It’s fun to think about where we would like to retire. This sort of “possibility thinking” is especially likely to happen when we’re on vacation, and we’re enthralled with a new place that we’re discovering and enjoying.
I got swept up in this big-time in February, when my husband and I visited New Zealand and Australia. On our recent cruise from Amsterdam to Barcelona, several cities and towns appealed to us as well (Lisbon, Portugal and Seville, Spain in particular).
Before you get too swept away by a new place you’ve discovered or too committed to moving to a new destination for retirement, there are some more practical, down-to-earth things to consider.
Recently, I polled the readers of this blog to determine how many people are giving at least some consideration to moving someplace else when they retire, and how important various criteria are when selecting a retirement destination.
The sample size was admittedly small. I’ll reopen the poll at some point in the future when the blog has attracted a bigger following to see if the results shift. But the results seem logical, although there were a few surprises.
The biggest surprise is that 80% of the respondents were considering moving.
Of the remaining 20%, half said they would stay put, and the other half hadn’t even considered the question.
Also surprising is that 30% would seriously consider retiring to an LGBT retirement community, and an additional 50% would consider it if it was located in an area they would want to live in anyway. Of the remaining responses, 10% were not aware that such places existed and 10% were not LGBT.
That said, here is the ranking of most important criteria, according to the survey:
- Quality of, and proximity to, health care
- Cost of living
- Same-sex marriage recognized, or similar recognition (civil union, domestic partnership)
- Cultural amenities
- Gay/lesbian or LGBT-friendly health services
- Recreational amenities
- Political climate
- Proximity to loved ones
- Gay/lesbian community (business, organizations, churches, etc. that serve primarily LGBT people)
The only criterion that failed to gather much interest was appreciating property values.
Readers suggested two more criteria in the comments: public transportation and proximity to a major airport. These are excellent suggestions, and I’ll include them when I re-open the poll.
The two biggest surprises in this ranking, for me, are that safety is so high, and gay/lesbian community is so low.
Several respondents indicated that they were planning to split their time between two places. These were generally a warmer and a cooler locale, which is not at all uncommon for retirees.
Two people indicated they would like a home in the U.S. and one in Europe. This is an interesting idea, but my first thought is that this is going to require a significantly larger level of savings – not only to maintain two households, but also to afford the airfare back and forth, perhaps multiple times a year.
But that’s one of the main reasons it’s important to think about where you want to live when you retire a long time before you actually retire; it gives you a clearer picture of what your savings target should be.
As you consider the list above, naturally your priorities will probably vary. It’s a useful exercise to sit down (with your spouse, if you have one) and come up with your own list.
As I profile more “Fabulous Places to Retire” in future blog posts, I will apply these criteria to each place I spotlight.
© 2013 Dave Hughes. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: Tracy Lee Carroll