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11 Good Reasons for Choosing a Retirement Town

Category: General Retirement Issues

July 6, 2010 — Whether you stay where you live now or move to a new town, choosing a retirement town or active adult community is a life-altering experience. If you choose well, you will be able to live comfortably on your resources, enjoy activities you like, and savor relationships with friends and family. Choose poorly, and you might be living in near poverty, not be able to participate in fun activities, and be bored and lonely. This article is designed to help you understand some of the best reasons we have heard of for choosing a particular retirement town or community.

Let us reiterate one thing before we provide the list – staying where you are is a choice. It can be the right choice for millions of people, but it should be made actively, rather than passively by just avoiding the question.

11 Good Reasons
1. Be near friends and family. Children and grandchildren are the most important reasons for being for many people. Living in a town with convenient access to them can be extremely important for these folks. The younger generations are probably not likely to move to you, so usually you must be the ones moving. Note that many new master-planned communities are being built with mixed age and age restricted neighborhoods in the same community – a new twist that works for many. Victoria Gardens within Victoria Park in Deland, FL is one example.

2. Climate. The weather is important to just about everyone. Some folks hate humidity and heat, others can’t abide the cold. If you can afford to live in 2 places, you might never have to experience the extremes you don’t like. For others, a compromise solution like the not too cold/not too hot weather in western North Carolina, Virginia, Oregon, or California is the solution. Choose the best answer for you.

3. Friendly people. This factor may be more powerful than you think. Most people wouldn’t think of moving to a new part of the country where they feared they might not fit in, like moving from the south to the northeast, or vice versa. The big advantage of many towns that attract lots of retirees (and that includes active adult communities) is that there are many people in the same boat – they are all new to town, so making friends is easier and has fewer barriers.

4. Lower cost of living. If you don’t have enough money to stay where you are now while maintaining your current lifestyle – move! That could be as simple as moving down the street to a downsized home or apartment, or it could mean moving to a state that has a lower cost of living (in the south or midwest). Just try to keep the other 10 reasons in mind too.

5. Tax friendly. This factor is related to cost of living, but not completely independent either. For example, if you have a nice pension and/or social security, you probably want to stay away from a state that will tax that pension. That can make the difference, even in a state where other expenses or taxes are high. States that tax dividends and income won’t be that attractive if you have saved well and plan on living on that money. See our list of tax-friendly states for more help.

6. The activities you love. If you live to play golf, Maine or Minnesota might not be such a great choice. They both have many fine courses, but the season is short. If bridge, arts and crafts, or theater are big on your list, you can live in many different, non-climate dependent locations. Likewise if skiing and mountain hiking are your thing, Florida isn’t such a great choice. Go where your fun is.

7. Near a college. Whether it is returning to the college town where you went to school, a desire to take classes, or just the wish to be in a young and vibrant community, living in a college town can be a continual rush for many retirees. There are university-related retirement communities for even more immersion.

8. Near the beach or a lake. We see from our Retirement Ranger questions that having access to a beach is very important to many people. For them being close could mean a 3-hour drive – that is still accessible. Living on the coast or a lake is a retirement dream for many, and we can see why. See this article: 11 Affordable Places to Retire on the Water

9. Rich cultural life. This could mean living in a city, where movies, plays, restaurants, dance, concerts, and more provide a continual buffet. It could also mean living in a college town. Or, you might find a special town where festivals bring on the culture, like Ashland Oregon – home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

10. Outdoor recreation. If you love mountains, biking, the beach, surfing, golf, or fishing – plan accordingly.

11. Access to quality medical care. You might be healthy today, but disease and accidents can strike any of us, any time. Choosing a place with long drives to hospitals/specialists and poorly rated local facilities might be a big mistake. As we age, this factor becomes more and more important.

What do you think?
Use the comments section below to let us know what your reasons are for retirement. What do you think is most important?

Posted by John Brady on July 6th, 2010


  1. 12. For any gated community, $$$$. By $$$$, I mean
    (a) the financial stability of the community: foreclosures, walkaways, HOA commitments, etc.
    (b) ditto for the builder. Are the amenities – clubhouse, aerobics room, pools, lakes, etc. operational and funded – or promised?
    (c) ditto for the state. For example: California and its money woes = higher taxes. or Florida and Chinese drywall replacement costs.
    For the first two, simply Google “(name) + lawsuits)”. For example, “Lennar + lawsuits” = 170,000+ hits. “Del Webb + lawsuits” = 21,000+. “Sun City Grand + Lawsuits” = 1800+. Many hits are frivolous, resolved, or irrelevant, but knowledge is power.

    by oldnassau'67 — July 7, 2010

  2. Another strong consideration for us if we are to live in a city would be the presence of a viable public transportation system. This would allow us to have only one vehicle or none and if we continue to be ambulatory in later yers give us more independence for a longer period.

    by George Gorman — July 9, 2010

  3. A municipal government organization offering a variety of high quality services from professionally qualified senior staff members, along with a variety of high quality municipal facilities, especially parks,a comprehensive fitness and recreation center, and fitness greenways.

    An abundance of municipal and private landscaping and trees.

    A variety of non-profit organizations providing cultural, educational, recreational and interest pursuit opportunities.

    A community college in or nearby providing a quality variety of credit courses, non-credit courses, and workshops, etc.

    A vibrant, walkable downtown.

    by Peter F. Lydens — July 14, 2010

  4. The will you fit in your new retirement location is very important. We have found that heavy Mormon (LDS) neighborhoods in Southern Utah don’t accept non-LDS newcomers very well.We were looking at St.George, Sun River but the Mormon factor may change our minds.Research first or rent first before making a full commitment.

    by Bill — July 26, 2010

  5. We are 15yrs from retirement and working/living in the Philippines for the past 10yrs. The medical is much cheaper than the US but there is not an insurance option and the quality is not worth the sacrifice. Medical expenses must be paid in cash up front, no money, out on the street you go. Also many expats get into the situation where they cannot afford to go back to their home country. The infrastructure is difficult to deal with, lack of enforcement of basic laws lowers our quality of life. I would do a dry run for emergency services. If you take maintenance medications you would want to source them. The US State Department is a saving grace for many outside the US. Living with the worry for our health and that of our pets has us planning to retire elsewhere, perhaps even back to the US.

    by Anne H — August 5, 2010

  6. We’re taking nos. 9-11 seriously. We just moved into Alden Place in Lebanon, PA. It’s a vibrant community with a natural lake nearby for fishing and canoeing.

    Medical facilities are accessible as well. That’s the main reason we’ve given up the option of retiring abroad.

    by Gab L. — November 24, 2010

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