January 15, 2012 — One of the most frequent Comments/questions on this site is: “We’re thinking about retiring in (name of city). Does anyone know what it’s like to retire there”. You will often see that type of question among the amazing member comments made on the “Tell Us Where You Are Going to Retire” story we wrote about a year ago, where 691 Comments have been made (so far).
“LS”, one of our members, recently suggested that we put all the references in one place so folks can answer their own questions. So here goes in what we are hoping becomes a team project: we will assemble all the references by category we can come up with, and you add yours in the Comments section. We’ll go in and add the best of yours to the article to make it even more comprehensive!
Before we even begin, let us give a vigorous thank you to all of the people who have tried to answer the many questions posted in Blog. We all appreciate your helpful and informative posts!
How to find the best information, fast
Lets say you are interested in retiring to South Carolina, and are perhaps considering Summerville. Here are the steps we recommend you take to find out more about what it is like to retire there:
– Go to the Topretirements review of the city. You can get there in a variety of ways. A simple way is to use the “Best Places” link near the top of each page. Once there, click on a State from either the map or the yellow pull-down menu. From there you will see the list of cities in that state we have reviews of, more than 900 in all. Another, similar approach is to use the pull-down state menu in the orange “Find a Community” box near the top right of almost all pages.
Once you get to the city review, for example the one for Summerville, you will see helpful information in a broad array of categories: What it’s like to retire there, Where to live and housing costs, What is special and not special, What types of people would be happy there, the economic environment, physical location and climate, restaurants and cultural scene, crime, medical, transportation, and helpful links. There are also ratings on many of these areas plus additional ones like Jan and Jul temps, crime rates vs. national, housing costs, population, etc. If members have commented about that city, those will show at the bottom of the page.
The quality and quantity of each of these reviews can vary. The more popular the city for retirees, the more information and data there generally is. You can use these pages to get a pretty good idea of what a town is like for retirement, although a one page capsule is obviously not going to give you in-depth information on every topic. At Topretirements every time a city review is created a Forum topic is also generated for that city, where you might find some good discussions about what those cities are like (look under each State). Lastly, many of our Blog articles have touched on individual states or cities as retirement towns, both in the actual article and in the Comments section. But if you don’t find what you are looking for from these source, here are some other good places for specific categories of information. We are hoping that our members will add their own favorite sources as Comments at the end of the article.
In our opinion the 2 best sources of overall information on American cities, other than a travel guide book, are Wikipedia.org and City-Data.com. Almost every town in the U.S. has a page on these 2 sources. Wikipedia offers detailed background information about cities, particularly what they are famous for and their cultural resources. City-Data.com has tons of facts and figures in the city section; people in their Forums sections provide lots and lots of opinions about almost any town. The only disadvantage is that most of the people posting are younger and thinking about moving their families to these cities, so they are not exactly relevant to retirees. Of course you can always Google what is like to live in (name of city) and probably come up with something.
Cost of housing
We generally get our housing price information from a combination of City-Data.com, Zillow.com, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR only has data on larger cities, but is more reliable). There are other sources as well. Generally, the smaller the town the less reliable the data.
Population, Demographics, and Politics
We see a lot of active adults who would like to know what the political makeup of an area is before they move there. The city reviews on City-data.com are packed with information about all of these topics, including how the city voted in the last Presidential election. Of course the U.S. Census Bureau is the most comprehensive source of information about the population of an area and its makeup.
Topretirements has an overview page of the most tax friendly states. But that is only the beginning. Our friend Old Nassau recently sent us some great links, including “States That Don’t Tax Pensions” (be careful of the Michigan data, most pensions there are now taxed or will be soon).
Here are some others:
Military Pension Taxation
Retirement Living Taxation by State (a great resource)
Tax Foundation and State Tax Burdens
Property, Sales, and Income Taxes by State
Try also Googling the Chamber of Commerce for the city you want
Transportation & Walkability
City-data.org has some basic information. Wikipedia also usually has information about bus and mass transit capabilities
Get Your Walk Score
Best Cancer Hospitals
City-Data.com usually lists the closest hospitals
For further reference
Baby Boomers Essential Links (Extensive links on all kinds of topics)
Single Women and Retirement
Milken Institute Rankings and Ratings of Best Metros for Retirement (by multi-factors)
Please help us add even more great links. Please share your best resources on how to can find detailed information about what is like to retire in different towns in the Comments section below. We will add the most relevant ones into this article.