Skip to main content

This resource is brought to you by Thrive and is part of a series designed for ministers who are making plans for their retirements.

One of the most significant practical issues related to retirement is the decision about where to live after full time ministry is concluded. When you let go of your full time ministry you will have untethered yourself in a certain way. You won’t be bound to your current location because of your job any longer. Will you stay or will you go somewhere else? 

There are many factors to consider as you try to answer that question:

  1. Is your spouse employed, and does that mean remaining in place, at least for now?
  2. What options can you afford to consider as places to live after retirement?
  3. Are there tax advantages to any particular location?
  4. What people do you want to have more (or less) personal contact with in the future?
  5. What volunteer, educational, and professional opportunities do you want to take advantage of, and are those opportunities more prevalent in a certain location?
  6. Do you want to experience a change of scenery? Of climate? Of accessibility to resources? 
  7. Do you want to be nearer travel hubs such as airports, train stations, or major highways?
  8. What cultural experiences appeal to you? How often do you want to engage them? Are they more prevalent in a certain geographical area?
  9. What location might help you live out your vocation most fruitfully?

One of the primary considerations for retiring pastors is the location of their family. Many pastors want to move somewhere that enables them to spend time with children and grandchildren, and so they try to find a location that is close to a collection of family members. However, we heard from a number of pastors that there is some risk in making a move to a different location purely because of its proximity to children and grandchildren: Those children and grandchildren might move away! 

In one story a ministry couple moved to the other side of the state they were living in, so that they could be close to a grown child and that child’s own family. However, a year after making their move their child moved away, and the couple was left without any community at all. Not only were the child and the child’s family gone, but all of the people around the couple were still new. As a result, they had nobody located nearby with whom they had any significant history, and they found that making new friends in old age was something of a challenge. They deeply regretted their move!

A good word about this topic came from one of the pastors we spoke with while preparing this resource: Move into the community of people with whom you still feel a connection. Perhaps it’s the community in which you live currently. Perhaps it’s a congregation from some time ago, one that warmly embraced you while you were there. Perhaps it’s a small collection of ministry friends who have decided to move to the same area. Perhaps it’s the community in which you shared the experience of raising your children. In any case, you’ll want to be in a community in which you are sure to find support. Getting old is hard work, and is best experienced with others who can help.

There are plenty of online resources available to help you make this decision. Just type “Best Places to Retire” into any search engine, and you’ll find more help than you’ll know what to do with. Of course, none of them will help to think about the relationship between your vocation and your location, but you can do that on your own as you make your plans. A key question to ask would be, “Where will I/we be most likely to flourish as I/we pursue the calling that God has given?” 

NOTE: This article comes out of a study of ministry transitions, done by members of the Thrive staff of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The studied transitions include the transition from later career into retirement. The guidance here is part of a larger retirement resource that updates a 2006 resource called "Closing Well — Continuing Strong." The full updated resource, now titled “Retirement from Pastoral Ministry: Guidance for a Healthy Transition,” can be found here on the Thrive website.

Let's Discuss

We love your comments! Thank you for helping us uphold the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.

Login or Register to Comment

We want to hear from you.

Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.

Add Your Post