I recently met with a new client to manage their money. The client has been retired for about a year and one of the main topics of conversation was their home. As the client explained, they have been in the house for over 30 years and they want to move. As they said, not only is the house too big for them but that because of her health it has become very difficult to go up and down the stairs. He told me that at one point they looked at putting in a lift system but they dismissed it as impractical. They are 100 percent convinced that the home no longer fits their needs and that they should move. Their problem is they’re not sure where they want to move. They are thinking of moving to Texas, where their children now live, moving to Florida, or staying in Michigan. Deep down I could tell in our conversation that they wanted to be close to their children, but they were not sure if they would like Texas. They had been to Texas, but they have never been there for more than a week and thus, they did not know what they should do.
I agree it is difficult to pick up and move to an area that you are unfamiliar with. After all, even if you are moving to be closer to the kids, you’re not going to spend all your time with them; you have to have a life of your own. In addition, let’s not forget that your kids and grandkids will also have their own lives and they may not spend the amount of time with you that you had hoped for. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard from people that have moved out of state to be closer with their kids only to discover that they made a mistake.
What I had recommended to the client was that before they pack off and move to Texas permanently, that they consider going to Texas and spending some significant amount of time there. What I suggested is that they consider renting something for three months to see what living in Texas would be like. It is very difficult to know what a place is like if you only spend a week there. One week doesn’t give you much time to truly learn about an area. On the other hand, if you go for an extended time like three months, you can get a better flavor as to what living in Texas is all about. It will also give you the time to look at different areas of the city to determine what area suits you. After all, think if someone was to move to southeast Michigan. Would they live on the eastside in St. Clair Shores or Grosse Pointe, or would they move to Northville, West Bloomfield, or Troy? The bottom line is that the decision to move out of Michigan is tough enough, but what makes it even tougher is you don’t have all the information. By spending an extended time somewhere it gives you the opportunity to learn about an area so you can make the right decision for you.
In the old days, it may have been difficult to rent a home or a condo but that’s not true anymore. In today’s world with websites such as Airbnb and TripAdvisor, it is much easier to rent places for extended periods of time. Therefore, for anyone who is contemplating a move in an area that they’re not familiar with, a great strategy is to live in an area for a period of time before you make the final decision to move.
Living in an area is totally different from visiting a place for vacation. I will analogize to Las Vegas. I’ve been to Las Vegas many times but I would have no idea what it’s like to live in Las Vegas. After all, when I go to Vegas, I generally stay on the strip and that’s it. Therefore, I have no idea what it’s like to actually live in Las Vegas. My recommendation is before you make a major decision to move, always do your homework and make the decision not as a tourist, but as a resident.
One last note, I also told the client they should begin the process of getting their house ready to sell. It’s not easy to pack up a house that you’ve been in for 30 years; the sooner you start the easier it will be. As I explained to them, whether they move to Texas or not, they should consider moving because the house no longer meets their needs. The house may have been wonderful in the past, but not today. Remember, when it comes to your home, the most important thing is quality of life, and in this situation since the house no longer provides that quality, it’s a sure sign the house needs to be sold. If your house no longer brings you the quality of life it should, it is a sign that a change is needed.
Rick is a fee-only financial advisor. His website is www.bloomassetmanagement.com. If you would like Rick to respond to your questions, please email Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org.