Welcome to retirement! The days you’ve long awaited and counted down for are finally here. And now that you’ve reached retirement, you likely have some big plans – travel more, spend more time with the family and grandkids, venture out and try the new eateries in your neighborhood – the list goes on. But in addition to how you’ll spend your retirement years, there is also another variable to consider – where.
Once you no longer have to live near your job, a world of possibilities opens up. For many, that means a change of scenery and finding a new place to call home. In fact, every year, approximately 1 million people move upon retiring1. And there are plenty of reasons to do so. Relocating to a new city or state with better weather and amenities suited to your needs can be a great idea – and often times, for your wallet, too.
But what exactly, makes a great place to retire? Consider these 6 characteristics that make a place best suited for your golden years.
- Lower Cost of Living
While retirement means more time for the things you love, it also comes with a fixed income so it’s important to maximize your nest egg. And what better place to start than by addressing your cost of living? The cost of living varies considerably across the country and plays a big role in the lifestyle you can afford in retirement. If relocating is on your radar, you’ll want to aim to retire in a place with a lower cost of living where you can comfortably cover your bills – and have a little bit left over for experiences and fun activities.
Start by calculating what your basic living expenses will be in the area, such as housing costs, gas prices, and grocery bills. If you’re not sure how to estimate these, check out some of the local businesses you may frequent to get a better idea of the costs. The cost of living in some areas may surprise you. In some cases, you may find a place with lower taxes has higher prices at the grocery or convenience store. On the other hand, a city that initially seemed pricey may actually have a reasonable cost of living overall.
- Preferred Climate
When you think of your retirement, what does it look like? Is it sunny and sitting on a beach? Curling up with a good book and admiring the snowfall? In relocating for your retirement years, it’s important that your new location has year-round weather that you can tolerate. While many people dream of an escape from cold winters and opt for warmer climates, it all comes down to personal preference.
Always been drawn to the mountains? An area with great hiking trails year-round picturesque views may be attractive. Enjoy fishing? You may opt for a retirement cabin on or near a lake. Whatever your preferred climate, there is a city waiting for you with this ideal weather. Just be mindful of the challenges that come with extreme climates like excessive heat and sweltering summer temperatures as well as wintry weather and icy conditions.
- Social Opportunities
Just because you’ve stopped working does not mean that your social life has to stop. One of the most important aspects of a happy retirement is an active and engaging social life. While many retirees opt for 55+ active communities or cities with a larger population of senior homeowners, there are plenty of other ways to grow your social circle in retirement. In assessing potential new cities and towns, take note of senior centers or clubs in the area. These are great environments for socializing with other retirees and making new acquaintances. Also be on the lookout for places where you can get involved in local events and meet people in your community, such as a coffee shop or recreation center.
- Amenities that Interest You
One of the biggest perks of retirement is having more time for your favorite hobbies. And it’s important that any city you consider relocating to accommodates these pastimes. Think about the activities you plan on partaking in as you settle into your golden years. Whether you like getting out on the golf course, spending a day taking in history at a museum, or even attending some local theater performances, you’ll want to make sure your new city can fulfill these activities for you. And if you like to keep active, it’s also a good idea to note local walking paths and downtown areas to explore. Pro-tip – check out Google Maps as a starting point!
- Healthcare Services
It’s no secret that as we age, we’re more likely to use more healthcare services. And while you may have your network of doctors and specialists in your area now, it’s important to make sure you’ll have access to good health services should you choose to relocate. Start by going online and making a list of physicians and hospitals in the area, and then refine based on location, reviews, and specialty. Also be sure to consider the distance you’ll need to travel to get to both primary care and specialty care doctors. The closer in proximity you are to healthcare services, the easier medical care and treatment will be both now and in the future.
- Access to Transportation
When it comes to transportation, you’ll need to consider both short-distance trips and long-distance travels. In terms of local trips, see what public transportation is available should you need to eventually give up driving. In addition to train and bus service, some communities offer low-cost taxi or van services for older people. You should also look into ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft and examine whether these services are offered in your new neighborhood.
If you plan to take regular trips to visit family and friends, you may appreciate living within a reasonable distance of an airport. Better yet, living closer to an airport makes it easier for visiting friends and family to travel to your area.
When it comes to setting down roots for your golden years, there’s not a one-size-fits all location. It’s all about identifying how you wish to spend your retirement years and finding the setting that best supports these. And if you’re not sure you’re quite ready to move, you can always start with a trial run. Take a short trip down to your areas of interest to explore the community and activities offered. You can even chat with the locals to get recommendations and insights to get a better understanding of the area.
And if you are ready to relocate to your retirement haven, a reverse mortgage could help. Available to homeowners ages 62 and older, a HECM for Purchase can allow you to buy your retirement home, while keeping your retirement and financial goals in check.Unlike a traditional “forward” mortgage – where you’re required to start repaying the loan right away – money you receive through a HECM allows you to purchase a new home without having to make monthly mortgage payments2. Better yet, you’ll assume ownership of your home with full title and control of the property.
Want to see if a HECM for Purchase is right for you? For more information, contact the Longbridge team of reverse mortgage experts today.
2As with any mortgage, the borrower must keep current with property taxes, insurance, and maintenance.