- Associated Press - Monday, January 26, 2015

MADISON, S.D. (AP) - Now that Christmas is over and winter is officially here, it may be time for area snowbirds to fly the coop.

Reed and Arlene Eaton of Madison would love to fly south for the winter, but health issues are keeping them tethered to Madison this year. But for almost 20 years, the retired teachers enjoyed the warmer temperatures of Mexico.

“This is the first year we’ve missed,” said Reed, “and we’re not happy about it.”

Reed, a former professor of government, history and economics, taught 21 different classes over 30 years at Dakota State University; Arlene taught second grade in Colman for 16 years.

When they retired 20 years ago, the Eatons first went to Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1995. In 1996, they went south of the border and rented a place in Mexico. They liked it so well that they bought a condo in Mexico in 1997.

The benefits of snowbirding are many, the Eatons say, from the climate to the people to the weather, “We recommend it,” at least for the winter; in the summer “it gets too hot,” Reed said.

The Eatons are part of a large population of “seasonal migrants” who have been living in a warmer, southern climate over the past decades. A 2006 study in the Journal of Gerontology estimated that in 2005, “Florida had more than 800,000 elderly temporary in-migrants and more than 300,000 elderly temporary out-migrants at peak times.” Smith and House, the authors of the article about “Snowbirds, Sunbirds, and Stayers,” referenced older studies (2002 and 1987) that reported 300,000 snowbirds in Texas and 273,000 in Arizona.

But after the Great Recession of 2007, the concept of seasonal migrations may be changing. Many Baby Boomers were in the midst of their careers when the recession hit, says an April 2014 report from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, and have had less time to recover financially.

That means, according to the Transamerica Center, “Today’s vision of retirement is a radical departure from earlier generations.” They offer data from Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964), Generation X (born 1965 to 1978) and Millennials (born 1979 to 1996) that says many look at working past age 65, phasing into retirement, or continuing to work part-time.

The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College notes this change in an online article, saying “partial retirement was virtually non-existent for 60- to 62-year-olds in 1960.”

The Eatons enjoy their retirement at their Mexico condo, which is just five miles out of town, “right by the Pacific Ocean,” Arlene said. There are tennis courts and all kinds of restaurants nearby, she said.

Reed said there are two parts to Mazatlan’s downtown - an old town section that has a cathedral and the farmers market, and the nuevo or 20th Century section. This provides a diverse and quaint experience, Reed said.

In Mexico, Arlene said, they had a lot of friends who came from Canada and America. And the Mexican people “are very kind.”

The Mexican people “are happy people, outgoing people,” Reed said, different from the reserved people here.

The church they attended in Mexico had “an outstanding mission program,” and he enjoyed helping teach English to the Mexican children.

Arlene said she would help out at the Salvation Army. “We tried to do some good works,” she said.

But this year, “we’re gonna miss Mexico,” Reed said.

“We love to travel,” Arlene said, listing the places they’ve visited: Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, tours to Europe, the Canary Islands, Spain and Scandinavia.

“It’s just a matter of money and health,” she said. “If that was there, we would still be traveling.”

But they try to stay as active as possible when in South Dakota.

“It’s nice to get out with the walker and go around the block here (Heritage),” she said.

Changes in life situations and the economy will mean that upcoming generations will be facing “different challenges and opportunities,” says the Transamerica Center study, but they advise several tips for “achieving retirement readiness,” including saving, taking advantage of retirement benefits through the employer, and being educated about retirement investing.

And if that retirement includes some form of work, the Transamerica Center study also discovered that these other options “are not mutually exclusive with additional leisure time to enjoy life. In that regard, retirement dreams are alive and well.”


Information from: The Madison Daily Leader, https://www.madisondailyleader.com

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