To travel more after you retire, do this first

A Willamette View couple traveling in Giverny, France
Bubbles and Mike Lincicum in Claude Monet’s gardens at Giverny in France.

If you want to travel far and often in your post-working years, you need a living situation that serves as a launch pad, not a money trap. But where can you find that?

The answer may surprise you: In a retirement community.

Forget outdated stereotypes about being “put out to pasture.” Residents at Willamette View, south of downtown Portland, say they moved to the senior living community because it enables them to explore the world more, not less.

Here are the top five reasons why:

1. Your daily and long-term expenses are more predictable, giving you freedom and certainty to spend on travel. Life in a senior living community means no more budget-busting homeowner expenses: “You’re not putting on a new roof,” said Ginny Seabrook, a former middle school teacher who moved to Willamette View in 2015 and visits New York City several times a year. Residents pay one bill each month that includes utilities, maintenance and repairs.

Residents also don’t have to worry about how and where their future needs will be met. That’s because Willamette View is a Life Plan Community (also known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community), which means it offers a range of onsite services, programs, housing options and various levels of health care within one campus setting.

Two women posing in front of a stone castle in Scotland near a lake
Featured: Susan Genné, at left, and Peg Genné at Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland in 2018.

2. It’s easier to pack up and leave, and you can rest easier while you’re away. When residents are traveling, Willamette View holds their mail, watches for packages, and responds to maintenance issues. “It’s a lot easier to travel because you don’t have to worry about getting somebody to mow the lawn, or stopping the newspaper, or somebody breaking into your house,” said Mike Lincicum, who moved with his wife Bubbles to Willamette View in 2015. “You just lock the door and walk out,” Bubbles added.

3. You save money on travel because your lifestyle allows for flexibility and last-minute fun. For residents of a senior living community, there’s no need to schedule trips around the cable guy’s visit, for example, and no rush to return home if extending your trip will cut the costs.

“You find a hot deal or a spur-of-the-moment bargain, and you can just take off,” said Peg Genné, who moved to Willamette View with her sister Susan in 2016. The sisters traveled every month during 2018, and many times since. They purchase airline tickets during non-peak times and have negotiated lower hotel rates by staying longer than 30 days.

When in France, the Lincicums take advantage of a program that allows non-residents who are in the country for two weeks or more to lease a car for “about half as much” as it would cost to rent one, Mike said.

A woman in front of a large waterfall called Iguazu Falls in Brazil
Featured: Ginny Seabrook on a birding trip at Iguazu Falls, Brazil in 2016.

4. A community near great transit options makes the first and last legs of your trip even easier. Seabrook chose Willamette View in part because it’s near a MAX Orange Line light rail station in Milwaukie, which connects through downtown Portland to Portland International Airport.When she retired, “I assumed I would continue traveling,” Seabrook said. She’s traveled extensively for decades – including to Thailand, Latin America, China, and Africa – and departs for Quebec in the fall. “It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t.”

A traveling couple standing in front of a body of water in Batz, France
Featured: Bubbles and Mike Lincicum in Ile de Batz, France.

5. The right senior living community provides the company of fellow travelers. At Willamette View, many residents value an expansive worldview and “travel is part of the culture,” said Mike Lincicum. The community is home to people originally from all over the United States and the world, including Egypt, Japan, Luxembourg, Belgium, Scotland, China, France and Germany. Residents are eager to help each other plan trips and share resources. “There are many people who travel, and there are many people who have traveled and enjoy sharing their past experiences,” Mike said.

Recently, the Lincicums presented photos of their trip to Berlin, Vienna and Prague to a capacity crowd in Willamette View’s Blue Heron Auditorium, which seats 175 people. “The first question I asked was, ‘how many people have been to one of these places?’,” Bubbles recalled. “Practically everybody raised their hand.”

For people who like to travel around Oregon, the United States or the world – and who may consider moving to a community like Willamette View “one day” – the Genné sisters offer this advice: Don’t wait too long. The sisters moved to Willamette View when Peg was 66 and Susan was 63, a decision that has enabled them to take full advantage of the benefits that the senior living community offers to avid travelers.

And they don’t plan to stop exploring anytime soon. Said Peg: “We plan to travel as long as we can.”