What to consider when deciding whether to move closer to family.
Has moving closer to your adult kids crossed your mind? You've probably already thought of the advantages of having extended family nearby: You can start fresh in a new city and new home, switch up your career, and best of all, be closer to your children and grandchildren.
You might also have heard some cautionary tales about doing this from friends or acquaintances who relocated with less-than-perfect results: they sold their home for less than desired, it caused a gap in their salary or their kids ended up moving again.
Like a lot of big life decisions, you can find the right answer for yourself and your family by asking smart questions. Here are seven of the most important ones to help you get started:
1. Is there a way to test drive moving closer to my family?
We're going to answer for you: Yes!
Stockpile some vacation time and try an extended stay of at least a month. Make sure it's during "normal" times, not just holidays. Really get a sense of the routines for you, your kids and their family by doing ordinary stuff like grocery shopping, going to the gym, or getting a haircut.
Does your company offer flexibility, letting you work remotely, take a sabbatical, or work based out of a different branch of the same company? If so, try to arrange a home swap, or temporarily rent out your current home to cover costs of renting in the test location, and see how it goes.
2. What will my kids think of living closer to their parent(s)?
Ideally, less distance between you and your kids—and, perhaps, grandkids—will mean more time to spend together. This can be amazing for your family, but also means you need to set new boundaries.
Have a discussion with your adult children and their partners to make sure you're all in agreement about what your move may mean for your relationships. Some questions to consider are:
- Will it be OK to pop in without calling first?
- What are the expectations or limits on grandparents babysitting?
- How frequently will the family have dinner together (and who foots the bill)?
- How will everyone ask for help when needed—whether for yard work or a ride to the airport?
- How long will your kids be staying in this location? If your kids move away, what happens then?
3. Will all my kids be close if I move?
For bigger families, a relocation may put a parent closer to one child at the expense of another. Consider how you'll stay connected across the miles and establish a sense of fairness when it comes to the time and attention you want to give all your loved ones. Also, consider how much you may spend traveling to see family in other locations. Would it cost more than where you live now? Again, talk it out together.
4. Can I afford to move somewhere more expensive?
Consider the cost of living at your new locale. You may need to tweak your spending habits if you move someplace more expensive.
Do the math on what you've been spending on travel to visit your kids when they weren't close, and if you're saving on airfare or car mileage, consider investing that money for retirement.
5. Would downsizing cost me more?
Next, consider whether you want a big home for hosting family—or a smaller home than you have now. Downsizing can mean less home to take care of—but it doesn't necessarily mean scaling back costs much. On average, people ages 65 to 74 who sell a $270,000 home spend $250,000 on their new home.1 Demand for smaller homes, and extra bells and whistles, can drive up costs.
6. Do I want to shift gears in my career?
Lots of options here: Do you need to keep working as much as you have been? Changing to part-time employment or even a taking a break from the daily grind to go back to school could be a good fit when moving closer to family.
If you love your current job, negotiate with your employer to see if you can stay with your company, either by working remotely in your current position, or by transferring to another facility or office nearer to your kids. This can be a permanent change or just temporary if you're test-driving the new location for a few months.
Another option? Start your own business. People between the ages of 55 and 64 are a fast-growing group of new business owners, representing 25.5% of entrepreneurs.2 This is a big financial leap though, so make sure you—and your bank account—are prepared for it. Consider consulting with a financial advisor to help you think through your goals.
7. Is this where I'll want to live when I retire?
There's no right or wrong answer on this, but it's helpful to do a little forecasting on financial conditions for yourself.
- Services: What are the costs of adding comforts like lawn care or home repairs by a pro? Research à la carte options or the package costs of a private, low-maintenance neighborhood that caters to retirees.
- Taxes: Would my taxes go down after retirement in this location? Maybe. Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming are among the best for retirees.3
- Healthcare: Will I be close to the kinds of medical specialists and facilities I want? Are out-of-pocket costs for doctors and hospital stays higher here than where I live now? You can't predict your exact costs, but resources like the Kaiser Family Foundation have some research that can help.4
- Income: Will I have a reliable source of monthly guaranteed income, and if so, will it cover my expenses? Here's a way to get a quick estimate.
Thinking through these seven questions carefully can help you with the big decisions about moving closer to family. Through careful planning and thoughtful discussions with your family, deciding to move closer to your children and grandchildren can be a very rewarding change for your family, career and finances.