That is why climate change should be part of your retirement plan

The hurricane season begins this month. When talking about the weather and the effects of climate change, it is soon no longer just about having conversations, but rather planning and for some urgency and action in a phase of life that is popularly referred to as the time to retreat and relax.

David and Rachel were years ahead of everyone else in planning their retirement. Not just saving and investing, but knowing where they will live and what they will do when they get there. You could call them super planners. The kind of people financial advisors must love while the rest of us mere mortals who don’t even know when to pick up our kids at school consider them somewhere between amazing and annoying.

More than a decade ago, when retirement was still a long way off, David and Rachel bought a condo in one of the beach towns in Florida. The layout, location, and views were what retirement brochure dreams are made of. Here they would retire. In the meantime, the condo would generate rental income from renters in search of breathtaking views and beach access from bed.

Rachel looks away as if imagining looking out over the ocean at sunrise and remembers, “We loved it there, we’d visit regularly.” David nods his head in agreement: “Yes, everything was fun, restaurants, shops …”

Then, years ago, they noticed something that was becoming commonplace. Sandbags piled along the road held back the rising water. David noted, “It hasn’t been hurricane season, there hasn’t even been a storm lately, and water on the street was there every day.” He continued, “We couldn’t stay there, rumors and news reports suggested that climate change would only worsen the flooding over time – we imagined we couldn’t enter or leave our condominium, whichever way Rachel intervened nervously: “What if there were a hurricane, how high would the water be? What if we had to see a doctor?” Reluctantly, they sold their old man’s dream home.

Rachel and David, like many retired people, master a life of uncertainty. No, not the financial uncertainty, but the uncertainty of climate change. The uncertainty cone is often used to describe where hurricanes might land. We all know the weather maps on television that show lines that form a cone that indicates where a hurricane could “send” its strike and do the most damage. Now climate change has created a new cone of uncertainty about where to live in old age.

Graduates from my Global Aging class and colleagues from MIT AgeLab recently examined the question: Should climate change be a factor in retirement planning?

Consider it. According to NASA, evidence is surfacing that is related to climate change

extreme weather, such as hurricanes and storms, which are sure to affect preferred coastal vacation spots. While the media gets less media attention than hurricanes, rising waters are also affecting the retirement spots preferred by urban downsizers on the shores of the Carolinas, New England, and even as far north as my friends in Nova Scotia and Maritimes.

Western retirement goals are not immune. Hotter weather in the desert climate threatens the quality of life of golf resorts all year round. Rising temperatures are also believed to contribute to conditions that increase the frequency and severity of forest fires that threaten retirement dreams in the western mountains and canyons.

And even those who are Aging-in-place (Jargon for staying in their current home until they retire) have to think about how the climate affects their quality of life and the costs in retirement. For example, previous extreme heat waves in Chicago killed many elderly people. For others, the air conditioning, which was once used only a few days a year, is now used for a few months and is now an unplanned retirement plan.

How could climate change feed into retirement?

It’s hard to believe, but there are those who refuse to age. Yes, science is in, we are all getting older. As we get older, we are likely to have more chronic health problems, mobility problems, living alone, and needing to do things that were once niceties, such as: B. Air conditioners, are now sanitary necessities.

Unfortunately, during major storms and other weather events, most of the people left behind, hospitalized, or killed are older adults. An estimated 70% of Hurricane Katrina victims were elderly. Elderly people in Puerto Rico, especially older men, were the most likely to die after Hurricane Maria in 2017. Likewise, of the 1,500 who died during the 2019 Paris heat wave, half were older adults.

Here are some starting questions for incorporating climate change into your retirement.

Where to retire Retirement is like real estate. The quality of retirement depends in part on three things: location, location, location. As much as it can be “recognizable”, do you place your future older self and loved ones with restricted mobility, vulnerable health and special nutritional needs at the center of climate uncertainty?

Have you planned what could become an annual or even routine expense to prepare your home for an upcoming storm or seasonal weather event? The cost can be more than just the price of plywood and nail guns to the people of hurricane land. As we get older, we may need to seek and hire professional services to prepare our homes for unpredictable weather events.

What about the repair costs after flood, wind and fire damage? Will rising insurance costs be a retirement cost when the weather changes? Will the necessary insurance even exist in some areas in the future?

Will air conditioning become a major cost factor for some while rising costs of moisture, mold, and mildew management will be a factor for others?

Does your retirement community of choice provide adequate emergency transportation, health, food and shelter for the elderly on an existential level – not just services for younger, healthier and more mobile evacuees?

Retirement planning is about more than funding dreams and goals in later life. It’s about doing our best to plan and prepare for uncertainty. Many of us would never trade for a stroll on the beach, a view over the mountains, the color gamut of a canyon, or even the comforts of the home we’ve lived in for decades, but preparing for possible conditions and costs of climate change should be part of ours now Retirement provision.

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