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How Serena Williams is Redefining "Retirement"

Pexels-cottonbro-5741051Watching Serena Williams play tennis in the first round of the U.S. Open on Monday night, August 29, was like watching an unstoppable force of nature. The 40-year-old Williams defeated a 27-year-old opponent, not easily but convincingly. Yet earlier in August, in Vogue magazine, Williams shocked the sports world by announcing her retirement from tennis.

Normally, when you hear the word "retirement," you think of the traditional meaning: older generations ending their work lives to move on to something else. But in the case of Serena Williams, she was making a different kind of life choice, announcing to the world that she wanted to grow her family rather than remain in the sport as arguably the best tennis player in the world. Here is the way she expressed it:

"I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me. A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family."

I think her use of the word "evolution" as a label for what Williams is feeling is very appropriate. In fact, it strikes me that the concept of evolution just as easily applies to Boomers on the brink of "retirement." Like Williams, I have never liked the word "retirement." For several years, I have used the word "rewirement" to describe a new way of looking at retirement (after all, "rewired" is in the header of my blog).

I think the concept of rewiring is still relevant, but I also think evolving is an apt description for the collective advancement of Boomers into the next phase of our lives. The reality is that we go through phases that are not hard and fast with defined beginnings and ends; rather we evolve. Recognizing that evolutionary process may make it easier to understand and accept the phases of life that have passed and are still to come.

So thank you, Serena, for redefining retirement. You are showing the world that you can be the best you can be in your career and love what you do -- but still acknowledge that there are indeed other things in life that may be of greater importance. That's something Boomers would do well to acknowledge. Life's challenges and choices are not always easy, but we continue to evolve.

Whether or not she wins the U.S. Open, Serena Williams is teaching all of us a lesson about competing at the highest level -- in both sports and in life.

Photo by cottonbro at pixels.com

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Will You Really Move When You Retire?

OntheGoMany Boomers have dreams of relocating when they retire, but that doesn't match reality. Data cited by Mark Miller in "Stopping Work and Then Staying Put," his excellent article for The New York Times, indicates "only six-tenths of 1 percent of Americans over age 55 moved across a state line in 2015."

Still, Boomers are adventurous and interested in other parts of the country and the world, so as Miller points out in his article, there are plenty of sources proclaiming the best places to retire. The Milken Institute, for example, considers 381 U.S. metropolitan areas and ranks them for retirement suitability. The annually published Global Retirement Index ranks twenty-four leading countries for retirees.

Retirement expert Bert Sperling tells Miller there are some 40 surveys done of best places to retire, but he advises Boomers that they may not be picking a place and staying there forever. "There are really three stages," Sperling says, "a 'go-go' period where you're very active and seeing the world, then a time when you're slowing down and need more health care resources, and then a third where you really need to be cared for."

My wife and I, after more than thirty years of living in Boston, Massachusetts, decided to relocate to Asheville, North Carolina. We did so just as our daughter was going to college. We were tired of the Boston weather and wanted to downsize. After eleven years in Asheville, we have been happy with our choice. Just about everyone we've met in Asheville, most of them Boomers, relocated from somewhere else.

Relocation at retirement is obviously a very personal decision, and some of the reasons for relocating can be compelling. Some Boomers relocate to move closer to adult children, other family, or life-long friends; others move to change their lifestyle; still others may want to experience an entirely different culture by moving to another country. Before we made our move, we did consult a source of "best places to retire" and carefully evaluated cities and towns in the U.S. based on our needs and wants. For us, Asheville kept coming up to the top of the list.

Whatever your decision, do your research and make several visits to potential retirement locations so you really get to know the area before you commit to a move. 

Should You Live (and Work) Abroad?

OntheGoAre you one of those Boomers who, for whatever the reason, finds it to be an exciting idea to live and work outside the boundaries of the U.S.?

