Our Retirement Relocation - A Final Look Back

Today marks the six month anniversary of our relocation from inland to coastal Orange County. In terms of mileage our move was fairly modest - just 35 miles - but in terms of lifestyle change it was quite significant.

I posted here (three weeks after move in), here (2 and 1/2 months in), and here (4 months in) about how much I was caught off guard by the emotional impact the move had on us. In that we've been visiting and RV'ing the area where we now live for the entire 25 years we've lived in Orange County, I don't think either one of us expected to be hit as hard as we were with the challenges of leaving the familiarity of our former area. It was definitely perplexing to find ourselves mourning somewhat what we had left behind, even as we were both extremely excited about all the lifestyle changes we were discovering and making on an almost daily basis.

Now, at six months in I can honestly say that we are settled, both physically and emotionally, and 100% thrilled to be living the lifestyle we've been dreaming of since first arriving in Orange County in 1991. Job locations at that time dictated we remain inland, but the moment I set eyes on my first south Orange County beach, I knew I eventually wanted to live there.

I came across this article at Money Magazine recently, detailing the four things you need to know about moving after retirement. In looking through the list, I can now respond to each with regard to the choices we made, which might be helpful to some of you that are considering if or when to make a post-retirement move:
  • Is It Worth Buying Prior To Retirement?  In our case, no, definitely not. Southern California is very expensive, and there is no way we could have justified owning two homes here. Instead, we utilized our RV to spend long periods of time along our coastline at a pretty nominal cost. In addition, we also traveled like crazy people during the first five years of our retirement, and I think I would have resented having to travel less in order to financially offset a second home. Traveling the globe and remaining in our inland home was the right decision for us for in our first five years of dual retirement.

  • Is There A Sweet Spot, Age Wise, To Move?  You know, I'm not really sure about this, thinking it really does depend on the person and situation. In our case, I can assert that our recent move was physically exhausting, almost overwhelmingly so at times, and I was therefore very cognizant of how much easier moving the last time was, when I was in my late 20's. The other issue is the energy that needs to be expended to make new friends and settle into new activities and routines. All three took more effort that I had imagined, and now that we're moving along nicely with all of them, I can again see that they were all more challenging to accomplish than during any of our prior moves.

  • Do You Plan To Age In Place? Or Do You Plan To Move Again?  Again, I feel like these are difficult questions to answer in that we don't know what our future holds, health wise, nor where our adult daughters will be living ten, twenty, or thirty years down the road. So setting those unknowns aside, I can say that we would love to age in our current place, and appreciate that our master bedroom is on the ground floor of our new home accordingly. Our upstairs rooms contain a guest bedroom suite, plus his 'n her offices, with mine doubling as a second guest bedroom. Over time, we could accommodate family moving in and taking over our upstairs if we felt that was the right way to proceed. Conversely, I think we are open to moving again if necessary into a smaller home or condo, but we would stay put location wise.  We truly do love it here, and can't see living anywhere else in our lifetimes.

  • Bonus Question: Did The Lifestyle Change Of Our New Area Offset The Agony Of The Move?  Yes, resoundingly so. Now that we are through the emotional turmoil of leaving 25 years of friends and memories behind us, we are so, so happy that we made this change. Aside from being close enough to our old town to still remain in regular touch with friends there, we are almost overwhelmed with all the options our new location has already provided:
    • We see the ocean daily, both from our backyard and balcony, as well as from our vehicles when out and about running errands.
    • We love the milder weather living within two miles of the ocean delivers, not to mention those amazing afternoon coastal breezes.
    • We now have numerous walking routes that allow us to either walk alongside or gaze down at the ocean, an unbelievably calming experience each and every time.
    • We love living alongside, but not in the midst of, a vibrant tourist area. We are one mile away from Dana Point, and in fact, if our girls were still here growing up, they'd be assigned to the high school there rather than the one at the other end of our actual town. However, we don't have to live within it, which I very much appreciate. Instead, we live atop a quiet hilltop, but can enjoy the fun of Dana Point whenever we might wish. And which we do almost daily!
    • Along the lines of the above, we love the entertainment and dining options living so close to a triage of coastal communities - San Clemente, Dana Point and S. Laguna - provides without having to navigate their crowded streets when doing our day-to-day living. Shopping centers abound in our current town, as do doctors, dentists, gyms and repair facilities.
    • We are still pinching ourselves that kayaking is now a 'normal' outdoor activity.
    • We now have access to an absolute bounty of S. Orange County hiking trails, both coastal and mountain, plus hiking clubs to go along with. We had just one county park and one regional trail in which to hike at in our old community, and in addition needed to be cognizant of heat during our blazing summers there. Nicely, heat is not a constant factor here.
    • We have an amazing array of entertainment options within a few miles of our home - two colleges with subsequent performing art centers, three playhouses, a jazz club, two intimate concert venues, two symphonies, and so many more that I really can't possibly list them all.
    • Instead of just one, we now have two Lifelong Learning programs within striking distance, one of which is actually free. Both have also provided opportunities to expand into smaller groups for things like dine outs and museum visits, which have been wonderful.
    • Our medical facilities are just as close and plentiful as in our prior community.
    • There are more restaurant options than we'll likely have lifetime to visit.
    • Many of the groups we belonged to previously are countywide, so there has been no real disruption - another reason many retirees move within their current counties when deciding to relocate.
    • And finally, and perhaps most importantly, both of our daughters are thrilled with our new location for visitation purposes, because they are more attracted to the things there are to do here vs at our prior location. That's actually a pretty big deal in my humble opinion, in that as we inevitably slow down in the years ahead, there will still be lots of things to draw them here in spite of that. Or at least, that's our hope!
So at long last, I think we are really and truly settled in, and excitedly looking forward to the continued changes and enhancements our new community is affording.

Recently, in fact, as we attended an event tied to our old community, neither of us felt any pangs whatsoever during fond goodnights, other than excitement to return to our little castle on the hill.

A recent sunrise as viewed from our backyard.


  1. Great summary of the effort and joys of changing locations. It took us 6 months to feel settled as well and then the holidays came. We are starting the new year with determination to make this place a joyous one for ourselves and loving all the time with family.

    1. The joy of time spent with your family is so apparent in your posts, Juhli, and I'm so happy for you. Here, we are literally on the way to San Diego, a place both daughters love, and our oldest popped by just this morning to go for a quick family run and have breakfast together before continuing to drive down there for an engagement. I love that we are an easy stop-in for them both! Later, a niece driving back up from San Diego popped in as well. So, so nice!


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