9 Things Betty and Jim Learned When Looking for Their Best Place to Retire

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

February 14, 2011 — As so many of our members and visitors are learning from ScottP’s excellent Forum posts, it is so interesting to learn from the retirement adventures of other folks. In this article we are indebted to Betty and Jim (not their real names), who were kind enough to shared with us their in-depth observations about their search for the ideal place to retire. Read on to learn more…

Betty and Jim
We would love to stay here in on the southern NC coast- the weather, the community, the proximity to the beach, etc. are great. But, the development is getting younger, it does not have golfing opportunities that fit our needs, and has minimal activities comparable to some place like The Villages (TV). And, we are just feeling the urge to strike out, find news friends, and enter a new segment in our lives when Betty retires. It also is much easier for us because we have no family in the area, so our location will not be dependent on being by our kids or any relatives.


Betty has been in real estate for 20 years. She has seen a lot over those years with regards to folks looking to relocate and find a retirement area/home. We hope that those lessons, along with what we have discovered in our search for a new community, will be helpful to others in their search as well. Here goes:

What we’ve learned
Number 1, most folks just don’t have their priorities well defined. It is critical to a successful move to understand your own motives/wants/needs. Perform a comprehensive financial analysis and a budget, so you know exactly what you can afford short and long term.

2. Kids and family are an important consideration to mention in the list of ideas regarding relocating. We have seen a number of folks move into our community, appear to be very happy, but then suddenly determine they can’t stand the distance between themselves and family. And, this is generally relevant to their kids and grandkids.

3. Since so many of these retirement communities are only partially complete, understanding the financial scenario of the developer is critical, along with determining how the transfer of ownership will occur when it is built out, and what type of contingency funds are in a protected account, etc.

4. It is very hard to determine how many people live in a community. We have used number of homes, then simply multiplied by two to get a rough number of residents. If Topretirements can make this process more specific , that would be great! For example, some places have condo’s or some type of multiple occupancy dwellings; this can make estimating the total number more difficult.

5. We also try to ask how many folks are permanent versus only part-time residents. This is important to determine the number of folks that will really be activity living in the area. Some have significant numbers of “snow-birds’ vs. year-round residents; finding folks to play tennis, golf, or just socialize with might be much smaller during the summer months.

6. We always ask for Age distribution numbers, which are generally not readily available. But, once again for our goal, we want to be in a somewhat homogeneous age group similar to our age. We have found that some of the older 55 and up communities have aged-up such that we might be too young and active to be a good fit.

7. Many of these developments have 1, or maybe more than 2 courses. But what kinds of courses are they – many seem to be the Professional type that are, long, difficult, and expensive? Whereas, especially for the average golfer and as we get older, the Executive type courses are much more attractive. This is one of the biggest attractions to us at TV.

8. Regarding tennis, I am amazed at the how majority of these developments seem to have Hard courts. Once again, for older folks, the advantages of Clay or HarTru courts cannot be over-stated! If you are not familiar with this issue, the difference between the two surfaces is huge as far as pain and suffering to one’s body.

9. We are ready for a warmer climate. We have lived near the coast in a nice gated community in North Carolina for about 20 years. This is the worst winter in memory. But, our major driver in relocating is to get into an age restricted community with more activities directed to our lifestyle. Also, while we have over 1,500 houses here, with golf, tennis, etc., we just do not have enough potential friends to actively inter-act. We took a trip this Fall to Fla.. We checked out The Villages and Timber Pines. Timber Pines was really nice. But like a few others we visited, probably too old and too small for us.

Where we are in our search
After all of our searching it has become obvious to us it will either be The Villages or something similar. In looking at some of the other potential competitors, three of the four places do not really look close to TV in size and amenities. We would not consider a condominium setting.

I have requested info from Sun City Center near Ruskin. That community has some merit regarding the size issue; they have about 11,000 residents. The information packet they sent was very comprehensive compared to most. This place reminds us a lot of Timber Pines which we personally visited. The positives for us about Sun City Center: Size probably OK, cost probably OK, although seems a little expensive for quality of development, ownership by residents so no developer pull-out worries.
The negatives: very old, houses very dated, concern that the median age might be too old for us, probably too close to metro-area, also too close to water as we are seeing huge insurance rate changes even where we live; i.e. hurricane concerns. The golf course situation does not look good compared to like TV. The info mentioned something like 72 holes combination private and public, that does not sound like enough for this many folks.

