PLAISTOW, New Hampshire. Jed Murphy is a 62-year-old who describes himself as the kind of person who “works to live, not lives to work,” and as he looks ahead to normal retirement age he finds his sometimes spotty employment record and free spending habits have put him in a hole.
“I used to say live for today, because tomorrow may never come,” he says as he adjusts the “For Sale” sign on one of his two motorcycles. “Just my luck tomorrow came without consulting me.”
“I’ll cut back to part-time when I’m dead.”
Murphy attended a seminar on saving for retirement at a local junior college and when he put pencil to paper using the formulas that the instructor provided, he learned some sobering news. “At my rate I should be able to retire when I’m 154,” he says, “just 92 short years away.”
With no likelihood of living that long, Murphy and several of his friends have instead opted for the newest entry in the burgeoning retirement real estate market; a post-mortem retirement community that combines the peace and solitude of the grave with the frenzied round of activities typical of retirement communities for the living.
Shuffleboard: Sport of the Living Dead
“Here is where the shuffleboard courts will go,” says sales rep Mitch Meredith, “and over there will be a mini-golf course.”
Assisted living facilities typically charge entrance fees in the mid-to-high six figures, so post-mortem retirement is viewed as an affordable option for the improvident, the impecunious and the just plain cheap says posthumous real estate investment advisor Nick Haskell. “Maybe you were too busy working to get really good at golf while you were alive,” he says. “You won’t have that problem when you’re dead.”
“This is a good exercise for your rigor mortis.”
Post-mortem retirement activity coordinators exhume the departed and usher them through low-impact, non-aerobic pastimes that are well suited to residents’ sedentary lifestyles. “They don’t seem to like water aerobics,” says Nancy Whisling of Active Afterlife, a company that provides outsourced exercise classes to cemeteries. “On the other hand, when Wheel of Fortune’s on they look the same as they did when they were alive.”