Common Mistakes and Myths
Don't be overanxious to buy if you're not settled or if you're feeling pressure to buy. This advice often goes unheeded when it comes to real estate — primary homes and vacation homes alike — because of the emotions involved. Keep in mind that homes are constantly coming onto the market; there is no reason to buy under pressure as if the property you're looking at is the last one on earth.
Timeshare residences are notorious for their high-pressure salespeople, and the interesting thing is that you're not even buying real estate with a timeshare — you're buying time. Most timeshares are very difficult to sell, making them liabilities when you need to sell or when you tire of a particular location. This illiquidity qualifies timeshares as purchases, not investments as their sales presentations would have you believe. If you love to vacation and the timeshare maintenance fits in your budget, then timeshares might work for you — just don't consider them part of your retirement nest egg.
The number of communities restricting residents to those over age 50 is growing rapidly. This lifestyle may seem appealing at first glance, but many 50-somethings who have moved into one have later lamented the loss of diversity and activity of an unrestricted community. Be sure to try before you buy into an over-50 community.
Location, Location, Location
Give yourself ample time to decide where you want to live when you retire. Your kids and friends might move, you might decide you want warmer weather or a more rural or urban environment. In most cases it's best to plan your initial retirement — the first two or three years — in the residence where you initially retired. That will give you time to transition out of work and into your new lifestyle without also having to change locations. Then, if you still want to move, plan some long visits to the places you would like to move to. People often retire and immediately buy in a new location without giving themselves time to try it out. Having to sell after a short time because you don't like where you are can be a nest egg–buster.