When it comes to thinking about retirement, everyone dreams about fun and leisure. You recall your last amazing vacation place and start thinking about how awesome it would be to live there in retirement. Dreaming about retirement could bring a lot of fun. Finally, you can choose where you want to live.
You no longer need to be concerned to live closer to where you work or to where your kids go to school. Instead, you can relocate to a place with a better climate, many recreational activities and lower cost of living. There are so many factors to consider when it comes to choosing YOUR best place to live in retirement.
Hopefully, this post will help you find the place that is a perfect fit for you.
Cost of living
If in the past the retirees were looking to live in places with a warmer climate, the new generation of baby boomers is more concern about taxes and cost of living. People live longer and the biggest fear of running out of money in retirement is real. Low cost of living and housing costs are important to all of us, but it becomes critical when we retire and start living on a fixed income.
When you start preparing for a new life transition, make sure to do enough research on your new destination. Before moving to a new place, you want to know how much it will cost to live there. It’s important to get some sense of the local cost of housing/rent, utilities, groceries and transportation.
There are several retirement planning web sites providing valuable information for retirees. For example, Best places.net compares 370 metro areas on several factors including cost of living, climate, crime rate, and schools.
Search best places to live at Best places.net
My favorite go to a website is Top retirements.com The website provides you with tons of information for best retirement communities and places to retire, list of 55 plus places and retirement homes for seniors. If you’re at the beginning of your search, start with top retirements.com to get some ideas and an overview of places to retire.
Search best retirement communities to live at Top retirements.com
If you live in a high cost of living and high property tax state, you might want to relocate to a more affordable place to stretch your retirement funds. For many people taxes might be an important deciding factor. There are states like Florida and Texas which do not have a personal income tax. But some other states like New York, Colorado and Georgia offer favorable tax breaks on retirement income.
Regardless of your tax planning you still want to feel happy in your new place. Where and how to spend your days in retirement still should be a more important factor than low taxes.
If you want to know more about taxes, check out State by State Guide to Taxes on Retirees by Kiplinger
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Climate and weather
When people grow older, they prefer to live in a warmer climate. That’s why many baby boomers are moving to southern states where they can stay active longer than in cold weather. Besides, you don’t want to shovel the snow as your only physical activity. Even walking along the street in the winter could be dangerous for an older person, because you will be afraid to injure yourself slipping on the ice.
However, the statistics show that most the baby boomers stay put or downsize close to their neighborhood. Snowbirds lifestyle become popular among many retirees when you can spend six months living in Florida or Arizona in the winter and then come back home in the summer.
Recently, I read an article about retirees focusing too much on climate while deciding on places to retire. According to Paul Irving, chairman of Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging:
“Weather alone is not as meaningful as how you want to engage in your life in your golden years”.
Quality of healthcare
When you start looking for the best place to live in retirement, access to good healthcare is a must. At the beginning of your retirement, you probably will be healthy and need only routine doctor visits. But If you already have a medical condition that requires regular treatment, make sure that your new place has specialty doctors available.
As you grow older access to retirement facilities, home care providers and transportation for people with disabilities will become a crucial factor. You don’t want to move to another place in search of better healthcare in your late 80s.
So, when you start looking for a new place you should factor the quality of local hospitals and the availability of good doctors. It’s a good idea to include in your research the access to affordable assisted living facilities and nursing homes in an area.
Another important factor to consider is how close you live to medical facilities. According to the stats, many retirees want quality medical care within 30–minutes’ drive.
Choosing a new place to live in retirement will often come with safety concerns. As you grow older you become more vulnerable. There are stories all over TV and internet about seniors who felt victims of crime in their neighborhoods, physical abuse or lost money as a result of a scam.
Look at the crime rate statistics and economic data for places you are considering as your future new home. Also, it’s good to remember that the crime rates vary in a different part of the city and you not necessarily will be moving to that neighborhood.
Lifestyle and activities
Think about the activities you’re planning to enjoy in retirement. Do your research and find out if the place will offer any activities to support your interests and hobbies. Is this place located close to hiking trails, golf courses, swimming pools or has several fitness clubs?
Be clear on your priorities. If you enjoy art and live music, theater and movies, museums and art galleries, you will want to live in a place where these opportunities will be in abundance. Check out the web sites or on-line community newspaper for a list of cultural or sporting events to get a snapshot of local life.
Then think about what it is you value in your everyday life now. Make a list of places you like to go grocery and clothes shopping, name of your favorite restaurants and coffee shops, and so on. If you live in a city and planning to move to a rural area, ask yourself if you would be happy to live in an area where these places are not present.
Access to a major airport
Many baby boomers are looking forward to their retirement years and planning on traveling and exploring the world. If you are one of them, access to a major airport will be an important factor. Look at the number of regular flights offered by an airport and number of connections you will need to make to reach your favorite destinations.
You’ll probably appreciate living within a reasonable drive from an airport. Having to drive several hours to an airport will make travel more tiresome and costly if you need to take a taxi, Uber or another kind of transportation.
Besides, if you choose to live in a place with proximity to an airport, it will make easier for your kids, family, and friends to come and visit you.
Visiting your best places
You spent hours browsing the internet, reading and collecting the information. You created a checklist with all the important factors. Finally, you came up with a list of a few favorite places you and your spouse agreed on. Now it’s time to visit those places to find out if it really fits your idea of retirement.
Narrow down your list from five or six places to three or maximum four and start visiting them. It’s important to visit your favorite places several times throughout different seasons. Don’t spend all your time near the hotel. Instead, get out and live like a local. Walk around, visit neighborhoods to get a sense of people, and eat at local restaurants, and not the touristy places.
It’s recommended by experts to rent before you buy. Renting will give you some time to get familiar with neighborhoods, and available homes in different parts of town. It’s a good idea to talk to local real estate agents and ask questions about housing prices and the best places to buy even you’re not ready.
Be clear about your future priorities. If you want to work part-time or do any kind of volunteer work, make sure that you’re moving to an area where a local economy is booming. Check out local websites and find out if there are job opportunities for people your age.
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Putting it all together
Finding the best place for you to live in retirement will take time and efforts. Many baby boomers fail to do basic research and planning before they embark on this major life transition.
You need to envision it, set up the priorities, do the research, make a list of areas, and then visit several places before you finally decide where to move in. Don’t be discouraged by the amount of work you have to put up front. In the end, you will benefit greatly by living and enjoying the retirement of your dreams.
Where are you planning to retire? Are you planning to move to another area or retire-in place?
Share your thoughts in comments.