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Where You’ll Retire – and Why: What You Said

Category: Retirement Planning

July 25, 2018 — Note: Last week we reported on the statistical results from our 12 question poll about where members want to retire, and why. (See” When It Comes to Where to Retire, Climate and Weather Rule“). This week we are reprinting a sampling from the hundreds of comments you made to the survey, which reveal a fascinating depth of detail on retirement choices and reasons. We hope you enjoy them as well as find them helpful!

We have arranged the comments into themes where they seemed to fit. The major themes are: Reasons for choosing a retirement area, Particular states/regions chosen and why, and type of community. Each “–” indicates a new comment from a different person. There were
hundreds of comments made, so we apologize if yours were not included. Within each section you will find a link to a pdf where you can read all the comments made.

Reasons for choosing a place to retire
The top reason given for choosing a place to retire was its climate and/or weather. The next 3 reasons cited were low cost of living, low taxes, and medical care. Here are 247 responses to this question. Here are just some of the comments made. One of the most frequent responses was that everything is important – it was very hard to single one factor out for choosing a place.

I wouldn’t consider moving someplace that wasn’t favorable for all the options on your list. So, if every other item on the list were happily checked off, but the closest hospital or medical center was 50 miles away, I’d strike the town off my list.
This question is a lot like asking people to rank their fingers by which are their three favorites. We want to have them all and would desperately miss any that disappeared.
My “Other Option”: Always have wanted to live by the sea. I figure retirement should be about realizing some of the dreams you’ve had for a lifetime (and never seem to have realized before now).
Climate and weather, no natural disasters & extreme weather, and GOOD medical (research, geriatric, etc) facilities Wednesday, (not just available medical)

I chose where to live mainly because of cost of living and available activities. I now wish I had taken other things into consideration also, such as political environment, culture and walkability. I chose an active adult community because, as a single person, I felt that would be the easiest type of community in which to meet other people and find things to do, which has been true.

I’m retired Navy. I’d prefer to be in a Military Town or near one to use my privileges.

It’s a tough choice! Do I leave my established friends, work, and volunteering to be near my family as we all get older?

The strength of the state and local economy. Physical attributes, i.e. water, mountains, desert, forests. Financial soundness of the state government?. Is the area dominated by one religion or minority group? Absence of nearby prisons, nuclear and coal power plants, military bases, flood plains, mining activity, pockets of poverty and high unemployment. Good schools for resale value unless in active adult setting Plentiful and safe water resources.

Needed access to international airport and able to leave home for extended periods of time without concern. Wanted to join an active community with social, recreational and cultural opportunities.
High, dry altitude for star watching.

After having spent a lifetime dealing with snow in the winter, my biggest pleasure will be leaving the snow blower behind.
Quality medical care should be a top factor in choosing a place to retire. Until one has had a medical crisis, you never realize what damage a mediocre spot can do because an hour’s drive to the better facility was not possible. Or the ambulance took you to the closest facility, not the best. It is something that can affect the rest of your life, whether it is your own or your loved one’s. Also, as a widow with no children, a 55+ active adult community with a full range of amenities is probably indicated as an excellent fit.

A conundrum – wanting to get out of the large city but grandchildren are here. How to move AWAY from grandchildren?!

Where I live is perfect for me right now. However, I always look at places that I visit with a critical eye for possibility. I may not always have the ability to keep up with a traditional house and yard. Interests can change, kids move away, the growing costs and population in this city may impact my satisfaction. I find that it is good to keep an open mind for change and not get too emotionally attached to a place that is just not a good fit anymore.

Where you will move – particular States or regions
The survey found that almost 50% of you say you either will move out of state for retirement, or already have. The Southeast is by far the most popular destination, with Florida chosen most frequently from the list we provided. FL was followed by the Carolinas and Arizona. There were 331 write-in comments, with Tennessee the most frequently mentioned of those. 331 write-in comments for State

— Rhode Island has a reputation for being one of the least tax-friendly states. However, each person’s or family’s situation varies, so this is not necessarily the case with everyone. After using a couple of online income tax calculators (such as Smart Asset), we have discovered that in our case, it’s quite possible that we could reside in RI with very minimal state income tax liability. This would involve careful management of distributions from our retirement accounts, in the same way that we do now on the federal tax level. So it really depends on each individual financial situation, and it pays to do the research before moving into another state, rather than just going by a list of top 10 best or worst states to retire! Same with property taxes, since they vary more by town than by state. We live in NH, usually considered one of the most tax friendly states, because we have no sales tax or income tax, but our property taxes are some of the highest in the country.
We just know that we do NOT want to put up with MN winters anymore, even tho we love this highly taxed State. We want to make our $$ go further and be warm doing it. We’re currently in the process of putting our MN home on the market to sell, and we will move to our retirement community in Florida until we can decide where we want to live. We have a 5th wheel and will be traveling a lot in the next couple years.

