Where do you ultimately want to live during the active, independent years of your retirement?

Aside from choosing a city, state, and country that best suits your needs, there’s another dimension to this question.

Friendship Village

Do you want to live in a senior community or stay in the community at large? 

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Road into horizon with Start stenciled-cropped

If you’re still five, ten, or even twenty years away from retiring, why worry about it now?

You’re busy, and you’ve got your career to worry about. If you’re a parent and you still have kids at home, it’s all you can do to keep track of all their activities and needs. And you’ve got a to-do list a mile long. What’s the big hurry?

If you’re stuck in a job that’s unpleasant, stressful and not particularly fulfilling, you are probably thinking of retirement more in terms of being able to permanently escape from the hell of your day-to-day work, rather than as a period of your life when you can enjoy more leisure and spend your time doing things that are more enjoyable and fulfilling to you.

You may be thinking of retirement more in terms of what you will be retiring from, rather than what you’ll be retiring to.

This is a recipe for boredom and unhappiness. Being able to eliminate that which is causing you pain and suffering is good, but if you don’t have something meaningful to take its place, you’ll just be replacing one form of suffering with another – and one that doesn’t pay nearly as well.

I believe it’s important to take time every now and then to dream about all the possibilities that lie ahead for you after you stop working a full-time career, and start formulating some plan for what you’re going to do with all the time you’ll have available after you stop working.

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Daily PlannerI recently received a comment from a reader who wrote, “Most people look forward to not having a schedule when they retire. I like structure, I take comfort in schedules. That is my concern about retiring.”

The issue of how tightly I want (or need) to schedule my time has been something I’ve been wrestling with since I’ve been retired. It’s also a topic that Jeff and I have different opinions on.

There is not a “one size fits all” answer to this question. It all has to do with what kinds of activities you wish to fill your day with, and what goals you have for how you want your retirement to play out. A lot also depends upon your personality type.

The short answer is: If you will enjoy your life more with a schedule, have one! (Share on Twitter)

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It was just over one year ago, July 14, that I published my first article on RetireFabulously.com.  As I re-read that initial post, it felt good to review the vision and reinforce for myself the reasons I continue to develop this site and add new content and resources.  Since that article was pretty far down in the stack (at the bottom, in fact) when you first discovered this web site, you may not have read it.  A year later, many of the points I made in the article are still relevant.  You can read it here.  Enjoy!

But before you go off to read that article, I'd like to ask you one quick question:

When you think about your retirement, what concerns you the most?

Please take just a minute (or less) and reply either in the comment field below, or by email to dave@retirefabulously.com.  It will help me focus future content on topics that really matter to you.

Any other feedback or suggestions you would care to offer would be most appreciated, too.

Whether you're a new reader or you've been on board since the beginning, thank you for your interest in Retire Fabulously!

For many years, Spain has enjoyed a reputation as a fantastic vacation destination. It’s warm climate, sunny Mediterranean beaches, history, art, and culture, as well as its friendly, easy-going, relaxed atmosphere, have delighted travelers for years.

More recently, Spain has emerged as a top-tier retirement choice. Let’s look at why. (Share on Twitter)

The Weather

If warm weather is your preference, you’ll find most of Spain to your liking, especially along the Mediterranean coast.

MalagaMalaga at Night

All along the Mediterranean coast, summers are hot but not oppressive. Malaga (a coastal city in the south) records average highs of 30oC (86oF) in summer. Temperatures rarely dip below freezing in Barcelona (at the north end of the coast), coastal cities farther south never experience freezing temperatures, and it never snows. ...continue reading


Bird taking flight

Do you dream of retiring early? If you can make just a few small changes in your day-to-day life, you can. (Share on Twitter)

Are you concerned that you won’t have enough money saved to retire at all, or that you won’t be able to enjoy the kind of retirement you would like? If you can make just a few small changes in your day-to-day life, you can.

So, what’s the secret to retiring early? It’s simple: save more.

I can already hear you saying, “Well, duh...” But if it’s this simple, why aren’t you (and most people) doing it?

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How many things are you putting off until you retire? (Share on Twitter)

Sure, your life is busy. There never seems to be enough time to do the things you really want to do. It’s easy to think, “When I’m retired, I’ll have all the time I want for <insert activity here>.”

