by Mark Bello

Thinking about retirement? While “when” is often the main question, choosing the right retirement destination can make all the difference.

As you begin your search, looking at “best-places-toretire” lists is a good start, but different surveys produce different results. Which city is best for you depends on your own personal needs and circumstances, however you define them.

Pulling up stakes and moving someplace new doesn’t have to be a difficult process, but it should include careful research, planning, and weighing of the pros and cons. Here are seven factors to consider:

Cost of Living/Affordable Housing

Before you start scouting out places, seriously look at your budget. What funds will be coming in from pensions or other investments? How much will you have to live on? Look for a place where you can retire comfortably and have a nice standard of living without struggling to make ends meet.

Proximity to Family Members

Do you want to be near family and friends? Will you be taking care of aging parents? If so, will you need to be close by? Maybe you want to be close to grandchildren. One of the biggest regrets that people often have at the end of life is they wished they had spent more time with family.


Look at sales tax, property tax, income tax, vehicle tax, and taxes on gas, alcohol, tobacco and travel. Keep in mind that higher taxes aren’t always a bad thing. In some cases, it can mean great public facilities. While a state with lower taxes can stretch your dollars further, if that means paying more out-of-pocket costs

for health care, it might not be worth it in the end. Your income sources and spending patterns will also factor into how a state’s tax structure will impact you.

Climate and Weather

Everyone has their favorite climate. Some people love hot weather and relaxing on the beach, while others prefer seasonal weather and are comfortable with cold winters. Despite nice cities in colder climates, wintry weather conditions present a greater challenge as you age.

Health Care/Medical Facilities

Health care is important at any age, but especially as you grow older. Before you move, check out the doctors, dentists, and hospitals in the area. It is important to consider distance to medical facilities, including emergency care, geriatric care, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and hospice. If you are unable to drive, are the facilities easy to reach using public transportation? You should also consider retirement homes and senior services, even though you may not need to use them until years later.

Safety/Crime Rate

Safety concerns can become a higher priority as you grow older and feel more vulnerable. Look at the crime statistics and economic data for places you are considering. An even better approach is to contact the local police and inquire about neighborhoods of interest.

Local Amenities

What amenities do you want/need? While nearby shops and medical services are standard considerations, what about cultural, educational, and recreational resources? Do you have interests/ hobbies that play into where you want to live? In addition to learning whether your favorite recreational activities exist, consider how much of the year you will be able to enjoy them.

According to 2018 reports (from WalletHub, among others), Florida is one of the best states for retirement due to affordability and quality of lifestyle. Cape Coral is considered a friendly, diversified growing city, while Sarasota has award-winning beaches and a thriving arts and cultural scene. In addition to Florida, the states with the largest populations 65 and older include Maine, West Virginia, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. Colorado ranks highly in healthcare, although it tends to be less affordable. Minneapolis, Minnesota is the best for quality of life and health care but also has low affordability for retirees. New York is a good option for those looking for entertainment, despite the state’s low overall rating for retirement. Several Texas cities are among top retiree destinations largely due to affordable housing and low taxes. Looking at specific cities, Scottsdale, Arizona; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Honolulu, Hawaii rank highly for quality of lifestyle and healthcare—although cost of living is high in Hawaii.

The bottom line is that the best place for you to retire depends on what you value. One size does not fit all; no dream location fits every dream. Once you find your good fit, you can look forward to settling in and enjoying a new phase of life.