One of the best things about retirement is that it provides the opportunity to choose where you want to live.
With your working years behind you, you can select a location that offers the lifestyle that will enable you to enjoy your retirement to its fullest. While many people wonder, “Where should I live when I retire?”, it’s important to realize that there is no one best answer. Beyond the key consideration of proximity to loved ones, other important factors such as taxes, access to healthcare, lifestyle amenities, and more should come into play when selecting an ideal retirement destination. The criteria will vary from person to person, too. While your cousin the avid skier may have found his paradise in Aspen, you might decide that Naples satisfies your fondness for warm weather, golf courses and white sandy beaches. No single location fits every retirement dream―and there are plenty of charming and comfortable options all over the country. In the end, choosing a retirement destination is a deeply personal decision.
HERE ARE SOME IMPORTANT QUALITIES TO CONSIDER WHEN SEARCHING FOR YOUR PERFECT RETIREMENT LOCATION:
- Cost of living and housing. A generation ago, climate was the primary concern for retirees seeking a new location. Today, financial considerations carry much more weight. Who wants to spend their retirement years worrying about their next house payment and scrambling to make ends meet? Strive to retire in a place where you can comfortably cover your bills and have a little bit left over for fun.
- Taxes. Although tax considerations are an important factor for many retirees, they’re definitely a gray area. There are many different tax scenarios that can come into play and they vary by individual and location—property taxes, income taxes, taxes on retirement income, and more. Currently, seven states don’t have personal state income taxes, while another 20 offer favorable tax breaks on retirement income, and 40 states provide property tax credits or homestead exemptions that can offer additional relief. In some cases, choosing a location with lower cost of living but a smaller tax break may actually wind up being a better financial choice. And if a locale’s taxes are dirt cheap, important services like healthcare, infrastructure and transportation may suffer. Ultimately, it’s important to focus on planning for how to live your life rather than solely to save on taxes.
- Quality of medical care and nursing facilities. In the early years of retirement, healthcare may not be your top priority. But as you age, the availability of good doctors, quality hospitals and decent nursing homes will become crucial. It’s smart to investigate the services that are currently available in the area you’re considering. The availability of good medical services today is a good indicator of what you can expect in the future. A full-service medical facility should be within a reasonable driving distance. Experts also recommend seeking areas with populations greater than 10,000, as less densely populated areas may have less accessible healthcare and other important human services.
- A climate you can tolerate year-round. Many people dream of escaping from long, cold, winters and putting their snow shovels away for good. But before you head south, make sure you can tolerate the sweltering summers and frequent tropical storms and hurricanes that often occur in coastal states.
- Amenities to support your desired lifestyle. What activities do you plan to participate in when you retire? Envision what how you’ll spend your days in retirement and look for a place that provides those opportunities. This might mean a museum where you can volunteer as a docent or a park where you can take scenic hikes in the mountains. Do you enjoy dining out or trying new international cuisines? Find out what the local restaurant scene has to offer. The same holds true for adult education classes, golf courses, theaters, concert venues, or any other important aspects of your desired lifestyle. Ease of transportation, whether it’s the amount of traffic to deal with or the availability of public transportation for seniors, are important lifestyle factors to evaluate, as well.