“Traditional Retirement Age & Aging In Place”

A gold watch traditionally has been the outward recognition of years of faithful service and a rite of passage from the workaday life to retirement and leisure – now being largely redefined by the boomer generation.


Attitudes about working have changed

If we go back a half-century or more, there was a prevailing attitude about employment that said that a person should find a job (hopefully one that they enjoyed doing) and then stay there their entire working life. Parents imparted this advice to their children as they were growing. While many professionals moved to other firms as they exercised their upward mobility opportunities, most seemed to adhere to this unwritten, conventional wisdom advice of staying with the same company.

In working for the same company for most, if not all, of one’s years of earning a living, that meant living in the same town as well – unless there was a transfer to a different corporate location that was initiated by the company. People might have changed homes as their family size grew or they desired to live in a different part of their community, but they were not moving miles away to start anew in a different city or state.

Staying in the same home as the working years passed was not unusual. Some people changed residences a couple of times as their family and income grew, or they were sent to a new location by their company. Some did not. For the most part, there was no need to pull up stakes and move to a new city.

So have our attitudes on where we live

Because we essentially have abandoned that former prevailing opinion of remaining with the same company all of our adult years, we are free to take other jobs in our area, move to new cities to take on new opportunities, or start our own businesses. Regardless, we no longer needed to live close to our place of employment because that was subject to change. Nevertheless, many of us found a home that we liked and could use that as our residential base even if we changed jobs or companies. Commuting routes (highways, express local roads, and mass transit) have made getting to jobs several miles from our home more doable.

We now are free to live whare we want and then commute to our place of business, whether we work for a company or for ourselves. In the past year, nearly everyone has worked in large part, if not entirely, from home anyway. So the proximity to an office location has become less important or moot.

Rather than living close to the plant or office, people have selected to live where a neighborhood appealed to them. It might be close to where they were working at the time (but not necessarily where they will finish their working days), or it could just be a neighborhood with a home that appealed to them emotionally. Many people found that they had selected a home that they could remain in for many years and did so. Some are still residing in a home they purchased decades ago. Aging in place!

Retiring and moving

Traditional wisdom, in addition to suggesting that we remain with the same company our entire working career, suggested that we retire at age 65 or after working a prescribed amount of time with the company – 40 years or so. Many people even wrote this anticipated date on a calendar, years away from the current date.

However, many things have intervened to interrupt this typical plan. We no longer need to work for the same company or remain in the same city to work there. We can move across the continent or even to another country. We can change positions as often as we feel it is appropriate for us to do so – for opportunity, challenges, or money. Of course, the computer and the internet age have made it so much easier to live in one place (the same place as we have been) and work in many other places and geographic areas without leaving our home office, depending on the service we provide.

There was a time when people took their retirement at the traditional age in their early 60s and moved to their retirement home in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, the mountains, or some other place that really appealed to them. Of course, many other states are desirable retirement destinations as well.

Because aging in place in a comfortable and serviceable home has been a noticeable fact of life for people over the years, the recent adjustment to the pandemic that we all have experienced, the fact that one’s resume of their employment is not all at the same firm, and that our calendar did not or does not have a callout for that specific retirement date, we may not need to move from we are living and retire to that special place we have selected. We may decide to remain where we are living and retire there as we adjust our daily schedules and lifestyle needs accordingly.

Retirement – for those that actually are turning their back on what they have been doing to earn a living for the majority of their lives – can be managed quite well from where people are living now. Nevertheless, the idea of retirement for many people is merely a term that means little to them as they continue working (largely for themselves) and enjoying life.

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