How to Make a Smooth Transition into Retirement

I retired 16 years ago and haven’t looked back once to see if a “fowl” decision was chasing me. On the day after my company held a retirement ceremony for me … which I did NOT attend as my last gesture of up yours … my spouse and I were on our way from the cold, cold East to the sunny, sunny desert. I’ve had not one twinge of regret ever since. Also, I had locked up a fairly good pension and investments, so the up yours gesture was mostly symbolic. Advice: when you retire, you should arrange that you’ll bring in at least 50% of what your salary had been. Try to make sure your investments, pension and Social Security will do that for you, and your retirement years will be less stressful.

I was miserable during my final five years of a 25-year-career with the same company. So, preparing for retirement between age 60 and 65 was a somewhat priority goal for me. Advice: Start as early as possible to plan for retirement. Fortunately, our kids had already gone out on their own, so our remaining task was to sell our house. We spruced it up and put it on the market. After a couple of lagging realtors failed to get any results, we finally found a gung-ho character who nailed a sale. Advice: don’t hold on to a realtor who won’t be very aggressive.

The sale was encouraging, but it was based on a delay of six months before closing. This was somewhat iffy, but since we got our price, we just held our breaths a bit and went on with retirement plans. First, we traveled West to explore whether we wanted to live on the beach or in the desert. When we chose desert, we rented an apartment. Advice: When deciding on your retirement nest, do NOT buy immediately. Rent, preferably on a month-to-month basis, for awhile to make sure you’ve found the area you want. Then, after you’ve been around the area, checked real estate and other amenities, so you can decide on a permanent home there without being rushed. And you have the freedom to just pack up and move to another area.

When retirement approached and we neared the time to skedaddle, we had a whole series of garage sales. We tacked up signs in the neighborhood and took out ads in local newspapers. Because we had several weeks to do the job, it worked very well and we got fairly good prices. In fact, the last piece of furniture was sold with one of our visiting kids still in it. Advice: If possible, give yourself plenty of time to sell out. Further advice: We decided that getting rid of virtually everything before we moved was better than lugging the heavy old stuff out to our retirement home. This can be an advantage, especially if you’re typically going from a big house to a smaller retirement house or apartment.

After three years of apartment living in our new desert town, we bought a house. It’s a modest little place, but in the 12 years we’ve lived in it, the value has gone up almost 300 percent. We’ve been very happy, and keep busy volunteering and traveling. Advice: You won’t “fowl” up if you plan intelligently and do not rush into quick decisions. If, like us, you’re sitting in an East Coast snowbank right now contemplating retirement, just think of us sitting by the community pool complaining that the temperature on this chilly February day is only 75 degrees.