In your search for the best place to retire, there are many important factors to consider. Join us as we run down the top five considerations when looking for the best place for you to retire.
Princess Diana said family is the most important thing in the world. If you agree, then your family should be at the top of the list when deciding where to retire. Of course, if your family lives nearby then you’re in luck because you’re already there! Proximity to adult children is what really brings this issue to the forefront. It comes down to asking yourself how you want to live your life.
Let’s look at an example. As Janet nears retirement, her daughter Sarah meets a wonderful man named Matt and they get married. Matt is offered a great job in Atlanta so Sarah packs her bags and they move off to Atlanta. Not long afterwards, Matt & Sarah have a baby named Eva. Janet thinks Eva is the cutest thing in the world and she wants to spend as much time with her as possible. So Janet pulls up stakes and moves to Atlanta, too. A year later Matt gets a big promotion that requires a transfer to the Dallas office. He and Sarah pack up baby Eva and move to Dallas. Soon after, Janet begins looking at apartments in Dallas.
Young families move around a lot, it’s just a fact of life. Naturally you want to be close to your children and grandchildren, but you need to decide if you really want to spend your golden years chasing them around the country.
Familiar surroundings provide a sense of security and belonging. It should come as no surprise that the majority of Americans retire right where they’re at. The connection to friends and family and other staples of community such as your church or synagogue and favorite restaurants are among the reasons why. If you decide to age in place, you will be in good company.
Hot or cold, beach or mountains – which do you prefer? How about your spouse or partner? These are important questions you need to ask in order to choose the right place to retire. According to the Brookings Institute, the top five states in descending order of desirability for seniors are: Florida, Arizona, South Carolina, Texas and North Carolina.
Which do you prefer, city or country? Not everyone agrees – remember Green Acres? You may live in one and yearn for the other, or perhaps you are happy right where you’re at.
It is not unusual for people who have lived all of their lives in or around a big city to retire out in the country. There’s far less traffic and crime, it’s quieter and life seems simpler there. On the other hand, there are those who long to ditch the small-town blues in favor of the bright lights of a big city. Either one is a case of the grass being greener on the other side.
An important consideration some people overlook is the availability of quality healthcare. Just like cars, as we grow older we require more trips to the shop. Living way out in the country or on a remote mountainside might sound romantic, but if you have a heart attack you’re probably going to die. Make a responsible decision about where you’re going to retire which includes your proximity to quality healthcare.
Another important consideration is the type home you choose. Going up and down stairs becomes a challenge as we age. You might be happier living in a single-story home.
It’s fairly common for older retirees to move from a single-family home into a condominium. The reason typically given is the desire to leave yardwork and maintenance to someone else. There is nothing wrong with moving from a house to a condominium, but it needs to be given the consideration it deserves.
Living in a house, when the kitchen trashcan gets full you empty it and put it in a bigger trashcan in the garage. You can’t do that in a condominium because there’s nowhere for trash to accumulate. That means every time the kitchen trashcan gets full, you have to make a trip to the community trash compactor. It’s a long way there and probably involves a ride in an elevator and maybe even going for a drive. That means you have a trash bag in the trunk of your car, right where you put your groceries.
Speaking of groceries, that’s another challenge living in a condominium. Bringing groceries into a house is a breeze, you just make a few trips between the garage and kitchen. In a condominium, you have to schlep your groceries down a hall and up an elevator and down another hall, over and over again until you get them all in. Plus, if it’s raining outside, you have to do it while struggling with an umbrella.
If you have a dog, living in a condominium will mean more work for you. The ultimate way to live with a dog is to have a house with a doggy door and a fenced-in backyard. Your dog takes care of their business and you don’t even have to think about it. The worst way to live with a dog is to take it out on a leash every time nature calls. That’s what you'll be doing if you live a condominium. Good luck finding a piece of grass that hasn’t already been soiled by someone else’s dog.
Owning a house requires yardwork and maintenance, but you can pay somebody to do it. That’s essentially what you are doing when you own a condominium. All condominiums come with a monthly fee and it’s a lot more than what it costs to pay someone to cut your grass. And if you get to an age where you no longer feel comfortable going up on a ladder to change a lightbulb or whatever, you can hire a handyman to do that for you, too. Don’t become narrow-minded as you age, think outside the box.
Finally, the cost of living is an important consideration. Cost of living varies greatly by locale. A house in one area of the country might be valued at $150,000 and the same house in an area like San Francisco might cost $750,000. Similarly, property taxes vary significantly from state-to-state. Some of the highest property taxes are in northeast states such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire. Some states have high state income taxes while others have no state income tax. Websites such as Nerd Wallet are helpful in comparing the cost of living from one location to another.
As you evaluate the best places to retire, you will want to strike a balance between all of the factors we’ve outlined here. It’s not easy, but it's worth the effort to arrive at the best place for you to retire.Photo credit: Pixabay