We have been trying to figure out where to retire. This seems like a simple question at first and for some it may be an easy answer. The FoFs have always lived where our jobs have taken us, so the freedom to retire and live (almost) anywhere was more challenging than we expected. When you have the choice of living anywhere, how do you choose?
What is Important to Us?
We started to discuss the things that are important to us with respect to our retirement location. Mrs. FoF and I are pretty well aligned in our objectives but we don’t always agree on every detail. Our first discussions were some basic things that are important to consider. These were some of the top items we wanted to consider, as we continue to search for locations this list varies.
Location to Family: We don’t have strong roots in any one place having moved around most of our adult lives. We do not need to be close to immediate family but do want to have an easy drive to visit for Holidays and events. Given most our family is Mid West and East Coast, we will probably focus in these area but still would consider other places like Colorado (where we do have some extended family) if it hit the rest of our criteria.
Cost of Living: This is a big consideration. The biggest items are Housing Costs, Taxes, and Healthcare costs.
Climate: A must-have is a warmer climate with shorter winters. Does not need to be snow free. We also don’t want it to be too warm in the summer so not too far south.
Outdoor Activities: Access to green space like parks to be able to walk. A plus would be some water access for kayaking. We also want to have access to a swimming pool especially if we relocate to a warmer client.
Community: Since we will not be working, we want a location with a sense of community. Smaller towns with a real downtown or village area were you can walk, not sprawling suburban area were everything is in a strip mall. Also a consideration is a vibrant community with activities like farmers markets and summer concerts. A growing community attractive to younger people would also be a plus.
Amenities: Having the basics are important, close to a supermarket and Target. A plus would be communities with small coffee shops, farm to table style restaurants, and micro brew locations. Ideally we’d like some of these amenities to be walking distance, or at least easy uber access.
Arts and Entertainment: Access within reasonable drive to concerts, museums, plays. Access to a Maker Space would be a plus.
Size: Smaller town but close to larger city with more amenities if needed.
What are some things you would consider? Add a comment below with your ideas and recommendations!
Potential Locations to Retire
Now that have our list of requirements, we needed to develop our list of places for consideration – and than narrow this down. Based on previous vacations and family visits, we listed out places we had some notion of being a place we could call home. In addition, we started looking at some of the “best places” lists to also get some additional ideas. A few of those links are in our reference material.
Here is our not-so short list of potential locations we developed. In general we’ve identified first the major city, within which, we have a number of options we would consider. Climate was a must-have for our first pass – no sense picking a place with long winters even if it looked great otherwise. This eliminated a lot of places that are considered low-cost, including the Dakotas, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont.
We spent many winters in Rochester, NY and are pretty much done with snow. Having spent time in Florida, we did not want to go that far south either but did not totally exclude places based on this. We also tended to stay away from coastal areas to avoid more expensive locations (and Hurricanes).
Initial Retirement Location Ideas
|State / Region||Location||Initial Reason|
|Colorado||Fort Collins Area||We visited and really like Fort Collins.|
|Colorado||Denver Area||Family nearby, We like Colorado, not necessarily low COL.|
|Kentucky||Lexington||Top List (AARP), Low COL, reasonable healthcare|
|Kentucky||Louisville||Top List (AARP), Low COL, reasonable healthcare plus Bourbon!|
|North Carolina||Raleigh Durham||Top location lists, Possible engineering work if needed|
|North Carolina||Charlotte Area, Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville||Close to family, reasonable cost of living (COL)|
|Ohio||Columbus Area||Our current local. Family nearby, reasonable COL, decent ammenities|
|Tennessee||Nashville||Top list, Low COL, No state income tax on income
|Tennessee||Knoxville||Top Early Retire Location for Low COL, No state income tax on income
|Texas||Spring Texas Area||Friends nearby, Reasonable COL, No State income tax|
|Texas||Austin||Top lists, sounds like a cool place to live, No State income tax|
|Virginia||Chesapeake||Top List, lower COL|
The Long Shots
In addition to the places listed above we have also discussed some more exotic locations like Roatan, Honduras; Belize, and Panama City, Panama. For now these are in the mix but due to pets and other reasons may not be practical for our situation.
Rating the Potential Places
We created an initial spreadsheet to collect some quantitative data for each location based on online research. This allows us to rate each area based on the criteria that are important to us. Once we develop this spreadsheet further we will provide a download on our Tools page.
How do you find the right location even when you narrowed down a city or region? We use Google Maps to narrow down in areas with the right features. One thing we noticed for us is density of coffee shops, micro breweries, and green space seems to be a good starting point. We are also fans of Redfin, which includes the “Walk Score” for housing locations.
The numbers only get us so far and we want to make sure we visit and get some feel for the areas to help better narrow down our choices. We plan to visit each area and get a more qualitative feel. Could we see ourselves living here?
Before making a final choice we may choose to spend longer time in a few of the areas, especially for locations that we’ve never visited. For areas that make our final cut, we are planning to do some short-term rentals before making the final decision.
What places are you considering for your retirement?