How to Decide Where to Retire

How to Decide Where to Retire

My husband retired a couple years ago and we’ve been on the hunt for where to live ever since. We bought a trailer to see the sights but mostly to visit towns and see what we liked. To be honest, we have spent more travel time vacationing in our trailer, but we do consider every town for it’s potential.

As background, we sold our home in the busy SF Bay Area and are renting a home in an active adult community close to our son and grandson. It hasn’t been without challenges. We’re loving spending time with them and enjoy many things about this community but haven’t decided if it’s the best place for us…so we continue to look.the shoreline at Lake Tahoe

Here are a few important things we’re keeping in mind as we look for the “perfect” place to retire if such a place exists.

Proximity to good medical care

The older we get, the more likely we will require medical care so it needs to be top notch and easily accessible. Living in a remote place with a podunk clinic that may necessitate being medevaced out for emergencies, is not our idea of smart.

Accessibility to big box stores

We buy many of our staples at Costco, Target and other big box stores. It saves money and makes life easy. Living too far from those stores means we will pay more for what we need and settle for less than what we want.

Crime rate

The older we get the more vulnerable we become so the crime rate is important. I don’t want to feel unsafe heading for my car in the evening when leaving a grocery store.


The older we get the less tolerant we are of weather fluctuations. Extreme heat, high humidity, freezing rain and constant clouds are not our idea of fun. A temperate climate without massive swings in temperature is high on our list. That said, we do love the change of seasons.

Cost of living

Living on a fixed income that isn’t adjusted for increases in the cost of living mean we want to live where our dollar goes furthest. Traveling in our trailer we have seen gasoline swings as much as $2.00 a gallon!

Cultural and recreational resources

Our idea of retirement is not sitting on the couch watching endless hours of television so we want to live in a place with options for both entertainment and physical activity.

Proximity to family and loved ones

The older we get the more precious our time spent with loved ones becomes. Our daughter lives in Canada and our son lives in the Sacramento area. It would be so much simpler if they lived closer together.Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing Eric Javits hat at Lake Tahoe

We’ve visited quite a few small towns in the last 2 weeks and ruled most out because they didn’t meet enough of our criteria. It’s hard to say with certainty which of these is most important so we judge each location individually.

What do you think most important when deciding where to live in retirement?

Thanks for reading ladies and have a great day!

This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.


  1. August 26, 2018 / 1:14 pm

    Oh my, I’m so glad to see you all write about this subject. My husband and I, and most of our friends discuss this frequently. The main floor bedroom is about all anyone can agree on! My children all live in Philadelphia which is 3 hours away, so I’m looking in that area but who knows!

    • August 26, 2018 / 2:47 pm

      Good luck with your hunt, it’s a tough one. If my children lived closer together I would be living by them.

  2. Barb
    August 25, 2018 / 11:36 pm

    Being in our early 70s, close, great medical care is most important for my husband and I, who are both retired. When one ages and might need specialized medical treatment, you don’t want to have to be driving long distances for those treatments, nor to visit your loved one if they end up in the hospital.
    Also, a suggestion for those traveling to check out potential retirement towns, visit during all seasons, and stay awhile. What looks perfect at one time of year, may be a real deal breaker at another. We’ve had friends do some long term rentals in places they were considering so they could get a taste of what to expect during all times of the year. Good luck with your search, Jennifer!

  3. August 25, 2018 / 12:39 pm

    I agree that moving to be near family is risky and we did just that only to have the family move away! Our list also included close proximity to a golf course for my husband. We traversed Canada twice over our working careers and when we retired, after the ‘close to family’ failed, we resolved that ‘west was best’ and settled in Kelowna, BC in a friendly and active golf course community (adult focused but not restrictive). I share your challenges but moving frequently and looking at each move as a new adventure helped facilitate becoming established. Winters do have cloud cover which we break up with a trip away. I now get to drive home amongst the orchards and vineyards compared to driving on busy (unattractive) highways. That said, this summer has been frustrating with the smoky skies but then again, weather is changing everywhere; we just returned from a wonderful holiday in central Europe with extreme high temps and low water levels on the Danube. Good luck in finding somewhere ‘perfect for YOU’.