You are not alone. Living abroad has caught on with Boomers. The Social Security Administration reports that in excess of half a million people receive their Social Security benefits in foreign countries; obviously, this doesn't account for those Boomers who may have relocated to another country prior to receiving their benefits. These days, because Boomers are working in their 60s, 70s and even later, living abroad also means working abroad.

If this is something that interests you, it pays to be prepared. Kerry Hannon's article for AARP will help. In it, she offers seven great tips, among them, "go for a lengthy visit," "seek out virtual employment," and "learn the local etiquette for business relationships." Kerry offers examples and details in her excellent article as well.

Another good source of information is the U.S. Department of State's webpage concerning working overseas: http://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/79765.htm This page offers links to a number of useful resources, including "The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas" and the "International Career Employment Weekly."

For the adventurous Boomer, living and working abroad could certainly be an option for a uniquely different kind of retirement. But as Kerry Hannon points out in her article, it's essential to "do your research." She mentions two good sources, "World's Best Places to Retire" and "2016 Annual Retire Overseas Index," both of which sound like must-haves for the Boomer who's bound for foreign lands. This is not a decision to be made lightly.

Is Retiring Outside the U.S. for You?

OntheGoMy wife and I made the decision to relocate from the Northeast to the Southeast in our mid-fifties. Ten years later, we are very happy and convinced that it was a great move for us.

We never seriously considered relocating outside the U.S. -- but plenty of retirees do just that. The growing trend is largely because of cost, although lifestyle obviously plays a big role in the decision. If it's something you are thinking about, your choices of where to live can be overwhelming. That's why it might be helpful to let experts do the advance work for you.

One of those experts is Kathleen Peddicord. After editing and publishing International Living for more than 22 years, Kathleen started a new publishing group in 2007 called Live and Invest Overseas. Kathleen followed her own advice as well: She and her husband moved to Paris and then Panama City. As a travel veteran (she has been to more than 50 countries) and overseas expert (she wrote the books, How to Retire Overseas and How to Buy Real Estate Overseas and publishes the Overseas Opportunity Letter), Kathleen is as well informed as anyone about where to live outside the U.S.

Writing for Next Avenue, Richard Eisenberg cites Kathleen's 2015 "Retire Overseas Index" of best places to retire. These locations, listed in descending order, all get "A" grades from her:

  1. Algarve, Portugal
  2. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  3. Cayo, Belize
  4. Languedoc, France
  5. Abruzzo, Italy
  6. Medellin, Colombia
  7. Hua Hin, Thailand
  8. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  9. Cuenca, Ecuador

Kathleen's books can be directly purchased from Amazon below.

Is Relocation the Right Choice?

OntheGoI've always been fascinated by retirees who move to another country, or buy an RV and travel around this country. There's a lot to admire about such adventurers who are clearly living their dream.

Still, uprooting yourself in the second half of your life is not an easy decision. When my wife and I decided to rewire in our mid-fifties, we wanted to make a fresh start and relocate from the Boston, Massachusetts area. We had lived there for nearly thirty years and we felt it was time for a change. I was tired of watching the snow pile up to the top of the mailbox in the winter and I knew our real estate taxes would become a real burden as we aged. We could have considered downsizing locally, but a new life chapter beckoned.

For us, it was adventurous enough to move to another state much less another country. We used our daughter's entry into college as a marker for when we would relocate. We did quite a bit of research beforehand, and every time we made a list of what we wanted in a place to live, Asheville, North Carolina rose to the top. We made numerous visits to Asheville before agreeing it was the right place for us. We gave up jobs, but we had a plan to start a business together that would leverage both our skills.

If relocation is something you want to consider, evaluate the pros and cons carefully. Make sure you're financially able to relocate. Visit your potential relocation spot often, particularly at different times of the year. Decide what kind of lifestyle you want. Research the area for everything that's important to you -- employment, recreation, climate, healthcare, and whatever else. Check out the many "best places to retire" lists that are published each year.

Relocating is a big decision. I'm happy to say it was the right choice for us.