What factors should I consider in choosing a house and location for retirement?

Finding housing for retirement is an important component of planning for your future because housing costs are usually the largest and most expensive portion of a family’s budget. Rather than waiting to move to a new location after you retire, consider moving to your ideal location while you are still working.

Whether you stay in the same place or move, whatever you do will be more successful if you take time to think and do research. Everyone has similar basic housing needs. How well these needs are met will be influenced by when and where you choose to retire.

Here are some questions to guide you in your decision:

Affordability: What type of housing can you afford and still have enough money left to enjoy the lifestyle you would like to live?

Friendships/support group: Do you look forward to making new friends, or do you prefer old, established friendships? How important is it to have a strong support group and live near your friends and family?

Safety: Do you feel safe where you are now living or plan to live? Does the community have a low rate of crime? How close is the nearest fire department and hospital emergency room?

Health: How close are medical facilities? Do you feel secure with your present doctor, dentist, hospital, or clinic? Are you willing to give them up and search for new ones? Consider air pollution, summer and winter temperatures, humidity, rainfall, snow, and ice.

Convenience: If staying put or relocating, is the house convenient for your style of living, not only now but also as you grow older? Can your home be modified to be accessible if you become disabled? Are basic living areas on the first floor? Do you have easy access to services and facilities you’ll need in order to be comfortable and contented?

Your position in the community: Are you active in the community and feel you belong? What will be your status as a retired resident?

Leisure activities: Are there enough recreational and cultural activities of interest to you to meet your needs?

If you are planning to relocate, take every travel opportunity to look for your ideal location during your active working years. Take trips to other parts of the state, country, and world to look around. Consider whether you want a place with all four seasons or only two.

Talk with friends who have lived in other areas. Contact local chambers of commerce and/or the state department of tourism, relocation specialists, and Realtors in the areas you are considering. Carefully read the information they provide in terms of your needs and interests.

Talk with long-time residents and newcomers who live where you are considering moving. What do they like and dislike about the area? Subscribe to the local newspaper for at least two years before moving to a community you like. You will learn about the weather and how prices of goods and services compare with those where you live now.

You will also learn about recreational, cultural, and social activities, and the political situation. When in doubt, rent for a year or two. This way you will have time to study a new location more carefully and decide where in the area you want to live.

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