Also, we have looked at a couple of the Sun City’s by Del Webb, we visited Sun City Hilton Head and is a possibility. We have a son moving back to Austin , so we may make trip out there and look at the one just outside of Austin (Sun City Texas). We do like the Austin area and climate. Again, it just does not look big enough and the golf meets the typical scenario for these communities; i.e. two or three Professional courses that are on the expensive side to play regularly.

Our bottom line – for the moment
The one issue we keep coming back too is the sheer size of TV, with essentially 26 Executive Golf courses that are free and fit our style of play versus the big professional and expensive courses. And, we are huge into tennis and the Pickle-Ball looks like great fun and is huge at TV.

Editor’s note: Thanks Betty and Jim! We appreciate your candor and careful research. Also, we greatly appreciate Jim’s earlier suggestion to include the number of units in our database of active communities, now implemented.

Now dear members, what do you think? Where are you looking for the perfect retirement community, and what have you learned? Use the Comments section below, or the Forum thread – “Where I am Looking for the (Almost) Perfect Climate“.

Posted by John Brady on February 14th, 2011

69 Comments »

  1. We have had so many simular thoughts about the rest of our retirement. We lived on the southeast NC coast for 11 years. Moved back in N/W PA with winters in Florida. Four years ago we went to Sun City Center–I could never live there. TOO OLD and not enough retail and restraunts. THe weather is not warm in January and February especially when it is windy. If you lived in S/E NC the weather is too simular. The Villages are too big, weather too like NC in the winter and not green in the winter.

    We have spent the last 3 winters in Fort Myers FL in Pelican Perserve WCI community. Golf tennis billiards town center card room theatre indooor pool amphitheatre craft center woodworking shop etc check it out.!!!! You have to be south of punta gorda for warm weather in January!!!

    Has anyone found a community around Charlestown SC. Brunwick Forrest outside of Wilmington NC is nice but I don’t want to spend winter there.

    by diane — February 15, 2011

  2. I know it’s not “warm weather climate” year round…but I found Colonial Heritage in Williamsburg and fell in love. They have an active community, a fabulous club house and athletic club, professional folks who are well-traveled and who still love to travel. There’s a challenging golf course (from what my golfer friend tells me), a restaurant and bar for those who like to socialize, tons of activities, beautiful homes, and much to do nearby.

    by Shirley Kappa — February 16, 2011

  3. Retired in June 2010 because of medical problems. Husband retired earlier and loves it. I am struggling with boredom, winter depression, and ongoing medical problems which I’m trying to improve. Most of our friends still work and we have no family locally. Desire warmer climate with active community. We started doing some research on 55+ retirement communities but are afraid that the residents won’t look like the website videos and will be much older than us (62, 64), won’t be near shopping & restaurants, may be “snowbirds”, and our lack of knowing how the HOAs work. My husband loves to golf and I would like an indoor swimming pool in case the weather is too cool to use an outdoor pool. We were looking at Central FLA. but have been told by neighbors who have a condo near Tampa the weather is not warm enough. We do not want to like in a condo at this time. We are planning on traveling to FLA. around March 18th if all goes well to check out some places but not sure where to start. We really were not looking at southern FLA in case we may move permanently once our home sells here in Smithfield, VA and hear the summers are extremely HOT during at that time. Any info would be GREATLY appreciated!!!! Thanks, Linda

    by Linda Malcolm — February 16, 2011

  4. We have also been looking in the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area. We have a lot of friends (mostly snowbirds) there. If you want it warm in the winter, you’re going to get HOT in the summer. Can’t have it both ways.

    by Mary Wiley — February 16, 2011

  5. Does anyone have ideas about signle retirement areas?

    by Mona — February 16, 2011

  6. Bella Vista Arkansas is the best retiremnet setting that we could find. With Crysstal Bridges Meuseum opening in 2011 ( in Bentenonville) and all of the other enrichnment amenities available , this is simply hard to beat. Look at Bella Vista Web-site.

    by Richard Rooney — February 16, 2011

  7. Thanks … I also have looked extensively for ‘active adult’ communities in the Southeast … The Villages is my top choice so far but I find the fitness centers to be inadequate[not big enough with no pool, hot tub, steam, etc.] and all things being equal would prefer a one level condo … even mid or highrise???

