Are there unique factors to consider if you\’re a single, female
retiree? The answer is yes. Even if you\’re part of a couple now,
remember that divorce, death, or the break-up with a significant other
can change your status. Since women live an average of seven years
longer than men, your chances of being single at some point are
considerable. So, let\’s take a look at some areas you may want to think
about if you\’re single now, or may be single in the future:

Psychology. On the plus side, if you\’re single you only have
yourself to consider when making many life choices; on the down side,
you don\’t have the emotional support of a spouse or life partner. A
support group is particularly important if you\’re single. Options for
developing ties with others include working, volunteering, starting or
perfecting a hobby that involves being part of a group, signing up for
classes, exercising at a gym, service vacations – in other words, join
in!

Dating/Mating. There are online sites for the mature person looking to meet a partner, such as www.match.com, www.thirdage.com, www.seniordatefinder.com.
Of course, be careful when starting an online relationship. You may
want to “google” your new cyberspace friend, keep specific information
private (such as your real name, address, and phone number), set up a
separate e-mail address through a site such as Hotmail, look for
inconsistencies in responses to ensure your new friend is truthful,
take it slow, plan your first in-person meeting in a public setting,
and be realistic in your expectations.

Finances. Since you don\’t have monetary back up, it\’s very
important to start planning as early as possible for your retirement.
Since women are generally paid less than men, and may have been out of
the workforce for years to raise a family, financial planning is
particularly important for single women. Consider the advice of a
fee-based certified professional. In addition to word-of-mouth
recommendations, you can contact the National Association of Personal
Financial Advisors (NAPFA), which locates planners by zip code, at www.feeonly.org
or 800-366-2732. For help in locating a CPA, contact the American
Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) at 888-777-7077.

Location. If you\’ve built up a large support group, your
best bet may be to remain right where you are – there may be “no place
like home.” If, however, you want to relocate, some places are
considered better for singles than others. Sarasota and Naples,
Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Asheville, North Carolina are among
those considered particularly single-friendly. Why? A vibrant economy,
lots of things to do, and numerous organizations – in short, many
opportunities to get involved. You could also think about Nome, Alaska
where the ratio of men to women is two to one! More urban locations and
college towns are also good locations for single women. Areas that are
growing rapidly and developing communities tend to be more amenable to
singles – people who are new to an area tend to be more receptive to
making new acquaintances than those whose social circles have been
firmly established.

Another route to consider is the active-adult or age-targeted
community. If you\’re 55 or better, which is a common age requirement,
you\’ll have a built-in social support system available through the
myriad clubs, activities, and programs that are offered. The “big guns”
in active-adult living include Del Webb (www.delwebb.com or 800-717-9777), Hovnanian Enterprises (www.khov.com or 877-HOV-HOME), and the Lennar Corporation (www.lennar.com
or 305-559-4000). Arizona Traditions, 30 miles from Phoenix, Arizona,
is an active-adult community built by D. R. Horton that is also known
for its single-friendliness (www.aztraditionshoa.com or 800-226-9214).

Forbes compiles an annual ranking of “America\’s Best Cities for
Singles.” Although not targeted specifically to Boomers, it does
provide some food for thought. The top five metro areas for 2005 are
Denver-Boulder, Boston, San Francisco, Raleigh-Durham, and
Washington-Baltimore. Check out www.Forbes.com (click on “Lists” then
“All Forbes Lists” then “Best Cities for Singles” under “Places”) for
the complete list.

If you\’ve chosen a town or city, and are looking at individual
communities or neighborhoods, pay special attention to the way people
are depicted in the marketing materials. If brochures show only
couples, there may be a message there – it\’s a good idea to ask the
realtor or developer what activities are geared toward singles. When
choosing a neighborhood, many women enjoy the security of a gated
community. There is also a trend of people bringing their friends with
them – if you have several friends with similar interests, you can move
and take at least a nucleus of your support system with you!

Travel. The Travel Industry Association reports that
almost 25% of adults have taken a solo vacation within the past three
years, and that the Baby Boomer contingent has the highest travel
volume of any age group. A few websites directed specifically to women:
www.gutsywomentravel.com (866-464-8879), www.journeywoman.com (416-929-7654), and www.adventurewomen.com (800-804-8686).

Jan Cullinane is the co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale, 2007). She gives seminars on the (primarily) non-financial aspects of retirement through her company, "Retirement Living from A to Z."