December 29, 2021 — This year has been mighty interesting. As 2021 winds down and we look with hope for a happier, less chaotic 2022, it is always enlightening to peer backwards. Which topics and articles resonated the most with our Members, and which ones were duds – knowing that can help us serve you better next year.
In this article, we will identify out the most popular of the 100 blogs we published last year, measured by which ones were read the most times. Some were predictable (retirement on a lake), and others we didn’t see coming, like our mini-retirement guide to Scotland, which had more page views that any other country or state guide! Our review includes other categories of viewer interest at Topretirements – the most popular cities, states, and active communities. There were several big surprises there too. Here goes:
Most Popular Blogs in 2021- no matter when written
The most popular blogs on Topretirements during 2021 were actually written in previous years. Readers keep coming back to check them out, usually because they discovered them on a Google search (retiring on a lake must be a very common dream). All have been updated to keep them current. Here are the 3 blogs that were read the most times during 2021:
December 24, 2021 — The clock is running out for people who must take their yearly Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from their 401(k) or IRA plans. An RMD is the minimum amount you must withdraw from your account each year after you reach a certain age. December 31 is the deadline.
You generally have to start taking withdrawals from your IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, or retirement plan account when you reach age 72 (70 ½ if you reach 70 ½ before January 1, 2020). The deadline is April 1 of the year following the calendar year in which you reach age 72, if you were born after Jun 30, 1949. Thereafter the deadline is Dec. 31.
Calculating your RMD
There are various IRS tables that tell you how much your RMD has to be (you can take out more if you want). The amount you take out is taxable in full. As an example, if you are 72 years of age the factor is 25.6. You divide your IRA/401(k) balance by the distribution period in the IRS Uniform Lifetime table to determine the RMD. So if your balance was $1 million, dividing by 25.6 would yield an RMD of $39,062.50. Each year as you age the factor increases, until at age 115 or older it is 1.9. The Uniform Lifetime table distribution periods are being revised to reflect current life expectancies, with new figures expected in 2022. Roth IRAs do not require withdrawals until after the death of the owner.
There is a far easier way to know your RMD, however. Your mutual fund company or broker will normally tell you how much you need to take out each year, as well as send out reminders to do so. If your IRAs are with more than one company it is up to you to make sure your total RMD reflects balances in all of your accounts. As a reminder, if you send money directly to a qualified charity that amount does not count as income (but you cannot deduct it).
If you haven’t taken yours yet – hurry!
The penalties for not taking RMDs are serious – 50% of the required distribution. It can take time to set up a withdrawal, so get on it today!
December 23, 2021 — More people retired in 2021 than in previous years, probably because Covid pushed them into early retirement. Some 50% of people over age 55 were retired this year, up by 2 percentage points. All things being equal, that should have meant a spike in the number of people who moved for retirement, but that didn’t happen. Quite to the contrary, the number of retirees who moved in 2021 dropped to 226,000—roughly 43% fewer than in the year previous. It’s also the lowest number of American retirees in the last five years!
These and many other interesting stats are courtesy of a “2021 Study: Where Americans Moved to Retire in 2021” commissioned by Hire a Helper using US Census Data.
December 15, 2021 — The reality is most people don’t want to retire too far away from where they live now. The tug of familiar friends, relatives, and institutions can be very strong for some, even more powerful than wanting to be in a warmer climate. Yet their current abode might have become expensive, crowded, or taxing enough to make them think about moving to a new city or town in the same region. In this article we will explore some of the nearby possibilities for a retiree who lives in or near the New York City Metro or suburbs. For that matter, residents of New Jersey and southern New England might like these alternatives as well.
Obviously if one moves less than 500 miles away the climate is not going to be too much different. But the cost of living, the livability index, and the tax situation could change dramatically. The 10 places to retire mentioned here are just a few possibilities, they barely scratch the surface of the very livable retirement choices that won’t require you to move too far from where you live now.
December 13, 2021 — Thanks to everyone who answered last week’s one question, instant poll on retirement location happiness. The bottom line is that the majority of people responding are happy with their choice of a place to retire. A certain minority is less satisfied, or had to move more than once. The results are shown below.
Taking out the 24 people answering who haven’t yet retired, 58% of respondents said they were perfectly happy with their choice – they apparently found their best place to retire. Of those, 42% had moved and 16% did not change locations in retirement. Another 22% were “moderately happy” with their location. Almost 20% said they either moved a second time, or wished they had moved somewhere else. The answer that we hoped to see a small percentage for, “moderately unhappy”, was just that, only about 6%.
If you are a regular follower of TopRetirements, do you take the website’s advice? Maybe you’ll have read the article from November 21 discussing Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s The Five Secrets of Super Agers. Having watched my father’s mental faculties wane under the onslaught of dementia, I’m definitely interested in keeping my brain healthy as I age. I’m pretty good at his number one, exercise, though I don’t try to keep up with my hub, Mr. Top Retirements. Number four, a Mediterranean-style diet and number five, staying connected, have been important to me for a long time.
Trying something new was number three on the list. At first I thought: I write most days, and all the words are new, so I have this one down cold. On the other hand, in the mystery world, I’m mostly known for my series featuring a food critic living in quirky Key West. I’m comfortable writing that series—I know the characters and the setting, and I love talking about restaurants and food. Even though this is a long-running series, every book is new in some way. Each story has a new plot, usually some new characters, and often new layers in the relationships between the regulars.
Many people are excited (and sometimes appalled) by The Villages, the giant active community in Central Florida. They often wonder, are there any other age-restricted communities that approach The Villages’ size, which approaches 150,000 residents and sprawls over 3 counties? And, do any other communities offer a similar range of amenities?
Although no community in the west is quite as large as The Villages, there are many that have more than 5,000 residents. This article highlights some of the ultra-large active communities in the West. We invite you to explore over 3500 active communities of all sizes in our State Directories at Topretirements.
We are curious – how happy are you with your decision where to retire? If we get a good response to this we will have a quick survey letting people tell us where they retired and how and what they like about it.
Thanks for participating – you will see the results immediately after you make your choice. Feel free to add your Comments, that will even be more interesting.
December 4, 2021 — There is a free resource in your town in your town you might be missing out on. One that you can actually tap from your home or phone for instant service. It is called your Library!
A few years back many people predicted that libraries were a thing of the past. That no one will bother going there anymore, thanks to the Internet. Well, a trip to your local library will prove that one a bad call. Libraries today are usually amazingly busy, filled with people of all ages doing all kinds of different things. It reminds us of Mark Twain’s famous comment – “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated!”
Libraries have evolved into much more than loaning books and answering research questions. In this article we will highlight some of the services that you might not know about, things that could both save you money and enrich your life.