retirement sories

Where to Retire?

How About Your Own Back Yard!

So, the question is "Where to Retire?".

That's one of the major questions to occupy many of us in the years approaching retirement! Sometimes, the answer to this question is a lot closer than you think!

I have a happy memory from the nineteen fifties of me and my dad in our backyard - and it was a Cork backyard, not an American movie backyard with a gazebo and swimming pool!

He’s showing me how to repair a bicycle puncture, and he’s crooning the song that Al Jolson co wrote and sang-Back in your own backyard.
You'll find your happiness lies Right under your eyes Back in your own backyard

We talked about that song and he added, “Remember Regi,” (he had nicknames for all of us), “wherever you go in the world, you’ve got to bring your head with you.”

I thought about that song and his remark, when the time came for me to consider where to retire. I had the wanderlust as a child and young man, always dreaming of faraway places..., and my dreams came true!

I’ve been fortunate to have visited many countries in connection with my work, and on holidays. I worked in Zambia from 1969-1974 and I’ve returned to Africa on four occasions since - Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa and Zambia (see my story Going Back). I’ve been to Asia on three occasions - Thailand Singapore and Hong Kong, South America twice - Argentina and Venezuela.

I’ve been to the USA many times, and I love it - California, Las Vegas, Florida, New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia. And I’ve been to Australia.

In Europe I’ve been to England, Scotland, Wales, Spain, Portugal, Germany France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Austria, Andorra, Monaco, and Norway.

And I’m not finished yet! See my Bucket List Retiring abroad was an option! Free from the need to work in a particular location, and with reduced family responsibilities, I could go anywhere.

I was conscious of the fact that my sense of freedom and choice was only available in the near term of early active retirement. My longer term options would be limited by aging and unpredictable health issues. After careful consideration of best places to retire abroad, I decided it was not for me.

Let me share with you some of the reasons I came to that conclusion. “The savage loves his native shore” another one of my dad’s wise sayings, and in retirement I want to live in Ireland, and more specifically in County Cork or Kerry. Only there do I get that sense of my own place, which my father in law wrote about in places to retire.

Here are some of my criteria I have for choosing the best retirement location for me and my wife.

I want security. By this I mean physical security, but also easy access to health care.

I would enjoy a quiet simple place - a retreat - in a small town and near to a city.

I would like a place with a mature community of all generations - children and grandparents, with friendly, unpretentious neighbours who know me.

In this place I want opportunities for entertainment (to pursue my interests), service (volunteerism) and some work (my retirement coaching business).

For entertainment and interests I want access to golf, hill walking, Toastmasters, swimming (I would love to live near the sea in a warm climate - living by the sea is feasible in Cork/Kerry, warm is problematic, in Ireland). And I want to join a writing community - I mustn’t miss the Listowel Writers Festival.

For now, my interest in service and volunteerism can be catered for by my membership of a Rotary Club. Volunteerism may grow in importance in late retirement,

For work, I want to pursue a second career, using my best skills and experience accumulated over decades. But I want more leisure time with family and friends, than I had in full time employment.

When it comes to Retirement for many of my age group - the "Baby Boomers,” that lucky generation born between the ending of the war and the coming of the Beatles - the traditional retirement of rest and leisure is not sufficient.

For my chosen field of work, Retirement Coaching, I need access to a community of people in late career or already retired - the early fifties to late sixties age group.

If I lived abroad what would I miss about home? I would miss sport, both national and local events, especially Gaelic Games.

I would miss the local community and the network of people and services that support me - the postman, the parish priest, the taxi and bus service, the family doctor who knows when I needn’t worry, the city library, my favourite restaurants, the easy access to Cork Airport, the checkout girl at the local supermarket, who always has a smile and a greeting for me, my neighbours, my best friends, my golf club four ball, Patrick’s Street on Christmas eve ... the list goes on and on.

It’s so easy to take for granted the network of friends and services, which we have built up over a lifetime, which watch over us and support us.

And so, not for the first time my wise old dad - God rest him - was right, perhaps I don’t have to look any further than my own back yard, and thus can cease my exploration.

“We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
T. S. Eliot

I hope you enjoyed this story. Please share your Retirement Stories and Anecdotes! Everyone loves a great story and a super anecdote or two!

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