Forget all those “best places to retire” lists: For some retirees, the top retirement destination is the place where their grandkids reside.
Nancy Kilgore, 68, and her husband were happy living in Thetford, Vt. But three years ago, they moved 90 minutes away, to Burlington, to help their divorced daughter raise her daughter. Because it was difficult to move her psychotherapy practice, Kilgore still commutes to see patients two days a week and sleeps at a friend’s house. “My choices are usually about doing what I love, not making money,” says Kilgore. “Family is the most important thing to me.”
For many grandparents, pulling up roots to be near adult children and grandchildren is “the last chance to focus on family and to leave a legacy of special memories,” says Christine Crosby, editorial director of GRAND magazine. In a magazine survey in 2014 of 1,000 grandparents, 10% said they had moved to be closer to their grandkids. Of those, 60% said “their main reason was to help their adult children by providing child care,” says GRAND publisher Lori Bitter.
But as Kilgore discovered, be prepared to make sacrifices if you move to be near the kids and grandkids. Before you make the move, check out opportunities to meet new people, through religious institutions, volunteer and cultural groups, college classes, and part-time employment. Also be sure your destination has access to high-quality hospitals and doctors, and that specialists you may need will take on new patients.
Establish the Ground Rules
You and your children should set boundaries ahead of time. Grandparents must understand that their children have final say. “The parents need to run the show, and the grandparents should respect their rules,” says Dr. Arthur Kornhaber, a psychiatrist in Ojai, Cal., and founder of the Foundation for Grandparenting.