How to Pick the Best Place to Retire
If you are interested in relocating when you retire, there are a wide variety of books and online resources that can help you find and research a new location that meet your preferences and budget. Here are several to help you get started.
Where to Retire?
If you are at the beginning of your search, a good starting point may be to take a retirement quiz that is geared toward helping you find your best place to retire. You can find a quiz using your preferred online search engine. Some quizzes ask questions about your preferences such as climate, recreation, community size and more. The results may suggest possible destinations that match your preferences.
Many media resources publish "best places to retire" lists on their websites each year. Be sure to review information on the best cities for aging, as some resources rank locations based on factors that are important to older adults.
There are also books you can purchase that rank the top best places to retire. These publications tend to look at a range of destinations, and some will group them into categories like best college towns, mountain towns, undiscovered towns and main street towns.
Once you find a few areas that interest you, your next step is research them. Here are some important areas to investigate.
Cost of living: Can you afford to live comfortably in the location where you want to retire? Your preferred online search engine may help you find tools to compare the cost of living at your current location with your desired location. You can compare housing costs, food, utilities, transportation and more.
Taxes: Some states are more tax friendly than others. If you are planning to move to another state, you may want to check out a tax guide for retirees to compare taxes state-by-state. You can find resources that cover income and sales taxes, any additional taxes on retirement income, Social Security benefits taxes, property taxes and inheritance and estate taxes.
Crime rate: To evaluate the safety of a community, you can search websites for crime data. The local police precinct may be a great resource for that information as well.
Climate: To research the climate in the areas you are considering, your preferred online search engine is again a great resource to find climate and weather comparisons.
Healthcare: Does the area you want to relocate to have easy access to good healthcare? To research doctors and hospitals in a new area, use Medicare's compare tool at Medicare.gov/care-compare. You may also want to check out other resources for reviews and detailed information on hospitals and doctors in the new location.
Transportation: If you plan to travel often or expect frequent visits from your kids or grandkids, convenient access to an airport or train station is a nice advantage. Since most retirees give up driving in their eighties, you should also investigate alternative transportation options. Some nonprofits may offer services. The local Area Agencies on Aging may provide information about senior transportation options in local communities throughout the U.S.
Once you have narrowed your choices down to two or three, spend a couple weeks in each location at different times of the year so you can get a feel for the seasonal weather changes, and to carefully weigh the pros and cons of living there. You may find that you like the area more as a vacation spot than as a year-round residence. It is also a good idea to rent for a year before buying a home or making a commitment to a retirement community.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.