Become a Grandparent Magnet
Of all the important factors to consider when relocating at retirement, moving away from our grandkids may be the toughest decision we will make. The close connections we feel after spending time with our grandchildren are with words hard to describe. When our heart stops beating with joy, as we reminisce on the way back home after a day with the grandkids, we're challenged to think about creative ways to relocate, wondering if we can have the best of both worlds?
In reality, our grandchildren have busy schedules themselves, involved in sports programs, dance and music, often overloaded with homework from school. This limits the time our grandchildren have to spend with us unless we are a caregiver. Grandparents basically fall into three categories: 1) frequent babysitters 2) visits once or twice a month 3) visits during vacations and holidays.
If we fall into category number one, when push comes to shove, it is highly unlikely we will relocate because of the daily connection we have to our children and grandchildren. If we fall into category two and three, here are a few creative ways to become a ‘Grandparent Magnet’ making the desire of our grandchildren to be with us - irresistible. Frankly, at this stage of my life, I would rather not babysit late in the evening and then drive home. I hate to admit it, but as my internal time clock continues to change, it is harder for me to stay awake late at night being an earlier riser. Selfish as it may sound, my husband and I would rather the time we spend with our grandchildren be fun, exciting and memorable. We enjoy taking our grandchildren to beach, zoo and exciting tourist attractions.
When you choose the best state to retire, let’ assume you choose Orlando Florida. If your children have young children, a visit to Walt Disney World, Universal Studio and SeaWorld will always be on their minds. Even if you do not want to live in Orlando Florida, as long as you live within 1 -1 ½ hour drive, visiting these popular tourist attractions will be easy. Within 1-1 ½ hours of Orlando, you could live on the best beaches in Florida, Cocoa Beach or in the sleepy city of Sebastian, all on the East Coast of Florida. On the West Coast of Florida, maybe the beaches of Sarasota, St Petersburg or Clearwater, all near Tampa are your cup of tea. The West Coast of Florida's top visited tourist attraction is Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa, home to thrilling roller coaster rides is a place your teenage grandchildren will hardly say no to a visit. To the north of Orlando, Ocala and Mount Dora are charming areas popular for retirement. You might be amazed like me, at how much The Villages in Ocala feels like an adult version of Walt Disney World. Orlando is a great example of places to consider retiring, an area our grandchildren will plead with their parents to go.
Western North Carolina - If we choose to relocate to Asheville North Carolina, within 1 – ½ hours, we can easily take our grandchildren to Gatlinburg Tennessee, northwest of Asheville. Gatlinburg is the home of Dolly wood and Pigeon Forge filled with tourist attractions and things to do. Gatlinburg is the gateway to the main entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To the northeast of Asheville, winter sports are popular in the High Country, ski resorts at Sugar and Beech Mountain. Linville Caverns and Grandfather Mountain are highly visited tourist attractions in the mountain towns of Banner Elk, Boone and Blowing Rock. To the south of Asheville, Lake Lure’s Chimney Rock State Park, Great Smoky Mountain Railroad and America’s favorite scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway are all quickly accessible.
Coastal North Carolina - On the coast with 1 – 1 ½ hour drive of Wilmington, you will find Cape Lookout National Seashore, the Brunswick County beaches and the Battleship USS North Carolina, plenty of fun seaside activities to enjoy with your grandchildren. The Myrtle Beach area is filled with great golf courses to play or Jungle Rapids Waterpark, Ingram Planetariums and Cape Fear Serpentariums, more entertaining for the kids. Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park has over 30 rides is often referred to as “The Coney Island of the South”. The new SkyWheel is the buzz in town. While parks and attractions are of interest to children, so are collegiate and professional sports. Maybe you’re a hardcore sports fan like me and retiring near a college university or NFL stadium strikes a better chord.
At this point, you see where I am going with this. Choose the best to retire and live in a place which pulls our grandchildren and children to us, like a magnet! Master planned communities with golf, boating, tennis and spas will be pampering relief and exciting retreats for your family.
A client shared with me their disappointment when they wanted to sell their new home they had built in North Carolina. Initially they were thrilled because they had found 5 acres in a beautiful area for a low price and built the home of their dreams. I asked why they were selling. They said after 2 years, they had not factored in the remoteness of the location they chose. Their kids and grandkids had no desire to visit because they were bored to tears when they visited. Not only could our children and grandchildren be bored to tears by choosing a remote location, our children could also find themselves out of place in a 55+ community bombarded by excessive rules and regulations just to swim in the pool.
If we want to be a Grandparent Magnet, we must look through our grandchildren and children’s eyes to recognize what is important to them. It is not necessary to live a stone’s throw away from our grandchildren to have a close relationship with them. Moving within a few miles of our grandchildren could even backfire on us. For example, imagine how upset you will feel after you move closer to your grandchildren only to find out your child or his/her spouse are being relocated by his/her employer to another state. Life is unpredictable. We have clients where this has happened and it was devastating.
We can predicate and budget for travel; money for us to travel our grandchildren’s home and for them to travel to us. Consider relocating near low cost airports which are hubs for well known airlines. For example, a direct flight on Allegiant Air from Fort Lauderdale Florida to Greenville Spartanburg South Carolina will cost you on average $130 round trip and many times less. The same flight out of Fort Lauderdale on Delta may cost you $400 with a connection in Atlanta. Southwest Airlines recently announced a $100 million airport expansion at Greenville Spartanburg Airport. If your children need to fly, airfare adds a big expense for them to visit often. However, parents will drive 2-3 hours with the kids in the car, for a long weekend. Explore areas within 2-3 hours of your children, if you need to be more closely connected and can’t afford the cost of air travel.
Warren Buffet invested in the rail road systems for the long term because he sees the benefits and popularity growing. Amtrak offers roomettes and bedrooms on some trains which would make traveling easier for Mom & Dad and could be fun for younger kids.
Technology continues to bring us closer together when we can’t be physically in the same room. Skype has made face to face contact possible through the internet and is soon being added to Facebook. Facebook is a fun day by day update of your families happening’s, new photos and videos. Get connected with your kids and grandkids through technology as soon as possible. Chat with them online. You will find it fun and very addicting. Grandparent’s who stepped up and learned Facebook, are glad they did. They feel more close to their children and grandchildren’s watching day by day posts on Facebook instead of phone calls every now and then.
As much as we want to spend more time with our grandchildren and children, quality of time might end up trumping the physical separation. Become an irresistible Grandparent Magnet to stack the odds in your favor that your grandchildren will want to visit you often and you visit them. When is grandparents day? Every day if you create it...
Margie Casey Founder