Thinking about retirement, part 2

When I think about retirement now, several questions come to mind.  First, will Social Security still exist?  I think it will, but the benefit may be reduced, or the retirement age may be changed.  I get the estimate in the mail every year from the Social Security Administration stating what my income from SS will be at retirement, but in reality, who knows?  A lot of things could happen between now and then.

Second, where should I live?  Should I keep my current house?  Its size suits me (2 BR, 2 bath, 1260 sq. ft.); I have a fenced-in back yard for doggies, and plenty of other yard space for a garden.  And it will be paid off.  Also, I live one block from the beach, and within walking distance of the grocery store, drugstore,

Should I stay or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go?

clothing store, several restaurants, my church, a hospital, and two of my closest friends.  The house has an open floor plan, and there are only doors on the bedrooms and bathrooms.  It would be a good choice for “aging in place.”

 
Or should I sell the house?  I bought it in 2000 for $80,000; by 2005 the “comps” in my neighborhood were going for $220,000.  Location, location, location.  Even though housing prices in Florida are dropping like a rock, my market value is still almost twice what it was when I bought it, because of location.  There is very little free land left on the beachside, and the most valuable part of my property is the lot.  One block from the ocean, one block from the river – location.  Of course, location is also a potential problem.  If a Katrina-type storm strikes here, my house will be completely underwater (pretty much the entire beachside would be wiped clean).  Even if a category 1 storm is headed this way, I’m in the mandatory evacuation zone.  I don’t know that I want to still be evacuating for hurricanes into my 70s.  If I sold the house, I’d have all the proceeds to put towards a new place.
 
If I sell the house, where should I go?  Florida weather suits me, but if the weather is going to become more extreme over the next few decades, Florida may not suit me in 20 years.  I could move inland in this area, to a location where I wouldn’t have to do yardwork but could still garden, still walk to the grocery store and drugstore and clothing store and hospital.  I wouldn’t be able to walk to church or to friends’ houses.  I wouldn’t have a fence or much of a yard for dogs.  But I wouldn’t have to evacuate for anything but the worst of hurricanes. 
 
Florida’s population growth has slowed somewhat in the current economy.  If it picks up again, that’ll be too bad.  There are way too many people here now.  The infrastructure isn’t keeping up with the number of people moving in.  In 20 years, Florida may be nearly unlivable because of the sheer numbers of people here.  Not to mention, we’re going to run out of water.
 
If I go out of state, where would I go?  My thinking right now is Asheville.  I have some family there, and the rest of the family is about an hour away.  It snows there, but if I don’t have to go out in it or drive in it to go to work, I like snow.  There aren’t many natural disasters that regularly strike that area of the country.  And Asheville is a cool place – lots of artsy stuff going on, and I know the healthcare system is good there.  I don’t know anything about housing there – but in 20 years it’ll be different anyway.
 
Other concerns – how will my health be?  Will I be able to afford some travel?  What else am I not thinking of?
 
The closer I get to retirement, the clearer the picture will become, of course.  For right now, since my health is good, the main concerns I have about retirement are income and housing.  I know a lot of people my age and just a little younger (who don’t work for government agencies) think they’ll never be able to retire.  If I didn’t work for a government agency, I might feel the same way.  I feel very fortunate that I don’t have to rely on my own savings for retirement income.
 
So, I have two pieces of advice:  1.  If you are so disposed, get a job with a government agency whose pension plan is fully funded.  2.  If you don’t want to work for the government, start saving as much as you can now for retirement.  You’re going to need it.
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