A recent BBC article on “America’s original active retirement community” got me thinking. As many long-time readers know, the FAR in FAR Manor means Forget About Retirement — but I try not to. Hey, I might get lucky after all. Besides, I’m on vacation, the original mini-retirement.
What jumped out at me were two quotes near the middle of the article. In the first, one resident said that retirement previously involved (among other things) “waiting to die.” The developer heard many variants of “I raised my own children, and I don’t want to have to raise my grandchildren.” To me, the first seems myopic, the second outright selfish.
Next week, I’ll be going to Florida, which seems these days to be one humonguous retirement community (active or otherwise) overlaying a normal economy, which in turn overlays a tourist economy. The desire to move somewhere that’s warm all the time, or at least cold very rarely, is certainly understandable… although there’s a long brutal summer to contend with as well. Too cold sometimes or too hot sometimes, pick one.
So why would retiring in the community where you worked, with or without family nearby, be “waiting to die”? After all, you already know where the good restaurants are, which fishing spots are best at any given time, which golf courses offer reduced greens fees on weekday mornings, where the good walking/biking/hiking trails are. Unless your friends have all moved away, you know where they are and when they’re available. Unless you live in some backwater hole in the hills, and even on Planet Georgia there are great hiking and mountain bike trails just a few miles from the manor, there should be plenty of recreational opportunities for an “active retirement.” Why go somewhere that you have to figure all this stuff out all over again, when you can enjoy it right where you are?
Then there’s the other side of the coin. I for one mostly enjoy helping to raise Mason, even when I have to work for a living. He’s off with Snippet for an overnight at her mom’s, and even with him waking up twice a night (teething) I’m going to miss him. I’ll really miss him next week when I’m gone. I can understand long-standing friction with your (nominally) adult children — The Boy really gets on my nerves sometimes — or the resentment at their presumption that they can just dump their own kids on you while they work or have fun, but I can’t understand not wanting to be a part of your grandkids’ formative years. You don’t punish the kids for the sins of the parents, after all. Besides, with multi-generational households becoming a trend once again, you should be able to expect the kids to support you as well: you take the grandkids fishing or bike riding while they’re working, they come in and you pop out to the golf course. Sounds like one way to have the best of both worlds, anyway.