Finding the Best Retirement Place for You

When coming up with possible places to retire, look for areas that will keep you enthralled for decades. Spend some time researching “Best Places to Retire” lists to widen your choices, then fill out our checklist to help you determine what matters most to you in a retirement location.

It used to be that deciding where to retire came down to whether you wanted to be near tennis courts or golf courses. Not anymore.

While there’s nothing wrong with golf or tennis, you need to adopt new, unconventional ways of thinking when you choose your retirement spot. For starters, you could be living there for three decades. So you’ll want a place that won’t grow old as you grow older.
If you think you’ll want to work in retirement, setting roots in a retiree-friendly metropolis can be a smart move.
You may also want to work part-time in retirement. If so, you’ll want to pick a place that provides employment opportunities.

You’ll also want to find a retirement spot where your money will go far. (Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Calculator can help you compare living costs in two places.)

If you’re considering a move to a retirement location, follow these five tips to scope out the best place for you:
1. Set your priorities.
John Howells, author of Where to Retire, believes “There is no real single best place, because it is highly individual, based on what matters to you.” So carefully think through what you want in a retirement location and what you need.

For example, living 30 miles from the nearest city wouldn’t be ideal if you hope to find part-time work. And while a remote beach can make for a fabulous vacation, being isolated most of the year might make you batty. You may want to look instead for a seaside community with great restaurants, shopping, and cultural advantages.

Rank your priorities on the checklist below. If you have a spouse or partner, the two of you should complete it. Then, if you have different rankings, start looking for middle ground.
2. Check out “Best Retirement Places” lists.
Once you have your preferences set, find the places that agree with them. Consult the CBS MoneyWatch.com helpful guide to the Best of the Best Places to Retire.
3. Consider a foreign foray.
If one of you prime goals is to reduce living costs and you’re adventurous, check out The World’s Top 10 Retirement Havens from International Living. Mexico, Central America, and South America have become increasingly popular for retirees looking to lower their expenses but not their standard of living.
4. Downsize downtown.
If you think you’ll want to work in retirement, setting roots in a retiree-friendly metropolis can be a smart move. Easy access to great culture and dining is another plus. Just don’t overlook the cost of living.
5. Give your choice a trial run.
Spend some time in your prospective destination before you retire, ideally at different points in the year. “Visit multiple times, including off-season,” Howells advises. That’s important even if you have your eye on retiring to a favorite vacation spot. What you love in an area for two or three weeks out of a year may not make for a great permanent home. Never move to a new area cold turkey. You may later find you need to relocate because it’s a bad fit.
 Rank
1 (Very important) to
5 (Not important)
Warm climate 
Access to nature/outdoors/golf course 
Access to public transportation 
Housing affordability 
Access to city/culture/colleges 
Low property tax/state income tax 
Quick/easy access to quality health care 
Part-time job opportunities 

Key Points:

  • Set priorities about what matters most in a retirement location.
  • Review “Best Places to Retire” lists.
  • Do a trial run in a possible place to retire.

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