It's hard to decide if you want to move when you retire, and picking among many great retirement locations is even harder. What gets really interesting is when you and your significant other have conflicting priorities, at a time when your lives are shifting and the old rules don't . It makes the discussion about retirement locations very interesting.
If you've started reading the articles with headlines like Forbe's, The 25 Best Places To Retire In 2013 or CNN Money's Best Places to Retire, then you're ready to start sorting out your priorities for retirement, and that will guide you through the process of picking a retirement home that supports the lifestyle you want.
Pick Your Top Retirement Priorities First
Notice that we're talking about retirement locations as we don't want to limit ourselves to communities dedicated to seniors like the 55+ developments. In fact many baby boomers want to move into urban areas with easy walking access to coffee shops, restaurants and entertainment. So rather than a random list of requirements, this article groups priorities around 4 factors – your lifestyle, the services available in your retirement community, your home and don't forget, retirement financials as every state is different.
You'll want to balance your retirement wants and needs across all four areas, but you probably need to decide which of the 4 is more important to you and your significant other. For my husband and myself, we agree that lifestyle is most important right now. What's surprising is how little our respective lifestyle locations have in common.
- My husband is an astronomy buff, so he wants to live where the night skies are clear, and there's no light pollution.
- My business focus means living in a developed area like southern NH, where I can network with thousands of women homeowners.
Retirement Locations Must Support Your Lifestyle
- Strong economy for “encore” careers.
- Variety of cultural and sporting activities and events.
- Close to universities and other adult learning opportunities.
- Easy access to tennis, golf, pools, beaches, parks, rivers and more.
Your Community Within a Retirement Location
- Excellent health care, from doctors to hospitals.
- Good transportation from local buses and regional trains, to airports.
- Recreational activities – hiking, skiing, fishing, etc.
- Size and diversity of population – ages and ethnicity.
Now You're Ready to Look for Your Retirement Home
- Affordable housing from a walkable downtown, to suburban neighborhoods, an adult community or country living like Gretchen's farmhouse.
- Traditional house, condo or loft conversion if you want to live downtown.
- Great views and privacy from neighbors.
- Neighborhood amenities for an active lifestyle – pool, tennis courts, parks, library, etc.
- Community services like gated entrance, lawn care, etc.
Don't Forget to Factor in Retirement Financials
- Low property taxes and sales tax.
- Tax breaks for pensions, IRAs, 401Ks and social security.
- No or low inheritance and estate taxes.
Note: CNN Money has a nice calculator that will show you the differences in cost of living between 2 locations.