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What is it like to retire to a place where you don't know ANYBODY?!?
Old 11-11-2013, 09:29 PM   #1
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What is it like to retire to a place where you don't know ANYBODY?!?

We have vacationed in the Pacific Northwest, usually when it has been sunny, and my wife would really like to retire there, specifically Seattle, possibly Portland, because she is very, very, VERY involved in weaving, knitting and spinning. I love the outdoors and can use a change of scenery.

However, we don't know a soul there. We are not religious so we can't count on joining a congregation for instant friends. We are somewhat quiet, non-partying types but do like to do things, entertain, etc. My hobbies are kind of solitary such as kayaking, archery, RC planes, etc. Although she will be 57 & I 62 when we make the move I worry about what it would be like to grow elderly away from our home base of a dwindling extended family in the Midwest. Even here we find it difficult to break into existing social groups of friends who have been together for decades and have a shared history. We have many friendly neighbors and lots of acquaintances but in your 50's & 60's it seems harder to make real friends. I think if we move to more of a resort town, like Bend, Or etc. where people are from somewhere else, it's easier to meet people.

But we want to get out of the Midwest for our next chapter of life.

Any thoughts of people in similar situations have experienced will be appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 11-11-2013, 09:35 PM   #2
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Seattle and Portland are both very nice places to live. Wet during most of the year, but usually pretty nice summers. My wife and I are somewhat hermits.....but that is the way we lead or lives. If you want to be really sociable and meet lots of people.....both cities have a lot to offer.
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Old 11-11-2013, 10:01 PM   #3
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I'm curious to see feedback on this. My initial plan was to move to New Mexico & I too know no one there and am in my 60's. I will follow this thread, thank you for starting it.
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Old 11-11-2013, 10:33 PM   #4
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First weather. We (central Seattle) have had a wonderful summer and fall, without much rain and not cold either. But the real problem here is winter darkness. On December 21, the sun never gets above 19 degrees above the south horizon. Even on a clear day, it's like someone forgot to turn the lights on. And there are few clear days.

If you still like the idea, Port Townsend is a nice artsy-craftsy community with many mostly affluent well educated retirees living there. It takes a while to get to Seattle, and there will always be at least one ferry ride.

Seattle itself is a very nice city. People complain constantly about how hard it is to get to know people, but well chosen meetup groups help this I think. A lot of neighborhood bars in trendy areas have Trivia Nights, and mostly other couples will be there, the type of community determining the ages. Most of them near where I live seem to be young single or married couples before they have kids. However, many people who would pick Seattle to retire are basically hermits, so leopards don't change their spots. Seattle, or Port Townsend for that matter, are not cheap.

Speaking only for myself, I would never move away from an established social group, unless I were perhaps going to a retiree spot in Florida, or a cult. This is many times more true, for me at least, if your kids are in the old home city. Kids are their parents main support system when things go rough.

You mentioned some specific activities that I know nothing about. Still, weavers or whatever are likely similar wherever they may be.


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Old 11-11-2013, 10:48 PM   #5
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We have vacationed in the Pacific Northwest, usually when it has been sunny, and my wife would really like to retire there, specifically Seattle, possibly Portland, because she is very, very, VERY involved in weaving, knitting and spinning. I love the outdoors and can use a change of scenery.

However, we don't know a soul there. We are not religious so we can't count on joining a congregation for instant friends. We are somewhat quiet, non-partying types but do like to do things, entertain, etc. My hobbies are kind of solitary such as kayaking, archery, RC planes, etc. Although she will be 57 & I 62 when we make the move I worry about what it would be like to grow elderly away from our home base of a dwindling extended family in the Midwest. Even here we find it difficult to break into existing social groups of friends who have been together for decades and have a shared history. We have many friendly neighbors and lots of acquaintances but in your 50's & 60's it seems harder to make real friends. I think if we move to more of a resort town, like Bend, Or etc. where people are from somewhere else, it's easier to meet people.