We visited the Pacific Northwest each Spring for 4 years for 7-10 days each year searching for just the right place to retire. When we finally decided on Vancouver WA, we chose a new housing development with only 28 lots, thinking that it would be a size that would allow us to know all of our neighbors!! That has turned out to be true and it has been just great to have a new house with new furniture, as we began the next chapter of our lives!! We had no idea who would end up in those 28 homes as our neighbors, but it has proven to be delightful and we know that we made the right choice for us!!
As a matter of fact I’m closing next week on a piece of property in Dandridge, TN I just bought. The lot is bare ground, on the lake (Lake Douglas) and has a breathtaking southerly view of the lake and the Smoky Mountains. Plan on moving down there from Illinois where I currently live and work in approx. 4 years and build a new home.

In fact we just bought our retirement home in a northern Colorado college town. Will make the move there next year.

Just purchased retirement home in horse country Tryon NC. I have large show dogs wanted animal friendly community. Leaving Southern CA. Cost of living will be less than half and am on 10 acres. LOVE the area. Moving in fall/winter after building appropriate dog kennel housing. This past week in So CA was 115 degrees and 108….I’ll take the change of seasons and a little humidity!

Types of town and communities
Suburban was the most commonly type of environment hoped for by our survey takers, followed by small town, beach, and college town. The top two choices for type of community was either a traditional home/neighborhood or a home/condo in a 55+ community. There were 71 write-in comments for what type of communityw, here is a sample:

I would consider a townhome; however they all seem to be part of a home owner’s association. Unless the fees are reasonable, I’m not interested in any HOA properties. Too jaded by NJ real estate taxes. Love my current home but not sure I can afford to continue to live in it once retired because of the high taxes.
I like the cohousing movement. Where you see young and old living together.
Plan to select a place where they are currently building because I believe it’ll be easier to meet people and make friends if people are moving into the community. The place also has to be large enough to have many activities. I also prefer a maintenance free home where the yard care and exterior home maintenance is included in the HOA fee. I don’t mind paying an HOA fee because I plan on using the amenities.
Really dislike the newer 55+ communities with homes packed on top of each other. Do not golf or need all the high expensive HOA for pools, club house, etc. At this point, not sure where we will end up.

SFD in a neighborhood with gardens and people who walk and talk to their neighbors. A place where there is life, creativity and energy. Multi-generational.

Single story, mid rise with elevator or 1 story condo

Rental apartment in 55+ adult community preferred

No HOA and a large lot

Gated community, feel safe with a sense of community

I realize that your advertisers/foundation is from planned adult communities, but there is one alternative that I have never seen mentioned in any of the newsletters or articles: Intentional Communities. I am not talking about hippie stuff. I’ve read about communities of people who come together around a common interest or activity who form a place to live together that encompasses the shared interest, community, privacy and, for lack of a better word, ‘spirit’. There are artist’s communities; communities that are focused on the land and growing food. There must be more.
The draw for this type of living environment is, foremost, that we Boomers have always striven to shake it up. Who says we have to do it the way it has always been done? Studies prove that as people age, those who are surrounded by other people who have shared life experiences live happier and more fulfilled lives. Some of them even live longer and healthier than their nursing home counterparts.
I’ve witnessed two generations before me linger in old age: dying slowly, uneventfully and feeling useless, unappreciated, and depressed. Who wants to go like that? Have we lived a life that we thought was full only to feel tossed aside an despondent because we are old now? Because we can’t do something in our old age?
Not a lot of people that I know want to spend retirement savings on homeowners association dues. I helped build thousands of homes in associations and it’s nothing my husband and I would like to be subjective to. If possible, would you broaden your scope to look at other types of retirement living?

Political environment
We asked respondents how important the political environment of a community was in making their decision to retire there. While only 9% said that was extremely important, another 32% said it was “Important”. But when we asked them to rank their reasons for choosing a place to retire, “political environment” was at the bottom. That makes us think it isn’t a reason to choose a place, but it could be a deal killer for some people.

What’s the deal with such a high interest towards political bent? Shouldn’t we all just get along? If people cared more about each other this would be a better country and it wouldn’t matter who you were or where you came from, which is how it should be. this country was founded by immigrants you know. we’re all just immigrants unless you’re a Native American.

Planning for the future

That said, 10 years from now when I’m planning for the next phase of retirement things will likely change. At that point I’ll be evaluating CCRCs as that might be a better option for my later retirement years.


Took about 4 yrs. for me to realize what a “fixed income” really means. My small pension and Social Security don’t increase as much as apartment rentals and cost of living in general. Also realize that “retirement” is not one unchanging thing.

Bottom line:
Thanks again to all the generous people who took the time to share there input with this community. Here is a link to all comments made to Q 12, “Do you have anything else you would like to share about your retirement living preferences and the reasons behind them?”We think you will find them interesting and enlightening – maybe this collective wisdom will help you along your retirement journey.

Comments? Please share your thoughts about where you want to retire and your reasons for doing so in the Comments section below.

