Family or friends? Community or grandkids?

A member of the Starts at 60 community recently shared her experiences of having made a difficult choice – and getting it wrong.

Janine had decided, after much consideration, to pack up everything and move closer to her son and daughter-in-law, and their three children. She left behind her community groups, her volunteering job and her friends.

At first, it was great being near the grandkids, but when they hit their tweens they had less time for her. Meanwhile Janine’s son and daughter-in-law were focused on their own lives. Janine was left lonely, feeling alienated, and missing home.

Many of us might assume that being close to family is the only way to spend retirement, but it may not always be the best choice.

There are pros of retiring near your family, including playing an active role in your grandchildren’s young lives, helping your children as they juggle the most demanding period of their lives, having a built-in social network. It can also mean support and extra help for you as you care for your parents and, eventually, for you when you need in.

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But there are risks, too. Sometimes, close can be too close – there are plenty of families that get on just fine, so long as they don’t spend too much time together!

Other considerations are that, as with Janine’s situation, you might find you are marginalised in your family’s life and have lost your support network all together. You children could move, meaning you will have to move too. It’s increasingly common these days for young families to move around.

It’s also possible you might resent being the go-to babysitter or feel you are being taken advantage of. You may also resent the fact you’re not living your dream, for the sake of being closer to family.

But then, if you live far from your family, will your visits to them become less and less frequent as you get older?

When you’re choosing where to live in your retirement, all these things must be considered. Obviously every person’s situation is different, so let’s share our experiences to help others make the choice.

Tell us: did you choose to move (or remain) close to family? Or do you prefer to have your loved ones at a reasonable distance? Are you happy with your situation? What advice do you have for others?