When you are young and retirement is a distant goal, nearly every thought you have about the topic involves money. From figuring out how much you need, what investment strategy will get you there and how much taxes will diminish your retirement income stream, money is the unifying theme. If you think about where you will live, you usually think about it in terms of how much it will cost. If you consider the topic much further, it’s often with regard to the climate or recreational activities.

While there’s no doubt that money will play a big role in determining your living arrangements in retirement, that role may involve factors you never even considered. In fact, some don’t involve money at all.

Best Places to Retire

When you read those periodic polls about the “best” places to retire, sunny locations in vibrant communities with lively arts and cultural centers are always popular. If you don’t have the money to support a free-spending lifestyle, small-town America offers a host of quaint and picturesque locations that won’t break the budget, and moving to smaller home is an easy and obvious way to save money. State income, property and sales taxes are also considerations. But looking beyond these basic and obvious issues, there are other, even more personal factors to consider. Before you decide to relocate, ask yourself the following questions.

– Do I want or need to be close to family?

Moving to a beautiful locale may sound wonderful today, but it's useful to consider family obligations or desires that may alter that dream. Will you be acting as a caregiver to an elderly parent? Do you want to be near your children or grandchildren so that you can spend time with them? You may even discover that part of your new life is being the after-school stop for grandkids whose parents get home late. Also think about how important it is to you to be able to make important medical and financial decisions face-to-face with close family rather than over the phone. That could be a reason to choose to stay close to home or to pick a new location near children or other family members.

– Do I plan to keep working?

Some people find that they or their spouse need or want to work part time, or even full time in what would have been retirement. If that could be you, choosing a place where jobs are plentiful could be a factor. Or it could be a reason to stay in your own city or region where people know you and your abilities.

– Does it pass the crystal-ball test?

Don't just think about next year. Look into the future and imagine how you and your spouse, if you have a partner, will handle your life as age inevitably catches up with you. When you are older and one or both of you have limited mobility, who will help you carry groceries, get to a doctor’s appointment or clean up around the house? What about transportation? How will you get from place to place if deteriorating vision or other healthcare challenges stop you from driving? Does where you want to live have good takeout food and plenty of taxis and buses?

Do you make new friends easily or will you start to feel isolated, especially if a spouse passes away and you find yourself on your own for the first time in decades? Living close to friends and family may be just the thing to get you the help you need to maintain an independent lifestyle.

– What about healthcare?

When you are young, healthcare is all about the cost of premiums. While that still matters when you are older, the cost of co-payments can be a bigger concern. If you have a variety of conditions that require expensive medications, state-sponsored health programs can mean the difference between hundreds of dollars per month in costs and thousands of dollars. Pennsylvania’s PACE and PACE Net programs, for example, provide some of the most attractive healthcare options for low-income seniors in the country. Similarly, a hip replacement is likely to cost much more in New York than in Alabama.

Understanding where you can get the most affordable quality healthcare can be an important factor if you have serious healthcare problems or chronic issues that require ongoing treatment and hospital visits. In addition, should you need assisted living or other kinds of healthcare help, the most affordable facilities may not be located where you'd planned to move.

Cost isn't the only factor, of course. If you have a complicated health condition that requires care in a first-tier medical center, you may want to be sure to be near a facility that can handle your problem.

More Than Money

Sometimes familiar surroundings are more important than sunny shores or bustling cities. Think about whether aging in place is a good option for you – either in your family home or in a smaller or more convenient setting. On the other hand, you could decide to plan for two relocations: Your first move might be to that mountain or beach town where you can enjoy the lifestyle you've craved. When it makes sense to be closer to family, you can pack up the mountain bikes and move again.

The Bottom Line

Keep an open mind and remain flexible. If circumstances force a change in plans, don't let that dampen your enjoyment of the freedom you worked all your life to achieve, even if it didn’t work out quite as you had envisioned.

Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    Save on Retirement's 4 Biggest Expenses

    Here's how to save where you can while you enjoy the fruits of all those years at the office.
  2. Retirement

    Top 5 Critical Retirement Plan Mistakes To Avoid

    These five common retirement mistakes can get you into financial trouble at a point when you most need stability.
  3. Retirement

    Reasons To Stay Put During Retirement

    Many retirees choose to travel to warm destiniations and far off locales to live out their golden years. Here are some reasons you might not want to do that.
  4. Retirement

    5 Apps and Calculators for Retirement Planning

    These are but a few of the numerous mobile apps and online calculators that are available to future and near retirees.
  5. Retirement

    Peri-Retirement: The New Life Transition

    Use your 30s and 40s to imagine new life options – and try them on for size
  6. Retirement

    Is Working Longer A Viable Retirement Plan?

    People who are planning poorly for retirement are simply deciding to work longer - often out of neccessity. Is this a smart idea?
  7. Retirement

    Is A Retirement Career Right For You?

    More and more people are realizing they must work part time during retirement. Here's a look at if you might have to.
  8. Retirement

    How To Avoid Going Broke After Retirement

    There are many things to consider when planning your retirement, including budgets, taxes and long-term care.
  9. Savings

    Why Boomers' Retirement Is Different From Their Parents

    Many retirement strategies that worked for previous generations are no longer viable. Find out the best ways to get the nest egg you need now.
  10. Budgeting

    7 Expenses You Can Ditch In Retirement

    You get to save on some significant expenses when you retire, leaving more money to do the things you want.
  1. When can catch-up contributions start?

    Most qualified retirement plans such as 401(k), 403(b) and SIMPLE 401(k) plans, as well as individual retirement accounts ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are 401(k) contributions tax deductible?

    All contributions to qualified retirement plans such as 401(k)s reduce taxable income, which lowers the total taxes owed. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Are 401(k) rollovers taxable?

    401(k) rollovers are generally not taxable as long as the money goes into another qualifying plan, an individual retirement ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Can FHA loans be used for investment property?

    Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans were created to promote homeownership. These loans have lower down payment requirements ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Can catch-up contributions be matched?

    Depending on the terms of your plan, catch-up contributions you make to 401(k)s or other qualified retirement savings plans ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Are catch-up contributions included in actual deferral percentage (ADP) testing?

    Though the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) carefully scrutinizes the contributions of highly compensated employees (HCEs) ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center