Links to Previous Surveys
Topretirements Members Very Confident About Retirement (2014)
Topretirements Members Report High Degrees of Spousal Compatibility- 2013
Our Members Getting Ready for Big Retirement Moves- 2013
Retirement Living Preferences – 2013
Medicare Survey – 2012
Best and Worst Things About Your Retirement
Your Bucket Lists Are Amazing
Top Concerns about Retirement
Plans for Retirement

Posted by Admin on July 24th, 2018


  1. I am looking for a place near my children and grandchildren who live in LA and Portland Oregon
    I need warm weather, would like beach, need low cost housing and since I dont have a pension that taxation is not a factor. I would like a neighborhood with gardens and people who walk and talk to their neighbors. A place where there is life, creativity and energy. Multi-generational.

    by Jean Pollack — July 25, 2018

  2. My husband and I live in PA now and are interested in leaving the cold, snowy winters there.
    We fell in love with the Lake Murray and Columbia area of South Carolina but then found out they tax retirement income at 7% . Though investments and a pension will make retirement possible before age 62 (and with an annual income above their cut off), ‘losing’ that amount of income just doesn’t seem realistic. Any advice?

    by Cindy Griffith — July 25, 2018

  3. Cindy, My husband and I just moved from SC to Pa! Partly because of the tax thing and partly for lifestyle preferences. Originally from NJ, Pa (Bucks) is perfect for us. As for nasty winters – we’ll head to parts south for a couple of months.

    by jean — July 26, 2018

  4. Cindy: I suggest focusing on net costs when looking at your budget, not just the income tax. I moved from PA to SC near Charlotte NC for a few years. After factoring in real estate taxes, SC’s auto personal property tax (no auto inspection in SC though), gas taxes, insurance, income taxes and sales tax, I ended up saving money in SC over PA. The net saving wasn’t that far-off as you might think though. The higher SC income tax was offset by much lower real estate taxes and slightly higher insurance costs. Surprisingly, my utilities were pretty much the same in both states. Instead of paying for gas heat, I was paying higher cooling bills and water bills. When I factored in travel costs to visit family members back North, that difference pretty much disappeared. Where am I now? Retired and in Ohio to be near family. I did the same net cost calculations, looking at SC, PA and OH. PA and OH were neck & neck (PA’s high real estate taxes offset the income tax differential). I think OH is going to net out about $200 more a month than PA, but it was worth it to me to be near family. Ask me again in the middle of the winter though. I loved the weather in SC, even the 100+ degree summer days.

    by Kate — July 26, 2018

  5. We moved this comment from another Blog for a better fit:
    Well …everyone who wanted me to keep up to date with maybe my final retirement plans….yes, we are finally in escrow with my mothers condo and now looking to find an apt. We have less than 4 weeks to get rid of the furniture and move into our new place with our 3 fur babies. When I first started the probate process i thought it would be horrendous but actually if you are prepared and have a good attorney it’s really not that bad. It’s just a Long process… we decided not to buy immediately our retirement home and rent for a while and see if the home prices comedown in the next year. We are a liitle nervous but so looking forward to the next step in our lives. We want to do some travels, perhaps get a part time job or just join some clubs and enjoying this phase in our lives. We most probably will be staying in CA and moving into one of the Sun City homes and enjoying meeting new people . I wish only good things for everyone on this blog who helped me with this next journey in my life …


    by Admin — October 25, 2018

  6. Hi Mary11,

    I am so glad that your journey has come to such a positive end. Please let us know periodically how things go in Sun City. My Aunt has friends who live in the same one that you are moving to. They inherited it from a parent and decided to keep it for their winter home. They live near San Francisco the rest of the year. I think this may be the original Sun City–they seem to love it and all the activities which one can choose to participate in,…or not.

    As for part-time work–I work three consecutive days a week and love the schedule. The rest of the week I can do what I need to or want to do. I have mixed it up with volunteer work.

    I really hope that you enjoy your life now that things seem settled. Best Wishes!

    by Jennifer — October 26, 2018

  7. Jennifer,
    Thank you so much for your best wishes. Of course I will continue to keep everyone abreast of our future adventures. Actually there are several condos in Sun city available so hopefully we can rent one. It’s a good way to determine if you want that lifestyle. I think it would be fun to have the extra activities …such as big band and 50s dances every month. I love the thought of having a special shopping plaza just for all the retirees across the street from where you live too. We’re a little concerned about the weather being much hotter than were used to but we can adjust and if not we can always relocate to Oregon later on. Wow!! Sounds like you’re keeping busy…after we finally move out we have plans to vegetate for a few weeks because this whole probate and selling the home process was stressful but I always try to stay strong and hopeful for my hubs. I’d love to find a part time job perhaps on the Sun City campus. I currently head up the entertainment committee where I live and enjoy doing that. My hubs is more private and doesn’t like to mingle as much as I do, lol. And no it wasn’t too bad with the downsizing. I found several college students that were happy to take a lot of the furniture I needed to get rid of. It will be strange leaving the family home but I know my parents are proud of what I have accomplished and only wish the best for me …so I welcome whatever the future may bring!!

    by Mary11 — October 27, 2018

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