Ok—age 50 is somewhat arbitrary in this—but here’s the point…geographic moves are risky, especially as we age. According to Dr. Muriel Gillick in The Denial of Aging (2006); “When we constantly resettle in new locations…we never establish roots. Cultivating relationships with family and friends not only mitigates against loneliness, but also has an effect on health. Patients who [suffer some illness] are more likely to survive the acute episode altogether if they have frequent social contacts.”
Bottom line: relocating can negatively affect our well-being because we don’t have deep community ties.
I made the development of community ties a priority for my move from Toronto to Victoria. Friends and former colleagues made email introductions which I followed up by having a face-to-face coffee house meeting. At each meeting I asked for ideas of groups that fit my business and leisure interests. People are incredibly helpful to newcomers and I kept building up my local network. Social media has also made moving much easier. I found Twitter to be the most useful approach because it’s easy to follow hashtags of interest. For example, I would search on the local hashtag (#yyj) and narrow the search with additional key words such as (#aging, #retirement, #health). This would link me to articles and websites providing details about upcoming events.
The two most important things I did were:
1. Ask for contacts (either personally or using electronic search methods), and
2. Get out and meet with people or attend events
Money can help
Maybe money can’t buy happiness but it certainly can help to establish roots in your new community. I’ve heard many professionals comment that they have moved several times with great success. The moves were always related to a job opportunity for them or their partner. These same people talk about moving again in retirement and this concerns me. I think they underestimate the challenges of moving when it’s outside the structure of a business-related move.
Working provides social contacts, mental challenges and a sense of belonging. One of the challenges for new retirees is to find ways to feel a sense of contribution, challenge and involvement. Moving to a new community requires special effort to engage with those around you. In many instances this will require money. Make sure to include in your retirement planning costs for:
- Recreation centre fees or social club fees (and associated equipment and sportswear)
- Continuing education tuition (often these are not academic subjects)
- Community events such as theatre, symphony and other entertainment
Remaining autonomous when you held down a full-time job may have been fine. But autonomy can quickly become isolation in retirement. Most of us need outside interests, involvement with a variety of people, and activities that are fun and challenging.
About the money when you move
There are all sorts of financial logistics that arise when moving. The expenses related to the actual move are the most obvious and are discussed below.
For expenses beyond 40 kilometres there is an opportunity to claim some deductions on your personal taxes. Full time students can also make tax claims although the rules are a bit more complicated because these deductions are claimed against bursaries, grants and other sources that are required to be claimed against your personal income.
What can’t you claim?
1. Expenses related to visiting a place beforehand such as time to find a new place to live are not deductible.
2. Expenses against any income that is not earned income (i.e. you cannot claim against investment income).
Canada Revenue Agency form T1-M E (10)—“Information About Moving” provides the detail. It is suitable for employees and for those who are self-employed. Some key points:
Be sure to keep all receipts. This isn’t as obvious as it sounds because there is a detailed and a simplified method of claiming expenses.
- You are eligible to claim expenses for food, fuel and lodging as you travel to your new home.
- You are eligible to claim some living expenses in your new location as you get ready to occupy your new home.
- You can claim some expenses to maintain your former home (up to a maximum of $5,000) during your relocation period.
Lee Anne Davies has worked as a consultant for insurance, wealth management, banking and financial education companies. She has a PhD in Aging, Health and Well-being and a Masters of Arts (MA) in Gerontology and Health Studies from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from Athabasca University’s Information Technology Management program. She’s also successfully completed the Canadian Securities Course and the Professional Financial Planning Course. To read more from Davies, visit her blog Agenomics.