“Some people just want to settle on a beach—but there's a lot more to planning the perfect retirement.”
People have different reasons for relocating at retirement. They may live in a town where taxes are just too high for their budget or they need a change of climate. The first decision is whether you want to move. After that, things get complicated. This article from MoneyWise, “Sun? Low Taxes” The Top Factors When We Pick Where to Retire,” helps clarify some of the biggest factors.
Politics. Check into the local political scene. Make sure that you’re comfortable with the predominant political culture. Don’t neglect a look at how well—or not—the local municipality is working. Are state and local governments working well at running the area, or is it a disaster? If you are counting on social service agencies, for instance, you’ll want to be sure they are in good shape. Too much local in-fighting can doom even the best agencies. Local newspapers and websites are a good source.
What do they do for fun around here? A non-golfer in a golf community is a non-starter. What kind of activities are in the area? For instance, if you move to Colorado, you can count on a lot of hiking trails. If Arizona is your destination, make sure there are indoor fitness centers for when the temperatures become very high. Consider what you’ll do on a regular basis. Will you be able to get into the programs to enjoy them or is there a waiting list?
Can you get from here to there? A rural location may be inviting, but what if family and friends want to visit? If travel is a big part of your retirement plan, you don’t want to be too far away from the airport. That will help making traveling to and from your destination easier and will encourage friends and family to visit more often. If you do go for a rural location, having an airport nearby makes it more likely that you’ll be able to receive health care items, electronics and other things that may need to come from far away.
What’s the tax rate? You’ve paid enough taxes during your working life. Take a look at the local tax rules. How much, if at all, is retirement income taxed? What about estate or inheritance taxes? Don’t forget the basics: gasoline taxes, property taxes and land transfer taxes. Some people move overseas to stretch their retirement budgets and different countries have different tax laws for expatriate retirees.
What’s playing where tonight? Retire to Vegas and you can go to a different show every night of the week. If you are a museum buff, New York City abounds in large and small museums. Living near a college or university is likely to mean you’ll have access to performances of all kinds and at lower costs.
How diverse is your community? Score another point for living near or in a college town. Here’s where you’ll find a richer community life, more social activism and a wider range of different opinions, if that’s what’s important to you. College towns usually offer retirees the ability to sit in, or audit, courses.
Climate counts. Many retirees from the north can’t wait to head south, when they retire. They’re done with shoveling snow, worrying about falling on icy sidewalks and driving in slushy messes. Others prefer the cold, finding it invigorating and don’t want to give up their skis. Consider what temperatures you like now and what might suit you better, as you and your spouse age.
How much does it cost? Your lowered income must be matched by a lower cost of living or you won’t be able to afford your own retirement. Consider the costs of transportation, property taxes, groceries and home heating/cooling in your potential new hometown. It all adds up.
Health care matters. Even the healthiest seniors know the value of good quality healthcare. As you age, chances are you’ll need more health care. Moving to a community without a good hospital and lacking qualified specialists puts you at risk.
Safety. We don’t often think of safety as we age, but we should. As we age, we become more vulnerable to crime. Look at the crime statistics for any new communities you are considering. What does the economic data look like? Would you be able to use public transportation without worry? What about driving alone in your car at night?
Once you narrow down your choices, start by taking extended vacations. Talk to the local people, at the library, in the coffee shop and around town. Attend services of your faith. Read the local newspapers. Get a real feel for the community to find out if it suits you, before you start packing.
Reference: MoneyWise (Oct. 5, 2018) “Sun? Low Taxes” The Top Factors When We Pick Where to Retire”