    by Steve — February 16, 2011

  8. Would like to know if anyone has suggestions that meet the following criterion:
    1)Softball teams/league 2)Theatre group 3)Outdoor activities especially hiking and fishing 4)Liberal/Progressive/Open/Interesting people 4)Not too expensive.
    This could be anywhere.

    by Dave T — February 16, 2011

  9. To Dave T: I am glad you expressed your Liberal Progressive Interests. While it doesn’t appear to be “PC” to discuss one’s persuassions, it is important to me that I am not in a conservative, religious community and nobody seems to discuss this. Would appreciate the comments of others

    by Leslie Hanover — February 16, 2011

  10. Does TopRetirements look at the averge AGE and age range for these active communitites and the “best” cities? Just realized that retirement refers to a 30 year age range! Sharing things and making freinds would be easiest if you are relatively close in age. That will be significant as more of us baby boomers retire.

    by LuluM — February 16, 2011

  11. I’m with Leslie. We will be retiring in a little over 3 years, probably to FL, but are still looking at alternatives. We do see some advantages to living in a 55+ community, but are there any that lean moderate-to-progressive or do they by nature lean conservative? We’d actually like a community with well-mixed views, much like our native Central NY, where we will spend the summer months. We curently live in Central PA

    by Robust54 — February 16, 2011

  12. Leslie and Dave hit an important nail on the head.I was about to move to sign outside of Phoenix until I realized the politics were wrong for me.
    🙄

    by Isobel — February 16, 2011

  13. What good points you all bring up!! How do we get this info?? We are hoping to retire soon – and like most of you, we want a warm place (even in winter), with inexpenive golf, and lots of other available activities, (fishing, hiking, bike riding, yoga, swimming, boating, & country western dancing) & with an avg age range close to ours (62 at present), & preferably with not overly conservative political views. & we also prefer the western US to be able to more easily visit family & friends. Does anyone know of such a place???

    by Kathy — February 16, 2011

  14. Hi All – Hope I’m not violating any rules by suggesting a couple of websites but for those looking for demographics, data and statistics about towns you might want to take a look at http://www.city-data.com and http://www.bestplaces.net. City-data also has a posting facility and has about every piece of data about a town you could want, including how they voted in the last presidential election! They have data on very small to very large towns. Not sure if you can find a specific 55+ place but worth a look anyway at nearby towns and may be able to ask questions on the posting areas. Not sure how you test this out but the other thing to be aware of is that an area may have been say ‘conservative’ but changing due to retirees coming in from other areas. I have read this is happening in some Colorado locales for instance. Hope this helps a bit.

    by Mejask — February 16, 2011

  15. Mejask, Good comment. We rely on city-data.com for a lot of data and i know other folks do too. When you have a factual question about a town you can’t beat the breath of data they have. Their forums are good some of the time, but often not related to retirement, or they get people who get off topic. Here on this site, we try to stay away from speculating about political/religious inclinations- we’ll leave that for the talk shows. Always the best plan is if you are interested in a place, go and visit and see what it is like to live there yourself.

    by Admin — February 16, 2011

  16. Maybe it’s not kosher to name names and places but there are alot of them and we’d like to narrow the places that we visit down abit before we head on out. So, how about if you can name some places with softball, theatre (live), and fishing.

    by Dave T — February 16, 2011

  17. Political considerations are extremely important to me, too. My husband and I fall into the progressive/liberal group, and do not want to live in a conservative, fundamentalist environment. I’d like to see more comments on those facets of a potential retirement community because those factors can mean the difference between being happy and having friends or not. Having traveled in parts of Arkansas, North Carolina, and Arizona, for example, I’ve found communities that I’d live and thrive in and others that I wouldn’t go near. Maybe it’s not PC, but it’s vitally important to share life with folks whose values are not totally opposite of your own.

    by Kim Remus — February 16, 2011

  18. Have just spent six weeks in The Villages, FL as a snowbird. Activities are unbelievable, something(s) for everybody. VERY active community. Downside: crowded, lots of traffic, long waits at golf facilities, no indoor pools, loads of deed restrictions, problems with infrastructure, daily newspaper owned by developer is extremely politically conservative and nothing negative about TV is ever published.

