I don't go to an office anymore, and that's a big difference. My children have grown up and gone to college and graduated and moved away. But they aren't married, do not have their own families, and they still come home periodically, so it still feels like they're around. Then there's B. She does go off to work every day; and her kids are still around. One is away in college. The other graduated in 2009, but still lives with us.
So the point is, even though I'm not working full time anymore, I don't feel like I'm living a retired lifestyle. But, as B and I have discussed, one of these days ...
So I look at my retired friends, and what I see are several different options available to us.
1) Retire in place. Your children are gone; you stop working; but you stay in the same community, even the same house, that you've been living in for years. We have a few couples like this right in our own neighborhood. I guess these people love their neighborhood and feel that they're a part of the community; and they just don't want to move. Either they have a modest house with a modest yard, or they are young enough and rich enough to continue to take care of the old homestead. Or, maybe they're too lazy to move; or too indecisive about where else they would go, so they just stay where they are.
2) Retire to the Grandchildren. My brother-in-law took this option. He lived in a four-bedroom suburban house outside of Boston where they'd lived for 30 years and raised three kids. He and his wife both retired about the same time a few years ago, and they moved to a smaller house with a smaller yard, in the seacoast town where their older daughter lived with her two (now three) kids. They now see their daughter two or three times a week; they babysit for the grandchildren; and they have integrated themselves into this new community largely through their daughter, but also by joining a church and volunteering in town. Meanwhile, their son lives about an hour and a half away, with three other grandchildren, and they see them once a month or so. (The third child lives halfway across the country, so that apparently wasn't an option.) They have found a new lifestyle that suits them perfectly, with a new community and essentially a "new" family.
3) Retire to a Senior Community. Some people want to stay in the general area (though not necessarily in the same community) where they've been living for years, perhaps all their lives. But they no longer want the responsibility of taking care of a house; they don't want the noise of kids in the neighborhood, or school buses rumbling down the street, or dogs barking in the backyard. They move to an age-restricted community, often a condominium, that is located somewhere around where they live. We have one of these in our town, a big one with about 400 homes -- mostly attached units with two bedrooms, all on one floor. There's a golf course and a swimming pool and a clubhouse with a restaurant. And it's just down the street from a little "four corners" with a post office, a bank and a big drugstore. There used to be an "over 55" policy, but I think that was judged to be illegal -- but still, really, nobody under age 60 would be caught dead living there. These people always vote against the school budget -- because they're on fixed incomes and can't deal with increased local taxes -- but otherwise they continue to live in their familiar surroundings, with familiar stores, and people they've known for years.
4) Retire to the Sunbelt. Of course a lot of people in the north have been dreaming of the sunshine for years, and as soon as possible they bolt the cold winters for the Carolinas or Florida or Arizona to enjoy the sunshine, play golf, and, usually, to live in a senior community. They've cut the ties to their old community and are starting a whole new life. Usually, the cost of living is a lot less than what they experienced in their old lives. This is the siren call of the Sunbelt, and it has a lot of appeal. But I would think it would be difficult to move into a place where you don't know anyone, and have to build a whole new social network and a whole new support system.
6) Retire in the Last Place You Land. A lot of people never settle down to live in one place for 20 or 30 years and raise their kids in a single community. It's no longer just military families that move from place to place, never living in any one town for more than a few years. My sister had this lifestyle. She grew up in New York. She went to North Carolina, then Oregon, then California and Alaska. Then she moved back east to Washington, DC, where she stayed for about ten years, but then she left again for Oregon, and finally moved to Phoenix when she was 58 years old. She just retired. And, she says, she doesn't see moving again. She likes Phoenix; she's finally settled down. But it took her until retirement to do it.
7) Retire Back Home. One friend of mine grew up in Texas but went away to college and spent most of her career working in Washington, DC. Her husband died a few years ago; and she retired and moved back to Texas. Not to her hometown, but to a place nearby where ... where she felt like she belonged. Another friend grew up in Illinois, landed a job in New York where he worked for 30 years, and then he moved back to Chicago. Still another grew up outside of Cleveland. During his career he drifted farther and farther south, first to southern Ohio, then Kentucky, then South Carolina, ending up in Georgia. But he never really acclimated to the Southern lifestyle, and now that he's retiring he can't wait to go back north
It seems that these are the main destinations for people who are retiring. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, which are different for different people. Of course, there are variations on the theme. I remember a friend of my parents, who when they retired years ago, bought a motor home and spent one year traveling all around America, living out of the motor home, trying out various places for their retirement destination. They ended up in the Greenville, SC, vicinity. They liked the area, so they sold their motor home and settled into their retirement years.
But since I'm "shopping" for my own retirement lifestyle, I'd love to hear about any other alternatives, or about the pros and cons of these various options. Because I'm one of those indecisive types. And I'll end up just sitting where I am unless I research the situation, think about it for a while, and come to some sort of obvious conclusion.