Getting older gives you plenty of choices to chew on, from selecting a prescription drug plan to figuring out if you want to travel during your post-work years.
For many seniors leaving the workforce, moving house to a new town is part of the bargain. It provides a fresh start, something new to experience and a healthy beginning to life after the nine-to-five grind. The question is: Which town is right for you?
Birds of a feather
Plenty of newspapers and lifestyle websites love to round up lists of the best places to retire each and every year. While the areas that top these lists may change with every new calendar you buy, upon closer inspection, you'll find they often share similar characteristics.
Whether you're seeking out a brand new house or are looking to downsize into a smaller abode after you sell your old place, keep the following factors in mind before settling on your new location:
- Economy: Your working days may be in the rearview mirror, but that doesn't mean the state of the local economy won't be affecting you. A town with high unemployment and other negative economic factors is sure to feature some of the other less-than-desirable attributes that generally come with it. Do a little research into how your potential new home is doing economically.
- Climate: Is sunbathing your thing? Or are you more of a snow bunny? Either way, it pays to know what kind of weather you'll be contending with on a day-to-day basis before picking up stakes and moving to a new place. Keep in mind that a climate that sounds new and fun at first can quickly wear you down – this new region will be your home, not a temporary vacation.
- Cost of living: You wouldn't just order off the menu without looking at how much a dish costs, so give your prospective new home the same treatment. How far does a dollar go in this city? Are things like food and entertainment generally more expensive? Depending on your lifestyle, this could make or break the deal.
- Home prices: High home prices might be a turnoff if you're trying to stretch out your retirement income and save where you can. Then again, a valuable home can be a wonderful asset, allowing you to explore options like selling in the future or even taking out a reverse mortgage.
- Crime: Everyone wants to feel safe, and your days of getting a kick out of living in the, let's say, more exciting part of town are probably behind you. A quick online search will be able to give you stats on everything from local robbery rates to how many people have been arrested for drug-related crimes in recent months.
- Scenery: When you chose your husband or wife, chances are you remembered to pick someone you wouldn't mind looking at the rest of your life. Well, think of your retirement destination as a new partner. Whether a seaside view appeals to you, mountains are more your thing or you want to be smack dab in the middle of the city, make sure you find a place you won't mind staring in the mug each morning.
Up close and personal
Those were far from the only criteria to keep in mind when selecting a place to retire, but hopefully they'll provide you with the spark of inspiration you need to get searching.
In fact, once you've created a shortlist of possible locations, why not get your retirement started off right with a little road trip to visit them? Chances are you'd want to test drive a car before buying it, so why not give your potential new home a spin before putting your money down?