  4. joan
    August 24, 2018 / 11:12 pm

    Speaking as a “daughter” I was very supportive of my parents choosing to move to the same town as my sister in their retirement rather than their original plan to live half-way between us since she was staying put and I was more mobile. This way I could visit my parents and sister in the same trip, and as my parents aged it was comforting to know that one of us was close by for emergencies. Talk to your kids and see what they’d like as they will be the ones having to look after you and your affairs at some point and if you can make it easier on them, they will surely appreciate it!

    • August 25, 2018 / 5:04 am

      They would both like us to live nearby them which makes it tough because they’re a 1,000 miles apart. Your solution sounds perfect for your parents Joan.

  5. Gloria
    August 24, 2018 / 7:23 pm

    Safe, reliable, and varied forms of public transportation….and a reason to use them! When my mother felt she should stop driving, her mental and physical health took a steep decline. Her independence had been such a driver of her vitality. She had relatives to ask for help, but it just wasn’t the same for her. That being said, living in a place that offers real personal growth and stimulation is important. I guess I am talking about an urban setting, with easy access to parks and outdoor recreation. A central travel hub too. Hey…I live in a place just like that…..Washington DC. Surprised?

    • August 26, 2018 / 2:49 pm

      Great point about the transportation!

  6. Jill
    August 24, 2018 / 6:32 pm

    Moving to be near family can be risky as grown children often have to move to be where the jobs are. Life is unpredictable. My husband wanted to retire to a rural area and so we did only to have him die within a short time. I was stuck as I could not sell our house. However, almost ten years later I am happy here and like the country. You just do the best you can and things have a way of working out.

    • August 24, 2018 / 8:53 pm

      Thanks for sharing with us Jill. It’s a challenge many women don’t anticipate but will have to deal with. I’m so glad you’re doing well. We do have to do the best with the hand we are dealt.

  7. Laurie
    August 24, 2018 / 4:54 pm

    Hallmark Village. The one with the big waterfall at the end of the village. If we can find it, let’s be neighbors❤️

  8. Annette
    August 24, 2018 / 4:17 pm

    Hi Jennifer,
    This is a topic that is on all of our minds. I agree with everything you mentioned on your list and I am sure each one of us would place certain ones as more of a priority than others. I personally cannot handle the heat so it would be important to me to live in a milder temperature. One comment I would make is that moving close to family isn’t always a long term living solution. In fact I don’t have one friend that wants to move next to their kids at this point in their lives. I saw a few of my parent’s friends do this and here is what happened. One couple moved to Portland to be next to kids/grandkids and then a few years down the road the daughter’s husband got a job transfer and the family moved out of state. Another couple moved close to family and said they were miserable because 15 years later the grandkids were grown up and had all moved out of the area. Also, my mother-in-law moved to a retirement community in Seal Beach 17 years ago to be next to her daughter and now her daughter just retired and moved to St. John, UT. Now at 87 years old my mother-in-law is having to move again to follow her. I think the most important thing is to do what is best for you both. A lot of us are in our 60’s and twenty years from now kids may not be in the same town, some may get married and move on, there might be job changes, etc… I think you are so smart to think this all out and study all your options.

    • August 24, 2018 / 8:48 pm

      Thanks for sharing this Annette! Following our children is not always fool proof. Few people stay put long term so we need to decide what location makes us happiest.

  9. Anne
    August 24, 2018 / 3:41 pm

    We retired a couple of years ago, and created a similar list to yours, but it also needed to include dark skies for my husband’s astronomy hobby. We chose Auburn Lake Trails in Cool, CA. Not so far from you, based on your local travels to places like Nevada City. It is not as fancy as the community you are living in , but it has a variety of property sizes and storeys. Pool, golf, horses, trails, mixed age community- very friendly and inclusive. 20-ish minutes to medical and Costco in Roseville, 6 miles to Auburn for Target, Michaels, Home Depot. Reasonable home prices, especially compared to LA or Bay Area!
    We couldn’t be happier to be here – closer to grandchildren in the Bay Area – we were previously in Los Angeles. In fact, I am off to the water exercise class!

