April 19, 2017

Moving To Be Near Family After Retirement: A Good Idea?


I am among retirement writers who suggest that moving right after retirement is a step that should be taken with caution. Leaving friends and familiarity is never easy. The adjustment after leaving work generates enough stress. Adding a move and all that implies just puts more pressure on you. Moving after retirement is an important decision; it takes time and planning. 

Over the six plus years of this blog I have shared several stories of newly retired folks who have left both a job and a long time home in short order, and regretted that move more often than not. Usually, the difficulty in establishing new friendships and missing ties at home lead the list. In short, home sickness can strike at any age. Others found the weather not as ideal as it seemed after watching the Weather Channel. Housing prices may be so different that affording a place to call home is too difficult.

That being said, for some of us a move soon after retirement is the right step to take. If your job kept you in a climate or community that left you unhappy, then the freedom to leave all that behind is welcome. If you have no family nearby and living near the ocean or a high mountain meadow has always been a dream, now you can make it a reality.

The most common reason we move after retirement is family-related. Sometimes it is the need to be able to care for an aging parent or relative who lives far away. There are no other siblings who can help, so the responsibility is yours. Other times, it may be the desire to be closer to a grown son or daughter and the grandchildren.

I can certainly relate to that desire. Betty and I moved from the area we called home for 30 years to be close to the grandkids. Granted it was only 40 minutes away, but we did leave an area, friends, and a church relationship we liked and had spent three decades building. In our case it has turned out beautifully. We love our new area and interact with family all the time.

The flipside of our experience was shared with me by a reader a few years ago. He and his wife left their long time home community to be close to a son and his family. Within a few months they realized they had made a big mistake. Their new community was so different from "home" that they struggled to adapt to the weather and different culture. Their son and his family had their own very full life and were rarely available for mom and dad. That couple ended up moving back to their old area and way of life. An occasional plane flight to keep the family connected turned out to be the better option.

What about you? After retirement have you moved to be closer to family? Have you decided to relocate to provide care for aging parents or to be closer to grown children and grandkids? Or, have you made the decision to stay where you are, depending on travel to stay in touch? 

This choice is one of the most important ones you may face during your retirement. While the urge to move is often quite strong, the reasons to do so must be solid and well planned.

I invite you to share your experiences and decisions. We can all learn from what you have decided.


48 comments:

  1. My husband and I moved right after retirement to a new state, climate and the problem of making new friends. It did not work well for several reasons. The winters were too cold, for me especially, making new friends was hard, especially for him and although we had no children (only stepsons that he wasn't particularly close to), it was leaving the familiar. My husband also struggled with feeling he no longer had purpose in life. Fast forward 11 years and he passed away from cancer and I stayed on for three more years. But I eventually moved back to my home and much warmer state where I have made friends and keep fairly busy in life now. This second move has worked for me well. So I think it depends on everyone's situation. Some families are close, some not as much. I find friends of a same age and mindset to be most satisfying..

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    1. Your story is a cautionary tale that fits the theme of this post nicely. A quick move after retirement may work out just fine...or not. Taking the time to research the new area, rent for awhile before buying, sample several seasons to "test drive" the weather are all reasonable things to do before such a major commitment.

      Thanks for sharing, Mary.

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  2. We have been advised not to move to be near the kids, because you never know when they will move away, and you don't want to be trailing them all over the country for the rest of your life. In our case, it's a moot point, since our kids are scattered all up and down the East coast. So we're moving to a new town in a new state, kind of in the middle of all of them, but not close to any of them. As you point out, it's a big step. We're doing it with some trepidation but also a lot of anticipation. We'll see how it works out.

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    1. Following your journey on your blog convinces me you are approaching this action with a lot of thought and planning. I know several retirees who face your situation: kids scattered all over so they pick a place that makes them happy but isn't too far away to visit on occasion.

      One of the bloggers I know lives in Hawaii, has a adult child in Japan, and another going to college on the East Coast. In that situation, Hawaii is halfway between both!

