Five Often Overlooked Considerations When Choosing a Place to Retire
Millions of Americans will pull up stakes and move to a new state or town once they retire. Although Florida, Arizona, and the Carolinas are the states that experience the most net migration among retirement-age people, Americans are retiring just about anywhere, including foreign countries.
In a recent poll at Topretirements, we asked our members to name their number 1 consideration for choosing a place to retire. Climate topped the list, followed by affordability, being near friends and family, and medical availability. Taxes and the political environment were further down the list. All of these are great, easy to research reasons for selecting a place to retire.
Many times, however, retirees overlook even more important issues affecting their retirement location decision. These might not be as obvious, but they can dramatically affect retirement happiness. Here are five overlooked considerations that we think deserve special attention.
Do You Really Know Where You Are About to Relocate?
A comment we had from “Rose,” who retired to Myrtle Beach, S.C., is a perfect example of this situation: “Never retire where you like to visit. There are so many tourists and so much traffic it is unbearable. There is very little here that I was looking for, such as classes and like-minded people.”
So many people have written over the years expressing remorse about not renting in a community before deciding to buy. “If only we had known!” is a familiar refrain. Only by living in a place for an extended time can you get a good picture of what it is really like to live there. By putting a toe in the water you also find out the best places to live in that area, as well as those to be avoided. You also might find out that the grass isn’t necessarily greener.
Will You Be Happy If You are Far Away From Your Family and Friends?
Families, grandchildren, and friends can be powerful tugs. Many folks find that moving far away, particularly retiring abroad, provides too much separation. Pandemic-caused isolation drove this point home for many who moved to a distant location. A better choice, if separation will be too much, might be to choose life as a seasonal snowbird.
Disconnects between partners are another issue when choosing a place to retire. One might be an adventurer, and the other could be a homebody. One likes warm weather, the other loves winter. Finding out these differences after you relocate can be painful and disruptive.
On the opposite side, many people move to be near their adult children, only to see the kids get transferred, or to resent being the default babysitters.
Will You Be Comfortable With The Political Environment In Your New Location?
Unfortunately, this issue seems to be increasingly important in our now very divided society. Progressives moving to a conservative state or town might find themselves increasingly uncomfortable, and the same goes for conservatives migrating to a blue state. Fortunately, even the most dyed in the wool states have towns and areas that don’t fit the stereotype. Huge numbers of northern retirees are moving to southern states anyway, so how this plays out is unknown.
Do You Know What Kind Of Community You Want To Live In?
Most people entering retirement really don’t have a good understanding of what their community options are. Just some of the community choices include 55+, active adult, co-housing, independent living, new urban, multi-generational, college town – or living in a city or traditional neighborhood. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and until you have explored them you won’t know which is right for you. The best way is to explore when on vacation, visit friends and family, use short-term rentals, and take advantage of the “Stay and Play” packages offered by many developments.
Will The Medical Situation And Other Factors Allow You To Live There For The Rest Of Your Life?
One of the best pieces of advice we ever heard (and rarely acted on) is to plan on retiring to an area where you can live the rest of your life. To do that requires weighing several complicated factors. For example, are medical resources close and sophisticated enough to handle any health issues that emerge down the road?
Living high in the mountains or way off at the beach might not be convenient when you have to drive for hours to see your specialist. Is there an assisted living or CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) nearby, or will you have to make a big move when your faculties decline? Abandoning the church, friends, doctors, etc. that you have come to depend on can be very difficult if you are lucky enough to live into your 80s or 90s.
Even climate change can come into play, as “Tim” commented recently: “Having lived in Northern California and Pacific Northwest for a long time, I am turning into a climate change refugee. All the lovely things that have kept me here are so much harder to enjoy when it’s smokey almost all the time.”
There are plenty of good reasons for choosing a place to retire. Some aren’t quite as obvious as others, and although these might require a little planning and consideration, investing a little time in them can make a huge payoff in finding that perfect place to retire.
This site has been providing practical advice and unbiased information about places to retire since 2007. You can find hundreds of articles and thousands of community reviews at Topretirements.com/blog.
About the author
John F. Brady founded Topretirements.com in 2017. This free website helps baby boomers find their best place to retire with objective reviews of thousands of communities around the world. Previous to that, for 25 years he was Exec. V.P. and co-owner of Business & Legal Reports, Inc., the compliance publisher.