Although we were already talking about retirement in early 2011, and of relocating to a warmer climate, it apparently took us until the end of April to sit down together and come up with a list of factors to consider when we talked about where we might want to go. For some reason lost to me now, we initially didn’t rank anything, and outside of “lots of sunshine” none of the items on our list was more important than any other. But, setting a target date for our move was important – we wanted to have a date to aim for.
Hawaii still appeared on our list of potential locations, which surprises me a bit as we started out considering it as something of a joke. But, three months later, there it is, still on the list, and not as much of a joke as it had been. I was also surprised that we had added Florida to the list, but it had some of the things on our list, and we did investigate it as a possible post-Portland home.
At the end of the post, I asked for what else we should be considering, and a few people mentioned taxes, so that became another factor added to our list, and it made a difference in ultimately deciding to move to Hawaii.
In the meantime, we were still furiously paying down our debt as our motivation continued to grow, especially as the amount we owed grew smaller, and as we honed in on a post-retirement location. We knew there were still going to be bumps along the way, but our post-debt future was beginning to take shape.
A Place in the Sun
Brett and I both independently came to the realization this winter that we don’t want to stay in Portland for too long after he retires at the end of next year. We’ve lived here for nearly 20 years, and while there is a great deal that we love about this city, Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest, we are both tired of the dreary winters and want to live someplace where we can enjoy the sun a bit more consistently than we do now. While we both enjoy all the green that comes with Portland, we are both weary of hibernating all winter, of walking dogs in the rain, and of everything else that comes along with all the wet and gloom.
So, we have been working on a list of priorities for where we’d like to eventually settle and have come up with this shortlist:
- Weather (lots of sunshine)
- Cost of living
- Schools (two of the girls will still be in high school)
- Ocean nearby
- Mountains close by (less than a day’s drive)
- Western U.S. (because our son and his family live in Japan)
- Substantial Asian community (because our girls are ethnically Chinese)
- Military facilities nearby
We haven’t gotten around to weighting any of these as more important than the others, except for the weather. Probably the least important (to me, anyway) is having any mountains fairly close by – I’m an ocean person. Having military facilities nearby would be nice because Brett is a retiree, and while we haven’t had anything to do with the military since he retired other than receiving retirement pay every month and using the health insurance, we figure it’s something we might need or want to use (like the commissary) as we grow old(er).
So far the list of possible areas to consider include:
- Southern California (various locations)
- The Southwestern United States (Arizona & New Mexico)
We also briefly considered living overseas, but the language and/or visa requirements are more than we want to take on at this point.
All of these locations have strikes against them, but we are just getting started on evaluating the plusses and minuses of each and have another year before we have to make a decision and then work toward making it happen. Our target date for moving is Summer 2014: Meiling will have graduated from high school and be heading to college, WenYu will have completed the equivalent of 4 years of high school Chinese and all math requirements, and YaYu will be transitioning between middle and high school.
Our number one goal at this point remains to pay off all our debt! We know a comfortable retirement isn’t going to happen until we accomplish that. Once we make a decision about where to settle we can come up with a further set of realistic goals for relocating.
What are your thoughts? Have we missed anyplace else we ought to consider? Is there something else we should be considering at this point while we look at the big picture?
(This post was first published April 26, 2011.)