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    2. Good advice, Tom. If our parents had tried to move close to us they would have moved annually. We knew better than to base our decision on where the kids were. They are each about an hour and a half away and that is fine. We sacrifice so much for our kids along the way and I believe in our retirement years we should do what makes us happy and comfortable.
      b

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  3. I moved 15 years ago to be close to parents. Now that they're gone, sisters want me to move to be closer. I'm giving myself at least a year to decide whether to move or not.

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    1. Good plan. Time is your friend in this case.

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  4. I have seen more issues than comfortable situations result from such moves. With all the split marriages and estranged relationships, did the young move away to get away from your meddling, but are unwilling to hurt your feelings?

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    1. Yes, it is possible your explanation is the reason for distances between family members. Moving to be close to a relative only makes sense if both sides enjoy the relationship, or there is a responsibility to care for a family member.

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  5. Since we both already have one foot out the door and we do have friends already in the new location, our move across the country in June 2018 cannot come soon enough.

    Family members can come visit us. Period. End of story!

    Also, I have a friend who did just that. Moved to be near her daughter. It is not working out. Her daughter and family don't have the time to spend with her in their busy lives. She would have done better just flying in to visit with them. Too late now though. She is pretty stuck I think. Good lesson for all.

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    1. Betty and I were lucky. We had committed to staying in Phoenix when our daughters moved to California. An hour plane flight or 7 hour drive kept us connected for births and holidays. But, after a few years, both girls and son-in-law moved back to be near us. They had been raised here and felt it was the best place for their families families and be close to both sets of grandparents. It has been a tremendous decision.

      In all honesty, if one of the girls had moved back east or somewhere farther away I am not sure what Betty and i would have done. Luckily, we didn't face that tough choice.

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  6. We moved to a better state after Deb retired, and a couple of years before I joined her. We have never looked back, and when our only child moved within five hours of our new home after a few years, it was the icing on the cake. I guess the bottom line is if you are in a good situation for your needs, don't even think about leaving. But if you can't stand where you currently are, whether due to costs or climate or whatever, get out as soon as you possibly can. And don't expect your new home area to bend and be exactly the same as what you left. If you do you will be sorely disappointed.

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    1. Your point about you changing and not the area you move to is very important. I am afraid too many folks think it should be the other way around, or the new area should be exactly like "home." That never works.

      Your and Deb love eastern Tennessee. You have done well.

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  7. We are such a mobile society for various reasons. I live in CT, am single and my only child lives in Rochester, NY. He went to college there 15 years ago and for now has made this his new home.

    When I retired a couple of years ago, I thought moving to Rochester would be a good idea. I am glad I waited to make the decision because living where I am now is the best for me at this time in my life. I am a hour's flight away which is the only way I choose to visit him now since the drive for me takes 2 days each way. Too long for me to do in a day.

    My family is here and one thing not mentioned in your post is the medical care. The thought of changing all my doctors helped with making the decision to stay put. I will keep an open mind and am glad to hear other's experiences.

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    1. I went to college in Syracuse and stayed for a few years after graduation to work in radio. The winter snows in Syracuse and Rochester are pretty amazing, nothing I could tolerate anymore.

      The medical care comment is important. Particularly in today's health care mess, if you have a good set of doctors and facilities stay with them! I read about more rural areas of the country being left with very few (sometimes even no) doctors and no adequate hospital options. That is certainly a deal breaker.

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  8. I just moved from Texas to California for family reasons. I'll miss what I had in Texas, but no more than what I missed here in California when I moved to Texas 20 years ago. Financially it wasn't a smart move, but otherwise I think the change will be good as learn the area and make new friends and of course reconnect more often with the family.

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    1. Best of luck in your adjustment. Depending where in California, at least your weather will be more moderate and with the drought over for the time being, life in California should be pleasant. We like San Diego, Napa Valley, and parts of Northern California, but the cost of living is a serious challenge.

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    2. I'm taking exception to the California is expensive argument. First I think most of that is for housing. Eliminate that and I think Cal and TX are pretty much equal. Give me a year to add it up to know for sure. btw I moved to Sonora about a 2 hour drive into the Bay Area where most of my family is.

