Choosing Where to Live After Retiring

For many people, retirement means picking up and moving to warmer climates. Here are a few tips to help ease your move.

When you think about retirement, do you imagine sandy beaches, a mountain cabin, settling down in a resort community or hitting the road in a mobile home? Many people decide to move when they retire. But choosing where to live means more than deciding whether you prefer sand or trees. In fact, many people make their biggest retirement mistakes when deciding where to live.

Once you have decided where to move, make a trial run. If possible, rent a home in that location for six months to a year. If a week at a time in your proposed destination is all you can manage, visit at different times during the year. The longer you visit, the more accurately you’ll be able to assess whether you’ll be happy year-round with your retirement choice.

Moving to a vacation destination. Living year-round in your dream vacation spot may not turn out to be an extension of your holidays. When you are on two-week vacation, you may not notice the downsides. Is the off-season weather tolerable? Are sufficient conveniences, services and activities available in the off-season months? And can you tolerate the months when tourists take over your community? Make sure you visit during the off-season, and follow events in the community for at least six months by subscribing to the local newspaper.

Downsizing your living space. To simplify life, many retirees buy a house or condo that may be too small to accommodate their lifestyle. Even if it is just you and your spouse, consider moving to a house or apartment that has at least three bedrooms. You will want space for visiting children, grandchildren and friends, and you may need extra closet space, a workroom, or even an office should you want to continue working for extra income.

Ignoring weather problems. People retire to Florida for the warm climate, yet the weather is one reason why one of every three people who move to Florida to retire later moves from there. As you consider the year-round climate of the new location you are investigating, ask yourself: Do I want this weather all year? If it is a temperate region such as California or Arizona, will I miss the change of seasons? Can I handle high humidity or severe cold?

Going where your friends are. Many retirees move to communities where their friends have already relocated. But although having a network of friends can be important to your happiness in your new locale, don’t ignore factors such as employment and cost of living just to follow your friends. Make sure you know your own needs and priorities.

Retiring abroad. Living abroad has many advantages, and retiring abroad can save you big bucks. Before you decide to retire abroad, consider the same factors you would in evaluating locations in the U.S., including affordable cost of living, low incidence of crime, comfortable climate, good health care and accessibility to cultural and consumer amenities. In addition, investigate how stable the country and the currency are. How sophisticated are the communications systems, including phone, fax, Internet connections and mail? What about safety in banking and financial institutions? 

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