You’ve worked hard over the years to care for your family and to build that nest egg. Now you’re looking at retirement years. But where do you want to spend those golden years? Do you have dreams of travel? Do you picture yourself on a sunny beach sipping margaritas? Do you want to take up the hobbies you’ve never had time to enjoy: woodworking, painting, music? Whatever your retirement dreams, you’ll need to decide whether to stay right where you are or take the opportunity to make a change in location. Here are some important considerations as you weigh the pluses and minuses of various living environments.
Cost of Living
You’ll most likely need to revise your monthly budget down a bit once you’re retired. You’ll pay more for your health care and your income will most likely decrease. If you’ve planned well, you may have your mortgage paid off, or you may decide this is the time to sell. The cost of buying a new home, the cost of food and gas and other monthly expenses will be a big deciding factor in choosing your retirement location. Do your research though, because cost of living is just one of the factors to consider when making this all-important decision.
What climate do you enjoy? Some like the stark beauty of desert areas and the sunshine that comes along with that drier climate. Others love the mountains and trees of northern climates which also include a lot of cloudy, rainy days. Does your health require you to live in a certain climate? Do you enjoy the out of doors and need bike trails, hiking trails and other outdoor recreational sites to give you optimal satisfaction? Are you a golfer or tennis player? How important is it to have those facilities nearby? Don’t underestimate the local climate and beauty of your chosen home.
The Tax Climate for Retirees
Spend the necessary time to know the tax laws for retirees in your prospective home area. You may find that retirees are given special tax breaks in certain areas and are charged more in others. Is there a state or local income tax? Don’t make the mistake of buying property only to find you can’t afford the taxes. Remember that low taxes may also mean a limitation of public services—another consideration in your final decision.
General Living Conditions (crime rates, availability of services for seniors, health facilities, community activities, outdoor recreation opportunities)
The general living conditions are often those intangibles that you don’t see or learn about with just a one-time through visit to a new area. What safety factors do you need to be aware of? Is there a high incidence of crime or gang activity nearby? Are there senior centres and libraries and other senior social offerings in your target living area? Can you easily find doctors, dentists and hospital care? Are there opportunities for volunteer work in the community? Are there sidewalks, footpaths, bike paths and the like? Is there a variety of eating establishments that suit your needs? Will you be able to access the activities you enjoy most? Day to day living is enriched by the opportunity to take part in the things you love doing and to be safe while you do them. Check it out through your local Chambers of Commerce and through online searches.
Where Your Children Live
Many retirees are happy to choose their living location in the place they like the most and then travel when they want to visit family. Others want to live near their family members if at all possible. Either way, your retirement decision will affect the entire extended family for a period of years. Young people are more transient than ever and their jobs will move them periodically. You may find you choose a home near your loved ones only to find that they must move away. What will be the best decision for you?
Today’s retiree enjoys better health and a greater degree of activity than ever before. Retirement can last twenty or thirty years or even longer. Your financial health will dictate many of the decisions related to living location, but don’t neglect the above five areas as you make important retirement decisions. Whatever your choice, look forward to retirement as a time to stay active, enjoy life and give of your time and skills to enrich your new community.