Dear Dr. Chuck,

The last 30 years of my working life have centered around Dear Old Boston.

As I plan ahead for retirement, should I eschew the delightful weather and earthly delights of the Hub for a warmer clime, such as The Carolinas, California ... or even Portugal ?


Forward Planner



Dear Forward Planner,

So many people who had previously given little thought to retirement suddenly wake up in a screaming 4:00 AM night terror, face flushed pallid and cold sweat seeping into the sheets, as the ruthless truth finally hits them that they are getting older and are no longer wandering leisurely along an ever-so-gentle slope toward maturity, but instead are now tumbling out-of-control down the jagged mountainside of age, gathering unappreciated momentum as they somersault atop an increasingly steepening incline, careening into serrated outcroppings of rock, bouncing through thorn infested clusters of briar and brush, grating against the grit and gravel of the trail, assembling a corporeal collage of lacerations and contusions, as inertia unsympathetically drags their now already aching and flayed corpuses down the last unforgiving pathway they will ever trek.

Watching safely from the sidelines are the youthful, the newly employed, the physically strapping, the nubile, in short, the people who remain long after these hapless travelers have passed. At the bottom of the age-ravine, there they now lie, motionless except for occasionally involuntary twitching, old and tattered, wearing the scars and bruises accumulated on the terminal trip downward.

Looking back up the hillside, it didn’t seem that long ago when they were at the top, when they were young, strong, energetic, firmly held together with the life-grout of enthusiasm and resilience. Now weak, life’s final lesson finally plays out in stark irony, as they are reminded of a time earlier in their career, when work was not going too well and when they only got through the dark period by optomistically thinking that, “Things could be worse.” It is obvious that this is now the “worse” they were talking about.

It is no wonder that the workforce no longer wants you when you are old. Retirement is society’s way of saying that you can no longer cut it in the workforce and because an employer can find someone half you age, who can lift more, is more energetic, is happy to earn a fraction of your salary, and will some day be dispensable too, you, as an older employee will be urged to quietly leave without much hoopla. Retirement is the way a company, to which you have been so loyal for decades, can encourage you go “go off onto an ice floe and die.”

But that does not answer the more fundamental question of where you can go once you have accepted the grim reality of retirement, even knowing that you may be doing so with boodles of 401K money. When you retire, you will have plenty of time on your hands, no longer burdened with the responsibility of performing meaningful work or doing anything that benefits society as a whole. So where you decide to spend these endless hours of solitude and boredom becomes an important pre-retirement decision.

In your case, do you stay in frigid Boston where it is cold, where winters are unforgiving, and where you will have to spend at least 6 months of each of your few and increasingly precious remaining years inside the house hunkered over a little space heater? Do you stay in an area where you grow lonelier because your friends, now your age, have retired and moved elsewhere or sadly have already died? Or do you move to a more temperate climate where retirement can be enjoyed less reclusively.

Most older people like warm weather. Physiologically, as we age, our circulatory system behaves more like those of our cold-blooded reptilian counterparts, and like them, we feel  better when we are bombarded by rays of sunlight. So those who can afford it, retire to such snowless loci as Florida or the Southwest, while people who cannot, are forced to spend winters sequestered in their hoar frost covered homes with the oven door open, occasionally leaning in toward the heating coil. Sure, if you move to an area where the sun is proudly beaming year round, you will be more susceptible to various forms of melanoma, but when you compare it to death by hypothermia in New England, liver spots and the occasional biopsy is probably a better way to spend the limited time you have remaining.

After decades of your hard work---which regrettably was not that important since the workplace and the world in general is OK about moving on without you---you have earned the right to live anywhere you like, and there is an advantage in relocating to a new area rather than staying in the same area where you have worked for 30 plus years, if for no other reason than to avoid the depressing feeling that occurs when you run into someone who you have not seen for a long time, who after noticing the way your face is now sagging and how 30 plus pounds of unliposuctionable weight now cling to your midriff, involuntary displays an expression of surprise, thereby confirming your fear that you have not aged gracefully.

But where to live? You used the word “eschew” in your email. So my first bit of advice is to avoid any place where they have not heard that word before, believe you perhaps have just said, “a shoe,” or even worse, think you have just sneezed.  If you have a good vocabulary, I would avoid relocating to any area where, behind your back, people will repeatedly ask, “what the Hell is that new guy talking about?” This will pretty much eliminate parts of the South, the sunny climate notwithstanding.

I do recommend that you move to an area populated by those who now share your age predicament. Once you reach 65, you may even want to move to a place where the median age is even older, say, at least 87. Here you will feel youthful again, seem to move about more nimbly and with less ambulation-support hardware required, and most important, can take comfort knowing there are others who have to pee way more often.

But to respond to your question with the short answer: Tucson .

I hope this helps. .