by Ann Robson
Retirement decisions rank right up there with getting married, buying a house, having children and building a career. Life is not coming to an end. You are getting a chance to live the way you want, where you want.
My husband and I started thinking about retirement about five years before actually doing it. At first, our discussions were vague. Where would you like to go? What do you want to do? What lifestyle suits us best? I found a Rand McNally guide to retirement planning, and that helped us zero in on more specific things. The guide had a page in the beginning with a series of questions about what was important to you in a new location. I copied that page, and my husband and I answered the questions separately. It surprised me that we answered 19 of 20 questions in the same way.
We were living in a suburb of Detroit at the time, so my first concern was “safety and security.” His was “cultural activity.” When I asked him why he chose culture, he said that if a place offers diverse cultural activity, it likely has a lot of interesting things that go along with that. Hmmm, he was right.
Next step in the questionnaire was to match our answers to places that might be of interest, then to narrow that list to five spots. We wanted to stay close to the East Coast, as most of our family lives in the eastern part of Canada. We discovered that North Carolina had a similar climate—four seasons with winter being short and bearable.
We took a road trip with our list of five places as destinations. We ruled out Hilton Head and Columbia, South Carolina, before heading to Hendersonville, North Carolina, where friends lived. Next, we came to Moore County, where Pinehurst was first on our list. After a day with a Realtor, we, quite by chance, found Whispering Pines. It was close to love at first sight. We found a lot that backed onto one of the golf courses and decided to buy it and build.
Whispering Pines was a hidden gem in 1994 when we were looking. We liked that we could get to the Triangle area (which was one of the five places on our list) in reasonable time for any cultural, sporting or shopping trips and still come home to our peaceful respite in the pines. We began construction in late 1996 and moved in June 1997. It’s one of the best decisions we’ve made.
We had moved several times but never had a choice of location. Retirement gave us that freedom. Many may prefer to age in place close to family, friends and familiar surroundings. Some choose to leave “home” and find a new home. One piece of important advice for those who have not moved often: try to find a place where there are other “transplants.” You’ll have an immediate bond with them.
Another truth is to retire to something, rather than think you are retiring from your life as you know it. We now marvel that we’ve been retired in North Carolina for 20 years.