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What Is Your #1 Priority for a Place to Retire?

Category: Retirement Planning

August 30, 2021 — We’re curious – if you had to pick one, most important reason why you would pick a place to retire (or already did), what would that be? We realize most people probably have several overlapping criteria that go into their decision, but if you had to pick one – what would that be? You can answer the question right here and then see what everyone else is saying right away. If you select “Other”, please let us know what that is in the Comments section below. Thanks for participating – can’t wait to see the results.

For results of the more elaborate survey we did on this topic in 2018, click on this link: “Think taxes are the most important reason to choose a place to retire: better think again“.

Comments? Please feel free to elaborate on your reasons (pro or con) in the Comments section below.

See final results and article summarizing them.

Posted by Admin on August 29th, 2021


  1. We chose South Carolina or rather my spouse did. i admit that I agreed to it and should have done more homework on it. We settled in Myrtle Beach because we loved vacationing there. Big mistake!
    Never retire where you like to visit. There are so many tourists and so much traffic it is unbearable for some of us. The city caters to tourists forgetting about resident needs for things to do. No I don’t like ferris wheel. Nor do I want to go to the beach with people so close to me. I also am so bored with only a beach for activity that you can’t believe. Because our community has an HOA, I made the mistake of thinking that meant activities like the Sun City and Del Webb communities. Boy was I in for a surprise. The community also allows short term rentals meaning that I have tourists in my condo building and community 24/7. I wanted a place where I could continue to explore my creative side. There is very little here like that.such as classes and like minded people to share in those activities. Think again about this city unless you like dealing with tourists and traffic for the rest of your life. No amount of tax break or warm weather is worth this.

    by Rose Korman — August 29, 2021

  2. WEATHER did it for us. Having gone to SE TN for work, we could not handle the heat and headed back to New England once we could retire. As we made plans, Good Medical was the secondary consideration. We had a fantastic Realtor and got exactly what we asked for! Lovin’ Maine.

    by HEF — August 30, 2021

  3. Rose: You make excellent points about living in a tourist destination! I also live in an area popular with tourists and live next door to a rental; there are ALWAYS people in and out.

    I struggle to name just one thing that’s is most important to me. Perhaps an affordable community friendly to senior single women with access to quality culture and entertainment.

    Plus….many other things.

    by Jes — August 30, 2021

  4. After looking and looking for the prefect retirement spot I’m thinking a small or mid-sized college town that is very walkable, is now at the top of my list.

    by Alex — August 30, 2021

  5. I chose proximity to my family, but proximity to top rated medical care is a close second. I value family above all else and I am blessed that we have all migrated to beautiful places on the coast in New England. Lucky me!

    by Maimi — August 30, 2021

  6. I am in agreement with Alex. A nice college town that is walkable would be a top choice in a town where I can have all four seasons. I do not care for constant heat and humidity which we have all summer from Late May to almost October in DC. College towns often have medical schools affiliated with them and also colleges offer free or reduced courses for seniors which would be great. Cultural activities are also usually available around colleges, so that can be a win-win.

    by Jennifer — August 31, 2021

  7. I don’t know about the most important, but the first test when considering where to retire was weather. Until last year we had a Tahoe place, so were looking primarily at winter weather locations. When we sold that a year ago (taking advantage of silly COVID real estate prices), we switched to a 12-month weather test. Many other factors came into play, but weather was always first filter.

    by Greg W — August 31, 2021

  8. Maimi – I am with you! Love Rhode Island! I landed here for work some years ago, knowing nothing about it and it has really grown on me. Yes, taxes are on the high side. But I have no HOA, live in a lovely neighborhood, value my proximity to culture and education in Providence, love being an hour from Boston and a couple hours from Maine and appreciate the access to quality health care both not only in Rhode Island but in Boston(Massachusetts) and Yale-New Haven)Connecticut as well. I have access to good airports, train stations and bus transport as well as ferry service and I love it all! For a tiny state, this place has so much to offer.

    by Barb — September 1, 2021

  9. Back when I was young and totally unconcerned with retirement issues we were all still aware of the stereotype. People moved to the south east or southwest when they retired for weather reasons. I’m sure a few people did but you never heard of people moving to say New York or Michigan from Arizona or Florida to retire.
    Weather is still a top factor, but maybe for different reasons now. 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. As a matter of fact, the fires are keeping us indoors much more than covid.
    For those of you who haven’t experienced this, It’s not really worrying about whether your house will burn down. It’s just wanting to have clean air to breathe most days. Where do you get that without dealing with the original climate extremes that got people to move and snowbird to the south starting so many decades ago?

    by Tim — September 1, 2021

  10. Two major concerns for deciding where we don’t want to live in retirement are weather extremes and political extremes.