    by Mary R. — February 16, 2011

  19. Take a look at Panama or Belize. We are currently doing research, and will be visiting Panama in the very near future. So far, the town of Boquete seems to be a very popular place for expats with lots to do and not too far from the beach.

    by Bob Smith — February 16, 2011

  20. thanks Mary R…that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

    by Dave T — February 16, 2011

  21. I’m doing lots of research too. I will be 62 in August and I am, frankly, an old hippie. I also don’t have a lot of money. I am looking for some place affordable, liberal and progressive, with lots of activities and warm. New York is great but cold. I know that Arizona has a very conservative reputation in general, but one place to consider there is Bisbee, which by all accounts is very liberal and progressive, has fabulous scenery, very artsy. I am looking closely at a place called Villager Resort in Tucson, because it has a lot of park-model mobiles, which I can afford. But it also has many other home styles. It does have snowbirds, and also year-rounders. they do have softball and golf. But I am concerned about whether it will be too conservative for me.

    by Ginger M — February 16, 2011

  22. Ooops. I meant Voyager Resort in Tucson.

    by Ginger M — February 16, 2011

  23. To Mary R – Do you have a problem with “extremely politically conservative?” Try it, you’ll like it.

    by Nick — February 16, 2011

  24. just where are the best less populated areas for singles? (not “swingin singles”) gay, gay friendly, low cost of living, nice climate and comfy.
    oh, there are a few nice $$$ places developed or developing, but out of my leaque ($$$)

    by Jan Robin — February 16, 2011

  25. Any reviews on Wellington at Seven Hills, Spring Hill, Florida? We’re snowbirds looking for a winter home in the Tampa/Lakeland/Orlando areas, planning to do a showing marathon on a weekend trip in March. We require an established active 55+ gated, secure community with bang-for-the-buck amenities, maintenance/yardwork included in the HMO, offering stand alone patio and villa style housing. We are 58 and 62, and will be dividing our retirement years between our Florida home and Denmark, Europe home. Any communities with a concentration of Danish culture? Any recommended communities in areas around the new Legoland-Florida – to Lakeland – to Tampa? Thanks for the good info and good luck to all!

    by Nielsen — February 17, 2011

  26. Ginger, thanks for the tips on Bisbee and Voyageur Resort.Are you sure that wasn’t Voyeur Resort, you did say you were an old hippie…that’s a joke everyone…it’s what we liberals do! (we joke)
    Nielson, communities with Danish Culture? Isn’t that on oxymoron? (another joke everybody…I’m Norwegian!)
    This is fun!

    by Dave T — February 17, 2011

  27. Dave T – a correct spelling of our name is appreciated … not joking …

    by Nielsen — February 17, 2011

  28. Oh please Nielsen, lighten up !!

    by Betsy — February 17, 2011

  29. I am heading to Naples in March and have been told its a great place for older singles. Have lived in New England all my life, and I’m worried that I’ve become too accustomed to great health care, shopping, museums, theater etc. I can afford to keep a place here, and don’t know how much of a hassle the back and forth is. My family tells me that Florida will probably be under water soon, and I should stick to what is familiar. Thoughts?

    by Holly — February 18, 2011

  30. My partner and I have been exploring FL in the last year for our retirement home. We are in our mid 50’s and active. Our 1st priority is warmth, 2nd nice and active community. We would love a diverse community in regards to age and ethnicity. Love to do cultural events and stay physically active. Who has found this type of community?

    by sonia — February 18, 2011

  31. Dave, not a voyeur but I do like to have fun! The rest of you guys lighten up! Aren’t we at a point where we can have fun in life and be mellow?

    by Ginger M — February 18, 2011

  32. Sarasota area people! Diverse ethnically, politically as well, conservative, liberal, hippies, and what not. Arts, lots of outdoor activities, beautiful weather,beaches, bike paths, boating, friendly people. The not so great, traffic in season, some snob factor since this is a fairly well off retiree area. We are in our mid forties and have a vacation home here, and a future snow-bird place when we retire.

