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Clients must consider a number of issues as they approach retirement, and one of the most important is: Exactly where am I going to live?

Answering that question may not be easy for some clients, particularly if they feel pressure to follow a certain path in retirement.

For example, many Canadians think retiring means having to move to another home or city altogether, says Ida-Jean McIntyre, lifestyle planning workshop facilitator with the Canadian Institute of Financial Planners (CIFP) Retirement Institute. Yet, that may not be the best idea for some clients.

“When it comes to our home and helping our clients choose the ‘happy place’,” says McIntyre, who spoke at the 2016 CIFPs National Conference in Orlando, Fla., “it is really all about their priorities and their quality of life.”

You can help your clients find the right living arrangement in retirement, McIntyre says, with these three tips:

> Decide on a location
First, clients need to identify their priorities for retirement.

For example, does your client want to be near family and friends or community groups when he or she retires? Do they want to have access to public transportation and healthcare facilities? If so, would moving take them closer to or farther from those things?

Encourage your clients to put their answers to the test. For example, if clients are thinking of relocating, have them visit the area they are considering at different times of the year to see if they would be comfortable living there full-time.

Similarly, clients who plan to remain in their current house should spend time at home to get a sense of what their life would be like once they aren’t spending five days a week at the office.

> Run the numbers
Once clients have an idea of where they would like to live in retirement, make sure that plan is financially feasible.

What additional costs will clients incur if they decide to relocate? Will they have to pay moving fees? Will they have to buy new furniture? If they downsize to a condo, what are the maintenance fees? Will there be travelling costs to visit family?

Alternatively, will clients see their costs decrease in retirement because they plan to move to (or spend extended periods of time in) another country with a lower cost of living?

> Prepare for “what if” scenarios
Have clients consider what would happen if certain hypothetical situations were to arise.

What will they do, for example, if their health deteriorates? Would their home accommodate a disability with a few modifications, such as installing a chair lift or relocating the master bedroom to the main floor?

Would the client consider alternative housing situations, such as moving in with children or sharing a house with other seniors, should their financial situation become constrained?

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