Thinking ahead to your retirement is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make and you are likely asking yourself, ‘Where should I retire’? Traditionally, a retiree would simply stay put. Most friends and family would likewise be living in the same vicinity, so who wants to start over again in some strange place? There are people who spent their entire lives working in rust belt cities and other cold-weather locations who desire retirement destinations in warmer climates, for instance Florida and the Gulf Coast. These days, anything goes; retirees are driven more by personal interests than by climate or other external factors.
Drawing up a list of the best states to retire to is of little use, as each state, province, or overseas destination offers its own particular attractions. Most retirees these days remain active; you’ll want to do more than sit on your back porch and read the morning paper. Think about how you’ll spend your time. Your own preferences and lifestyle should determine your retirement destination, and not the other way around.
Beach communities are still very popular among retirees, for the obvious reasons. Most active beach communities are located in warmer climates, and beaches conjure up thoughts of vacations; we find it easier to relax in such informal environments. And Florida, which is synonymous with beaches, has no state income tax, so you’ll save tax money right away. However, beach communities can otherwise be more expensive than inland communities; there’s only so much coastline, and land on or close to a beach sells at a premium. High property prices drive up overall living expenses. A climate that’s warm in the winter can be unbearably hot in the summer. And all that sunshine puts you at risk of skin cancer. If you like the beach but not the heat, then think about beach communities in Massachusetts or Maine; or, on the west coast of Oregon or Washington.
Living in the Desert
In more recent years, people have been choosing desert communities for retirement, particularly in southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. If you love golf, desert communities will offer plenty of golf courses for all levels. Phoenix and Las Vegas have all the amenities of large cities and cater specifically to retirees; the recent housing bubble has caused housing costs to plummet in these two cities (as of 2011), so as far as property is concerned it’s a buyer’s market. However, the desert can be hotter than the seashore, particularly in the summer, and the sun that much brighter. The Great Basin Desert, which takes up most of Nevada as well as parts of Utah, Idaho, and Oregon, has a cooler climate and even gets snow in the winter.
And finally, you might prefer to consider mountain communities for retirement. Such communities are best for people who enjoy outdoor activities such as camping and skiing; mountain resort towns in Colorado and Utah are best for skiers, whereas Asheville, North Carolina, is more suitable for trekkers. Property costs can vary widely depending on whether a community’s economy is driven by tourism; houses in Rocky Mountain ski resorts will cost a lot more than houses in Appalachia. Do plenty of research.
University Towns, Big Cities, or Overseas
There are other criteria you can follow, depending on your interests. University towns offer the prospect of further education. Big cities offer an engaging cultural life. Retiring in a foreign country can offer a new kind of life altogether. Research a prospective destination thoroughly, and try to spend several months living there as a retiree to make sure you like it, before making a final commitment. Make the right choice, and your retirement will feel like a brand new start.