On our way back south we stopped to visit our new Texas friends Bill & Kathy, whom we met at a gas station when we first drove into the state in January. Kathy is a wonderful cook and stuffed us full as we talked about all the decisions new retirees need to make. We are farther along the decision curve than they are, but the questions we wrestle with confront all the baby boomers coming along right behind us.
When should you retire? What should you do with all the time that suddenly is available to you? Will you and your spouse enjoy each other's company 24/7? How much should you compromise if one person enjoys an activity the other person doesn't? How should we care for elderly parents who wish to maintain an independent lifestyle even when their health no longer allows? How long will you have the health required for an active lifestyle? How can you guarantee that your money will last as long as you do? Should you keep the home you have worked to build and maintain during your working years? If not, where should you live? What can you do to remain healthy? How can you continue to remain productive and happy even with health concerns?
If you are interested in travel, what's the best way to do so? Cruise? RV? Bus tours? Car/hotel trips on your own? Where should you go first? One of the women we met at our Elderhostel said that she wished she had arranged her travels differently. As a young retiree she visited the places that she wanted to go to the most, but now she was no longer fit enough to tour other places of interest that were farther down on her wish list, but more physically challenging. Will you lose contact with friends and family if you are on the road too much? Is it possible to lead a traveling life and have time and opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community?
While we enjoyed our careers a great deal, we are happy with the decisions we have made so far and hope that Bill & Kathy will feel the same way. You really cannot say what the answers to these questions should have been until you are at the end. In the meantime, half of the fun comes in the planning.