    by Ginger — February 18, 2011

  33. Dave T– Sun City Hilton Head has the Sun City Community theatre club which is one of the largest clubs in the community. The club puts on live shows every quarter in Magnolia Hall which seats over 500 people. We also have the Softball club which has 14 teams in two leagues that play a fall and spring season on our own field in the community sports complex. You can fish in Lake Somerset, or any of the common area lagoons inside the community.
    By way of full disclosure-I’ve lived in Sun City Hilton Head for close to 3 years and we are young retirees (57-58). I’m also a Realtor Associate specializing in our beautiful community. You can click on my name above to contact me with any questions.

    by Margaret Fallon — February 19, 2011

  34. Thanks for your responses, I’m following up on your inputs and taking inspiration from ‘positive vibes’. I wish the same for all of you. Sun City Hilton sounds like a place I could like, I’m checking it out.

    by Dave T — February 19, 2011

  35. My parents moved to Sun City in the 70’s when it was great. After they passed away my sister moved there and is quite happy. She says lots of “young” people are moving in, but my impression is that it is too OLD (and I just turned 70 this year). The facilities are well kept up but the golf courses are facing financial difficulties since lots of the folks there don’t play any more and the younger ones aren’t as interested in golf as the previous generation. Nonetheless, there is LOTS of golf all around and quite reasonable. It is not on the water, so the person who was worried about insurance needn’t worry. Also, near enough to Brandon and Tampa for shopping but certainly not urban. My husband and I are from NYC and love urban life so it is a little too country for us. But life there is very pleasant and with so many residents from the Midwest, the people there are very “nice”. All and all a good place and very reasonable to buy. Jean

    by Jean Furuyama — February 19, 2011

  36. For those who think they are interested in the seemingly endless selection of Florida retirement communities – do your homework carefully. I am a lifelong resident of Florida and approaching retirement age. I would not even consider ANY of the “inland” locations for full time retirement, or those located in southwest Florida. If you’re smart, you will plan your visit during June – September. Inland locations, such as Ocala (the Villages, et al) are miserably hot during the summer and early fall. And the west coast, particulalry places like Ft. Myers & Sarasota are simply the hottest places on the planet. I will not visit there – even in winter. Ft. Myers has the worst traffic and transportation infrastructure in the country. And don’t believe any of the nonsense about “cool Gulf breezes”. The Gulf of Mexico is like a bathtub of hot water and any “breezes” you might get are going to be hot.

    The Atlantic Coast of Florida has the best climate but is also very expensive. I live on the east coast about 10 miles inland and our summer temperatures are usually 5 – 10 degrees cooler than Orlando and 5- 10 degress warmer in winter. There is always a significant ocean breeze.

    Frankly, I’m looking at Oregon for retirement. Less people, less congestion, milder climate and fewer nutjobs running around with guns.

    by Bigfoot — February 21, 2011

  37. We are seriously considering the Villages. Mary R. can you explain what you mean about infrastructure problems. I am suprised to hear about the long waits for golf considering the number of courses even taking into consideration the number of residents. Any additional information you can give us is appreciated.

    by Eve — February 23, 2011

  38. I, also would love to know about a “green type” community near the West coast of Florida that is fairly inexpensive, near the water and is a liberal and open-minded place. Sarasota is great, but seems expensive, Unfortunately, as wonderful as it seems, The Villages area is way too conservative for me. Anyone know of any places north of Tampa?

    by Marge — February 23, 2011

  39. Thanks for the great comments everyone. Marge, we used the Search feature http://www.topretirements.com/Browse.html at Topretirements to look for “Energy Star Rated” Communities and found about 25 in our database, a few of which are in Florida. You can also search for “Green/Sustainable” (Search the criteria separately to get more results). A promising one for your criteria might be Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota http://www.topretirements.com/reviews/Florida/Sarasota/Lakewood_Ranch.html – there are lots more too. Be careful, we cannot monitor all of the claims being made, some developments are a bit loose about their qualifications.

    by Admin — February 24, 2011

  40. The more we look and research, the more befuddled we get! RE: my Feb. 17 post — ruled out Wellington at Seven Hills (sinkhole issues). This blog and links are very helpful! Any discussion about areas around Kissimmee? Any 55+ community suggestions – yays and nays – would be most appreciated.