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  9. I have not done this myself, but my sister and her husband have been trying to make this decision for the last couple of years. Most of the family is now here in Oregon, and there is no family left in Memphis. However, their whole lives are rooted in Memphis, and they still have friends and activities there, and their home that they've lived in for over 50 years. Tough decision. I'm going to pass your article on to them. The article as well as the comments will be helpful to them, I'm sure.

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    1. Betty and I have met them, haven't we? 50 years of history in one place would be tough to leave behind. Memphis is less than 3 hours from Portland by plane. Still, I don't envy them this choice, though family always wins for me.

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    2. It wouldn't be bad if there really were a 3 hour non stop flight. Unfortunately, you have to change planes and it makes the trip double the time. Have you met them? I don't think so, but as Mia says, I have the memory of a gnat, so maybe you did!

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    3. Maybe it was a nephew. It was a younger couple moving to Oregon so that makes more sense.

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  10. Moved from Northern Virginia to Summerville, SC-- 20 minutes from downtown Charleston, SC. Kids (2) begged us to be closer to them so we can see them and watch the g' kids grow up. We did it. It has been great!

    They leave us alone for days/ weeks at a time and then we get together for an athletic event the kids are in. They babysit the dog as needed as well. Get together for meals as well probably monthly.
    Our gated retirement community ( without the gate) has been wonderful. Monthly "Wine Downs" monthly Saturday breakfasts, ladies out to lunch one day per month plus bingo/ bunco nights,book clubs and other events have been a boon for us and my " quieter" wife. Quiet wife was asked to serve on the HOA board, said no but is heading the Social Committee. Even shared last Thanksgiving at son's home with ex-wife and husband with no fireworks. Very pleasant and they also live in Charleston. Now how about that!

    Second daughter lives in Phoenix and loves coming here with her family intact in one place. Great blog once again!

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    1. Friends of ours were in Charleston last week and absolutely loved the area, especially the great food! I had a client in Savannah, but have only been to Charleston once, many years ago. I remember big mansion, pretty streets, and humidity.

      Your setup sounds perfect for everyone...a nice mix of together and alone time.

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  11. Our move mirrors yours and Betty's. When my husband retired three years ago, we sold our home about thirty minutes away from our daughter and her family and moved within 5 minutes of them. Our single daughter is closing on a house in a few days here in our same town. We are enjoying our grand-kids sporting events and family meals a couple of times a month. We also help out with baby-sitting duties for our special needs granddaughter and take care of each other's homes and pets when we are on vacation. The move has been beneficial to all of us and hopefully, one day it will make it easier for our daughters to participate in our care and decisions.

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    1. You are right..that sounds a lot like our life, minus the special needs situation. We get together for dinner every Sunday evening and have the kids over for a 1-2 night sleepover once every 6 weeks or so. When my daughter and husband want a night out we take care of the kids and they occasionally watch our dog. It works out well.

      We also found it fun to move to a new part of the Phoenix area. It is growing like crazy, has all sorts of parks and new (for us) entertainment and nature opportunities. We couldn't be happier about the move.

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  12. I moved a few years after retirement, mostly for climate and have no regrets. It takes work to make friends and a routine. After almost 9 years, I relocated within the community to a single story house. Let me tell you, the second move was rough...my toleration for stress, decision making and physical strength were noticeably worse. So my advice is to think through a move, but don't wait too long. My next move better be feet first.

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    1. I trust this will be our last house until we have to move to some level of care facility. Moving is physically tough at any age, but now even rougher. I can relate!

