September 15, 2021 – Members in a recent Topretirements poll gave us their number 1 considerations for choosing a place to retire. Atop the list by a large margin was climate, followed by affordability, being near friends and family, and good medical. Much further down the list were taxes and political environment.
These are all important things to think about when choosing a place to retire. But there are other, less obvious considerations that are even more critical. Here are 5 overlooked considerations that we think deserve special attention.
- Do you really know the area where you about to relocate?
“Rose”, who retired to Myrtle Beach (SC), listed a perfect example of this situation in our recent poll: “Never retire where you like to visit. There are so many tourists and so much traffic it is unbearable. There is very little here that I was looking for, such as classes and like minded people.”
So many people have written over the years expressing remorse about not renting in a community before deciding to buy. “If only we had known!” is a familiar refrain. Only by living in a place for an extended time can you get a good picture of what it is really like to live there. By putting a toe in the water you also find out the best places to live in that area, as well as those to be avoided. You also might find out that the grass isn’t necessarily greener.
2. Will you be happy if you are far away from your family and friends?
Families, grandchildren, and friends are powerful connections. Many people find that moving long distance, especially retiring abroad, creates too much separation. Many experienced this early through pandemic-caused isolation. A better choice, if separation will be too much, might be to choose life as a seasonal snowbird.
Disconnects between partners is another issue when choosing a place to retire. One might be an adventurer, and the other could be a homebody. One likes warm weather, the other loves winter. Finding out these differences after you relocate can be painful and disruptive.
On the opposite side, many people move to be near their adult children, only to see the kids get transferred, or to resent being the default baby sitters.
3. Will you be comfortable with the political environment in your new location?
Unfortunately, this issue seems to be increasingly important in our now very divided society. Progressives moving to a conservative state or town might find themselves increasingly uncomfortable, and the same goes for conservatives migrating to a blue state. Fortunately, even the most dyed in the wool states have towns and areas that don’t fit the stereotype. Huge numbers of northern retirees are moving to southern states anyway, so how this plays out is unknown.
4. Do you know what kind of community you want to live in?
Most people entering retirement really don’t have a good understanding of what their community options are. Just some of the community choices include 55+, active adult, co-housing, independent living, new urban, multi-generational, college town – or living in a city or traditional neighborhood. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and until you have explored them you won’t know which is right for you. The best way is to explore when on vacation, visit friends and family, use short term rentals, and take advantage of the “Stay and Play” packages offered by many developments.
5. Will the medical situation and other factors allow you to live there for the rest of your life?
One of the best pieces of advice we ever heard (and rarely acted on) is to plan on retiring to an area where you can live the rest of your life. To do that requires weighing several complicated factors. For example, are medical resources close and sophisticated enough to handle any health issues that emerge down the road?
Living high in the mountains or way off at the beach might not be convenient when you have to drive for hours to see your specialist. Is there an assisted living or CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) nearby, or will you have to make a big move when your faculties decline. Abandoning the church, friends, doctors, etc. that you have come to depend on can be very difficult if you are lucky enough to live into your 80s or 90s.
Even climate change can come into play, as “Tim” commented recently: “Having lived in Northern California and Pacific Northwest for a long time, I am turning into a climate change refugee. All the lovely things that have kept me here are so much harder to enjoy when it’s smokey almost all the time.”
There are plenty of good reasons for choosing a place to retire. Some aren’t quite as obvious as others, and although these might require a little planing and consideration, investing a little time in them can make a huge payoff in finding that perfect place to retire.
Comments? What factors, if any, did you overlook when you considered where to retire? Did all your plans work out as you expected, or where there some miscues. Please share your experiences, no matter where you are in your retirement search, in the Comments section below.