    by Nielsen — February 24, 2011

  41. […] – Do you know where you want to live in retirement? (See article, “9 Things Betty and Jim learned when looking for their perfect retirement spot“. 1. Have you and your significant other discussed where you want to live? __Y__No 2. Have […]

    by » Quiz: How Ready for Retirement Are You? Topretirements — April 11, 2011

  42. […] in 8 Years of Visiting Active Adult Communities Jump on Jay Michael’s Retirement Tour Bus 9 Things Betty and Jim Learned When Looking at Best Places to Retire 10 Questions to Ask Before You Buy in an Active Adult Community Jay Michaels Community Rating […]

    by » How to Develop Your Personal Rating System for Active Adult Communities Topretirements — September 19, 2011

  43. […] further reading: Artie’s Observations: Moving from NY to the Carolinas Nine Things Betty and Jim Learned Hop on Jay Michaels’ Retirement Tour Bus (Part 1 of 2) Sandy’s Active Adult Community […]

    by » Latest Scouting Reports from Our Members: Florida and Texas Topretirements — December 4, 2012

  44. It’s close to 2 years since my post re The Villages, FL. I’m an upstate NYer and would love to escape cold weather! Additional thoughts on The Villages: I don’t think you could beat the clubs/activities anywhere else. I attended bluegrass club (concert, really, and very good), Cajun dancing club, dulcimer club, drumming circle, and a course on Wicca. There are umpteen more great things going on, not to mention live music of all styles EVERY NIGHT. But then there’s the traffic (in season), the politics, the occasional sink hole and very restrictive HOA regs. Winter nights can get close to freezing while days are pretty nice though windy. Haven’t been in summer but couldn’t be outdoors at all in March, just too hot and humid, but I’m sensitive to heat. All in all, love the activities & clubs, but couldn’t deal with the rest of it.

    by Mary R. — December 5, 2012

  45. For what it’s worth, my wife and I visited The Villages in March last year. As long as you make reservations, we did not have any wait for golf. We also ate out every evening about 7pm, and we can’t remember waiting for a table.

    Someone asked about softball….TV has one of the largest softball leagues in the country.

    TV is also large enough that you’ll find people of every political view and every economic level.

    I was impressed with the place, and I still have about 5 years before I’m ready to retire.

    by John — April 10, 2013

  46. Thanks for this forum. My husband and I live in the Metro NYC area where the property taxes are sky-high ($15K for our 2,500 sf home) and would love to retire to San Diego to be near our one son. We’ve been there several times and really enjoy the life in SoCal. However, we are leaning towards PA to be near our other son (and for the lower cost of living/taxes), and maybe wintering in San Diego for as long as we are able to travel. We are having a hard time making up our minds, but there’s no question we will have to leave our area as soon as I retire in 2 years.

    by Judy M. — April 10, 2013

  47. Judy,

    PA is the clear winner when it comes to taxes. No state taxes on retirement income of any kind, including public and private pensions. It’s a big state, so your winter weather will vary greatly depending on what part of the state you are looking for. And if you are looking to buy your home vs going to a retirement place, there are tricks to keeping your property taxes lower. They can be wildly different, particularly depending on the age of the place. If you buy new, you might pay twice as much in taxes as your neighbor living in a house built in the 1990’s.

    Good luck with your decision.

    by Julie — April 11, 2013

  48. Just a note regarding PA and taxes. They may not tax on pensions or social security BUT they do tax investment income. We have lived in PA since 1990 and while our property taxes have not changed greatly, our school taxes have increased over 600%! Much depends on the county and township where you live. Many of our long time residents, now senior citizens, are being taxed out of their family homes. Our foreclosure rate is very high. Buyers beware. Do your research.

    by cherie — April 12, 2013

  49. Hi, As we approached the age of 65, my husband and I made of list titled, “Retirement NEEDS” and a second titled, “Retirement Wants.” The NEEDS list included “1. Great healthcare, 2. Good and adequate public transportation, and 3. interesting things to do. and 4. Affordability.” After some research we narrowed our choices to Durham, NC, Augusta, GA, Morgantown, WV, Nashville, TN, and Knoxville, TN.” All are university cities except Augusta but there is a huge VA Medical Center there as well as the Medical College of GA. We are continuing our research. So far, Durham leads.