    • August 24, 2018 / 8:43 pm

      It sounds wonderful Anne! That’s a gorgeous area. Being in shooting distance to all these things makes things much easier

  10. August 24, 2018 / 3:34 pm

    Good morning, I understand your dilemma, and it is a process to find the right fit for living in retirement. I have lived in my house for 50 years. I think I have shared this with you before. My husband and I lived in Santa Clara from 1950 until 1964. We could see the handwriting on the wall, and today I am happy we made a move, but I was homesick for 30 years. Until Macy’s came to Redding, Ca. Funny how one thing can take away the pain of leaving my family and friends forever. We live in the heat from late June until early September. But the heat is dry and not much humidity. Redding was a beautiful place until last month when we had the Carr fire. Our beautiful lakes are chard with black dirt. But now to the best part of my story. We have housing, Costco, MACY’S and dignity health care providers for Medicare, and we are close to Ashland and the Oregon coast. We have friends who take their RV and park it at Trinidad for the two hot months in the summer. The best of both worlds. Shasta, Trinity, Modoc, and Lassen counties offer many activities, and the Sacramento airport is two hours away. I wish you the best of luck on your journey. The perfect place is waiting for you and your husband.

    • August 24, 2018 / 8:37 pm

      The fire was beastly!! You make excellent points. Compromise is part of everything in life. Housing is no different. You’re a trooper Betty

  11. Cathy
    August 24, 2018 / 1:51 pm

    This is list a good start especially if your thinking of moving to an unfamiliar area. Access to family and health care were my top factors when choosing our home several years ago. I love being close to my grands and living in a semi rural area. My peaceful setting does come with some trade offs but I love the peace and quiet. I wish luck with your search.

    • August 24, 2018 / 8:33 pm

      Peace and quiet is why we sold our home in May. The traffic had become hectic and the noise level stressful. I know there will be trade offs to every location.

  12. August 24, 2018 / 11:03 am

    We have lived in the same small town on the Canadian prairie for over 40 years. Since retirement, we too have been considering whether or not to stay here or move elsewhere. Like you, we’ve spent some time in our trailer this summer exploring other possibilities. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with an incurable cancer five years ago and we feel the need to remain within reasonably close proximity to the cancer centre where treatment is available. That limits our search area significantly because my cancer is rare and treatment is only available in one place in western Canada! We presently live approximately two hours away. Other considerations for us include the availability of senior care, which is very limited in our present location, and proximity to a good, affordable golf course which we presently have at the end of our street! Decisions, decisions… not easy to make!

    • August 24, 2018 / 8:30 pm

      I’m sorry you’re desking with that Elaine! Everyone’s situation is unique and we need to do what’s best for us.

  13. Susan
    August 24, 2018 / 9:26 am

    I’d like to add there are real benefits to living in a University town. Much more diverse, educational opportunities for seniors. etc. I live in a temperate area (KY) so enjoy the seasons-fall is stunning here, and winter not that long. To me friends are a vital part of growing older too–the kids are mobile and can move around. I’d never move to be close to my kid, as then she would get another job and move on. The unhappiest most discontent people I know did that…
    With a one story house and a good community, I’d be happy. There is always the possibility to move one more time to senior assisted living or personal care that they have here. Assisted living is quite independent, personal care is where meds can be administered, and then nursing home if we get beyond that. At that point I probably wouldn’t care much anyway. Sounds cynical but I put in 10 years caring for my Mom and now we are both caring for his Dad, who had to move here from FL.

    • August 24, 2018 / 8:28 pm

      That’s not fun Susan. My parents both died very young but needed help in the end. A university town has great benefits. My parents both lived in assisted living before my dad needed nursing care. My mom fought it all. My dad accepted it gracefully. Hang in there

  14. Anon
    August 24, 2018 / 9:25 am

    I live where there are mountains of snow to shovel in the winter. It’s still too early to tell where our only child will land. He is about to start university in the fall. If we stay here, which is where all my family lives, I think we’ll relocate to a place where snow is taken care of — a condo. My husband can work remotely for his job. We think it might be best to relocate before retirement. So much to think about, and so much still uo in the air. It’s too early to decide.

    At the moment, my parents ard frail and elderly. Someone asked about moving in with a mother with dementia. I would not do that. Before long, they need 24-hour care, and caregivers must be hired. I would sell her house, and use that to pay for her care in a dementia care facility. Many people don’t realize how difficult dementia caring is, and that hired caregivers often do not show up for work, or that you can never go on a holiday. It can also be very hard on the caregiver’s health, marriage, family life and friendships. It sounds very noble until you live the 24-hour grind. Don’t think siblings will lend a hand, either. Care home exist because they are needed.

    • August 24, 2018 / 8:14 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing that! Dementia care is serious business and quickly requires a professional facility. There is so much to consider about where to retire.

  15. Eileen
    August 24, 2018 / 8:39 am

    I moved from a one story house in a mild climate, to a one story house in a retirement community in a hotter climate in Sacramento California. The two things that are missing is walk ability to shops/ stores/ parks, and mild climate. I find living where people get sick and pass away at a greater rate than a normal community concerning, the topic of who “can” drive is common. So living closer to a more mixed age community, I would consider an advantage. I’m still working, and enjoy being around all ages, I may not retire, as I work for myself. Things to consider.

  16. Rose
    August 24, 2018 / 8:38 am

    Forgot to add – friends too are close by.

  17. Joanna
    August 24, 2018 / 8:36 am

    My list included:
    No big city -too much noise, too much traffic, too much stress ( I want to be able to drive well into my old age)
    Low crime rate (high on list)
    Close to hospital (✔️)
    Close to ocean (it’s my zen place) ( love to boat)
    Lots to do (✔️)
    Enough shopping to suffice (big box stores such as Home Depot, Costco, etc)
    Weather ( no or very little snow, no high humidity, etc.)
    We found everything we wanted in our community by the Sea. I do miss some of the bigger clothing stores but then I would only buy more stuff that I don’t need since I’m not working. The rain in the winter sometimes gets boring but it’s still better than snow. The trade off is we don’t have the hot, humid summers and the mosquitoes coming out in the evening to drive you back indoors. My kids live nowhere close but that’s ok. We visit them and they love to come out for a visit to our laid back, beach community in the summer and/or to escape the snow at Christmas. We’ve travelled and lived around the world and know other lifestyles but this community meets all our needs. We couldn’t be happier with our home, neighbourhood and community. I hope you find yours soon!

    • Eileen
      August 24, 2018 / 8:42 am

      Where are you?Joanna?

      • Joanna
        August 24, 2018 / 8:40 pm

        On Vancouver Island. You?

    • August 24, 2018 / 8:08 pm

      Great list Joanna! You’re so lucky to be settled where you’re happiest.

  18. Rose
    August 24, 2018 / 8:35 am

    As a Canadian I’ve enjoyed reading all the choices/decisions re where to live when one retires.

    I live in a major city on the west coast and nearing 70 – still working a few days a month and currently will be staying put. We live in a house. We have a change of seasons here – good weather – access to excellent medical care – which unfortunately is needed right now re my husband – 5 min drive to downtown. Enough big box stores – that I don’t go to – within a 5 min drive. Community centres close by – either can walk/drive. Can walk fortunately or drive to some small shopping areas. The bus is 1 block away. Relatives are either a 20 min drive away or a short plane ride. US relatives are scattered throughout the states. I visit the ones in Washington. Either drive or take bus/Amtrak. Mexico/Hawaii are short enough flights if one wants a change in the winter. When housing prices skyrocketed here we did think of perhaps selling and moving to the Island – cheaper homes – but what would have been the real benefit of moving. Yes we would have extra $ for sure but what else.

    • August 24, 2018 / 8:06 pm

      You sound very happy with your choice Rose. You live in a gorgeous spot. We loved the pace of life on Vancouver Island but had a very unfortunate experience with the medical care which nearly cost my husband his life. We do have a great fondness for the PNW so are keeping our options open.

  19. marlene alves
    August 24, 2018 / 8:26 am

    I found this topic of real interest as I read of couples retiring. Jenifer your list is a great start; however, being a few decades older and alone; I’d like to add a few things to your list:
    a. being able to keep an independent lifestyle
    b. being close to a major airport (trips to Canada via air instead of driving)
    c. becoming part of the community (i.e., making friends, volunteering, etc….hugely important as one gets older.)
    d. staying very near children & grandchildren; the quickly passing years make proximity essential; especially when you need each other.

    Thank you for expanding the topics from fashion & styles to life’s larger issues; it’s a great forum & quite helpful.

    • August 24, 2018 / 8:01 pm

      Those are excellent points Marlene. Thanks for sharing them. The fact is many women out live their husbands and need to think about that. If I were single I think I’d feel quite differently about where I’d want to be.

