Retiring on a fixed income can be challenging for the unprepared. While resources exist to help you find your retirement home, the key to retiring well is to identify the things that will matter most in your retirement and focusing on places that deliver what you value most.
Americans traditionally retired in childhood neighborhoods or near where they raised their own children. But today’s seniors are demanding much more than previous generations.
Location, Location, Location
Location affects your available activities and potential quality of life. A May 2008 article by FoxBusiness.com reports: “AARP voted Oxford, Miss. as one of the '50 Most Alive Places to Live in America' in 2000, thanks to its low crime rate, arts community and small neighborhoods, according to Christy Knapp, vice president for economic development for Oxford.” AARP magazine lists Tucson, Arizona as a top retirement choice because of its short commutes, 286 days of sunshine and multicultural atmosphere. If healthiness is your top concern, then Redwoodage.com recommends “Ann Arbor, Michigan for being home to one of the world's largest university medical centers, Honolulu, Hawaii, where the vast majority of residents have health insurance and Fargo, North Dakota for its superior air quality.”
Cost of Living
According to the same Fox Business article, “In 2006 the Council for Community and Economic Research released data showing the American Southeast to have the lowest housing costs in America.” But housing cost is only one variable. Low taxes can increase a location’s attractiveness without raising the dullness factor. A msn.com article reports: “U.S. News and World Report sifted through more than 2,000 U.S. places to find locales that have relatively low taxes but also offer amenities important to retirees, such as a reasonable cost of living and fine recreational and cultural choices.” Their findings showed that businesses often flock to lower tax areas. This makes cities like Stafford, Texas, which has no income or property tax but many recreational choices, very attractive.
Consider Moving Overseas
Overseas retirement is becoming more popular. Cost is a big plus, but many see it as a chance to realize lifelong dreams or indulge an adventurous streak. Some things to consider before packing your bags are quality and availability of medical care, health insurance portability, living accommodations and how to get your retirement funds while abroad. It’s a good idea to meet others who have lived in your prospective retirement home, but you should also visit before relocating. Margaret Davies, author of "Living The Egyptian Dream--A Middle Aged Woman’s Gap Year," retired to Egypt after several visits. “I kept going to Egypt on holiday and then realized that I could go four times a year if I had my own home, for the cost of one hotel holiday,” she said.
There is no cookie-cutter solution for all of us. According to Cecily Connor of Redwoodage.com, “What's attractive to one person may not meet the needs of another.” So don’t worry about matching retirement trends. Pick a place you like and make it happen.