While many people would like to stay in their homes as they age, it’s not always possible or practical. For example, your current home may be on two or more floors, which could be difficult for someone with mobility issues. It may be too large to maintain or be too far from the activities or people you love.
Regardless of the reason, if you know you’ll need to move later in life, you may want to start thinking about where you’ll want to live, so you can make it part of your financial plan going forward. After all, a solid financial plan with your whole life in mind will give you more flexibility and control as you age. Below are a few factors to consider.
Your lifestyle and the quality of life you want
Think about the type of lifestyle you want as you age, the activities you enjoy and what location might be a good fit for you. If you like going out, consider a city with lots of entertainment and dining options. If you love the outdoors, you may want to live in a part of the country with a temperate climate and activities you can enjoy that are within your budget. Staying active is a key to enjoying a long life, so anything you can do to prolong your active years is helpful.
Cost of living
Your cost of living can differ tremendously from state to state and even town to town. If you’ve put together a retirement budget, you’ll know approximately how much you can afford to spend. Look at houses in the area, find out how much utilities, home repairs and other typical living expenses cost on average — and how much they’ve increased in years past.
Different parts of the country are considered more “tax friendly” for retirees than others. Before moving to a community, find out how much people will typically pay in property, sales and income tax, if any. Since more than half of all retirees rely on Social Security for more than 50% of their income,1 it’s also important to consider how Social Security benefits are taxed in your state.
As you age, you may want to live in a more moderate climate, with less snow to shovel and fewer weather events to deal with. Think about the type of climate you’d enjoy most and see if it lines up with your finances and other needs. Where you live can make a big difference in your activity and engagement levels with others and within your community.
Just because you’re retiring, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll want to exit the workforce entirely. Look at the opportunities for part-time, full-time and charity work in your community of choice. Consider how many jobs are available in the area and how much they pay. If you would like to start a new business when you retire, check out the resources available for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Access to health care
As much as we might want to deny it, we will all need more health care as we get older. That means you’ll need easy access to quality healthcare providers, hospitals and services in your community. Will you rely on family and friends to take care of you? If so, you’ll need to be close to them. Also consider ancillary health services, such as massage therapy, physical therapy and other services you might want to use.
The happiness factor
Sometimes, a community just speaks to you. You walk down Main Street and just love the atmosphere. Since your happiness is important, especially as you age, if you can find a place that brings you joy — and is within the scope of what you need and can afford — you might want to consider putting down stakes and staying there.