Posted on 17 March 2012
By Mark Miller
When Harvey and Cora Alter decided to move away from Washington, D.C., for their retirement, friends were surprised to hear where they were going.
The Alters weren’t even crossing a state line. They would move just 30 miles north of Rockville, Maryland, where they had raised two daughters, to Frederick — a town of about 65,000 on the outskirts of the Washington-Baltimore metro area near the Catoctin Mountains.
“People were surprised that we weren’t moving to North Carolina, where one of our daughters lived,” Harvey Alter recalls. “We wanted to be near Washington where all our friends lived, and we saw no point moving near one daughter and bothering her — and not the other in Ohio.”
Relocation in retirement often brings cross-country or big north-south moves to mind, but very few seniors actually go very far. In 2010, just 1.6 percent of retirees between age 55 and 65 moved across state lines.
The increasing popularity of the short-distance move may be a result of the many advantages the strategy offers: Retirees who stay an hour or two from where they worked and raised their children can cut their costs while staying near their friends, cultural events, major airports and medical facilities. Moving outside the metro area means they don’t have to compete on housing prices with people who need to be closer to the city for their jobs.
Depending on local real estate values, it’s a move that can allow seniors to extract substantial equity from the real estate portion of their assets.