8 Things To Do When Your Kids Head to College

July 1, 2023

What’s on your agenda after the youngest children leave for college? For aging parents who are ready to move on to the next phase of their lives, that question has many answers. Parents who will soon be without kids for the first time have plenty of options. Some celebrate their newfound freedom by taking lengthy vacations to exotic destinations. Others focus on helping children cover college bills and avoid graduating with a large loan balance. One of the most common things middle-aged people do after their parenting obligations are complete is plan their retirement.


The options are virtually endless and include things like shopping for rental real estate properties, moving to a resort area, taking a cruise, mapping out an investment strategy, touring the country in a camper, and renting out those now-empty bedrooms to earn additional income. The beauty of no longer having youngsters at home is that it gives you a chance to live your own life. Moms and dads who have worked for decades understand the sense of freedom that comes from personal independence and get busy tackling new challenges and adventures. Consider the following suggestions to jumpstart your plans once kids have packed their bags and headed to college.


Take a Long Vacation

Large numbers of dads and moms who send children off to school decide that it’s time for a well-earned vacation. Top choices include cities and resort towns that cater to visitors of all ages. Florida’s Emerald Coast, which stretches from Pensacola to Panama City and includes amazing beaches all along the way, has become a favorite landing spot for couples and others who want to get away from everyday stresses. Plus, the region is an ideal place to scope out potential rental properties.


Florida’s Panhandle coast has long been a famous escape for young professionals, middle-aged parents, and retirees. So many first-time travelers fall in love with the Emerald Coast that they make long-term plans to purchase homes or rental units so they can return again and again. Vacations that last longer than a week are a smart, relaxing way to begin a new life as parents who have just sent their youngest children into adulthood.


Use a HELOC to Help with Tuition

Most fathers and mothers are willing to help their kids cover some or all the school-related expenses, including tuition, fees, textbooks, etc. Homeowners can leverage the power of using a HELOC to pay for college as a last act of financial assistance to young adults. A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, gives owners flexibility because the arrangement can be adapted to varying amounts of borrowing. Lines of credit are different from loans in numerous ways, primarily because there’s no specific loan amount involved. The strategy is a savvy way for homeowners to leverage the built-up equity for a specialized purpose, like paying for education, settling unexpected medical bills, and more. Once the deal is complete and you’ve paid for a portion of college expenses, or the entire bill, you’ll be better positioned to plan for retirement, earn money from rental real estate, or start investing in the stock market.


Start Sizing Up Rental Real Estate Opportunities

If you’re childless for the first time in your life, it makes sense to investigate the most popular types of vacation rental properties as a way to supplement income now and after retirement. People of all ages leverage the power of real estate to balance their portfolios and offset the downside of paper-backed assets. Choose one or two resort-focused regions that offer year-round activities for seniors, middle-aged adults, and young working people. Top candidates on the lists include the Emerald Coast of Florida, Phoenix, San Diego, and Dallas.


Plan a Post-Retirement Move

When your daughters and sons begin the first year of their collegiate careers, consider using the extra time to map out a post-retirement move to an exciting location. One of the hottest trends among retirees is moving to South America or the Philippines. For those who prefer to remain closer to home, Sun City, Arizona, Pensacola, Florida, and Reno, Nevada, are among the current favorites. Moving to another country can be a massive and fun lifestyle change. But the choice comes with its own share of financial uncertainty, based on foreign economies, as well as physical security in places where US laws have no force. Domestic relocation is usually a wiser option for all sorts of reasons. That’s why large numbers of people choose to retire in Florida, Arizona, and Nevada every year.


Go on a Cruise

Cruises are priced right for anyone who wants to disconnect from the workaday world and head to the open seas. It’s an ancient human urge and one that millions of people follow whenever they get the itch to leave their daily lives behind. Couples’ cruises are among the most in-demand specialty voyages offered by the major lines. If you decide to make a ship cabin your next vacation spot, book as far in advance as possible. The secret to getting substantial discounts is to compare offers, shop early, and ask about unadvertised specials. Travel agents will help you get the lowest rates possible if they recognize your desire to save money. They survive on repeat clients, so leverage your power as a first-time customer.


Get Serious About Investing

Middle age is an appropriate time to start building a solid retirement portfolio. With the kids away, moms and dads can focus financial resources on long-term investments like dividend and blue-chip stocks, precious metals, and commodities. The possibilities are unlimited, but the main challenge is getting started and following through. Begin by connecting with a professional investment advisor and deciding on the kind of portfolio that best suits your income level, personal desires, and age.


Buy a Camper & Tour the Country

If you have the urge to see the country and a simple vacation is not enough to satisfy it, consider renting or buying a small camper and visiting dozens of cities and towns from sea to shining sea. Retirees and middle-aged couples who have a few weeks on their hands can rent vehicles that are already outfitted for excursion-style driving. If major road trips are your idea of a good time, be sure to make a detailed itinerary before departure. There’s a myth that being spontaneous is the way to go, but most folks who try that method are quickly disappointed. So, make a day-by-day driving and stopping plan. Make sure to let at least one trusted person know your exact plans.



Downsizing comes in many varieties. For most married couples, the main goal is to find a smaller place to live. Many rent or purchase modest homes in resort communities. The strategy can be a win-win for those who enjoy residing in gorgeous places like Florida’s Emerald Coast year-round. Plan a visit to the target destination before committing to relocation. Consult a local real estate pro and find out what’s available for downsizers. Condos can be a cost-effective way to acquire a comfortable place that is close to beaches, shopping, and gorgeous scenery. In cities like Pensacola, Florida, there are plenty of living options for working adults who are looking to downsize and move as soon as they retire.

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