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  13. Three decades ago my parents had the opportunity to move to the West Coast 1100 miles away from our family. They would have had the perfect setting: a lovely house available on the same street as longtime friends, many of their siblings were close by, much warmer weather would be enjoyed, no more ice and snow, lots of social and physical activities awaited them. The only thing missing: their two very young grandsons. They decided being close to us trumped the other things no matter how good it looked. My Dad passed away only a couple of years later. He and my Mom would have enjoyed only a couple of years together at their new home. Instead, she still lives near us and enjoys a very special solid relationship with her two grandsons, their wives and now a great grandson. The siblings have all passed away, of the friends only two are left and are not healthy at all. Grandma also has three more grandchildren, a foster grandchild and is still in her same old home of almost 50 years. The neighbours watch out for her. She enjoys her freedom of being able to drive to get her hair done, shop, and visit her new great grandson on a weekly basis. She always says she was so fortunate that she and my Dad didn't move as coming back after he died would be far beyond what she could have handled and look at what she has surrounding her now. My SIL and BIL were going to do the same type of move to be nearer their one daughter and her two sons instead of their twice yearly visits which were getting expensive on their retirement budget. As mentioned by others, the boys are now so busy with their activities and the daughter is now courting a new boyfriend so there is no room for my SIL and BIL in their lives and they have actually stopped their twice yearly visits. They only see the daughter and her two sons whenever they can visit here! Both our kids, their wives and our grandson live close to us. I can't imagine our lives without them. Situations can change but my husband and I are thankful and enjoying our family for now! I guess the key here is maybe learn from others before making a drastic decision like moving from where your roots are right now at this time of your life! Take care!

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    1. That is a great lesson for others. You have summarized some of the most important pitfalls and pluses of thinking through a move of great distance very carefully.

      When I and my two brothers were growing up in the Boston area my dad almost took a job in San Diego. He ended up not getting it. Later, I was offered a job in San Luis Obispo on the central California Coast. I decided to stay in Iowa with my new family.

      Either of those moves would have altered my life and that of my family dramatically. I certainly would not have met Betty in West Virginia if I had grown up near the Pacific Ocean.

      Moves have life-altering consequences.

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  14. It is interesting to read the different responses you have received Bob! We are "aging in place" partially by necessity but also by choice. I say by necessity because our home is paid for and although small, it is comfortable and meets our needs. If we had to make house payments I do not think we would be able to be retired for we are living primarily on Social Security retirement although we do have savings and investments for emergencies and any future expenses.

    I grew up in a family that moved every two or three years so in my adult years it has been important to me to put down roots. We have lived here 40 years this summer and we are comfortable here. We spent the last ten years of our working life making improvements to our home so there would be less upkeep expenses when we did retire. We have our church, friends and our grown children and grandchildren live less than an hour away. Everything here is familiar to us and we like it that way. It is fun to occasionally travel somewhere else but we are always ready and happy to come back home. In today's mobile society I realize our grown children could have job transfers and move away and I would hate that. But, I would not follow them because if they did move they might not even stay in that location.

    So for us the retirement location question was not even there. I will say that even if we did want to move somewhere else I can not imagine doing it in the first year or two of retirement. Retirement itself is a bigger adjustment than I think many of us expect - even if you do love it!

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    1. This is the type of post I especially enjoy because it does prompt so many interesting responses. It also proves the point that each of us comes to our retirement decisions based on our unique needs and family situations.

      You and a few others have made the very important point that moving to be close to grown children can sometimes backfire when those "kids" then move again.

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  15. A home is where you hang your hat. ~ US Army wife moto
    We moved a great deal when the kids were small. We never established those life long community networks of friends. Both of us have several, very good friends. We haven't lived near any three of them in any of our last 35 years. We communicate well and have no hesitation to fly somewhere to help out/celebrate.
    Both sets of our parents spent from 5-10 years in progressive communities at the end of their lives, with few of their lifelong friends. They gained new friends and were (are) very happy that they had grands to visit them.
    My husband left the military 20 years ago and we moved near my childhood home. Jobs in Flagstaff were few and medical care was not covered. When our youngest child moved away to college, we packed up for a job in Kansas. After we both retired in Kansas (eight years) we sold and moved here, to Delaware. We moved so we could be closer to our grands (70 miles), but also because the cost of living as a senior is wayyyyy low. Gosh, Delaware is a dream for me- water, seasons, fresh fruit and veggies. Most of all the last two years have been amazing. We have become important parts of our grandchildren's lives.
    There is a good chance our daughter's crew will move soon, but our son is going to be stationed in New York for the next three years. After that, if my daughter does move, who know what we will do. Neither of us want to return to Flagstaff. My husband has family in Idaho---but that is too confining for me. That uncertainty does not bother us (it is a source of conversation). We figure we will continue to live and enjoy life where ever we plant ourselves. Maybe we are more hermit like then we ever expected to be?
    In the long run, I would like to be remembered by someone in 100 years. I haven't invented anything, I am not a great artist, so that leaves my future great grandchildren. I am hoping those stories of, " My Nana taught me how to...." live on for a very long time. So at 60, my hat is hanging here, but will probably move again (maybe even a few more times). That is OK. I love an adventure. It takes all kinds for the world to go round, doesn't it?

