DEAR ABBY: In response to "Contemplating Change in Rhode Island" (June 23), who is considering retiring with a friend to a city with a warmer climate, I would offer the same advice we have given our friends. She should know that she'll need to be proactive in developing a social network in her new location.
My wife and I also moved far south when we retired. We wanted neighbors with a variety of ages so we could hear children play nearby from time to time. We purchased a house in a "normal" neighborhood instead of a retirement community. But we soon realized that, unlike us, our neighbors had jobs, family responsibilities and little time for us. More disconcerting was going grocery shopping and no longer seeing the three or four acquaintances we would see back home.
Without jobs to occupy our time and give us a framework for social contact, we found ourselves isolated. To solve that problem we joined organizations and did volunteer work to meet new friends. Our story has a happy ending, but it took some effort to make it happen. "Contemplating" should be prepared to do the same. -- MIKE IN SPARKS, NEV.
DEAR MIKE: "Contemplating Change" asked if readers had experience moving far away at her age (late 60s). You, and many others, wrote to share overwhelmingly positive feedback. Thank you for it:
DEAR ABBY: For the women planning to buy a retirement home together, please tell them there are wonderful places everywhere. I have moved 15 times since the age of 70 and at 91 am moving again. (No, I am not trying to stay ahead of the sheriff.) I have sought more pleasant climates as well as the company of ambitious writers. For the last move, I am going to a retirement community where I don't have to cook, wash dishes or clean house because it'll be done for me. -- LIFETIME WRITER IN SEDONA, ARIZ.
DEAR ABBY: I want to encourage your Rhode Island reader. Renting first is excellent advice. Research what you want in your new destination. Make sure it's a growing community where transplants will be welcome.
Be outgoing. Join a church, community center or other place to meet people. No one will beat a path to your door or care about your former home. Don't make negative comparisons to locals, and don't cling to your old friend.
If all goes well, consider buying a twin home/duplex where you can be close but have your own space. I'm glad I moved. I now have more diverse friends than ever before. -- RETIREE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR ABBY: Yes -- rent first to check housemate compatibility. As to a new social community, check out nearby colleges or universities. Many offer programs for creative learning in retirement or something similar. One can make friends with shared interests through classes. Also, find a local "newcomers club." -- NANCY IN ASHEVILLE, N.C.
DEAR ABBY: You're never too old to make new friends. My suggestion to the ladies would be to consider buying what is referred to as a park model (manufactured home) in an RV park. They could even try renting one in a few different parks to get a feel for the park and location. These parks have all kinds of activities going on from morning 'til night. -- MICHIGAN SNOWBIRD
DEAR ABBY: Moving into an over-55 community was the perfect solution when we relocated. There was instant community with loads of activities and opportunities to make new friends.
When you buy, make sure you own the land as well as the house. Public libraries, churches, schools and nursing homes will welcome you as volunteers, and you can become as immersed in the new community as you want. We love being "relocated." -- MARJORIE IN LONGMONT, COLO.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)