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,
... or even
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
respond to your question with the short answer:
I hope this helps. .