But we want to get out of the Midwest for our next chapter of life.

Any thoughts of people in similar situations have experienced will be appreciated.

Thanks!
Go for it, IMHO. I left the Midwest for the inter-mountain States out of college (1976) and have never looked back. You each have activities you like to do, which is great, as many people don't have any interests outside work or family. There will be groups or clubs of people that like the same hobbies as you wherever you go, especially your specified activities in the Pacific Northwest. I moved over 35 times my career, and as an INTP, am quite happy not having unwanted social requirements. Also, most places to which people like to move have also attracted other people looking for change, so it is easier to meet other people, if you want to, in those places. Actually, the locations I had the most trouble meeting people was when I worked in the places other people typically leave. Some of the remaining folks had 'circled the wagons' indeed.

For me, moving to a new place adds an edge of mystery and inquisitiveness to life. Living somewhere new is so much more interesting than just visiting.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:01 PM   #6
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We moved to San Francisco last year for DW's job (I don't work anymore). We did not know anyone here. We are not religious either. And we are also the quiet, non-partying type who still likes to do things and entertain on occasion. While DW has some shallow social interactions at work, I had to work on building a new social network from the ground-up.

It was tough as I am not outgoing in the least. While I am somewhat introverted, I do not want to become a hermit and I need to have some social interactions every so often. I joined some meetup groups in my area, which was completely outside of my comfort zone. I met a bunch of people, none of which became real friends. But the experience made me feel more at home here. Still, I take comfort in the knowledge that, for us, this is a temporary situation. In a few years, when DW retires, we'll move back east. There we have a nice, established social group. For us, that's still where "home" is.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:02 PM   #7
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What timo2 said.

Some people live their whole lives in one area and cannot envisage living anywhere else. Those of us who have moved a lot have had to establish social networks in many places. Working does help with this but the people you meet at work are not always those you would choose as friends. You have an advantage in that you already have clearly defined interests and you can build networks of friends around them. Check out the meetup or newcomers' groups in the area you want to move to. These are invaluable because you meet other people who are also trying to settle in and, by definition, are open to change. Some communities are cliquish and a structured activity helps to break the ice. Of course it should be mentioned that distance is less of a barrier with modern communication and if you move to a nice enough place, your relatives and friends are more likely to visit you!
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:08 PM   #8
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I did exactly this. retired from 20 yrs in the military so most of my good friends over the years were just memories or scattered around anyway. Only have a small remnant of family on the East Coast and I had --NO--intention of moving back there. I moved to Nebraska where I had never been before, for mainly economic reasons.

Like someone stated above, I am a happy hermit type. Do well on my own, and mostly find other people quite tiresome most of the time. I have no actual ongoing social circle but I don't really want one and have never really had one anyway except as an extension of w*rk.
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Old 11-12-2013, 01:25 AM   #9
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You can usually make friends anywhere you go but then I grew up moving around the world. Ironically, one of the girls I went to high school with in Korea will be close to our retirement property so we will know at least one person.
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Old 11-12-2013, 03:08 AM   #10
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The Boeing factor may make it easy to find fellow RC enthusiasts. My dad was a Boeing engineer and had a group of fellow Boeing workers he would fly planes with.
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Old 11-12-2013, 06:38 AM   #11
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OP here. Thanks everyone. Very good points. Will just have to get out of my comfort zone and make new friends. I do use Meet Up here.
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Old 11-12-2013, 06:44 AM   #12
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When we moved we didn't know a soul here either, but we only moved ~70 miles so family and friends are still within driving distance, albeit a longer one. While we're not exactly hermits we don't go out of our way much to socialize either. So far it's worked out fine.
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Old 11-12-2013, 07:10 AM   #13
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Six months ago, we left the city we lived in for 25 years where we had a ton of friends and activities. We moved to be closer to our children. Our experience sounds much like FIREd but I would not describe ourselves as introverted. We are just beginning to make friends after 5 months of being active in several things including Meet-ups and volunteer projects. I think it will continue to get better but I can't see having the same type of relationships that we created before. I think part of it is simply not having the opportunity to share the same type of experiences that happen with growing children and life events that occur at an earlier age.
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Old 11-12-2013, 07:25 AM   #14
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On December 21, the sun never gets above 19 degrees above the south horizon. Even on a clear day, it's like someone forgot to turn the lights on. And there are few clear days.
I don't consider myself as the depressed type, but that might do it.
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Old 11-12-2013, 07:29 AM   #15
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Yes davef, I agree. The kind of friends you make when you're all going through fun, exciting and difficult times, such as the child rearing and terrible teenager years, there is a bonding that you don't get with the people you meet later. Oh well.