    by KathyB — April 13, 2013

  50. Hi, Because our home in Sarasota County’s North Port will soon be “For Sale,” we plan to do some travelling in the SE. We found the comments somewhat helpful. Addressing healthcare options and public transportation for us is very important. Those comments from others who have already done their homework would be greatly appreciated. While these 2 issues are not our only “needs” these are the most important, somethings we learned after a red light runner in Venice smashed through our lives and we learned how important both issues can be.Very good healthcare at Venice Regional but the issue of GOOD public transportation has made our decision to leave SW FL after living here since the late 1970’s.

    by KathyB — April 13, 2013

  51. Very good point, Cherie. I live in a PA community that is very aggressive about managing school taxes, but they are still a major hit to my budget each year. Every county has different tax rates. 15 miles away, the taxes would be only half of my bill. It made a difference when I had kids in the school district, but for retirement I’ll be hunting for a community that’s more tax friendly.

    by Sharon — April 13, 2013

  52. “… but for retirement I’ll be hunting for a community that’s more tax friendly.”

    The good news is, this is very possible in PA. Very strange way of dealing with taxes, and I include school taxes in that calculation, particularly since they make up the bulk of the tax bill.

    We are in an excellent school system, and though our taxes are far from cheap, they are half of what a comparable house in the neighboring communities pay. And school taxes will be assessed in the same way that the other taxes are assessed, so if you have an older home you will pay less. The older it is, the less you pay. This is one state in which it pays well to shop around. New legislation has also been passed very recently to allow school districts to charge seniors less. Personally, I think that is wrong, but PA is very senior oriented. Even the lottery funds here go to fund senior concerns, rather that go to the school kids as is the case in most states.

    To pay less in taxes, look for a stable community that has not and will not need newer/bigger schools. Look for some commercial concerns that pay business taxes. Older homes are key here in PA, and while older typically means cheaper tax-wise, you don’t have to go ancient, though that will be even less. I know of someone who saved $8,000/year in taxes by buying a 5 year old house rather than similar new construction.

    That said, our home also cost more than those in the higher tax towns, probably because of the annual tax savings, but in theory it should sell for more as well when we go to sell.

    No place is perfect, but I’ll take PA’s 3.02% tax rate on investments over CA’s significantly higher rate. Most of our investments are in tax deferred retirement savings anyway, and those are not taxed by PA. None the less, we may still leave PA when we retire. For us it’s not warm enough or environmentally clean enough, and we don’t have family here. We came here for work.

    by Julie — April 13, 2013

  53. Ahh, Julie, thank you for mentioning one of my pet peeves about PA – environmental issues. I admit to being a minor tree hugger but I think it’s only reasonable for a state to be concerned about citizens’ quality of living. That includes clean water and air, sustainable building practices and preserving natural vistas. PA is not a state, it’s a commonwealth. What this means for residents is each community is a small fiefdom with (usually) some good ole boys running it. Change is hard to come by. Progressiveness is not a common term. PA’s roads have been voted by truckers’ associations as worst in the nation. Potholes are everywhere causing auto damage. The state government does not contribute sufficiently to education which is one reason taxes keep rising. Lottery funds do go to senior concerns but seniors would be better served if they went toward minimizing school taxes. The roadsides are covered in litter, tire retreads and broken highway signage. The medians are weed patches. Ugly electronic billboards overwhelm the mountain vistas. There are virtually no bike lanes and biking and walking are dangerous. Our small town has had 4 pedestrian deaths and untold bicycle and motorcycle fatalities over the past few years. We are heading to NC where a progressive attitude makes for a better quality of life.

    by cherie — April 14, 2013

  54. @Cherie some parts of NC.

    by easilyamused — April 15, 2013

  55. Cherie

    I’m a PA native who has lived in NC for 22 years. You need to be careful where you move if you are interested in a “progressive attitude” which “makes for a better quality of life”. The majority of NC in very conservative which is to my liking.

    by Dick — April 16, 2013

  56. I agree, Dick and Easilyamused, that’s why we are heading to Asheville!!

    by cherie — April 17, 2013

  57. We live in Rhode Island and are looking to retire in a couple of years with a smaller house in RI and a condo in somewhere warmer for the winter. One of our big incentives is that RI taxes every type of retirement income and has an enormous estate tax, so we are finding it financially advantageous to limit our residence here to 5 months and 30 days. We have looked in Vero Beach (too isolated and we don’t golf), Naples (not very walkable), Sarasota (we liked the growing downtown with its waterview condos). But the place we’re most seriously considering for the first few years of our retirement is Miami Beach. Walkability is very important to us, and we found high-rise condos on the bay side that are surrounded by groceries, restaurants, retail, art galleries, etc. It struck us as a warm NYC (ok, without Broadway). We are also interested in being able to rent out the condo for a few months because we would like to spend a considerable amount of time traveling initially. It finally occurred to us on our most recent trip that retirement probably evolves just like other phases of life. What seems great to us now might not be exactly right anymore in 5 years. Right now a vibrant city seems right to us and possibly to others — we have several friends who have retired to NYC and learned to live happily in a lot less space!

