Nine When-to-Retire Decision Considerations

Deciding when-to-retire is a question that most of us think about only rarely when we are young. A few don’t really think about it much at all even into old age. Unfortunately many of the people who don’t consider when-to-retire are not prepared for retirement. Preparation and planning are essential to have a good, happy retirement.

Many people don’t think about retirement until faced with a life changing event. Whether or not we want to retire, we should plan and budget for the time when we can no longer work either by desire or because of health issues.

Other than “when,” what other questions need to be considered in preparing for retirement? Do you want to retire at all or merely change careers or find a part-time job? Other questions that need to be addressed include where are we going to retire and how are we going to pay for. Will we be prepared for the down side of having so much free time? What will the state of our health be and how will we meet our health needs.

Before you consider your retirement date; list and evaluate with your spouse anticipated future retirement needs against current health and financial realities. Seek the help of the appropriate professional consultant early in the process.  

The two major limiting factors for most of us are health and income. But there are other considerations in deciding when-to-retire as well, which will vary depending on each person’s circumstance and need.  

When-to-retire Considerations:

  1. Do you want to retire or just slow down. What is the dream (desire) of you and your spouse? What do you want out of retirement?
  2. What do you anticipate doing with the free time that you will have from not going to work every morning? Do have a hobby that can keep you motivated and involved? Or would you find a job or volunteer work?
  3. How is your health? Do you need to be close to a good hospital and physician including specialists? If retiring before the age of 65, will you have adequate health insurance?
  4. How much retirement can you afford? Do you need to supplement your income with a part-time job or a retirement business? What actions can be taken to improve our financial condition?
  5. What are your family, social and spiritual considerations? Do you want to be close to family, friends and church?
  6. What are your geographic preferences? Are you tired of the cold winters or the heat and humidity where you now live? Where to you want to live? Would you consider a retirement residence in another country?
  7. Is the availability and affordability of recreation activities important to you? What kind of recreation?
  8. What kind of home do you desire? Are they available and affordable?
  9. Would you consider the advantages of senior housing in a continuing care retirement community or an age restricted community?

A good plan requires goals and action steps. A great plan anticipates and allows for change and contingencies. In other words, it has to be flexible and adjustable with changing circumstances. Deciding when-to-retire is a decision best made after working your way through the planning process and to the extent possible anticipating and avoiding obstacles to your goals.

One last thought worth considering and that is people were not created to be inactive. We were created for purposeful activity. Retiring doesn’t mean to cease being active. Inactivity leads to early death and/or chronic disease. Before establishing a retirement date, plan some post retirement hobby, job or volunteer project to maintain both physical and mental stimulation.

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In the end it's not the years in your life that count but the life in your years. Abraham  Lincoln

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