This time of year I see many articles regarding where to live in retirement. This is a tough question. During our working years, we all dream of our favorite places to live. If we like the water or golfing we think of warm places like Florida or Myrtle Beach. If we like to ski we think of Colorado or Utah. But in reality, where we like to vacation is not necessarily where we should retire.
Before you make that all important decision, you need to really do your homework if you are seriously thinking about relocating. First and foremost should be taxes and cost of living. Prices of goods, homes, as well as income and sales taxes can be dramatically higher than where you are currently living.
There was a recent article in SmartMoney.com, http://blogs.smartmoney.com/encore/2012/01/30/the-costliest-states-for-retirement/tab/print/ that showed the 10 costliest states to retire in. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island made the list. It was surprising that all of the top 10 states were in the Midwest and the East Coast. They made the top 10 primarily due to high taxes and cost of living.
Another important factor is medical facilities. If you have health issues you really don’t want to be hours from the nearest hospital. For a time, my father (who had health issues) moved to a very beautiful location in Colorado that he loved. He was almost two hours from the closest town with physicians and a couple of hours from the nearest hospital! Winters can get really bad in Colorado with roads being closed for days. This issue posed such a burden for him that he eventually moved. It’s safe to say that if he really thought about this, he would have never moved there to begin with and would have saved himself time and money in having to move again.
Are you planning to travel in retirement or have family/friends come to visit? Then check out how close you are to the nearest airport. Driving hours to the nearest airport can be a headache if you plan to travel often.
Some towns you love to visit may have very high property costs as well as a high standard of living that is above the average. Hot tourist spots may not be the best places to live year-round; think about the traffic congestion and restaurants/shopping areas that will often be hard to get into. But, that is not to say you can’t find a great town or city nearby that is more affordable and possibly less congested. Think about if you wanted to move to the Detroit Area? Would you live in the heart of downtown or would you move to a surrounding suburb? Where would be the closest grocery store, drug store or gas station? How about a dry cleaner? These are some of the things we don’t think about when we are on vacation.
Still thinking about relocating? Then plan some vacations to areas you might like, and do your homework. Check out property values, possibly even some retirement communities. Research the surroundings for medical facilities, airports and nearby places of interest (i.e. shopping, golf courses, biking/hiking trails, etc.). Check out the tax situation and how it compares to where you live now. A good site to check out for more information on specific cities is http://www.topretirements.com/. Go to best places, then choose a state and city of interest. It will give you a slew of information about the area. If after your research you think you found that perfect place to relocate, then plan to rent in that area before you buy. This will allow you to see life in this new location on a daily basis without a long-term and possibly expensive commitment.
Who knows you might just find that where you live now is pretty good and you can just continue to be vacationers or part-time residents or “snowbirds” for part of the year. Good Luck!