Leaving the 9 to 5 behind for good usually brings a welcome change of pace and for many retirees, it also means a change of address. Deciding where to spend your golden years isn’t something you want to do on a whim. It takes some careful research and planning to find a place that fits your lifestyle, needs and budget. If you know that you’ll most likely be moving once you retire, here are six things to look at when choosing your final destination.

1. Taxes

Just because you’re not punching a time clock anymore doesn’t mean you won’t have to deal with taxes. Many states impose a tax on Social Security and pension benefits, which can potentially put a squeeze on your finances if those are your main sources of income in retirement. Other states will exempt these benefits but still require you to pay taxes on dividends and interest. Aside from income tax, you also need to look at how different states compare when it comes to property tax, estate tax, inheritance tax and sales tax.

2. Cost of Living

If you’re expecting your income to drop significantly once you retire, moving to a cheaper area can help you to reduce your costs. Taking into account the overall cost of living for a particular city can give you an idea of how affordable it really is. This includes looking at things like home prices if you’re planning to buy, transportation costs, healthcare, food and utilities.

3. Convenience

Moving to a quiet, out of the way place may seem appealing if you’re used to living in a much busier urban area but it’s not always a realistic choice. Trading in life in the big city for a retirement in the country sometimes means sacrificing convenience to certain amenities. For instance, if you travel frequently it may not make sense to move to an area that’s a significant distance from the airport. You also need to look at how close you are to things like healthcare, recreation and shopping if those are things that you want to have access to on a regular basis.

4. Quality of Life

Quality of life is subjective and how happy you are in your new hometown ultimately depends on what kinds of things are important to you. For example, if you like to socialize, you’d want to look at whether the place you’re thinking of moving to has an established community of retirees. If you like to stay active, you should take a look at what kinds of attractions or recreation opportunities are available. Climate is also something to consider, especially if you’re planning to move someplace where the weather is radically different than what you’re used to.

5. Work Opportunities

If you think you or your spouse might continue to work on a part-time basis after you retire, it’s important to look at what types of jobs are available in the area you’re planning to move to. You can also look for ways to profit from your skills if you don’t see something that seems like it would be a good fit. For example, if you’re a retired teacher you could take up tutoring or if you know how to play the piano you could charge for lessons.

6. Healthcare

Taking care of your health is important at any age but it’s especially vital that you do so as you get older. One of the things you have to ask yourself when you retire is whether you’ll be comfortable leaving your current healthcare providers behind if you decide to move. If you know you’ll be shopping around for a new doctor, dentist or optometrist, online reviews can give you a sense of their standard of care.

10 Best and Worst Cities for Healthcare Access for Your Money

Retirement is the time when you’re supposed to relax and enjoy life but that’s hard to do if you’re stuck living someplace that you don’t like. Before you start packing your bags, you need to carefully evaluate what is is you’re looking for in a new city to find the right one.

 

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