For our 25th wedding anniversary, Mrs. GoTo and I decided to skip the extravagant party and exotic vacation. Instead, we purchased a pre-retirement vacation home. (That’s our lake house on the left, with a bunch of our extended family visiting for the week.) We’ve owned our second home now for seven years. So far, we love it.
If you are at all inclined to consider a downsize, a relocation, or a split living arrangement in retirement, I think purchasing and trying out a vacation home during your pre-retirement phase has a lot of merit. Some of the benefits did not even occur to me until after we had used our vacation home for a while.
Building Family Memories Before Downsizing
Also, for each of the past five years we have hosted our extended family at our vacation home for a week in the summer. This has been a very popular event for everyone. We have had as many as 23 family members attend, including our sons.
Also, we have encouraged and supported our sons in hosting events of their own at our vacation home – some with us present and some with just our adult sons and their friends.
So far, I think we have been successful in creating an emotional bond between our sons and our vacation home. This should make it easier for us to downsize out of our present home. If we had waited to purchase the vacation home as strictly a retirement home after downsizing, it would have been much more difficult to create a connection between that home and our sons.
Creating a Family Legacy
Because we have enjoyed our vacation home so much, our present plan is to keep it indefinitely and eventually pass it along to our children. When we have mentioned this possibility to our sons, they have been quite enthusiastic about it. In other words, our efforts to create bonds between our vacation home and our sons has begun to transform the vacation home into a family legacy of sorts. This is the kind of legacy that they enjoyed before becoming independent adults and that they will continue to enjoy before they actually take charge of it later.
Easing into Retirement Living
I have discovered from some of the reading I have done about retirement living that a substantial number of retirees regret and undo early decisions about post-retirement locations. They end up being dissatisfied with either the geography or lifestyle associated with that first retirement home purchase.
Purchasing a vacation home in your pre-retirement phase will allow you to evaluate your ability to live in that vacation home environment, either full-time or part-time. For example, our vacation home is situated on a lake in a very rural area. We have neighbors but some are weekenders like us while others are retired and live there permanently. So far, we greatly enjoy the water as well as the peace and tranquility of rural life. On the other hand, we are coming to the realization that we probably will not be happy living there 12 months out of the year. So, our plan is for our vacation home to be a part-time residence when we retire. Hopefully, we will be able to afford that plan! Either way, spending as much time there as we have before retirement has been a great learning experience for us as to our future lifestyle likes and dislikes.
Lowering the Stress of a Working Life
Because our vacation home is only 90 minutes away, we are easily able to spend three or four day weekends there. My job allows me to work remotely, by computer. I do this as often as I can. It is so much more pleasant and less stressful to work in the vacation home environment. I can sit on the deck (check out my toes in the photograph) facing the lake with my laptop, working and smiling away. I have remarked to my co-workers that I could work a lot longer from that location, which will be very good for our damaged retirement accounts.
If you are wise enough and fortunate enough to find a vacation home within a short drive, being able to use it regularly for work as well as play is a great stress-buster. The pre-retirement vacation home will help you delay retirement which can be a good thing for your financial situation.
So if you are in a position to consider a pre-retirement vacation home purchase instead of waiting until after you retire, consider these and other benefits and as part of your overall retirement planning.
I also wrote about a website I found that has lake and mountain property for sale that would be interesting for those wanting to by land then building a vacation home.