Picture yourself walking out, newspaper and coffee in hand, into your lanai, a small plunge pool bordered by miniature palms, the warm Floridian sun welcoming your face. Or imagine strolling out onto your cedar deck, your perfectly relaxed body clad in Bermuda shorts and a short sleeve polo, and taking in the lush green view of the meticulously manicured eighteenth fairway as it rolls toward the clubhouse, a place you frequent virtually each day. Better yet, see yourself turning into the pebbled driveway of a Cape Cod bungalow, resting neatly across the street from picturesque dunes and the accompanying beach, and stepping out of the Mercedes you deprived yourself of for years, silently promising that you would get it the day you retired.
For countless Americans, the image of retirement looks something like the above, with a stationary place to call a new home, one that offers the comforts and benefits that a less than relaxing life had not provided. They look to pull up roots and plant new ones in places that do not have too much snow or too many stairs to climb. They never dream of spending their post-work years in a big city fighting traffic and hustling about; instead, they seek peacefulness and serenity with days spent lunching with friends, playing golf, visiting grandkids, planning their next travel venture, or whatever happens to come to mind.
For others, however, the idea of locking into a place seems too constricting; after all, does life not restrict your desires and wishes? The source of so many people’s frustrations and empty, unfulfilled feelings find their beginnings in resentment and regret. Inevitably people struggle with all that they wish they had done before life set in, and they spend countless hours of their next thirty-five or so years lamenting about what could have been. This approach leads to an endless string of difficulties, from relationship issues to a person’s general well-being and happiness. But what if those ceaseless wants could simply be put on hold, a layaway of sorts? What if a person could plan to have those missing experiences in a much grander, mature fashion later in life?
While the responsibilities of family and work offer so much to a person, no one can completely say that they wish for nothing else, that life in perfect the way it is. Human nature dictates, as does our culture, the endless search for the next moment, for the next step, to satisfy all we have trapped inside. So, many people push ahead, waiting for the chance to recapture what they once thought was attainable. They think about the years to come and pray not to end up in a condo adjacent to a golf course, a saltbox cape overlooking a lake, or a small log cabin inundated with nature. Instead, they hope for something else.
With this understanding in mind, a different type of retirement option should come into play. For those people who hate feeling chained to a particular place or spot, make retirement your chance to live the world, not just travel it. Forgo the standard trip south and open up the bounders of your golden years. Plan to not just sightsee in a given place or take a guided tour with a group of other retirees, but actually live there. Base your plan on all the places you wished you could have experienced as a younger person, and set your goals on renting apartments or small house in these places. Immerse yourself in the culture, meet and interact with the locals, and become a citizen of the world.
If you once longed to study abroad in Ireland but lost the chance for some reason, pack a couple of suitcases and hop on a plane with your spouse bound for Dublin. Acquire a small flat in the west end of the historic city and live like you would have. Visit pubs, universities, landmarks, libraries, museums, and any other place that calls to you. After a few months, come home to your house, spend time with the family, and revisit “home’ while you configure your next place to live.
If you feel drawn by the French Quarter, rent a second floor apartment in New Orleans, ride the trolleys, get a few beads, eat some crawfish. Next, live a few months in Bermuda and fall in love with the traditional British isle, and then set off to the Back Bay in Boston to follow the Freedom Trail.
You can return to your home any time you want. You can have visitors and bring family all around the country and world if you wish. You can have countless stories to tell. But, most of all, you do not have to walk out into that same lanai, onto that same cedar deck, or onto that same pebble driveway if you do not want to do so.
Deferred dreams do not have to go unrealized just because you did not get to them in your twenties or thirties. If you have the resources to buy a new piece of property and the pension or investments to live there comfortably, you can move from place to place instead. Some love the structure a defined place allows, but others live for change and space. Remember that there exists no time limit on dreams and reaching them is often more about patience than persistence. Raise your family, contribute to society, and then have what you have always wanted. Life can then be complete.