We had been toying with keeping a cheaper place here and then RVing during the winter. We did our research, went browsing in RV shows and expos, visited RV parks and my take away was that it is a very sociable lifestyle. Almost too sociable. I was trying to imagine making conversation with everyone who came up to our campfire.

Our son is in Australia and will not be coming back so unlike others here we don't have grandchildren to look forward to. I have a bro and sis here but if we move out west there will be no one to count on. I volunteer as a Scrabble player twice a month at a nursing home (old folks grew up on Scrabble) and have observed what a drag it is to never have visitors.

Since I posted last night my wife is now zeroing in on Prescott, AZ and Bend, OR. The benefit of these two places is there will be lots of folks from elsewhere and I believe that is when people are the friendliest.

As a side note, when we downsized 7 years ago we moved to a maintenance free planned community built around a golf course. Everyone is pretty much in the same economic and educational level zone although quite ethnically diverse. The houses are close together and there are sidewalks so if you walk a dog or push a grand kid's baby carriage you will meet folks. However, there were two situations where people have told me they "aren't interested in knowing the neighbors". I was taken aback, after all, who wouldn't want to know their neighbors? I guess it was a been there, done that vibe.
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:11 AM   #16
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Cheesehead - DW and I also live in Madison and are considering the same thing (target RE in 2015). We've looked at OR, CO, WA, TX, and a few other states. It's looking like CO right now. We looked at and ruled out Bend (and OR in general) because the weather just wasn't what we were looking for. Otherwise it was a great fit for us. We also won't know a sole in a new city, but I agree with a previous poster that your activities will lead you to new friends, especially if you are already using MeetUp. A move is an opportunity for new experiences and new friends. You could always move back if you miss us all back here in the frozen tundra. Good luck!
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:14 AM   #17
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A few miles east of Seattle there are some nice spots. Marymoor park in Redmond has a huge flying field for RC....there is also a nice one near the start of the 30+ mile paved bike trail in Snohomish. I actually live waterfront on a pretty good kayak river in the Cascade foothills and have put in 10 miles up and shot the rapids right down to my backyard!

Hey, we are selling our house soon and doing the RV thing....we also have a large loom that needs to go....
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:22 AM   #18
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This is what WA state looks like in the winter....so depressing! I can't wait to get my 'cat out and enjoy more depressing days like that one last year.
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:26 AM   #19
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I was taken aback, after all, who wouldn't want to know their neighbors?
You apparently don't have my neighbors...
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:33 AM   #20
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You apparently don't have my neighbors...


I think that the older you are, the harder it is to find new peeps, if you are rusty at social interactions. But having hobbies and outside interests makes YOU more interesting, and if you can get out there and do things that you like, seems like you could find people who enjoy the same stuff.

I have a big social circle and my friends are my family. I have found that I appreciate more social interaction as I get older, not less, which is an interesting discovery for this INTJ.

There is no moving, ever, on the horizon for us, except perhaps to downsize in our town sometime in the future. But thinking about your situation, it would honestly be very very hard for me to uproot and move just to improve my climate. Then again, we don't have snow!
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