Learn and Plan | How to decide where to retire
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How to decide where to retire

Jun 21, 2023, 7:40:31 PM | Reading Time: 3 minutes

Whether you’re newly retired or retirement is still up ahead, deciding where to live is an important decision that you’ll need to make. Do you plan to move to a new place when you retire or would you prefer to stay put? Before making your choice, it’s a good idea to explore how a new area may affect your lifestyle and financial well-being and whether a move makes the most sense for your retirement goals. Here are several suggestions for deciding where to live after retirement and how to find the best place for you.

Investigate potential areas

When contemplating a potential move, you’ll want to get up to speed on the retirement areas you’re considering. Most towns have a visitors’ bureau available online that will give you information about the town's history, safety, transportation, quality of life, and local activities. Find out if the area has a busy tourist season and if the population and traffic change throughout the year. Many times, retirees have already visited a place beforehand or know people who live in the area who can provide valuable insight. By doing your research, it can help you make an educated decision on whether relocation is right for you.

Cost of living

When you’re looking for a place to live in retirement, a big consideration should be affordability. The cost of living is how much money is needed to cover all of your expenses, including housing, groceries, healthcare, transportation, and entertainment. A common rule of thumb is that you’ll need to replace 70% to 90% of your working income to maintain your standard of living in retirement. That percentage may vary depending on when you retire, where you decide to live, when you start taking Social Security, and what your personal goals are for the future.

Remember that vacation spots and tourist towns are often more expensive, so be sure to consider that if you have your eye on a popular destination. A cost of living calculator can help you compare how much goods and services are in your current area compared with the city you have in mind.

Healthcare services

Now that you’re in your golden years, you want to make sure you retire to an area that has quality medical care, emergency services, and local doctors and hospitals that accept Medicare patients. Take time to do your homework and research nearby medical facilities and in-network doctors. 


When deciding on your retirement destination, state and local taxes can be important factors. Each state has different rules on how a retiree’s income and Social Security are taxed, where many offer tax breaks for residents over a certain age. For example, there may be deductions or credits for taxpayers over age 65; exclusions of Social Security income from taxable income; no personal income tax; or exclusion of withdrawals from retirement plans or pensions.

Property taxes and sales taxes can also cut into your retirement income, so research this information for the city and state you’re considering. Certain states, like Oregon, Montana, Delaware, and New Hampshire, do not have statewide sales tax. When it comes to property taxes, they can vary greatly from place to place, but many offer exemptions that allow seniors to protect part of their home’s value from property taxes. It can be helpful to contact a tax professional in the state you’re considering to make sure you understand your potential tax bill, as well as possible inheritance and estate taxes and how you could maximize your tax savings.

Consider climate

Everyone has different tastes when it comes to climate. If you’re looking for a warm area with beaches, you may consider moving to the coast of California or a southern state like Florida. If you like mountains, a place in the southwest like Colorado or New Mexico might be a good fit for you. By moving to a place with a climate and seasons that you like, you’ll likely stay more active and spend more time doing the activities you enjoy. If you’ve only visited a place during the summer, take time to research the average temperatures and weather during the rest of the year. As you age, you may wish to avoid high snowfall areas or want a place that offers more months of outdoor leisure and events.

Do a trial run

Before committing to a new city or town, a trial run can help you get a better idea of how your day-to-day life would be. If possible, rent a place for several months or even a year to gain a better understanding of the traffic, the convenience of stores and restaurants, the weather, and if you feel at home in this new location. Visit neighborhoods in each area, talk to locals, and participate in community events to help form your opinion. Ask yourself if you would prefer to live in a location that is tailored to retirees, or if you enjoy a family-oriented town. Living in an area for an extended period can help you determine if it’s suitable to meet all of your needs. If you feel it could be a good match, meet with realtors to explore housing costs and resale values, ask questions, and determine if this might be a good place to relocate for retirement.

If you’re thinking about moving to a new place once you retire, the more you research and spend time exploring the area, the more confident you can feel in choosing the right place for you. Carefully consider the pros and cons of each location and whether being a resident lines up with your retirement income and lifestyle. You’ve worked hard to reach this next chapter, so making sure you live in a place that makes you happy and fulfilled should be a key piece of your overall retirement strategy.