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What Makes a City Best for Retirement?

Where should you retire? In the town where you live, or in a new and exciting place? A lot of factors go into deciding the best place to retire—and what’s important to you may not be what’s important to someone else. But there are some common factors that go into the absolute best cities, towns, and states for retirees. Here are a few things to look for.

Plenty to do—in keeping with your interests

If you love culture, arts, events and entertainment, it might not be best to retire to a small town. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more relaxed pace of life, the big city may not be ideal for you. Check out your short list of potential retirement towns and cities—and see if there’s a thriving community there of people who share your interests.

City View

There is no “best” place to retire that’s right for everyone. The right state or city for you could depend on many emotional factors, your financial situation, your personal preferences, and the location of friends and family.

 

Good hospital facilities

Is the nearest hospital an hour’s drive away—or just twenty minutes? For retirees, the quality of hospital care can make a big difference in quality of life. Be sure to do your research to determine where your top retirement neighborhoods and towns rank in terms of health care, the quality of care at local hospitals—and how long your wait may have to be for an ambulance.

Good public transportation

It’s possible that as you or a loved one ages, you will have difficulty driving. If that’s the case, how will you get around? Is there a good subway or bus system in the area, and does it have handicapped access? If not, are there dependable public services that can help you get to doctor’s appointments and other engagements? A good public transportation system can make a huge difference—and allow you to stay independent even when you can no longer drive.

A solvent state

In this difficult economy, many states are making drastic cuts to social services—including those that seniors rely on. Don’t get stuck in a state that can’t meet its pension and health care obligations to seniors. Watch the news—and avoid states that have been appearing a lot with fiscal crises.

A retiree-friendly tax environment

Some states are more tax-friendly for retirees than others. A small handful of states don’t have any income taxes—including on retiree pensions and other retirement income—but these states tend to have higher sales and property taxes. Some states don’t tax in-state pensions or military retirement benefits, while others tax everything—even Social Security benefits. Property taxes can be high in some places, but some states offer property tax discounts to senior citizens and “homesteader” discounts to those who have lived in a state for a certain period of time.

Friends and family

For some people, having friends and family in retirement around makes a huge difference in their level of happiness—for others, it’s not as important as other considerations. But bear in mind that as you age, the stronger your network of friend and family support is, the less you’ll have to rely on expensive services or possibly inconvenient public services for help. Having friends and family in your area can dramatically improve your quality of life—and your safety and health. 

There is no “best” place to retire that’s right for everyone. The right state or city for you could depend on many emotional factors, your financial situation, your personal preferences, and the location of friends and family. But there are a few factors that make some areas more retiree-friendly than others. Be sure to research the tax situation, the quality and convenience of health care, the accessibility of activities and interests you enjoy, and the level of public transportation available in the area before you make a decision to move. All of these factors could dramatically increase your quality of life in the place where you choose to retire.