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Written by
Jim Schweikert

5 Tips for Finding Your Ideal Retirement Destination

Published on
April 22, 2022

Retirement is a time when you get to enjoy your life and spend the time doing what you want to do. But the trick is to know exactly where you will do it. Here are some tips to help you figure that out.

1. Consider the climate

The climate of a place can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. You might want to consider the region’s average temperature, humidity levels, and precipitation rates before settling on a location.

2. Consider the culture

A town's culture is a reflection of the people who inhabit it. The day-to-day life in a town is heavily influenced by the morals, values and traditions practiced by the majority of its inhabitants. In the United States, there are many cities that have a great retirement culture, with some focusing more on developing retirement communities while others focus more on the services they offer. Factors to consider when choosing which city to retire in include affordability, proximity to family and friends, and entertainment.

3. Consider your health care needs.

Healthcare is essential to living a good life. A crucial aspect of living well is having access to quality healthcare. However, what makes the difference between good healthcare and bad? There are many factors that influence the quality of services, such as available doctors and medical specialists, cost of treatment and availability of emergency services.

Here are some good places to look at first:

  1. Mesa, Arizona
  2. Lexington, Kentucky
  3. Johnson City, Tennessee
  4. Venice, Florida

4. Choose a place that is affordable and has a good cost of living index

The term “cost of living” refers to the amount of money required to cover living expenses in a certain geographical location. This number typically includes housing costs, health care, food prices and taxes. Cost of living is most commonly used to compare living in one city to another as a way to gauge affordability and what type of lifestyle you can reasonably achieve based on your income. It can also help you determine the right salary if you’re considering relocating to a new city for a job.

The Formula

While there are quite a few cost of living calculators online that will allow you to compare two different locations, you can also do the calculation yourself. With the cost of living index for each area, the formula is relatively simple.

[(City B – City A)/City A] x 100

Let’s say you currently live in City A, which has an index of 90.9, and want to move to City B, which has an index of 115.1. To compare the cost of living between these two cities, you would complete the following steps:

  1.    Subtract the index of your current city from the index of the city you want to move to: 115.1 - 90.9 = 24.2
  2.    Divide the resulting difference by the index of your current city: 24.2 ÷90.9 = .266
  3.    Multiply the resulting quotient by 100 to get the percentage: .266 x 100 = 26.6%

So, in order to maintain your current standard of living after moving from City A to City B, you would need about a 27% increase in your income.

5. Our pick of best places to retire in the US.

1. Florida

Every year, more and more people are retiring in Florida. With its gorgeous beaches, diverse wildlife, and laid-back lifestyle, it's no wonder why.

For those who prefer an entire community of neighbors of a certain age, Florida offers plenty of 55 and older communities, most notably The Villages in Central Florida.

One of the reasons why many retirees settle in Florida (besides the weather) is that property taxes are relatively low and there is no state income tax. You can even deduct property taxes from your second home as well as interest on the mortgage.

2. California

For seniors wishing to continue working in retirement, this is the place to be. While the cost of living in California is generally higher than the rest of the country, so is the income. The median household income in California is $8,000 per year higher than the national average.

Most of California stays in the 70s year round with no chance of snow for most of the state. The mild climate draws seniors from all over the country, promising sunshine filled days of exploring California’s stunning natural beauty.

3. Arizona

Retiring in Arizona brings major tax breaks because Arizona does not tax on social security income. There is also no gift tax, estate tax, or inheritance tax. This can make a huge impact for seniors living off of their savings. On other taxable income, the rates are low, around 2.59% for married filers with $20,690 of taxable income to 4.54% for married filers with more than $310,317 of taxable income. It is important to note that private pensions are fully taxed. For those receiving a federal government or military pension, only the first $2,500 is exempt from Arizona state taxes.

The entire state was meant to be explored – and it’s not all desert. From skiing in Flagstaff to fishing the Colorado River to bouldering in northern Phoenix, Arizona is the place to feed an adventurous soul. Camp or hike at one of the state’s national parks, catch a cheap spring training baseball game, ski, boat, take a Jeep off-roading, or spend the day fishing – Arizona has it all.

4. Colorado

When you choose to retire in Colorado, you enjoy immense tax benefits, which include a large deduction on all retirement income and the state boasts some of the lowest property taxes in the country. The average effective rate in the state is 0.57%. Additionally, food and medicine are exempt from sales tax. Colorado is considered to be tax-friendly for retirees, allowing a deduction of $24,000 per year on all retirement income for taxpayers 65 years old and older. 

Colorado has the second lowest obesity rate in the country and draws retirees from all over the country with an active lifestyle encouraged by outdoor recreation and the state’s mild climate. The state is ranked 8th in the nation for good health by the United Health Foundation. Choosing to retire in Colorado means choosing health and wellness.

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