Selecting the right retirement location can be particularly challenging for those living on fixed incomes. In fact, CNBC reports that even the wealthy are worried about their retirement nest eggs, and only 27% of Baby Boomers are confident they’ll have enough money to last through retirement.
One way to stretch those dollars is to select a low-cost retirement location. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to choose from, and by combining the results from some of the financial criteria listed below, you’ll be able to identify the best location to enjoy those Golden Years.
- Overall cost of living — Use Bankrate’s Cost of Living Comparison Calculator or Sperling’s Cost of Living Comparison to find cities to stretch retirement dollars
- Review the “lists” — Forget the retirement of your parents. For those with no specific city in mind, there are some surprising destinations included in the latest Best Of lists. Each uses different criteria to determine the ideal retirement location, so find the lists with the features and benefits that are important to you. Here are just a few of the many lists available: Kiplinger: Best States for Retirement, Forbes: 25 Best Places to Retire, Money’s Best Places to Retire, and Fortune: 10 Best S. Cities for Retirement. Caution: Also consider avoiding some of the worst places to retire: Bankrate: Worst Places to Retire, BenefitsPro: 10 Worst U.S. Places to Retire, and MarketWatch: Retire Here, Not There.
- Taxes — As retirees struggle to stretch disposable income, saving tax dollars could be an important factor in determining where to live any ..but especially during retirement. These nine states have no state income taxes: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Saving up to 9% in state income tax can really make a difference. Another strategy is to look for states that don’t tax Social Security income.
To identify the most tax-friendly states, see Retirement Living: Taxes by State and Tax Foundation: How Does Your State Compare? It’s also important to evaluate sales tax. See Tax Foundation: State & Local Tax Rates. Discuss the impact state taxes could have on retirement income with your CPA or tax advisor.
- Healthcare — Measuring the rising cost of healthcare is a continually moving target as Obamacare continues to ex See HealthCare.gov for insurance plans and prices. For retirees, planning for long-term care could possibly be the most expensive housing they’ll have…and there are huge differences depending on the state. See Genworth’s Long-Term Care Costs by State.
- Use public transportation — Many retirees are also saving thousands each year by moving to areas with less expensive or more efficient public transportatio This will keep costs down for those who want to access local entertainment, healthcare sites, or need to continue working during retirement. See Thrillist: 10 Best U.S. Cities for Getting Around Without a Car. Caution: Keep in mind that these cities are not necessarily inexpensive places to live, but can ideally help you find a good balance of affordable cost of living and low-cost transportation.
- Weather — Temperatures can have a huge impact on your retirement activities, as well as your expenses. Heating or air conditioning costs can add hundreds to monthly utility bills. Review Climate Zone: Average Temperatures, Rainfall, & Snowfall and see WalletHub: 2015’s Most & Least Energy-Expensive States to analyze how weather will affect monthly expenses.
- Insurance costs — This list ranks average annual car insurance premiums by state. There can be dramatic differences in home and auto insurance costs in locations within your state or in a nearby location across state lines. While you may not make a decision to move to an area because of the cost of insurance, it’s just one more factor to evaluate.
- Retiring abroad — Many Americans are taking a close look at overseas locations where housing and healthcare costs may be much Here are some of the latest articles and lists: 7 Best Places to Retire Overseas, Retiring Happily Abroad: 21 Best Places, Best Places to Retire Overseas as a Single Woman, and 9 Affordable Places to Retire Overseas. Caution: Making a decision to retire abroad involves careful consideration. Visit multiple times, learn the local customs and language barriers, talk with Americans and other expats who have moved there, and join social networking groups to get the real inside story.
We’ve covered cost-cutting selection criteria for your retirement destination here, but watch for innovative new strategies to reduce housing costs in a future issue.