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One woman's tips for adjusting to retirement in a new place

August 21, 2014

Retirement is an opportunity for older adults to take advantage of some of their lifelong ambitions. At the age of 65, New York City-based Jill Cotter decided the city was not where she wanted to retire, according to Senior Planet. In fact, the U.S. wasn't cutting it, either. She proceeded to pursue her dreams and move to Punta Gorda, Belize, where she could enjoy the beautiful scenery in a new, exotic environment.

While Cotter's approach to retirement was a bit extreme, she went through the same basic experiences that everyone faces when moving to a retirement home or independent living community - even one that's local is a big change. Take some of the advice that she shared with Senior Planet for getting the most reward from your new lifestyle.

Stay busy
Finding hobbies and staying active during the day is important for a revitalizing experience in a new retirement home. Cotter told Senior Planet that she utilized her experience with children as a former teacher and decided to volunteer at a school after she moved. Think about what made you happy in the past and find a way to experience it during retirement, as it's one of the best times in your life to finally pursue what you may not have had time for prior. Many retirement homes offer residents the opportunity to participate in an array of activities, including arts and crafts and group exercises.

Make friends
Having a solid social network can significantly enhance your transition. According to the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, a non-profit organization established to improve the quality of life for the elderly, socialization plays a major role in a person's happiness and can contribute to feelings of purpose and high self-esteem. Check with your retirement community to see which types of social gatherings are upcoming, and take advantage of them.

Switch it up
According to Forbes, it's perfectly acceptable to try out different things during retirement until you find what makes you happy. 

"The only way you're going to find something is to experiment till you find something that clicks," Dr. Louis Primavera, a psychologist and author, told Forbes. 

Not one to stay in one place for long, Cotter was married twice and held a variety of roles throughout her life, from an elementary school teacher to a Wall Street investment analyst to an actor's agent, reported Senior Planet. Now that she's settled in Belize, she's enjoying her golden years and has no plans to leave.