Retiring and Moving

One million people move every year following retirement.  Most change within their state, but 38 percent relocate to another state.  Why do retirees move?

Many retirees came here on my Reno street of about forty-five families living in newly constructed homes because they wanted to be closer to family, particularly grandchildren.  Many appreciated the absence of state income tax to maintain their standard of living.  A few moved for health reasons and a love of outdoor activities like skiing and hiking.  All of these new retirees who came predominantly from Northern and Southern California ( four of us are from San Diego County ) comment they like the less crowded conditions and the fewer cars in Reno compared to large areas such as the Bay Area and San Diego County which has a population of 3.3 million.  Washoe County in 2021 was 493,014, while Reno qualifies as a smallish town with only 268,509 inhabitants.

Michele LaRue is a former San Diego psychologist now living in Reno, Nevada.

Besides noticing why retirees move, I also observed something in the language of retirees, which gives me a clue as to how happy these people are.  My sample of golfers hitting California and Nevada links offered this information.  Seduced by a fifty-degree, sunny day on golf courses in Reno, golfers often articulate the phrase, “another day in paradise.”  Golfers who believe they have found Nirvana in a year-round Palm Desert home on a seventy-five-degree day in February use the exact phrase.  San Diego enthusiasts frequently soliloquize about “another day in paradise.” While mild weather would seem to be paradisiacal, this small sample would indicate that “mild weather” might be in the eye of the golfer.  The ability to perceive goodness in the less obvious might be a helpful quality if you are moving to another area.

If you are thinking about moving, here are a few things that my husband Tom and I did to facilitate our move.

Experience many towns, pick a few that you return to frequently, and spend 30 days in your top picks.  We spent four snowy January weeks in both Bend and Reno to assess our ability to adapt to the cold.

Make a list of 10 to 15 things you want to have in retirement separately if you are part of a couple, and then share your lists.    Decide on which values are the most important to you and which ones you are willing to let go of. Tom and I listed a small town with friendly people near our Bay Area family, an international airport, a university, several golf courses, and a thriving yoga community.  In addition, we wanted a 2500 square foot, single-level, newly constructed home with comfortable, modern furnishings and solar and proximity to lots of reservoirs.

Start donating, selling on Craig’s list, and getting rid of stuff over time.  We went through our belongings about five times over two years, and in the end, we were down to one-third of the original amount of stuff.  It’s a great relief not to have so many material things, and we were very thoughtful not to accumulate more when we moved.  Now, purchasing a toaster is a mindful process.

Be ready for obstacles to all your careful planning.  Resilience is a highly desirable quality when you relocate!

If you are thinking of retiring and being among the 38 percent making a geographical change, I will enjoy talking with you about it.  You can contact me at