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    1. Your attitude toward change and adjustment is refreshing. Certainly, your military background helps, but your "wherever I am is home" is a win-win for you and your family.

      I would have the same wish as you for memories after I am gone: memories based on relationships and lessons taught, not "success" as the world measures it.

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  16. I traveled a great deal while working and eventually settled on the west coast in Olympia, WA. I am single so my family consisted of 2 sisters and a brother all living in Chicago or Michigan. I decided to move back closer to them as I am starting to feel my age and thought it would be nice to be close to "family".
    I miss my friends and activities in WA, but have moved into a senior complex and gotten to know more people and am active with the group. In fact have become a volunteer activities director. Am thinking about starting a web site to show how seniors can be active with very little money, and also about my previous travels.

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    1. Let me know if you start that web site.

      I am glad your move turned out to be a net positive. The Olympia area is beautiful, but it is quite a distance from family as you age.

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    2. We moved to start a new adventure, which has invigorated our lives. We retired from our medical and dental practices, and moved near Lake Tahoe, where we wake up to incredible beauty and have made wonderful new friends. I joined the local Ski Patrol and my wife loved the local yarn store so much that she bought it! As long as we are near a good airport, we knew we could visit our kids. Each of them has moved several times and will probably move again, as today"s economy often dictates. Chasing them around, buying new homes when they move, deciding which one to be close to just didn't make sense for anybody. We spent 5 years researching the area we moved to, which was important. We lived in a great place for 35 years, but moving away has been like starting a whole new and exciting chapter in our book. We certainly had a few doubts, but in the end, we plunged into our new life together and have not looked back. This is not for everybody, but it can be a great way to go.

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  17. Moving too fast after we retired was not the best decision.I would caution against thinking the place you like to vacation would make a great "home!" It MAY but-- test it out first! If we had rented a year, the error of our thinking would have been clear. And the move back,simpler. My husband loved the woods, I did not. I underestimated how much I disliked cold weather and snow and ice and shoveling and driving in it! I don't like small town living, and I missed my son, my friends, my LIFE in the Valley where we have lived for 33 years! We had to compromise and move back, and it was expensive. And exhausting. A lesson learned. I think there are some very expensive states to live in, in retirement (Our relatives in New Jersey pay EXORBITANT property tax!!!!) and a few of my East coast friends have retired to Delaware for many reasons, and are happy. If there's any way to test the waters,do! A big move is MUCH MORE INVOLVED than you remember, folks!!!! I feel like Dorothy now, "There's no place like home!!"

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    1. Renting a home or condo for a period of time before committing to a move is smart for two reasons: as Madeline notes you may not like the area for a variety of reasons. Secondly, you really don't know what part of your new town or area is the best match for you. Spending the time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of various sections of town will make a possible move much more pleasant.

      As many readers have noted so far, this is not a decision to be taken lightly. A move after retirement is different from a move during your working career for a whole slew of reasons.

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  18. I don't think anyone has chimed in with the point of view of the 'children'. Soon to pass the 40 mark, my parents are older, both mid to late 60s. Divorced and remarried, they both live in different states from myself and I will often tell people that a relative moving into my state would immediately be followed by my moving out!

