As you are planning your retirement, it is fun to think about moving somewhere new, maybe even a beach destination.
However, it is essential to consider a variety of factors that will help you identify the best fit for you and your new phase of life. The factors workers most frequently say are important to their decision-making are affordable cost of living (71%), proximity to family and friends (54%), good weather (49%), low crime rates (49%), access to health care (43%), and recreational activities (41%).
If you think you have found the location for you, you may want to vacation there during different times of the year or spend a month or more there at a time, just to make sure you get the full perspective of a resident versus a vacationer.
Some experts also recommend that you open a bank account, have a medical appointment, or conduct other kinds of personal business in your selected location to make sure you experience the aspects of the culture and understand what will be available to you once you move there.
Several organizations routinely analyze data to identify the best places to live in retirement. Their research can help you evaluate the things that are most important to you when deciding whether you want to relocate retirement.
Best places to retire in the U.S.A.
Forbes’ annual Best Places to Retire list takes into consideration things like access to medical care, crime rates, air quality, unemployment, cost of living, and factors that can make for a fulfilling retirement, such as opportunities for volunteering and exercise. According to Forbes’ analysis, and its admitted preference for college towns, here are the 25 best places to retire in 2017 (listed alphabetically).
- Athens, Georgia
- Bella Vista, Arkansas
- Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
- Boise, Idaho
- Brevard, North Carolina
- Clemson, South Carolina
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Fargo North Dakota
- Grand Prairie, Texas
- Green Valley, Arizona
- Harrisonburg, Virginia
- Iowa City, Iowa
- Jefferson City, Missouri
- Lawrence, Kansas
- Lewiston, Maine
- Lincoln, Nebraska
- Maryville, Tennessee
- Ocean Pines, Maryland
- Peoria, Arizona
- Port Charlotte, Florida
- San Marcos, Texas
- Savannah, Georgia
- Summerville, South Carolina
- The Villages, Florida
- Wenatchee, Washington
Best cities to retire
If big cities are more your style, you might want to look at the Milken Institute’s Best Cities For Successful Aging report.
This study considers nine factors that make the “best” city for retirees: general livability, healthcare, wellness, financial security, education, transportation and convenience, employment opportunities, living arrangements and community engagement.
It has also found that cities with colleges rank higher on quality-of-life factors that affect older adults, including economic strength and recreation. Here are Milken’s top 10 big cities for aging successfully.3
- Provo-Orem, Utah
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa
- Austin-Round Rock, Texas
- Omaha-Council Bluffs, Nebraska-Iowa
- Jackson, Mississippi
- Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
If you are more comfortable in a smaller setting, those have been ranked too. The top 10 best small cities tend to have moderate living costs, quality healthcare, educational facilities, and a community feel.3
- Iowa City, Iowa
- Manhattan, Kansas
- Ames, Iowa
- Columbia, Missouri
- Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Ithaca, New York
- Lawrence, Kansas
- Logan, Utah-Idaho
- Fairbanks, Alaska
How livable is your hometown?
Ever wondered about how your hometown ranks on the list of great places to live? AARP’s Livability Index will tell you. Follow this link and type in your address or town name to find out how livable your community is.
Best warm places to retire
Even with all the conveniences that cities have to offer, many people dream of living by the beach or in a warmer climate. AARP researchers found ten great places to retire – all of which boast at least 250 days of sunshine each year. Other factors considered include cost of living, the range of activities for retirees, and a low crime rate.4
- Asheville, North Carolina
- Grand Junction, Colorado
- Sarasota, Florida
- San Diego, California
- Las Cruces, New Mexico
- San Luis Obispo, California
- St. George, Utah
- Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Bend, Oregon
- Fort Worth, Texas
Best places in the world to retire
If you are thinking more globally, International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index measures factors that are important to those who are considering a move to another country, including ease of buying property, ease of attaining a visa, cost of living, entertainment, healthcare, climate, and governance. Here are the top 10 international locations for retirees in 2018.
- Costa Rica
Despite some locations showing up on multiple lists (Lawrence, Kansas, and Iowa City, Iowa), researchers have identified places all over the U.S. and the world as great places for fulfilling the needs and desires of retirees. Wherever you decide to live, you will need retirement income to support your lifestyle.
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Resources for best places to retire
- Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies: Wishful Thinking or Within Reach? Three Generations Prepare for “Retirement,” December 2017
- Forbes: 25 Best Places to Retire in 2017
- Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging: Best Cities for Successful Aging
- AARP: 10 Great Sunny Places to Retire
- International Living: The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2018