Retiring in the Fun and Sun

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August 24, 2018

Previously we have talked about getting ready to retire and planning before it all happens – now let’s look at a large majority of folks getting to retire think about – Fun in the Sun  

We all long to live by the water – For many years, many of us have made an annual trek to Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean for fun in sun and sand. Now we have decided that retirement will be spent out of Canada. For some it is the dream of a lifetime – for others not so good. Let me tell you a few stories. They might be helpful for you when making up your decision to go and live your retirement in this manner.

In 1992 before reaching 65, I decided to acquire a vacation home  in Sarasota at Long Boat Key on the west side of Florida. The Long Boat Key Club offered some lots for houses as well as acquiring a condo in a country club style gated community complete with golf course and other amenities. We decided and bought a 1850 sq., ft. – a sixth floor two bedroom unit, with a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico. After minor renovations and some new furnishings, we settled in just before USA Thanksgiving in late November. The first week was spent finding our way around, the local shopping centres and other points of interest. The area was just starting to grow. With a golf club within walking distance of the front door, I decided to take up the ‘game again’ after a several years. Never really had time when I was running a Global Company 

On a sunny Tuesday morning, I ventured forth to the 1st hole where I encountered three individual all sitting on the bench – seemingly dressed for golf, but not yet deciding what to do. Two were reading a newspaper, while the third was gazing into the morning sun. After exchanging greetings, one said - “You must be the new boy”. I replied, I guess so. Each was probably about my age - nobody seemed very much in a hurry to do anything and all seemed to be generally bored with life. The conversation started off with telling me about the ‘blue plate specials’ available for seniors at 4.30 PM in the local restaurants and finished with one gentleman telling his friend about the special on ‘Preparation H’ at Walgreen s that day. I thought is this want retirement is all about? The game of golf was equally depressing as I heard about their tales of retirement living. Two had been successful ‘Wall Street’ bankers and came there five years previously, while the other had left the helm of a Fortune 50 group a year ago. There activities seem to resolve around a daily game of golf, sprinkled with a walk around a local convenience Mall and dinner with their small group of friends each evening. I found quickly that most of the folks in this complex were the same. Bored – financially successful, but not enjoying retirement! 

Yes, I quickly understood this was not what I really wanted in retirement – you could only play golf so many days of the week – a walk around a shopping mall was not very exciting and the retirees were not overly ‘inspirational’ – we really did not want to hear about their ‘aches and pains- the grand children or their stocks and bonds’. Yes, we stayed for a few weeks that year, I returned to active life as a Business Advisor and shortly sold the condo to another retiree.

In the meantime, we explored some other – ‘fun in the sun’ projects for the retiree. Boat Cruises and Packaged Tours to Exotic places, like China, Russia and so forth. A few observations: These are not for everybody – especially not me. After the 1st cruise travelling with some 3000+ others, eating 6 times a day and sitting at tables of eight or more for which you have little in common was not exciting retirement. Throw in the organized land tours and on two trips the Norwalk Virus – we found such activities were not something to look forward to in retirement.

The entire process over a period or 18 months told me to do something different. Stopping what I had done for 35 years was not the answer. Leisure life, sitting in the sun and engaging in conversation with people who I had little past experience with was not what I looked forward to doing. Where might I have gone wrong with this process of retirement? Like most, I had not thought much about it except to have a sketchy plan that I would have enough finances to survive. A pension – a house - stocks some RRSP’s, the promise of the Government CCP and OAS and cash in the bank. In my 50’s I had engaged a ‘financial advisor’ – we chatted a couple of time a year, but I honestly I never paid a lot of attention I was working- running companies. 

I decided it was time to plan for ‘retirement’ - what had the 1st stage taught me and I suggest anyone who reads this or is contemplating what they should be thinking about might take head.

  • Planning for retirement should really start when you start to work
  • You have to adjust your process and tactics as well as expectations on a regular basis 
  • Advisors may have to come and go. There are good ones and unfortunately like in any industry some not so good 
  • Perhaps this comment maybe be taken the wrong way – but I grew up in an era when the bank was the focal point for money management. I found out this was not always the case. Like finding a good doctor, you have to take the time to find a good person to handle your money – This is not always the bank today – There are lots of better ‘doctors of wealth’
  • When planning for retirement, it is more than stooping work but having a plan of what you want to substitute everyday instead of going to the office 
  • If you do take some time off at your date of retirement – cruise the Mediterranean and so forth, but decide after two years to start working again, it will be tough slugging. In today’s world the pace to technology change can easily make your skills obsolete. Your network may have disappeared and now where and what do you really offer. Think carefully about how long you have been away from the ‘action’ You may find your ego gets bruised as to your value when seeking employment
  • Make certain your spouse – family – or significant other understands what you are thinking about re the retirement years. You may find the family members are too busy to be involved. There are many separations at the times around the retirement age
  • We live today in an uncertain economy – the crash or 2008 left many ‘boomers’ without adequate resources for what they had been planning to do. Many of us are living longer (in a later edition we will discuss the issues of staying fit- your health and so forth). Where will you live in the future – who will care for you and how will this all impact your retirement years.
  • When selecting a ‘fun in the sun’ location maker certain you understand the future issues such as local laws when you want to sell (this can involve state and local taxes; ownership transfer items and so forth).Get sound local advise- do not rely upon your Canadian advisors  If the property is on a beach or wooded area, what insurance coverage is available for floods, hurricanes and wild fires
  • Understand how long you can live outside of Canada, so that many benefits are no longer applicable. You may even be barred entry to some countries when your property is located if you lie and break the rules   

              Like most things in Business and Life – Plan Ahead to ensure Success   

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