March 12, 2013 — As you might expect, we get a lot of retirement questions from our members and site visitors. The same applies when new friends of your editor find out about Topretirements. This article recaps the most frequent questions we receive, along with our usual answers. We hope you find it helpful.
1. What is the Best Place to Retire. This is by far the most prevalent question, so much so that it completely overwhelms any others we get. Since we get the question so often we have developed a stock response, one that we hope is helpful. So when people ask, “where is the best place to retire”, here is how we typically respond: “Retirement is a very personal matter. The best place for us might very well be a terrible retirement destination for you. To make the best decision for you, you need to first answer a number of questions.” (And then we tell them some of the questions).
If the questioner is a visitor to Topretirements.com we always recommend that we download our Free eBook, “Baby Boomer’s Guide to Selecting a Retirement Community“, because it has a handy questionnaire on 16 factors (plus checklist for each) that will help anyone get a better understanding of their personal retirement priorities. Some of those factors have to do with required winter temperatures, financial issues,preferred distance from family and friends, type of lifestyle you desire, small vs. big town, etc. You should also take our free Retirement Ranger, our online quiz that asks 9 quick questions and then provides an instant report of towns that might be suitable based on your input.
There are of course some towns that many people agree are great for retirement. The most popular towns for retirement among Topretirements visitors include Asheville, NC; Sarasota, FL; Austin, TX; Venice, FL; Beaufort, SC; San Diego, CA; and Prescott, Arizona. For a full list see our “100 Best Retirement Towns – 2013“.
2. What is the best place to retire abroad. Many Americans immediately tend to link south when they consider retiring abroad, with destinations in countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador. If lack of money is an important reason for retiring abroad, Latin America might well be a good choice. But (and a very big but), we recommend that you not retire abroad if your finances are the primary motivator. Living in a foreign country has many disadvantages and challenges – it is not for everyone. You can see some of the reasons why at “Mexican Retirement Gone Bad” in our Blog.
In our opinion, however, there are some more appealing countries which ought to be considered. A friend recently asked your editor about some of the places where we would live if we retired abroad, and the answers were: Western Ireland, the South of France, Italy. In Ireland we can speak the language; the food, culture, and lifestyle are superb in the latter two. On the negative side, however, retiring in those places might be both expensive and difficult from a visa viewpoint.
3. Can you advise me where I should retire. Sorry, we can’t provide personal assistance – we just do not have the resources to do that. But that doesn’t mean we can’t provide a ton of free assistance on this site. Use the Best Places link to find towns and active communities that might appeal to you. Subscribe to our newsletter and Blog posts to get ideas about a whole range of retirement issues. Pose a question or make a comment in either our Blog or in the Forum – it is amazing how this community responds with helpful information on their experiences and opinions.
4. What are the best places for low retirement taxes. You are not alone if you are looking for a place to retire with low taxes. The good news is there are many states that have the “low taxes” welcome wagon sign out for retirees. On the other hand, taxes are complicated and personal, a one-size solution does not fit everyone. There are different kinds of taxes, and depending on your personal situation, the obvious choices might not apply (for example if you are living on a reduced income, income and sales taxes don’t matter much – but property taxes probably do). See our article, “Tax Friendly States for Retirement” for more detailed help.
5. Can you tell me where to find rentals – I either don’t want to buy or I just want to rent for a while. There is no totally easy answer to this question – you are going to have to do some work to get answers. But the good news is that there are rentals available – if you spend the time researching and asking realtors, developments, and friends for leads. You can use Advanced Search at Topretirement.com to screen for “rentals” under “Types of Communities”. Go online at sites like VRBO.com to find more ideas. Searching in Google with queries that make sense – e.g.; “rental apartment in Myrtle Beach” will usually also produce some rental ideas.
6. How can I find a list of active communities that have (specific amenities or characteristics). This is one of our favorite questions, because it means people are thinking about their retirements and trying to find out where they might find a good fit. There are thousands and thousands of active adult, 55+, and retirement communities of all types. We have capsule reviews of over 2100 on this site, which is a good start. You can use our Advanced Search to narrow down the search by exactly the criteria that interest you. With this feature you can search on both cities and 55+ communities. Select the criteria that interest you, including geographic area and other selects, and you will get a list of the places with the amenities you are looking for – whether those be golf courses, equestrian facilities, marinas, etc.
7. Where can I find a list of affordable communities. There are several possible routes to find out about places to retire that won’t break your budget – an important concern for millions of baby boomers. One place to start is to go to our Advanced Search – there you will see a select that allows to choose only “budget” communities (plus other selections like state, amenity, etc.). You can also choose manufactured home communities, which are almost always a less expensive option. Stay away from expensive states in the Northeast and California, including both coasts. Florida and the Southeast tend to be inexpensive. See also our Blog article: “20 Great Affordable Places to Retire” (the bottom of that article has links to more “affordable” articles).
8. Where can we find a place that does NOT offer golf. The world sometimes seems split into two camps – love golf or don’t care for golf. Certainly if you don’t like golf or have no intention to play it, you probably don’t want to be paying Home Owner Association dues to support a golf course. Fortunately for these folks, there are more communities without golf facilities than with. Many large developers are forgoing golf courses in most of their new communities, and that seems to include Pulte/Del Webb. If you want golf, use the “Golf” amenity screen in Advanced Search. If you are not interested, look at the list of amenities in all of the community reviews on this site and ignore those that offer it (use //www.topretirements.com/reviews/ or the orange “Find a Community” box at top right of all pages). See “Dream of Golf Course Living Turns into a Nightmare” for more on this subject.
9. Where are some good communities for singles. There is a very significant part of the retired population that is single, and these folks don’t want to feel like third wheels. In general we believe that larger communities might be better options for singles. That’s because they are large enough to have singles clubs or organizations, or at least a critical mass of other singles to hang with. But many smaller communities might be great, fun places where singles interact with other people and do not feel marginalized. The best way to find out is to visit a lot of different communities and see for yourself. Talk with people and participate in activities – you will get a good idea firsthand. See “Best Retirement Places for Singles” in our Blog. The author and our frequent contributor, Jan Cullinane, has written several helpful retirement books including the AARP’s “Single Women’s Guide to Retirement“, which is definitely a good place to start.
10. I am thinking about retiring in (name of town or community). Please tell me all about it. This question is a personal pet peeve for us. Fortunately many of our more members take the time to give a helpful answer, usually because they know the town or development well and want to be helpful. We are grateful for their generosity. Our recommendation if you come to this site is to look around first. Look in the city reviews to find out basic information. Then look in the Forum and some of the Blog posts where there might have been a discussion about the town. And then ask your question, making it as specific as possible. We find people are much more willing to answer a query that has some focus to it, rather than one which is simply – tell me everything you know about….
More questions – and comments
These are just the top 10 questions we get – there are many more that come in during the course of a month. Check out more, including our answers, in our Forum FAQ post . Best of all, if you have answers to these questions, we would all love to hear them. No one has a monopoly on retirement experience, we can learn so much from each other. Please share with your fellow members in the Comments section below.