May 21, 2013 — The heck with what all the so called “experts” think with their fancy best places to retire lists – you’ve told us what’s most important – where YOU think those places are. So thanks to the more than 130 members who took the time to answer our recent survey – “Tell us where you think the best place to retire is, and why“. Your answers are always so rich with details and interesting reasons! It was fun to look at your choices and understand your reasons for selecting them.
We will do our best to summarize and make sense of the amazing data you so generously provided. While we should caution that 130 responses do not make for a statistically reliable sample. On the other hand, your rich comments do provide some deep insights and solid indications of regional preferences.
1. Best Regions. No surprise, the South and the West are by far considered to have better places to retire than the Northeast and Midwest. The South had 44 mentions, the West 43, and the Northeast and Midwest combined had 11.
2. Best States for retirement. The best states for retirement are (by number of mentions):
– Florida (19 mentions)
– Arizona (13)
– Colorado (9)
– South Carolina (7)
– Delaware (7)
Tennessee, Texas, Hawaii, and North Carolina all had at least 4 mentions. It is interesting that Delaware, clearly not a Sunbelt State, had so much interest. Low taxes and good location were cited as reasons for its popularity as a retirement spot. The fact that North Carolina didn’t rank higher was also curious.
3. Best cities and towns. The most frequently mentioned cities for retirement were:
– Durango, CO was the city you mentioned the most (5 mentions),
– Sarasota, Fort Myers, Southwest Florida in general, northern Arizona (Sedona, Prescott) all had multiple mentions
4. Reasons why these places are the “Best”. The reasons that make for a best place to retire are consistent with what we have seen in our other surveys (See Further Reading at end).
The most frequently mentioned reasons:
– Affordable homes
– Weather (sunshine, mild winters, low humidity, not too hot)
– Low taxes (income tax, sales tax, property tax, taxes on pensions and 401k distributions)
– Close to family
These items were also considered important:
– Natural beauty (mountains)
– Outdoor activities
– Plenty to do (parks, recreation)
– Culture (colleges, libraries)
– Good medical care
– Close to airports
– Lots to do
– Good shopping nearby
5. Things you want to avoid.
– A considerable number of folks were trying to get away from California – its taxes, high cost of living, traffic were cited as reasons for the getaway.
– Expensive, intrusive Home Owners Associations
6. International Places to Retire:
You named 5 countries outside the U.S. as your best place to retire:
Panama, France, Mexico, Thailand, Canada.
7. Helpful advice
As always there were some great nuggets of advice contained within your comments. Here are some that struck us:
“If you want to make only one move, consider a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community)”. (Jan Cullinane)
(Regarding choosing a place to retire based on where your children live, of which there was much discussion:) “There is no way to predict where your kids will wind up long term. Today it is relatively rare for professionals to stay in one job very long, often transferring from state to state. Particularly when younger, this is often how professionals move up in their career and pay more quickly.” Julie
“Definitely want to rent (before you buy).” Jony
“The Best Place To Retire is where you want to be if you can afford it!!!” Russ
As always, we recommend reading all of the comments to the original “Time to Share” article if you have the time. You will gain a great insight into various communities as well as the many reasons why people gravitate to certain spots.
Great quotes from your comments
– Sarasota. beautiful beaches, WOW factor, wonderful urban atmosphere
– Gulfport (FL) – no traffic, artsy, low-key and cost (Key West vibe for less)
– Dunedin (FL). Quaint, walkable, water access, low crime, traditional neighborhoods, warm climate, numerous public parks,
– Bought a house in Palm Coast, FL. No income tax, close to the ocean, inexpensive real estate, and low taxes.
– Stonecrest in Summerfield (FL). It is only a few miles from The Villages and is a true golf Cart community, so you can go via cart to all kinds of restaurants,entertainment & shopping etc, as well as the golf courses and of course, access to The Villages, as well. The HOA is extremely reasonable
– NE Georgia in the Appalachian foothills. Why Georgia? Taxes for retirees are good. Will have 4 seasons, but mild winters and less humidity (get away Louisa. hurricanes)
– Lexington KY. area, home to pretty horses and fast women !! All kidding aside mild climate each season and love the horse country, near a major university
– We are pretty excited because we are in the process of buying a condo, a large condo in Murrells Inlet, SC. There are many medical facilities, restaurants, golf courses, and the beach is not far. The taxes are low too! (10% of TX taxes)
check out Maryville. very close to the knoxville airport, good medical care and home to a small private liberal arts college.
-The Roanoke, VA area, and hope to move there in a couple of years when our last child is out of high school. We are looking forward to buying a small used RV to use when wanderlust strikes, and in the long run to visit the kids.
– Delaware…we love it here. Moved just off Coastal Highway in a beautiful development (Hearthstone Manor) of one floor homes, near beautiful beaches of Lewes and Rehoboth with TONS to do. LOW taxes, NO sales tax and no State SS tax
– State College, PA to be close to Penn State and all the cultural and sports related activities. We like the 4 seasons
– Phoenix metro area with Gold Canyon, Goodyear, north Peoria and Buckeye being our top choices. After lots of research, this area seems to be a good choice with taxes, cost of living & housing and medical
– Wanted a 55+ community, they remind us of a cruise – you can be as busy as you want or choose not to be. Sun City Festival was for us
– We are moving to Peoria, AZ. The weather is great for outdoor activities year round and the 40% lower overall cost of living is certainly a plus. (and escape CA)
– I’m headed back west for the dry weather, bright blue skies and milder winters in northwestern Colorado. Colo. exempts some retirement income from state taxation and has much lower property taxes than the midwest.
-Southern Colorado, we found a great climate, beautiful scenery, a noticeable lack of bugs, plenty of wine and oh that new little law they passed this year (puff, puff)
-Hawaii – yes I don’t enjoy the cold. Don’t appreciate two sets of clothes hanging in my closet year round. In Hawaii I can have one style shorts and shirt. I have also found the Big Island of Hawaii affordable home range
– Boise, Idaho? winters are mild with little snow but still have cold, weather is dry as we are high desert. Crime is low, people are very friendly
– Florence, Oregon. Its great no sales tax, small town but 1 hour from Eugene and intl airport. The town is extremely senior friendly.
– The west side of San Antonio. A large library system; a large zoo; Sea World; miles of bicycling in Texas Hill country; no rain; no state income tax
– We live in Kingwood – a suburb of Houston. Its a master planned community with lots to do. Its a beautiful setting – with most houses set amongst green space.
– Vancouver Island is for us, which we learned after driving coast to coast. Affordable waterfront, with a golf-course in a gated community. Good access to all major amenities including healthcare, banks, airports, restaurant
– Rosarito Beach, Baja, Mexico. Less than 30 miles south of San Diego, CA I’ve lived here for over 10 years. Weather is great, I’m into downtown San Diego in 1 hour. Lots of Americans
-Thailand. A cheap but accommodating lifestyle then Chiang Mai, Thailand. I have friends here who live well on only their social security check.
– France. I love being in France, speak the language, and have found a town in Provence where I have friends and connections. Living there is wonderful! That’s why it is overrun with other Europeans, mostly Brits.
For further reading:
Here is a link to a similar article asking for member input on best places to retire in 2012. It received more than 700 comments. The article has a link to our analysis of those comments.
100 Best Places to Retire for 2013
Links to Previous Topretirements Surveys
Comments? Now that you have had a chance to see what others think about the best places to retire and why they are so, do you have more to add? Any thoughts about why Colorado and Delaware did so well, and NC not so much. We continue to appreciate new comments and suggestions – please add below or to the original article.