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Deciding Where to Retire

If there were one perfect spot to match the needs of every retiree, deciding where to retire would be simple. But no single location fits every dream―and there are plenty of charming and comfortable options all over the map.

I was helping my mom deciding where to retire. So many new possibilities open up all at once. What seemed like an eternity for her is speeding towards her. I learned a few things when deciding where to retire. Relocating across town is one thing. There’s that familiarity with the area, the people, the costs. A move to a new state a couple of thousand miles away like my mom is contemplating is a completely different story. 

Deciding where to retire? Jeni Lu's mom moved from Michigan to California.

My mom – moving from Michigan to California

No matter what your reason — to be closer to friends and family, to downsize, to move to a better climate, or to simply have a change of scenery — once you start looking into it, such a move can be daunting. Here are key things I’ve learned about how to decide where to retire. 

Ask the Questions

First, Ask yourself the questions: Why do you want to relocate? What is your goal? Do you want to move closer to family and friends? Do you want a change of climate? If moving away from family, will it be difficult for you — or them — to visit?

How about downsizing? Maybe you just don’t need that big house anymore or maybe you want less yard work.

Be sure to take a look at your reasons in the opposite direction, too: What’s wrong with where I live now? 

Get Firsthand Knowledge Of The Area 

Relocating is an exciting adventure and while it’s appealing, it does present challenges. The first is knowing the area you want to move to before you jump in.

One thing that helped my mom decide on moving from Michigan to California was to visit the area. She visited my sister on several trips and spent a few weeks with her each time. You should consider renting an apartment or house for a few months. Stroll the streets. Visit the shops. Talk with the people. Explore. 

That said, don’t base your move on a vacation. What is the weather like year round, not just when you visit? How will you spend your days once you’re there? Does the area cater to your interests? Consider your safety and research the crime rate in the area you want to move to.                             

What about the convenience and location of amenities? Are stores nearby? This may not be a concern now, but as we get older, it will be. You don’t want to make a 30-minute drive for a carton of eggs each week. 

Ask around about the quality of healthcare, the services available, and the average costs. Always keep in mind to think long term and not just what meets your needs today. 

Involve Loved Ones

To help with that decision, don’t go it alone. Make sure your family is involved in the process. They may have valuable information, insight, even contacts who can help you.  Consult with local professionals for advice and insight. Your local realtor is a tremendous resource.

Living Costs

Be sure also to research the cost of living and housing costs. Since you can expect to spend 60% to 80% of your current income in retirement, a low cost of living and housing costs are critical to most individuals to help stretch the retirement income. Not all locations make for affordable retirement destinations.

Evaluate Your Goals

Now before making any decision, determine whether relocating to a different area is necessary. If your current hometown is affordable and close to family, friends, and activities, and if you’re mortgage-free, there’s no reason to move for the sake of moving. In fact, moving in that scenario might actually remove you from the people and things you enjoy.

Prepare Your Home

No matter what you decide, start preparing your current house early. Whether you decide to sell and move or stay where you are, it will benefit you to start decluttering the years of items you have accumulated. Most of us are guilty of this, myself included!

Decluttering gives your current house a new life that may make it attractive to you again. It also prepares it for sale.

Making those repairs will increase the value of your home which needless to say is good if you plan to sell, but it also gives you peace of mind before you retire that if you should decide to stay it’s in good shape and will last well into your golden years.

I hope you found this video helpful. If you did, check out my other video on why you should consider retiring in Massachusetts. 

Make it a great day, friends! 

Jeni Lu

Jeni Lu

I'm Jeni Lu, a neighborhood guide and Realtor® at Bentley's The RE/MAX Collection. I've spent years finding the best restaurants, shopping, outdoor spots and events so you can enjoy the neighborhood. I look forward to showing you around the Boston North shore and Southern New Hampshire area. If you live in the area or you're thinking of moving here, you've come to the right place!