For some of us, there is no ONE place where all our family lives so the question becomes WHERE do I want to live in retirement. My husband and I have five sons, 4 with families who all reside in different states.
Identify Your Primary Needs
There are many considerations outside of family. The main considerations for us are in order of importance: climate, crime, cost of living, city size and availability of and quality healthcare. We have lived in towns throughout our lives of various sizes and have decided on small-town living in our retirement. It’s very easy to find small towns in this great country of ours with low crime rates.
I will never be a person who wants to live where it gets very cold or snowy. My husband concurs. We love our current home in Texas but the yearly increase in property taxes and HOA/POA fees have led to the decision to relocate in retirement.
Do Your Own Research
A great place to start to do your own research is www.areavibes.com. You can start by entering a state name and it will show the overall livability of the best cities in that state. Go to https://www.areavibes.com/city-comparison/ next which allows you to compare metrics with grades (A+ through F-) on up to 5 cities and focuses on the following categories: Livability, Amenities, Cost of Living, Crime, Schools, Employment, Housing, and Weather. You can click on each of these to get more detail.
Narrow Your Choices
Once I narrowed down to 2-3 main cities, I went to www.bestplaces.net where you can get even more details and the ability to compare two cities. There are now paid features but I have found all the information I personally needed with the basic features. This site has a lot more categories for comparison: Overall, Cost of Living, Real Estate, Job Market, Crime, Climate, Weather, Education, Economy, Health, Religion, People, Politics & Voting, Housing, Commuting, Rankings, and Reviews.
I went to www.city-data.com next where I got a great visual breakdown of things with the main city search page like the level of humidity. The most important part of this website is actually found by going to the forum at www.city-data.com/forum where you can click on a state and do a search on an actual city to see what other people are asking and saying about it and where you can post questions that others can answer.
Visit Your Top Choices
The next step is visiting your top 2-3 towns. Spend a few days, if you can. Go to www.realtor.com and find some homes for sale and drive through the neighborhoods. You can also stop by and visit a realtor. We were very fortunate to find a realtor in our #1 choice that gave us some printouts and we just drove around for an entire day checking out neighborhoods. We went to the downtown area. We visited small restaurants and shops. We visited a nearby town that had malls.
Research the Neighborhoods
Once we returned home I did some additional searches via www.niche.com. I typed in the zip code I liked the best and confirmed what I observed to be true. That site has the following ‘Report Card’ criteria: Overall Niche Grade, Public Schools, Housing, Good for Families, Crime & Safety, Nightlife & Diversity. There is also information on Real Estate, a Map, Rankings, Residents, & Schools.
Pick What’s Best for You
I have purposely not mentioned the place we have chosen for a good reason. It’s so important to do your own research and decide what is best for you. The first place I went looked great on paper but was so incredibly humid, that I realized picking a hot climate wasn’t the only thing I wanted.
The 2nd place we visited is where we intend to go. We both felt very at home and could not get over how well it matched all our predetermined criteria. We have not yet made it to the 3rd but plan to this summer sometime. My husband still has about 5 years before he plans to retire but that can always change.
We are looking forward to retirement knowing we have a plan. The new town is also a little more centrally located to more than half of our family which is an added bonus.
Best of luck in researching your own retirement haven! I hope you let me know if this has helped you find your retirement destination!