What Makes A Good Retirement Location? 2

Selecting a Good Retirement Location

What makes a state a good retirement location?

I began to ask myself what makes a good retirement location, a long time ago as part of planning where I wanted my life to go and how simply I could get there. What started out as a whimsical thought exercise just kept growing and growing as I explored further.

In this post, I will share just some of the most important points and underlying assumptions I have made in finding a good retirement location.

Geographic Selection

First you should decide what states are good candidates for you as a good retirement location. You can do this by the process of exclusion. Try removing states that absolutely don’t fit your desired profile. You might also have some states that you are ambivalent about. Here are some great characteristics to evaluate for a good retirement location.

  • Some people like the water, some the mountains. The presence of a large body of water really moderates the weather. What is important to you?
  • If you have environmental concerns, you may prefer to avoid areas of fracking or serious water table depletion further narrowing choices.
  • What sort of weather do you want? Some people are Florida types, some Los Angeles types and of course, some Jersey types.
  • If you are politically sensitive, you might want to consider your compatibility with the area.

After you net out the unacceptable areas, you are left with a list of possible states.

Area Selection

Next pick some cities in the states you like and research their suitability as a good retirement location.

  • Use City-Data to help evaluate them. It is enlightening to look at locations compared to where you live. Income, crime, size, demographics, and weather info together with the business composition can give you a pretty good idea about the area.
  • Look too at the availability of medical care. The quality, availability and cost of care can vary considerably from place to place and should factor into any decision.
  • The presence of a college or university is a big plus. It usually means, quality arts and entertainment as well as a dynamic environment.
  • Use Zillow to evaluate the age, cost and style of housing stock. As an example, cities like Pittsburgh or Boston are older and the housing reflects that. multi-story, carpet throughout, sometimes dark due to smaller windows, though they restore beautifully. Nashville and Houston, on the other hand are newer. They have tall ceilings, big windows, large rooms, wood floors and stainless and granite kitchens.

 Closing Thoughts

This brief overview only scratches the surface of what goes into selecting a good retirement location, but it should be enough to give you some ideas for how you can view what might seem an insurmountable task.

Of course, a location in real life may be somewhat different than it looks on paper. The best way to understand an area is either to make repeated trips to visit or, to move there and rent as a test drive.


Map source: http://nationalatlas.gov

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2 thoughts on “What Makes A Good Retirement Location?

  • Pam

    I like that you chose a variety of factors to help make a decision. Many salient points could be covered that may not have been considered. Thanks for a helpful article!

  • Bill Tanski

    You can easily get overwhelmed with all the tools out there to plan where live all or part of your retirement. Speaking for myself, I am looking to spend the winters in Florida. I will soon be living in Southern New England as my permanent retirement location. For me, Florida is more practical as you can easily drive to it in a day or 2 from Conn. Being originally from New England, I’m not looking for 80 degrees in January, 60 -65 F is fine with me. That’s important…because if you want 80 degrees, you’d have to go to a place like Key West, where the monthly rentals (2 bed 2 bath condos) are in the $5000 range. However, if 60 -65 degrees is OK with you, a similar condo in the Panhandle area, like Destin, run for a mere $1300 or so a month..and with water views. I’m not looking to swim, I just like to have a nice mid morning run where its not zero wind chills.
    So, being financially conservative by nature, the FL Panhandle values make a lot of sense. But, I would just rent for a couple of weeks (if possible) vs even a month, let alone buying something. If you can’t visit the place, the best thing to do is check the on line reviews of the rentals, such as sites VBRO.(Vacation Rentals By Owner). Another alternative is a place such as St Augustine, its a bit closer and a tad bit more expensive…but also a tad warmer. Northern FL has the opposite season for rentals vs the southern part of the state. In the north, the rentals increase with warmer weather, just the opposite in the South.
    At one time I was contemplating buying a condo in the Vero Beach, FL area as a 2nd home. But even with very low prices, some in the $30,000 area, you still have to pay $400-$500 HOA fees….plus carry insurance, utilities, and other costs. If you just looking for something in the winter….and you’re OK with the cooler northern part of FL….why buy?