Should You Ever Leave Your “Forever” House?

You've changed. Does your house also need to change?

Should You Ever Leave Your “Forever” House?

This week, I attended a presentation by longevity expert Ryan Frederick on the importance of place as we age. Ryan is the CEO of Here and author of Right Place Right Time: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life.

This is a hot topic for me. My husband and I have been exploring where we’ll go next (including a flirtation with moving overseas). A lot of that, for me, is entangled with all the emotions of leaving the places where I raised a family and built my career. And yet—nothing really fits anymore.

That’s because the idea of the “forever” house can be unrealistic, especially now. As Ryan put it, “Changes happen all over the place” at this stage of life. There are changes in:

  • Marital status—divorcing after the kids leave, being widowed
  • Job status—being laid off, reducing work hours, starting a new business, being on a glide path to retirement
  • Health—increase or decrease on fitness and health
  • Family needs—adult children coming home, caregiving responsibilities
  • Current place—taxes, climate, local regulations

Adding to this, extended families are also changing. They’re smaller and more geographically dispersed. We can’t necessarily count on their support as we age.

And finally, you are changing! Are you the same person you were when you decided to live where you are now? What interests you now? What do you dislike now? What worries you? What excites you? What are you still dreaming of doing?

Your current place might not be the right fit.

My parents lived in the same house for 57 years. Selling that house after they died was gut-wrenching. I’m emotionally anchored in a long-term mindset about place but know intellectually that it’s better to adapt to accommodate my changing needs.

Evidence backs this up. Surprisingly, about 70% of longevity is linked to lifestyle and environment. Only about 30% is linked to genetics. Place can enable (or not) nearly everything that helps us thrive as we age. It influences our:

  • Social fitness (we talked about how critical this is in last week’s newsletter)
  • Physical fitness
  • Identity, sense of purpose, and meaning

Simply put, your place is the “canvas” upon which you create the rest of your life.

The big goal here is to delay a decline in our quality of life until we’re very late in life. We want to do well up until the very end. Many of us have witnessed a long, slow, painful decline of a parent that’s emotionally and financially draining. In the end, we want to avoid this. One way is to be in the right place for this chapter of our lives.

Interested in diving deeper? You can take stock of your current place with a free assessment from Here, and use that to guide your decision-making. Next week, I’ll share my own results.

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Helping you thrive in your 50s and beyond. Advice, tools, and inspiration for navigating midlife and post-work life (with just a tiny bit of travel thrown in).