Hiker at Grand Canyon

To an extent, you’re right. You will have a lot more time to do the things you want after you retire. And it’s good to use these things as incentives to help you look forward to retirement and to better plan for it.

But why postpone happiness until sometime in the future? There’s no lifetime quota on happiness and enjoyment – you can have as much as you want.  (Share on Twitter) If you put things off for too long, you may never get to do them, or you may no longer have as much physical or mental capacity to do them.

Today I’m going to suggest seven things that people often postpone, thinking that they will be able to devote time and attention to them once they retire. And I’m going to present a case for why it’s in your best interests to start doing them now, rather than wait.

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The small South American country of Uruguay, nestled between Argentina and Brazil, may be one of the world’s best kept secrets as a destination for both retirement and vacation travel. (Tweet this)

Montevideo beach

I last wrote about Uruguay back on October 24.  Since then, Jeff and I had the opportunity to visit Punta del Este on February 24.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to visit Montevideo (we were at the mercy of a cruise itinerary), but we liked what we saw in Punta del Este so much that we have a return trip to Uruguay on our short list.  I've done a lot more research on Uruguay since then, too, and my impression of this country remains highly favorable.

Uruguay offers first-world living at prices that are considerably lower than many people in North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand are accustomed to paying.  Uruguay is more expensive than many places in Latin America, but still quite affordable.  Uruguay is one of the most politically, socially, and economically stable countries in South America.  Uruguay also has the safest drinking water, the best roads, the most reliable electrical system, and the fastest Internet in Latin America.

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Most “places to retire” web sites and articles include France at or near the top of their lists. (Tweet this)

It’s easy to see why: the scenery is beautiful, the country is rich in culture and full of things to see and do, and the cuisine and wine are among the best in the world. Although the country is geographically diverse, most areas of the country enjoy a very pleasant climate throughout most of the year.

Beach in Languedoc-Roussillon

Beach in Languedoc-Roussillon.  Photo credit: Jens.  Some rights reserved.

France’s health care system has been rated the best in the world.

French medical schools are among the best in the world, hence so are French doctors. France has one of the highest ratios of doctors to patients in the world, and most French doctors are fluent in English. Office visits are fixed at 23 euros, and most procedures are almost fully covered, with only a tiny co-pay. Of course, out-of-pocket costs are so low because the rest is covered by taxes, which are fairly high (totaling as much as 40%).

If you are a property owner in France, you qualify to participate in their health care system. Otherwise, you will have to have private health medical insurance when you retire there, which costs about $1500 per person, per year. You can look into reducing costs by buying insurance as a member of a larger group or association, which can reduce the premiums by as much as 50 percent.

It’s easy for retirees to immigrate.

You’ll need to fill out some forms, and provide documentation of your income, assets, and police record.

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Balanced Rocks and Sailboat

Do you sometimes find yourself imagining how you’ll fill your days once you no longer have to work?

During those times when you seem so busy there never seems to be time to do what you want, do you say to yourself, “When I retire, I’ll have lots of time to do this!”

On the other hand, maybe you’re more concerned about what you’re going to do with all that free time. You might even fear that you’ll have nothing to do and be bored.

To be sure, some downtime is good for you. Having some relaxation in each day is healthy, and you’ve earned it!

But it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you’ll spend hours every day doing that one thing you really love and don’t have enough time for now. For example, if you’re an avid golfer you might think to yourself, “When I’m retired, I can play golf every day!” Same thing with anything else – hiking, painting, sewing… you name it.

I used to fantasize that retirement would be total leisure – I would just be able to do whatever fun thing I felt like that day, with hardly a care in the world.

I have a huge collection of jazz and Brazilian records, CDs, and videos that I’ve accumulated throughout my adult life. I now have far more music than I could ever listen to in a year. (Downsizing my collection is one thing I’ll get around to “one of these days,” but that will probably be my hardest thing to downsize.)

I used to think that I would spend all day with music playing in the house, enjoying my vast collection. Of course, my husband Jeff, who isn’t nearly as much of a jazz aficionado as I am, wouldn’t care so much for that. But the obvious reality is that spending all day, every day, listening to music would get old quickly.

The best way to ensure that your retirement years are happy, healthy, and fulfilling is to achieve a balance in your activities.  (Tweet this)

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