    by Sue — September 1, 2021

  11. Last I checked, we are all aging. Quality health care needs to be very close to the top of our individual lists. Just because the town has a medical school is no guarantee of top-notch care (e.g., Austin, TX).

    by Jeff — September 1, 2021

  12. Rose, I agree with your assessment of MB – we moved away from there after a little over a year. As for classes for creative things, check the classes offered by the MB Art Museum. And maybe take some golf lessons.

    by Imme — September 1, 2021

  13. I’m starting my list with Taxes but Affordability will come after that. There has to be good medical nearby or won’t matter. Cold Weather is not an issue. Unfortunately, many resources about places to retire focus on weather and don’t even include information about decent places in colder climes. Where are the places for folks who can’t afford (what used to be an expensive house) PLUS an HOA, etc.?

    by Ellen Lawrence — September 2, 2021

  14. After much traveling to retirement areas, we found that Arizona has it all. We retired in a small community that is about 4-5 thousand feet in elevation and stays cooler than Tucson. We travel to northern Arizona when it gets a little too hot D(3 hours away).

    by John O Hutchins — September 19, 2021

  15. Always loved vacationing in SW Florida. Husband was transferred from TX to OH then to FL in 2013. Bought new home south of Daytona. Both our families live in OH. This was a HUGE mistake. Too many tourists who often are rude and unruly. Areas are overbuilt with no infrastructure improvement. Beaches very crowded. It’s just too dang hot and humid for too many months on end! Difficult to get into restaurants. Medical care not up to TX or OH standards. Make sure you consider all factors like these before you make your retirement move. After 8.5 yrs I’m more than ready to go “home.” I miss family so much. Seeing your loved ones and good friends a couple times a year just doesn’t get it. Florida is a wonderful place for a winter vacation, but not so great as a full-time resident. These are just my own opinions. Good luck!

    by Helen — September 20, 2021

  16. It’s so interesting reading all these posts. But what happens when family and friends are on opposite ends of the country?

    by Staci — September 21, 2021

  17. Staci I think when friends and family are at opposite ends of the country, you think of yourself and what is best for you. Make it easy on yourself. You can invite them to visit and take some trips yourself.

    by Goldie — September 21, 2021

  18. As we age our priorities change! Here are my priorities: State tax practices, climate, access to healthcare facilities, recreational facilities nearby, political atmosphere, housing prices, low crime rates

    by Ron — September 22, 2021

  19. Geat, Ron! So where did you end up or have you even retired yet?

    by Jennifer — September 23, 2021

  20. Ron, the fact that you mention “state tax practices” and “access to healthcare” in your first three criteria begs a question: Would you move to a state that has a higher income tax than you prefer if it also had the best healthcare for you? I ask this because the medical care I have received in the Hartford, CT, area over the almost 40 years I have lived there is superb. Connecticut is one of the highest cost of living states (and income tax as well). My wife and I wonder if we should stay there as our primary home or retire to a warmer climate. As we age, of course, medical care becomes even more important. Perhaps you are generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement income, but I have found that many who focus on no-income tax states don’t earn enough to make living there all that meaningful (and if you are making millions in retirement, you can certainly afford to pay the extra tax). Personally, ALL your other criteria are more important for a happy retirement than a low- or no-income-tax rate. In the words of Lennon & McCartney, “money can’t buy [you] love.”

    by Larry — September 23, 2021

  21. Larry, you are so right. I have lived in a number of low to high tax areas. When I first retired I moved to central Pennsylvania, considered a low tax state for retirees. Nice, but my go to medical was DC or Baltimore for surgeries. I moved to southeast Michigan near, but not in Ann Arbor. I feel that I have lucked out. Michigan Medical (Univ of MI) is the go to place for medical care, the prices of housing is not bad, neither are taxes. (but the GOP legislature sees retirees as a cash cow, as is the road tax and they will never fix the roads just patch them) But there is a lot to do and I have rarely gone into Detroit, though it is not half as dangerous as reported or should I say trumpeted by the media. And when the border opens again there’s Canada less than an hour away.

    by Shumidog — September 23, 2021

  22. When looking at where to retire, I considered state income tax as a piece of the “cost of living” bucket. Income/Propert/sales taxes are large pieces of that bucket, but so is housing, utilities, insurance, food/dining and medical.

    Shumidog, my 28yo son was born in HI, has lived in beautiful OR and CA his whole life. Moved to Ann Arbor 3 years ago, and is moving back to LA (lived there for 7 years in and out of college). He really liked it there, and could see himself moving back. Being from Detroit myself, I could live there too but the wife is anti-snow and likes our AZ mountain weather too much. Enjoy it!

    by Greg W — September 24, 2021

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