    I believe that some, possibly many, reach retirement age and then want to re-center themselves around family only to discover that the family doesn't make/have/want room for them in this new full time capacity. The idea of sunday night dinner's makes me cringe, the obligatory twice a month outing. For myself at least, the 25 plus year age gap means that, while I care for my parents, we are not 'friends' and the idea of them moving closer for the express idea of hanging out with me means only a lot of work and inconvenience on my part. It creates an unending series of obligations looming in the horizon. Vacation on the coast? Should mom come? Holiday in paris? Can we afford to take mom? Guests over for the superbowl? Will mom be offended if she's not invited? What if she arrives unexpectedly? No, no, no. This is not an organic situation but something manipulated.

    Each of the children have moved at least a state away from the parents in our case. This is not because they, or we, are bad people but the family dynamic isn't there and attempting to force that by moving closer, yikes! As you can tell, I have some feelings on this subject. I rarely hear a friend exclaim with excitement over a parent moving closer (even as the spouse cringes in the background) and have never heard of one initiating the move.

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    1. Your opinion, especially in such strong terms, has not been expressed to this point. But, it has the right to be. Your relationship with your parents probably represents more people than we may think.

      One thing that both this post and comments should have made clear is that there is no one way to handle this question. My feelings, and those of my immediate family, may be the complete opposite of yours. We love our Sunday night dinners together. We love going to Disneyland as a full family.

      But, all that means is we are different.

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  19. Wow ok what a warm hearted person you seem to be! I lived in the same town until my parents both passed, as did my husband with one of his. I loved my Mother, especially and I would have wanted her near me forever if I'd had that choice. She was a dear and wonderful person. I feel sorry for you that you never experienced that feeling of receiving and giving to someone else other than yourself. I would give anything for a weekly Sunday dinner with my folks. I'm so grateful I don't have your attitude.

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    1. Morgan has strong opinions. This is not the first post that he/she has taken a viewpoint different from the majority. Frankly, I welcome other points of view. It gives each of us a chance to think through our feelings and beliefs. As long as any comments stay on point and don't end up in an on-going comment battle, I encourage them.

      Like you, I am very happy my family (grown daughters, son-in-law, grandkids, and my parents until they died) loves to be with each other. But, if we didn't, to force such an interaction would likely produce the type of emotions that Morgan is expressing.

      Thanks, Mary.

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    2. I am always grateful, Bob, that you don't choose to only publish the comments that make us feel good, or where we all agree. It can be hard to tell the difference between a comment where someone struggles to express an alternate viewpoint versus simply wishing to express their superiority to the other posters by being derisive or dismissive. I like to think I bring something to the conversation even if it's not one that makes me appear in a positive light.

      Someone has to be willing to be express an opposing opinion! ;)

      As always, great blog post.

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  20. I'm a person who combined retirement with a move, but I wasn't moving to a new place. Instead, I was moving "home" to a place I had moved away from for work reasons 25 years earlier, and where I had maintained a part-time residence and a strong friendship network for all those years. In those circumstances, the move has brought all the happiness I hoped it would. -Jean

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    1. "You can't go home again" have have been a popular book, but it is not necessarily true, as you prove. Going back to your roots is quite satisfactory for many.

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  21. This is such a timely topic for us, Bob. I am retiring at the end of June, and Rob has been retired for 11 years already. We moved to our current city because of my work, and are eager to return to our home province, British Columbia. Our dilemma was whether to return to the northern part of the province where many friends and family are, including two of our kids and two grandchildren, or whether to go to Vancouver Island close to where two of our kids and two grandchildren are, and also close to Vancouver where a fifth adult child and a large number of friends are.

    We have opted for the latter. The temperate weather and proximity to better medical care also was a factor. We have just bought a house on Vancouver Island and will move there this summer. My daughter and SIL have been very eager for us to move closer and they are thrilled. Sometimes there is no one right answer and you just have to make the best possible choice at the time.

    We are happy to go back to BC and plan to travel regularly to the northern parts of the province to visit. Also we hope that our new place on the Island will serve as a holiday destination for many of our spread out friends and family!

    Jude

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    1. Vancouver Island is beautiful. Betty and I have been there twice and loved it. I imagine the northern parts of BC can get a little nippy in the winter. I know which choice i would have made!

      Enjoy your new closeness to part of the family and the trips to the rest.

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