Do you plan to relocate when you retire? If so, where would you like to go?
It's easy to rattle off a favorite vacation destination as your preferred retirement location, but it's far different when you are visiting a location instead of living there. Try keeping an open mind and evaluating multiple retirement locations and scenarios, and let the following seven questions help you refine and evaluate your choices.
1. What Are Your Retirement Goals? – Think through your retirement plans in some detail. If you want to travel, what are your top 5-10 destinations? Do you want to move to a warm climate? Are you a golf fanatic that wants to play daily for as long as you can? Reviewing your retirement wishes will clarify your options and help bring the other retirement questions into sharper focus.
2. What Can You Afford? – Compare the cost of living in your preferred areas, including the impact of your retirement goals, with your projected retirement funds. If you are running short of funds to meet your goals, do you have time to make up the difference?It's wise to have a backup retirement plan in case your preferred plan simply isn't economically feasible.
3. Is Medical Care Nearby? – As you age, the proximity and quality of health care (and possible long-term care facilities) becomes more important. Make sure that you can find compatible doctors and hospitals in your area, and that you have suitable transportation options to reach there. A remote mountain cabin may sound great, but if you need medical attention quickly, what are your options?
4. Would You Prefer to Rent or Buy? – The tradeoffs of renting vs. buying change in retirement. Can you afford to take on mortgage debt in retirement, or does renting seem like throwing away money to you? Is buying economically feasible in your preferred retirement location, or is the rental market even worse due to demand? Can you still properly maintain a home as you age?
Remember to weigh these balances thinking in the long term. You may enjoy gardening or home remodeling when you're 60, but not so much when you're 80.
5. Where are Your Friends and Family Likely to Be? – Even though social media, Skype, and other technological advances make it easy for people to stay in touch with each other, most retirees want to be in reasonable proximity to family and lifelong friends. You can't expect busy friends and family always to come visit you in your retirement destination – you may have to go to them on occasion. Will you be near a large airport, or within a short drive of your loved ones?
If you choose an area with fewer people nearby for support, make sure you have adequate transportation options and other backup plans as you become less mobile and more fragile.
6. What Are Your Day-to-Day Pleasures? – We all have simple pleasures in life that we enjoy – visiting a coffee shop to chat with friends, shopping at particular stores, relaxing in the park, or any number of other options. Does your preferred retirement location have those options available throughout the year? If not, do they offer other small perks of life that you may enjoy instead?
7. How Well Do You Handle Change? – Things are going to change as you age, whether you like it or not. If you tend not to be open to new experiences – we won't say stubborn – you may not want to add relocation and the associated changes on top of the list of physical changes that you will undergo. Plenty of resources are available to help you age in place, if that's what you prefer.
Conversely, if you've always been an extrovert or a wanderer by nature, you're not going to be any different in retirement. Embrace the opportunities for change that retirement provides, but make sure that you have the necessary funds on hand to accommodate them.
Regardless of where you choose to retire, we suggest spending more than just a few vacation weeks there before making a move. Try to spend a few months there, at different times of year so you can get a true feel what life is like in that location. You'll be far more likely to make the right retirement choice.
Let the free Retirement Planner by MoneyTips help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle.