One of the best things about retirement is that you can choose where to live. You can uproot and venture somewhere warmer, cheaper, and perfectly suited to retirement, for instance. That being said, what are the best cities to retire in and what should you consider when planning a move for your retirement?
What to Consider
The world is your oyster when you retire. You have your choice of any US city and, when making that choice, you should consider all of the following:
The Cost of Living
Cost is a major concern for retirees, and it goes much deeper than simple housing and food costs. What kind of restaurants are nearby and how much do they charge? Do you have access to cheap groceries, and what about movie theaters and other entertainment sites?
Bills are important too, and you should also consider medical costs, insurance (car, life, health), and gas prices. These things can differ considerably from one state to the next and may limit your ability to live and spend during your retirement.
Proximity to Loved Ones
How close are you to the people you love, and can you see them regularly without requiring long travel tunes? These are key considerations, both for you and your loved ones.
One of the problems you have when making these considerations is that family members and friends tend to make promises they can’t keep. For instance, they might promise to visit you every week, even though doing so requires a 3 or 4 hour drive. At first, they may even keep that promise, but when their life gets hectic or they’re tired, busy, and struggling to find free time, those visits will become more infrequent.
Before long, you’re no longer seeing them every week or even every month, and friendships you once valued immensely have now turned into bi-annual visits mixed with occasional Facebook chats.
Always remember that the best thing you can do for your mental health is keep the people you love close.
Quality of Life
There is no “perfect” city for seniors because everyone wants to get something different out of their retirement. If you’re the sort of person who craves interactions and enjoys going to the movie theater, for example, it makes more sense to live in a busy urban area. Alternatively, if you’re an introvert who values solitude and prefers a quiet afternoon reading a book, it makes more sense to move to a quiet city or even a small town.
Take a look at the local area, see what’s nearby, and calculate how you will spend your time.
Although it’s often last on a senior’s list of priorities, travel considerations are incredibly important and can turn a beautiful and idyllic location into an absolute nightmare.
Rural life gets easier if you drive but doesn’t always make sense if you live in the city.
Before moving to a busy area, think about how you will get around. Additionally, consider whether it’s worth living in a small apartment when you could purchase a big house outside of the city. Before moving to a rural area, consider how you will get to doctors’ appointments and what will happen if you have a medical emergency.
Take a Trial Run
Visit your chosen city as a tourist before making your move. Rent an Airbnb, spend a few days or weeks there, and see how you like the area.
Is it as idyllic as you imagined, or does it lose its charm in the cold light of day? Is it as quiet and friendly as you thought, or does it get uncomfortably noisy during evenings and weekends?
These are the things that travel brochures and local authority websites won’t tell you about, so the only way to know is to experience them for yourself. This is true even if you spent a lot of time in that city when you were younger. Cities change, and people change with them. Some of the things you thought were great as a child or young adult may frustrate you as a senior.
Countless seniors have uprooted their lives to move to a town they remembered fondly from childhood vacations or one they enjoyed as a student. When they get there, though, they realize the isolation they once craved is now a risk to their health. The parties they once enjoyed are now a chore.
The Best Cities for Seniors
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, it’s time to look at some of the most popular cities amongst seniors. These are the ones that tick the most boxes for the majority of individuals:
Fort Myers, Florida
With a population of around 700,000, more than a third of which are over 60, Fort Myers is one of the Sunshine State’s best retirement cities. You can visit the Henry Ford and Thomas Edison winter estate, explore some Civil War era history, and drop by the Southwest Florida Museum of History.
The Southwest Florida International Airport is on your doorstep and you also have your pick of cruises.
Here, the average house price is just $200,000, with monthly mortgage costs coming in at less than $1,400. The area is served by the Lee Memorial Hospital, a high-performing hospital that scores particularly well for cardiovascular problems and heart surgeries.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
With an average house price of just over $150,000 and a population of 1 million, Grand Rapids is a large, diverse, and cheap city. Its over-60s population accounts for around 1/5th of the city’s residents.
Grand Rapids also has a large artistic community and lots of cultural sites, so you’ll have plenty of ways to spend all the money you’ll be saving by living there.
Around a quarter of the half-million residents of this city are over 60. The former PA capital is surrounded by farmland and has a large Amish community. The average house price comes in at under $190,000, and its plentiful and bountiful farms ensure there’s always lots of fresh produce in the local markets and shops.
The city of Lancaster has a number of popular museums and culture spots. It also has a growing foodie scene, with multiple award-winning restaurants to visit.
As the largest city on this list, Jacksonville has more to offer extroverts seeking a bustling nightlife and the rapid pace of big city life. It’s home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the birthplace of The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and a great place for cheap food and endless entertainment.
The Jacksonville International Airport is only a dozen miles south of Downtown Jacksonville, and the city itself is served by numerous transport links, including the Jacksonville Skyway.
Manchester, New Hampshire
Manchester is a beautiful, clean, and safe city. It is served by Elliot Hospital, which is the biggest employer in the city, and the Catholic Medical Center. Some of Manchester’s standout attractions include the New Hampshire Institute of Art, the Palace Theatre, and the Currier Museum of Art.