Let’s Talk: I regret choosing family over friends and community 67

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Have you ever sat back and looked around you at what makes your life special, objectively, without your rose coloured glasses on and contemplated whether you would choose family, or your community and friends as more important? It might not be as easy a subject to explore as you think, especially over the Christmas season when emotions run high and family is all around.

If you were to move house to closer to your family, with the expectation of seeing more of your grandkids, and spending more time with your children would it turn out like it does in the movies full of love and regular pop-in visits? Or would you be at risk of giving up your friends, your community and your current passions only to be disappointed and want your old life back.

It was a very real situation for community member Janine, who three years ago moved house and openly declares that her decision to do so was “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 about 200kms from where she lived. She left behind her community groups, her volunteering job and her friends, keeping in touch, but it was too far to go for incidental activity.

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, their careers and their own friends. 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 I’m not sure I ever stopped to think about what it would mean in the future,” she said in an email to us.  “I was a handy babysitter for my son and daughter in law for a few years, but now the kids are older I seem to have fewer reasons to see them and it feels forced because everyone is so busy around me.”

“I guess the alternative of staying in my home might also have had me feel withdrawn, so I am not sure what would have been better.”

Have you considered what is more important in your day-to-day life, family and spending your time devoted to them, or your community, friends and other activities that you love?

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?


Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Although I love my family with all my heart I made the decision 6 years ago to move to a Retirement Village to be around people my own age, for many years now my family have been busy living their own lives and I knew that’s what life is for them these days. It’s the best decision I have ever made because being around like minded people my own age means you never feel lonely, also there are many activities for you to be involved in as often or as little as you like. I gave it a lot of thought before I made the decision however I came to the conclusion that if any maintenance needs doing we have a guy who does all the little jobs we can no longer do ourselves without having to wait for our kids to have time to help, which never does what with their work load and maintaining their own properties, I see it as a win win situation for us all.

    10 REPLY
    • Trish you are so right, I am moving into a retirement village in a few months for all the same reasons, my family are not happy with me at all for making this decision, but I don’t see my daughter or son in law or grandchildren regularly, but for babysitting, I do not see my son and daughter in law they have settled in the UK, my sister and her family I would see once in a blue moon, but all of them have said not to expect them to visit me, that’s fine but I have to get on with my life .

      1 REPLY
      • I’m sure very many of us would agree that a retirement village would meet most of our needs. Unfortunately though, a lot of us are simply not financially able to have this choice.

    • I’m certain you will never regret it because it is a wonderful way of life and if your anything like me your lucky to get a visit 3-4 times a year from them because of their commitments so please don’t feel guilty for putting your needs first.

    • I have just moved into a retirement village and agree, it was a good move and I am loving it. I was living closer to family for a short while to offer support but I only saw them when I did the running. I decided to move back to the area I loved where I was closer to work, facilities and the things that I missed. I still do the running to support my family but at least I have a life again and no longer feel isolated.

    • Vivivienne, I don’t think that’s all right they tell you they aren’t visiting, it’s quite nasty. Glad you looked after number one.

    • I agree with Linda Carley.
      Its very selfish and unkind for them nt to visit. Nt everybody wants much to do with u when u get old. They will b old one day. U take care of no 1 Vivienne Marjenberg.

    • Thank you all you wonderful people for your support, I am sure I am doing the right thing and have made the decision not to discuss anything with any of my family re my move, I hope I am right doing this

    • Vivienne Marjenberg, I’m sure you will find that they are just trying to make you feel guilty as one of my sons did. He thought I should keep the family home for them to visit, only they didn’t while I was there. Now they are happy that I’m happy, and that’s what counts after all.

    • Unfortunately young people today seem to be very selfish and there is apparently no time for parents. We take whatever chances we get and often have to go to their place or be squeezed in for a coffee

  2. My family is so so very important, but I, and they am too busy for incidental visits. I want to explore, continue working until I am 70 – because I love it. I have many more countries to visit and a few more languages I want to learn.

  3. I think I am fortunate in that although I am now in a different place than my kids ,I have my remaining siblings and my husband in this same city. My family and most of the grandchildren are in the North Island ,many of the grandies are adults now and busy with their lives. My kids are busy with their own lives. All working. I do miss not seeing much of the little grandkids. However Skype is good to keep in touch I suppose I am in the camp of siblings and friends being important at this time of my life.

  4. for the first time at aged 69, we had no family at our house for xmas. we went to our friends home, their daughter and family were there too. what a wonderful day we had, treated like a queen, no arguments, no bitchy siblings, no cooking, I’m so glad we did it.

  5. Its a running joke when my kids say they are moving I say I always wanted to live there and they say Muuum….then we would have to move again and we all laugh.
    I live in a town where my great great grandparents are buried…Im 5 th generation, grand daughters are 7 th so there is huge history just in my lifetime from great grand parents to grandchildren although the kids live 30 ks away in anither town.
    No if they all mived I would head to queensland
    Or Alice…As it is we are all in contact regularly by phone…still coparent 19 year old son and see grandkids regularly so wont miss out on that…plus Im sure they woukd visit if I picked a delicious place to live.

  6. I have to agree. We live about 600kms away from our son and his family and go to see them every 3 months and they come up here a few times a year.
    My daughter in law is wonderful and puts our grand daughter on Skype once a week, so we do not feel that we are missing out on anything.
    It is a great solution as each family has their own life.

  7. Probably one of the lucky ones in that I have both all close family and a large percentage of friends in same city all within easy reach. And with easy travel and all the emails, phone etc makes keeping in touch with all other friends and distant relies very easy.

  8. I will be staying put where I am for the rest of my life, I have everything I want and need here. A son of mine asked me to move from Queensland to South Australia to be near my grandkids then shortly after he moved to New south Wales , just imagine if I had been stuck in South Australia.

  9. I think having a mix of both. But I do think that the mix should include different age groups. This allows you to feel that you are still part of the community.

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