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The Impact of Climate Change on Retirement Planning

Climate change could impact your health and budget in retirement.

By Rodney Brooks, U.S. News

Climate change is affecting us in ways no one could have imaged just a few years ago, and those dramatic changes in weather patterns may even affect your retirement. In recent years the world has been plagued by higher temperatures and increases in both the volume and intensity of natural disasters. You may need to incorporate the impact of climate change into your retirement planning.

Climate Change and Your Retirement Location

Most people retire in place, meaning that they stay in the home they have lived in and raised a family. Those who relocate for retirement often choose warmer climates like FloridaTexas and Arizona. But before you relocate to a dream retirement spot with warmer weather, do your research. The increased incidence of wildfires, floods and hurricanes in states like Florida, Texas and California might give you reason to reconsider your relocation plans. 

For example, toxic wildfire smoke can make it difficult to enjoy your retirement years and exacerbate health problems. Mick Smyer, founder and CEO of Growing Greener in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, says he has friends who left Napa Valley and retired in Washington State to escape the threat of wildfires, but then experienced smoke from Canadian wildfires that affected their health in Washington State. They have now relocated again to central Pennsylvania. “People talk to financial planners about longevity’s impact on their retirement, but they seldom ask how climate change might affect the place they hope to retire to in 15 or 20 years,” Smyer says.