Many Americans with stock portfolios tune in to CNBC, at least occasionally, to follow news about the stock market and world events that could affect their investments. The network has an online presence as well, but at least given an article posted yesterday, spending a few minutes reading their posts about retirement is a bad investment.
A headline entitled “How to Find the Best Retirement Spot” certainly signals information about potential choices in different parts of the country, or even worldwide since the dollar can go a long way in other nations. At the least, we could hope for a list of savvy tips on searching for a home to use in retirement.
You won’t find any of that in the CNBC article. Consider these goes-without-saying words of wisdom:
"Take the time to visit these communities and talk to current residents to learn about the culture of that community as they do vary."
"If you are not accustomed to extreme cold or hot temperatures you may not want to choose a retirement destination with extreme weather conditions,"
"Work with your financial advisor to determine what retirement lifestyle and location you can afford."
Given these last bon mots, it is no surprise this advice comes from a financial planner. I love financial planners, but most people can figure out what they can afford, especially if they are downsizing from a home they have owned for decades (the appreciation and the lower cost of a smaller home in the next destination will help make planning easier). Although I am sure it happens, I have never encountered a couple that purchased a home in a community before visiting it at least once. As for choosing a destination with extreme weather conditions, most of us have traveled to hot weather destinations and, if not, the ubiquitous Weather Channel is a good education tool on that score. When customers tell me they are interested in moving to a place like Florida, I always remind them of the unremitting hot days in summer. The typical response is, “We know. We’ve been there before.”
Of more concern, are hurricanes which, given recent events, may give pause to some folks who are considering coastal locations for their retirement. I have written before, and will do so again in my next edition of Home On The Course, our monthly newsletter, about the threats and realities of hurricanes in the Southeast region of the U.S. It remains the case that, in most coastal locations from Florida to New England, a major hurricane can be expected between every 20 and 75 years, depending on location (“major hurricane” defined as one with winds exceeding 111 mph whose eye is 75 miles from the city). The probability of a major storm in any given year in Myrtle Beach is 2.2%, or once every 45 years; in Savannah, the chances are 1.3%, or every 77 years, the same chances as in Boston. (In fact, coastal cities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts actually have a much higher chance of a major hurricane hitting than do Savannah and other locations on the southern coast.)
The predictable landing zones for major storms won’t change much in the coming years. However, as implied by Irma, Harvey and Maria, the severity of these storms could cause those of us previously willing to play the odds to take a second look. (I own a second home in Pawleys Island, just south of Myrtle Beach.) Let me know if I can help you find a home near a beach nearby, and the comfort that chances are good that you will never have to evacuate it.