    by Pam — April 17, 2013

  58. @Cherie I can’t think of a better place to be. Congratulations!

    by easilyamused — April 18, 2013

  59. Retire to NYC (Manhatten I presume)?? Wow wouldn’t that be wonderful. My wife a city gal would love that. Only one problem WE ARE NOT MILLIONARIES!!

    We are Socialist Security participants. Oh well, so much for NYC

    by Robert — April 19, 2013

  60. For those who have a problem recieving Social Security one option would be to turn it down and live on Private Sector Security.

    by lefty omalley — April 19, 2013

  61. I’m a new user of this website & blog. There seems to be an absence of discussion regarding California retirement communities. Or perhaps I’ve yet to find it. Any input is appreciated. Thank you!

    by Zephyr — April 19, 2013

  62. May I have both – SS & Private Sector Security? Why would I or anyone else want to turn SS down. Hmmm, seems to me it is (after all) my money I paid in.

    Now if I live to be 120 the GOVNMINT will really be pissed. Oh, I forgot they keep stealing our money out of the SS fund for other great government projects that they run so efficiently.(A joke everyone)

    Can’t make it to NYC but looking for an affordable place near the Smokey Mountains of NC.

    by Robert — April 20, 2013

  63. I truely enjoy reading the comments of those folks that have a problem with the concept of Social Security. You will easily identify them by the rhetoric used, words like Socialist,GOVNMINT or making statements of how they truely feel then saying it was a joke, it’s not. It is always easier to talk the talk then to walk the talk.

    by Lefty Omalley — April 20, 2013

  64. Lefty – LOL – you are a riot. You must be from THE LEFT.

    Seems like all you want to do is argue. We want a nice affordable place to retire. Hope you have a nice retirement where ever that choice might be.

    This site offers many good opinions. We all know about opinions – everyone has one and thankfully we have a Free Choice to express them.

    by Robert — April 21, 2013

  65. Does anyone have any suggestions for a retirement community in Washington State that isn’t outrageously expensive? We are looking for a very active community. Thank you!

    by Kathi — April 21, 2013

  66. I have been reading the articles and comments for awhile now and believe the ideal retirement spot for myself is right here in Wisconsin. Sure the taxes are higher than many other places but at least I know what I have. Every area has problems and it seems that we have fewer here plus we have a lot of water and it looks like that may be a valuble asset to have. I have been taken care of by God and I prasise him for that. I was able to work most of my life and retired from the Postal Service plus I am a disabled vet. I am not rich by any means having a history of health problems with many operations and a transplant. I thank God every day for allow me a good life and eternal life when he calls. I will pray for everyone and hope God will bless all of you.

    by Roger — April 21, 2013

  67. Thanks Robert. I’m a bit left of center and proud of it actually and I recognize that you are from THE RIGHT. I’m not trying to argue with you or anyone. I do agree that it’s nice to share opinions in a civil manner and this site works quite well I think. My plan is to also find an affordable place for retirement, no sense spending more than needed. As former Presidential candidate Herman Cain once said, “If you’re not rich, blame yourself” I think that sums things up. Good luck in your search Robert, who knows, maybe we could end up being neighbors some day.

    by Lefty Omalley — April 21, 2013

  68. Kathi, we lived in Washington, as for an in expensive active community. Good luck there are some communities they are few and come at a cost. We looked around the southwest , but found that the southeast and Florida have much more to offer. Keep looking you might find your dream.

    by Brad — April 22, 2013

  69. Zephyr, I think the lack of discussion re California retirement communities is because they are way too expensive for most of us. I’d retire to California in a heartbeat if I could afford it, I love it there and have lots of friends there. Sadly, not in my budget. I need to have money left over for travel.

    by Linda — April 23, 2013

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