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House with incredible view

2013-10-05 Ansel Adams

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.

...continue reading "Deciding Where to Retire"

100_33782013-08-25 Evan Esar

In October, 2012, MoneyRates.com published their annual “10 Best States to Retire” article, along with their ranking of all 50 states.  While the author of the article readily admits that much of what makes a good place to retire is subjective and will vary from person to person, any attempt to generate such lists using statistical data usually produces results ranging from random and curious to bizarre and downright laughable.

This is illustrated by the fact that Idaho came in at #2 and South Dakota came in at #9.  Not that there aren’t nice people or nice attributes in these states, but I doubt that anyone would consider these places to be retirement havens.

Most attempts to rank places to live using statistical data produce questionable results. 

First, states are not homogenous.  Within California, living in San Diego would be night-and-day different from living in, say, Stockton.  In my home state of Arizona, Phoenix is considerably different from Bisbee or Yuma or Kingman.

Second, all one has to do is alter the criteria or tweak the weighting of the criteria to get different results.  In this MoneyRates survey, they weight their five categories (senior population growth, economic conditions, crime rate, climate, and life expectancy) equally.  The single category "economic conditions" encompasses cost of living, tax rates, job growth vs. unemployment - all lumped in together.

So, I place about as much credibility in surveys like this as I would put in my daily horoscope.  And certainly, one shouldn’t make any life decisions based on either.

...continue reading "Places to Retire Statistics Can Prove Anything – and Nothing"

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Globe with Europe facing

2013-08-20 Franz Kafka

One thing that is clear from the responses I have received to my recent readers poll is that most respondents are either giving serious consideration to moving, or at least considering the possibility.  Over a third are considering either moving out of the United States entirely or maintaining a second residence (perhaps an apartment or condo) in another country.

Moving anywhere is a big decision involving a lot of factors, but the decision to move overseas adds several new dimensions.  The biggest of these is immigration laws.  Immigration laws vary widely from country to country, and in many cases it’s harder to immigrate as a retiree than it is for a younger person who has some years of work life remaining.

Several countries, particularly several in Central America, are very welcoming of American retirees.  Others, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada don’t want retirees at all, unless they have a sizeable amount of money to invest.  Countries such as these are no doubt concerned about the impact of retirees on their more socialized health care systems.

...continue reading "Thinking of Retiring Abroad? Here’s What You Really Need to Know"