Top Retirement Destinations and Advice

Since retirement means different things to different people, and everybody has differing ideas and priorities about how they want to live during this stage of their life, there is no single ideal retirement destination that will suit everyone. However, there are a few common factors that most retirees look for in a location they would consider relocating to, such as plentiful and varied recreation, affordable living costs, the availability of high quality health care facilities, low crime rates, safety, community services, good climate, beautiful landscapes, adequate transportation facilities, volunteer and work opportunities.

Although Arizona, Florida and Texas are still the most popular choice, but an increasing number of retirees are opting for cooler climes or places where they can experience all the seasons. According to surveys, here are a few places in the U.S. that have come up as the topmost retirement destinations because of the excellent health care, lots of cultural activities, and plenty of greenery or scenery, among various other desirable factors: Holland, Michigan; Walla Walla, Washington; St. Simons Island, Georgia; Prescott, Arizona; Boulder, Colorado; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; San Luis Obispo, California; Williamsburg, Virginia; Boca Raton, Florida; and Ithaca, New York.

If you want a low-cost destination, there are many retirement locales that have good amenities and charming surroundings, and yet are within your budget. By moving to a location where the living costs are lower compared to your current place of residence, you could probably even get a larger house that costs less, which will enhance your net worth, while also enabling you to live a better retired life.

According to the topmost experts on retirement destinations, some of the best low-cost retirement locations are: the sun-drenched Melbourne Beach, Florida; the aridly beautiful Yucca Valley, California; the rurally fresh Sandpoint, Idaho, close to Canada; and Kennebunk, Maine, which has lots of rocky beaches. Although not all of them might be out-and-out cheap, some being actually pretty expensive depending on where you reside today, yet every one of them has one common factor: You get good value living in retirement in these places.

However, many Americans are also looking to retire in other countries, such as Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Belize, Spain and New Zealand, mainly because living costs are comparatively cheaper, while they also want to experience a different culture and landscape from what they have always known. In addition, since these places are already home to quite a number of American retirees, hence they also have people who belong to the same age group and culture. However, if you do choose any of these countries, making new friends and adapting to a different culture are things that you should be prepared for. Central American countries are particularly popular with American retirees because they are just a few hours flight away from their home country. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you choose to retire overseas:

  • See that your Medical Insurance is in order
  • Find out about local markets that are cheap
  • If you do not want citizenship of the country, get a tourist visa
  • If you do want citizenship, apply for it before you move

Irrespective of where you choose to retire, whether within the country or abroad, here are some things you need to keep in mind and do before you decide:

First, you need to decide whether you want to stay somewhere close to your current hometown or venture out to some other locale.

Decide on what you like. Would you prefer the secure and structured environs of a retirement community, or would a town or city that has different types of people, with a broader scope in cultural and entertainment activities be a better choice for you?

Find out everything you can about the places you are considering. Check out on the Internet, and refer to magazines and books for information that will be useful for you.

As you gather more information, start cutting down on your list of probable locations, until you are down to a manageable four or five, at the most.

Then get on the road. Go to every place on your list, staying in each for three to four days, to check out the general feel of the location and its ambience.

Don’t be in a hurry about anything. After all you are making an important decision about how you are going to be living for the rest of your life. So take your time, decide slowly and wisely, and not impulsively.

Then, reduce your list to just two to three locations, and go and live in each for about two or three weeks. Examine the advantages and disadvantages of each carefully, such as the living costs, the climate, and also the kind of neighbors and friends you will have. Meet real estate agents and check out if the home you are considering is within your budget. There are real estate agents who designate themselves as Senior Real Estate Specialists.

After you zero in on your choice, take some more time. Get opinions and advice from family and friends. But bank on your instincts, for ultimately it will have to be your choice.

© 2008 Anna D. Banks, GCDF
Anna D. Banks, a passionate advocate for baby boomers in exploring their priorities, planning and setting goals for the next stage of their lives. Assisting her clients to attract and build a professional and personal life consistent with their values is not just a goal of Anna’s, it’s her passion. Her diverse work experience in business, education and financial services enables her to help the diverse population of baby-boomers with their life, career, and personal finance coaching needs. Anna is currently Adjunct Faculty at Essex County College, where she teaches Career Development & Management.

Author’s Note:
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