Retirement Paradise?

Does that term really apply to anything?

First, a lot of people really can’t afford to retire, not anymore. The jokes about 401(k) retirement accounts becoming 201(not ok) accounts aren’t really jokes, and inflation stands to make the situation much worse.

Second, where is that paradise?

For an American, it could mean any place you could actually live on Social Security — namely Mexico, Costa Rica or Portugal. Not the US.

Some developers are trying to define retirement paradise as an over-55 community, that is, no kids or families, just older folks watching each other die. Maybe that sounds harsh, but maybe, stripped of the advertising hype, that’s just what these places are, and no, I want no part of that.(1)

In reading the article in MarketWatch, I wondered to what extent the elderly are being scared into moving to these over 55 enclaves. Is this a modern form of red lining, where fear of “them” is driving elderly whites to fork over absurd amounts of money to get into these depressing zones?

Some people think that older folks belong in cities, where there is public transport and no need to own a car. Interesting idea, if it were affordable for someone on a limited income. That’s a huge problem not only in the US but elsewhere. Speculators are driving housing prices through the roof. Crime is also a concern, and of course, there’s that “them” thing again. Cities are remarkable for their diversity. It’s what makes them vibrant and interesting.

Almost no one now thinks that nursing homes are a good solution for the elderly. The coronavirus taught a difficult lesson on that one. As practiced today in many places, nursing homes are merely an early stage hospice, designed to milk government and family funds for providing at best mediocre service and, as noted in a prior post, using drugs to transform patients into compliant zombies. Yes, there are exceptions, I’m sure, but they’re hard to find and costly.

For me, that paradise is probably a small house on a high hill overlooking the ocean. While I have an affinity for New England, it really doesn’t matter what country or ocean, not any more.

I’m still looking. But what people are trying to convince me to accept doesn’t cut it.

My mother, back in the day, interviewed and wrote about British fiction author John Collier.(2) In his last years, Collier bought a house in the woods an California, a good hike from any medical services. Even them, there was wonder that someone in his seventies would take that kind of risk, and it would be totally impractical in the modern forest fire era. However, I totally understand the attraction.

Bottom line: As I try to tell my insurance clients, unless you plan for your later years, you are probably going to get stuck where you don’t want to be. You can’t wait til the last minute, either, because then what you want won’t happen. You can always change your plans, but you need to start building them.

Sources:

  1. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-villages-is-a-retirement-paradiseso-why-is-that-a-problem-11631818529
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Collier_(fiction_writer)

2 comments

  1. While I can see the practicalities of senior condos and the like, I would never survive in one. I spent a few days in one visiting my sister and it was awful. The women were all at war over the color of the recycle bins and the old men were skulking around the hallways, hiding from the women no doubt. I prefer a humble little home with a few birds and squirrels for neighbours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like neighbors, at least the ones are are friendly and live-and-let-live. I’ve had my fill of Homeowners Associations and hope to never see one again. Among garden guests, I prefer birds and chippies to squirrels.

      Liked by 1 person

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