10 Unexpected Things You Should Consider When Picking Where You Retire


Retirement often brings about relocation — possibly to a warmer area, a place with better health care, a quieter community, or just wherever Sal and Judy ended up. What a nice couple!

Retirees often focus on things like hospitals, access to national parks, closeness to family, or an established community of senior citizens — and rightly so. Yet, while these factors will play a major part in the quality of a retiree's life, they aren't the only ones that should be considered.

What about other factors that we don't immediately associate with where we're going to retire? Are we being too minimal when we consider the "ideal" location? Perhaps there should be a more comprehensive list of considerations when it comes time to choose the ideal retirement spot. (See also: 5 Incredible Places to Retire Abroad That Anyone Can Afford)

In essence, your retirement location should consider need, but it should also consider preferences and personality. What do you enjoy doing and what kind of atmosphere do you feel the most relaxed in?

Here are a few things that if given some forethought, might impact where you decide to settle.

1. Tax Friendliness for Retirees

Tax policies for retirees (and in general) differ from state to state, so if you're on the fence about which part of the country you want to live in, this might be enough to tip you one way or the other. For example, Florida and Alaska have no state income tax, inheritance tax, or estate tax. There are also some helpful exemptions for retirees depending on the state.

2. Airport Proximity

If you plan to do a lot of traveling, consider the proximity of where you live to a larger airport. You can view all of the United State's airport locations on the NCDOT website.

3. Access to the Big City

Most retirees prefer to have some separation from big city life. If you do plan to live in a more quiet and rural area, consider how often you might want to visit a bigger city for entertainment, shopping, and just getting out. If you think you'll make that drive frequently, look for the best rural spots that give you easy driving access to a bigger city.

4. The Restaurant Scene

An active and diverse restaurant scene can really improve your retirement experience, giving you a variety of places to eat and plenty of excuses to have a night out. You'll need to do some local research to find the more unique places. The Restaurant Finder app will allow you to search areas ahead of time.

5. The "Tourism Factor"

A lot of places that are retiree friendly (take The Villages in Florida for example) are also active tourist destinations. While some people are attracted to that atmosphere, others prefer to avoid it.

6. Projected Town Growth

Small towns can grow quickly these days as communities that were once little more than a road and woods have become busy streets lined with businesses. If this is something you want to avoid, it can be tough to predict, though targeting more rural areas that are a sizeable distance from bigger cities is a good way to start. You can also do some research on sites like Forbes to get a feel for projected population growth and development over the next few years.

7. Agriculture

Farmer's markets and access to fresh food are good for your health and offer a small town sense of community. Some places are known for their agricultural prowess, so perhaps they should be on your short list.

8. Traffic

You've spent your entire life dealing with an awful commute, so do you really want it to continue when you retire? The best way to know for sure is by visiting a place during the busy driving times (Friday night, Saturday, holiday weekends), and by simple word of mouth.

9. Weather

With extra time to get out and do some sightseeing you wouldn't want those activities being constantly hampered by extreme temperatures or bad weather. Consider places with more yearly warm weather or a more moderate climate.

10. Availability of Part-Time Work

An increasing number of retirees are opting to continue working in a part time job. This is often to continue in a profession, put in the time, or to supplement retirement savings. Whatever your reasoning, if you plan to work part time it may have a big impact on where you retire.

A Comprehensive Approach

It's important to take your time when you're choosing a retirement location and to be sure you've got a list of considerations that encompasses everything that's going to impact your lifestyle as a retiree; In other words, a comprehensive approach.

Family, health and finances are certainly the core issues, but don't dismiss your own preferences and what your day-to-day life is going to look like. Those things will matter, so take the time to get them right.

Did you retire to a different area? What factors played a role in the decision-making process? If you're currently weighing your options, what factors are you considering? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

Number one should be "Good hospitals".

Guest's picture

Yes, Florida has none of those taxes, but I took a course on handling wills & estates; the instructor stated that Florida has VERY high probate court fees compared to the rest of the nation. Of course, there are ways to avoid probate, but I'm pretty sure most seniors don't care enough to look into it (I can barely get my own parents to write their wills, let alone look into something as detailed as how probate works).

Also, even if you are not planning on doing a lot of traveling, seniors should consider living reasonably (less than an hour) close to a major airport if they don't live close to friends or family. If you get sick or need help, living further from the airport makes it that much harder for loved ones to get to you to help you out. My in-laws live 60-90 minutes from the closest major airport; that combined with the fact that there are no direct flights from us to them makes it difficult to get to them fast if necessary (and there have been times recently where we were needed to go and help them out during times of surgery & recovery).