Imagine spending your retirement years at sea and taking permanent residence aboard a luxury cruise liner, complete with all the amenities you would enjoy on a cruise vacation.
Modern retirement living options don’t end there. Today, there is no limit to how retirees can spend the next phase of their lives in luxury and comfort.
Some active retirees opt for retirement resorts that offer lavish hotel and spa services as well as many of the services provided in an assisted-living facility. Still, others choose to spend their retirement in a new country, living the ultimate immersion experience.
As some 77 million baby boomers begin to retire, they’ll enter a world of options that their parents couldn’t imagine. Thanks to increased life expectancies and energetic lifestyles, people easily may live up to 25% of their lives in active retirement, according to Transgenerational Design Matters, an educational, research and advocacy organization.
“The retirement services community – and a lot of people who traditionally would not be described as being in this industry – are focused on the fact that the first baby boomers began to retire last year,” says Dan Hutson, vice president of communications and marketing for be.group, a California-based nonprofit that owns and manages senior living communities and other support services. “We’re all looking at how best to meet the needs of retirees.”
Luxury Communities and Spas
Picture a beach view, luscious golf course and around-the-clock room service. It may sound like an ideal vacation getaway, but it actually sums up a slew of top-notch retirement communities.
For instance, White Sands, owned and managed by be.group, is an ocean-side, resort-like retirement community in La Jolla, Calif. Residents can receive all levels of care, including memory care for those with any form of dementia. Luxury amenities include an ocean-view dining room in which residents are treated to fine dining and fresh, local ingredients; live cooking demonstrations; artist-taught art classes; and a full fitness facility.
Of course, those amenities come with a price tag: In addition to monthly charges, entrance fees run as high as $1.3 million, depending on the contract and residence selected, Hutson says.
At Isleworth Golf and Country Club in Windermere, Fla., retirees live in a gated community with a club spa, party planning services and a full staff of security professionals. The resort is situated on the shoreline of the Butler Chain of Lakes and is home to an 89,000-square-foot clubhouse and a golf course designed by Arnold Palmer.
Donald Trump’s 50-acre Trump Park Residences in Yorktown, N.Y., offers grocery and dry-cleaning delivery and private movie theaters.
But before opting for a retirement resort, keep in mind these recommendations:
- Visit the community to gain a sense of the living environment. Speak with residents and staff to decide if it’s right for you.
- Make sure your chosen residence offers all the services you could want when you need them – something that may be increasingly helpful as you age.
- If a retirement resort isn’t a designated senior community, consider hiring a nurse or nurse’s aide to help with any health-related matters.
Retired living on a cruise ship can provide 24-hour food service, daily room cleaning and on-call medical assistance. Plus, there’s little risk of boredom thanks to a variety of entertainment and activities. More luxurious ships even boast tennis courts, mini-golf courses and movie theaters.
Several options are available for those who want to live a retired life at sea: Retirees can book back-to-back cruise packages on different ships for a fresh experience each time, or they can buy a unit on a residential cruise ship.
For example, cruisers can purchase and even design one of 165 private on-board residences, ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments, on The World Residences at Sea. The ship offers continuous worldwide journeys, but residents spend an average of four months on board each year. In 2012, The World will visit 31 countries – including South Africa, Australia and Greenland – and port for an average of 3 days at each stop.
Before permanently setting sail, here are some things to think about:
- Decide whether you’d like to book individual cruises or settle in for a long-term cruise.
- Cruise lines typically are equipped and staffed to act as ambulatory care centers or healthcare facilities, including providing emergency care and diagnostic treatment.
- Family and friends can’t visit as regularly during your trip around the world.
Those who choose to retire abroad can immerse themselves in a new culture and perhaps escape the hustle and bustle of their pre-retirement life.
Retirement abroad doesn’t necessitate giving up U.S. citizenship, although immigration and residency laws differ from country to country. Some require retirement visas to enter and reside, while others offer the option of dual citizenship. The U.S. Department of State provides country-specific information on visa and residency requirements.
But leaving your home country to retire in another isn’t a decision to take lightly:
- Think about the kind of retirement life you want to lead abroad and what country will best meet those goals. For example, do you want to learn a new language? Do you prefer to live in a safe and secure area, or are you looking for more adventure?
- A location with an existing community of expatriates and transplants may be best to get started and provide you with much-needed support.
- Look into other countries’ laws concerning residency as well as employment if you’re interested in a part-time opportunity abroad. And if you consider permanently giving up your U.S. citizenship, review all of the legal considerations (see “Before Taking Flight”).
- If you have health concerns, make sure the locations you are considering have adequate medical facilities to meet your needs.
Endless Options for Retirement
Whatever the retirement living situation of choice, retirees generally look to continue or even increase their quality of life.
“Retirees look for a particular lifestyle or life experience. They may be looking to explore interests they had when they were younger that they’ve drifted from. Or, they may use this as an opportunity to explore things they never had the chance to explore before,” Hutson says. “People want to continue to live purposeful lives.”