- The importance of climate: While most seniors ready to retire assume that the need for a warm climate takes precedence in terms of quality of life, they can make the mistake of choosing it over other intangibles like the social and even political culture of a community – factors that can get in the way of feeling at home, no matter how sunny it is.
- The idea of retirement as unchanging: Seniors often make relocation plans based on what works for them at the time; but what feels right at age 60 might be a disaster at 80. Moving to a rural area to get more land, for example, can become less important and even problematic as physical needs change over time.
With this in mind, we took a look at several regions of the country, with less of an emphasis on climate and more towards which communities stand to offer the strongest benefits suited to long-term, evolving retirement. After reviewing the recommendations of everyone from the AARP to US News and World Report to Forbes Magazine, here are five cities worth considering:
NORTHEAST – Burlington, VT: Burlington certainly has long winters, but it is rich in important amenities like superior healthcare, a vibrant and walkable town center, and easy access to waterfront strolls and other activities along Lake Champlain. For seniors ready to retire who also love to ski, it’s hard to beat Burlington’s proximity to some of the best conditions in the northeast. Learn more from the AARP.
SOUTH – Richmond, VA: While Washington DC and northern Virginia are pricey, this capital city offers more affordable options for seniors, with the average mortgage payment at about $1,300. Richmond has several excellent hospitals, as well as well-appointed neighborhoods with ample green space and views of the river, along with a vibrant and accessible cultural scene. Learn more from US News and World Report.
MIDWEST – Iowa City, IA: Home to the University of Iowa’s 30,000 students and well-known Iowa Writers Workshop, Iowa City boasts all the cultural benefits of a vibrant and bustling college town. It also happens to be one of the most tax-friendly cities in the Midwest, with low property tax and breaks on Social Security and pension income. Learn more from Time.
MOUNTAINS – Reno, NV: Santa Fe has become hugely popular over the last few decades, but its housing costs have skyrocketed. Reno has risen to the top of everyone’s list as a more affordable city in the general area that offers much of the same aesthetic appeal, with easy access to skiing and hiking. There is no state income tax, and property taxes are low, based on just 35% of your home’s value. Reno also has a convenient regional airport and excellent healthcare services. Learn more here.
WEST – Spokane, WA: Unlike Seattle to its West, Spokane offers similar access to natural beauty and rich cultural amenities, minus the rainy season and urban gridlock. It has no state income or inheritance tax, and its housing costs are affordable (median housing cost is $150,000) with below-average property tax rates. The local healthcare offerings are excellent, including several reputable medical centers and WA hospitals. Learn more from US News and World Report.
For help discerning what might be the best place for you, check out the Milken Institute’s Best Cities for Successful Aging index, which ranks 381 metros on how well they serve the unique needs of our elder population.