Let's face it. A lot of us didn't do a great job saving for retirement. Some of us lived with fiscal abandon in the 1990s. But for many of us, life just got in the way of retirement savings. While we Baby Boomers got to enjoy the affluent 90's, we also got stuck in the economic meltdown of 2007-2009 and the devastating recession that followed. The Boomers are the sandwich generation, sending kids off to college (that is shamefully overpriced) while often taking care of ailing and aging parents. While in a perfect world, we should have all been dutifully putting money away every month for our retirement, for many of us, it just didn't happen.
I have a good friend who is now in her 60s. She is single and had a good management level job working for a financial company. In the early part of this century, she lived in Florida and was renting an apartment. As real estate prices were going higher and higher, she decided to take the plunge in 2006 and buy a condo. She had a good job and she stretched financially to get the most home for the dollar. It was going to be tight but it would be worth it. Or so she thought. As we all know now, only a few months later the bottom dropped out of the real estate market. One of the worst places hit was Florida. My friend's condo value dropped to less than half it's purchase price and now she was paying a mortgage that was so deeply under water that there looked like no way out. Around the same time, her company decided to decentralize all their regional offices and her office was closed. So there she was. Single, living in Florida in her late 50s with no job and a home that was hundreds of thousands of dollars under water. Not a pretty picture. She looked for a job, any job, for 18 months. She went through all her savings including 401K and IRAs until there was nothing left. She was finally forced to declare bankruptcy and hand her house keys over to the court. Let me be really clear about what kind of person she is. She is a college graduate and held senior level marketing jobs with Fortune 500 companies over the years. She is not stupid, lazy or delusional. She is not even a big spender. She did all the right things, listened to conventional wisdom on how to invest her money and in the end, despite careful consideration on every move she made, she found herself in the worst possible situation.
Today, my friend is facing a retirement with absolutely no savings. She declared bankruptcy four years ago and still has another three years before she can get a credit card or start saving or investing money. The good news is that she moved to another part of the country, was able to find a new job and is slowly putting her life back together. Sadly, the financial devastation she experienced will seriously impact her ability to retire and have a decent quality of life. My friend is not unique which is why on our retirement planning site, GangsAway.com, we've put together a list of towns and cities that provide a good quality of life but also a lower cost of living. If you are someone who wasn't able to save the kind of money you really need to retire or if you faced some kind of financial devastation, these 10 towns might be a really good option for you to stretch your dollars. There are lots of options but here are few to give you some food for thought. Just because life got in the way, if you set yourself up in a new location, you might just be able to make it all work.
If you like four seasons consider:
Warmer Climates: Some of these states have no state income tax and in general the cost of living and cost of housing is relatively low while still providing a nice place to live.
If you put yourself in a location where you can make your money go further, you might just be able to make it work. Making a move might be the critical element.