyer.  Do rooms need painting?  Is there too much clutter or furniture in a room?  Does your carpet need cleaning…or replaced?  Homes that show best aren’t cluttered, they are ‘easy on the eye’.  They look fresh, clean and well cared for.  Get repairs done.  Clean up the landscaping, and the garage.  Get rid of things you will not need or want.  This includes furniture that may look old and dated.  If you have belongings that you are really not going to want in your next home, this is a good time to have a garage sale, an estate sale or donate to your favorite charity.

4.  Make contacts with 3 realtors in your area to interview for listing your home.  Who are the top realtors in your area?  That’s usually easy to find out – see who is active in advertising and who has the most closed sales in your area.  Best yet, ask others you know who have sold their homes recently who they used and if they were happy with that agent.  Interview three realtors, ask them to explain how they would market your home.  All three will provide you with a CMA – Certified Market Analysis of your home.  You might want to consider asking the agents if they would provide you with a couple of referrals.  Choose the realtor you are most comfortable with, weighing in the other factors – their performance track record, testimonials and their level of experience.

5.  Give some thought to where you want to retire to and the type of atmosphere/lifestyle it offers.  Perhaps you’ve traveled to a specific destination for years and you’ve always said, when you retire, that is where you want to be.  That may be true and if so, you have this step taken care of.  Just keep in mind, vacationing to a destination and living there full-time can be an entirely different experience.  If you are sure you want to relocate upon retirement but unsure on the ‘where to’ – here are some questions to ask yourself…  a) what type of climate are you looking for, year-round?  b)  do you want to live near the coast, in the mountain region, on a lake, in a smaller town or a larger city?

6.  Sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of what you want your retirement to look like.  Are their hobbies and activities you’ve always had an interest in but never had the time to pursue?  Do you have some personal goals you’ve always had in the back of your mind but they kept taking a back seat to responsibilities you’ve had over the years?  Think of retirement and relocating as a life step ideal for you to make a personal transition.  You can use this “life moment” to plan the rest of your life and what you want it to look like.  Make a list of your thoughts, priorities, and factors which will go into deciding on the type of area, community and home you want to ideally find.

7.  Research areas that you’d like to consider on the internet.  You’ll find that Southeast Discovery is a helpful website as you learn more about key areas in the Southeast.  Read up on the attributes that each city is known for.  Our site also have a tab that covers various communities within each area.  As you research on the Web, continue to add to your list of both needs and wants that will contribute to your final decision of ‘Where to Retire’.

8.  Now that you’ve gotten a handle on your affairs back home and done some research on areas that interest you on the Web, it’s time to travel and visit.  There is simply no better way to learn about an area than to visit it firsthand.  Our recommendation is to stay several days on your visit to give you ample time to experience attributes of the area – where is the airport?  hospital? shopping and dining?  leisurely activities the area is known for?  Some of our clients find the ideal area for themselves on their first area visit, while for others, it can take several visits to different areas before they find what feels ‘right’ to them.  Everyone’s experience is different – be prepared to take up to three trips to find the area that feels most appropriate to you.

9.  While visiting different areas, it’s a good idea to look at real estate in tandem.  Each area is going to offer its own blend of housing and communities located there.  During your trip of discovery, it’s advisable that you drive through some neighborhoods and master-planned developments to see what they have to offer, what housing costs are for the area and what types of amenities each neighborhood has to offer the residents who live there.  You’ll see simple communities to the most highly amenitized – and this will be a good exercise for you to determine what level of amenities, if any at all, are right for you.   Will you use the amenities?  If so, then you can justify the HOA fees to run them.  If your needs and wants are simple, and you don’t see yourself on the golf course, using the gym or dining at the Clubhouse, then chances are, you will be drawn to more simplified developments or neighborhoods that have minimal amenities – and dues.  Working with a Southeast Discovery colleague in the area you will tour, is a time efficient and effective way to effectively drill down on what communities are most right for you to consider.

10.  You’ve prepared for relocation back home, you’ve visited areas and communities – if you’ve found an area and community that interests you, now it’s time to do further due diligence.  Here are some questions to ask:  a)  who is the developer?  b) what is their track record of previous developments and have they been successful?  c) does the development have debt on the project or is it debt-free?  d) are all amenities proposed – complete?  e) if not, what is left to build?   f) what is the total build out of home sites and homes within the community?  g) how many have been sold to date?  h) how many residents are currently living in the community?  i) what are the current HOA fees?  Again, these are questions that an on-the-ground colleague from our firm can assist you with.  After all, this is their profession and they know their market well to provide you with accurate and timely insight.