I’d like to give you a little exercise. Close your eyes and picture your retirement.
What does it look like? Can you feel the brush of sand-swept hair batting at your cheeks or the harmonious flutter of a hummingbird’s wings against your window pane? Perhaps you can see snow still covering a mountain’s peak or the decoration of skid marks from your granddaughter’s bicycle on your driveway.
All of these images reveal slices of space—areas that you can choose to occupy once you retire. But actually choosing a place to live in retirement must go beyond pure imagination. There are many factors to consider when selecting a place to live. I have outlined 6 of the main ones to help you discover the best place for you.
1. Cost of Living
Perhaps one of the most important things on this list, the cost of living finds its rightful place as Number One. Retirement will foster many changes in your life and financial considerations are among the most important. Some cities will be more expensive than others. For example, the cost of living in New York City or San Francisco is much higher than the cost of living in Florida or Mississippi.
Differences in living costs are vast and include:
Utilities (Gas, Internet, Water, Electric)
These are quite a lot of expenses to consider. Most people think that they will spend less money in retirement, and while it is true that your expenses might decrease, most retirees find they do not decrease as much as they anticipated. Therefore, it is important that you create a budget for living expenses and stick with it!
There are many ways to cut corners with expenses in retirement, the biggest one being downsizing. You have worked hard for your beautiful house, but perhaps it is time to lower your insurance and house payments. If you are a city person, you can still remain in or close to the city by renting a house or apartment. Or you can decide to move just outside the city and get a lot more space for your money.
With housing and space, it is all about your priorities and what matters most to you. Never forget your values and make your financial decisions with those in mind.
2. Health Care
For retirement, access to close and reputable hospitals is quite important. Check out the medical facilities in your desired area and look into their specialist options to see the type of services that are offered near you and the quality of those services. This point may not seem as important when you first enter into retirement and are in good health, but it may become important 10 years or so into your retirement lifestyle.
Older people will be more likely to need hospital care and by being closer to one, you are allowing yourself the best chance to be treated as quickly as possible. Your health and protection should be a top priority, and close proximity to health care will help you feel more secure.
3. Area Perks
Now is the time to get specific about your desired area! There are many factors to consider to see if you would feel comfortable living there:
Would you be happy with a beach climate or is the sun not your best friend? Take a look at the allergens of a new place to see how your health might be affected by your move.
It is important to be in a place where you and your family feel safe. Check out local crime reports and stay up-to-date on the changing landscape of your desired area.
Be sure to choose a place that is moderately populated, about 10,000 people or more. This level of activity will ensure better levels of human service options. You may think you want to get away from it all but having activity close by can assuage feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Amenities and activities available
Is hiking important to you? Maybe you are a coffee connoisseur or even a record junkie. Take a look at the amenities and activities that are around your desired area to see if they align with your interests. In retirement, staying active is one of the most important things to keep you happy and healthy, so don’t underestimate this section.
Are there many places to volunteer in your desired area? Look into the programs that are available and see if they pique your interest. If not, you could always take the lead and recommend an activity.
4. Proximity to Loved Ones
Is it important to be close to your family and friends? If so, it will be a good idea to find a place that is close enough to them and also meets your other needs in retirement. A support system is incredible to have, and perhaps you are already living near your loved ones. If that is the case, maybe you won’t want to move - better to stay where you are.
A recent statistic from the U.S Census Bureau said that 49 out of 50 people over the age of 65 stayed where they are. Home is where the heart is, and sometimes that heart is right where you are now.
5. Tax Considerations
This point goes alongside the cost of living in retirement. Many retirees don’t think about how taxes will impact their income once they officially retire. There are some states like Florida that do not have a personal state income tax. There are other states like Colorado that provide residents with favorable tax breaks on retirement income.
It is important to look at your state’s tax laws to see which will be the most lucrative for you when you retire. The more specific, the better, so you can decide if the savings in taxes are really worth making a move.
6. Your Values
Your values should be at the center of your retirement lifestyle, serving as a guidepost for your personal and financial decisions. When you spend time, money, and resources on the people, places, and things you value, you will find accomplishment and fulfillment.