  20. janice bedo
    August 24, 2018 / 8:00 am

    We live in Bowling Green, Ky. It’s a university town about 50 miles north of Nashville. My husband took a job here in 1980, when we were living in Louisville, to join and help open the Corvette plant. We have raised two kids and have loved it. We have theaters, restaurants, rivers, lakes and creeks. Great medical care and if we need more specialized care we can travel to Nashville in less than an hour. We have big box stores, little boutiques, and caves, too. We have four seasons which fall and spring are our favorites. Western University has a beautiful campus and lots of amenities for the public and is very active in the school systems and community. We have a son and grandkids here and a daughter in Nashville. If our son were to move, we would still stay here. I’ve heard of so many people moving to be near their children and then the children up and move through a transfer or whatever. We have many friendships and are active in church. We love it here!

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:56 pm

      I’ve heard the same stories about people who move to be near their children who then leave. It reminds me that each day needs to be taken as it comes.

  21. Linda L.
    August 24, 2018 / 7:45 am

    Hi Jennifer! My husband retired several years ago and while he waited for me to finish working started researching where we would retire. My two children are in California; one in LA & daughter with 4 children in San Diego. While we had the same list as yours, we often remembered the wise words of a dear Aunt, “Nothing is perfect”. With that in mind, we sold almost everything in NY and moved to a golf/tennis resort community in Palm Desert, California. Cost of living is a bit less than NY; close to great shopping; very walkable; excellent medical care. One negative is the hot summers. We are close to the grandkids & have escaped the weather traveling to San Diego every other week; a good respite & we get to help our daughter out. Going forward we plan on traveling during the hot months. When I retired from 25 years as a librarian in NY one of my gifts from my wonderful colleagues was a plaque saying ‘Home is where you’re needed most”. With 4 children under the age of 7 and a Navy Seal husband , our daughter really needed us. We think of it as our contribution to the country! If and when they move (which could be in 3 years) we’ll reset our compass & take it from there. With this move I unloaded so much “stuff” which was great; I let it go, as they say, and I’m ready for the next chapter,

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:53 pm

      That’s a great attitude Linda! I hate feeling weighed down by possessions. Sadly my husband does not feel the same. I’d be doing exactly what you’re doing if my daughter needed me!’

  22. Lori
    August 24, 2018 / 7:37 am

    We are hoping to retire in two years, but may have to work longer due to finances. Our number one goal is to stay close to our children and grandchildren who live in the same town we live in. Our second goal is to to have access to good medical care and our third goal is to live in an area of town with a low crime rate. Summers are extremely hot where we live, but we are not willing to move away from our children for a better climate. We also don’t want to retire and sit at home watching television. We like to spend time with family and we want to be able to be able to afford to continue eating out a couple of times a week. We have a trailer and it is important to us that we can afford to maintain it and travel on monthly trips to the coast or mountains and take twice yearly longer trips to see National Parks. If one of our children move, we will stay in the town with our other child and grandchildren and use our trailer to visit the other child and grandchildren as often as possible.

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:49 pm

      That sounds like a great plan Lori. We love traveling in our little trailer too so that needs to be worked into our budget.

  23. Katie
    August 24, 2018 / 7:18 am

    For me, friends and continued professional involvement are an important factor as well. I am retiring in stages – or as my friends and I say “it is preferment” – doing more of what you like to do and are good at. My husband and I love to travel and take trips with our kids, friends and family a few times a year. We also love being involved with our grandchildren and going to their games and activities. We are looking at selling our home and moving to a condo in the next couple of years – one floor living is very appealing. I think not taking anything for granted and being grateful for each day is so important to a happy retirement.

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:47 pm

      You’re exactly right Katie! Each day is a blessing. I’m not against a condo but my husband is.

  24. Ruth Ann
    August 24, 2018 / 7:05 am

    Near a major airport (no more than ~ one hour travel time) is on our list. We currently live more than two hours out. Our friends and family are pretty scattered and the distance to the airport seems to add at least half a day to the time it takes to get to them.

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:45 pm

      That’s a great point about the airport. We’ve always lived within an hour of one and hated the drive at that!

  25. Elizabeth Meinholdt
    August 24, 2018 / 6:53 am

    Enjoy all your thoughts. My husband is 74 and I just turned 70. We own a home in Brenham, Tx. It is a two story home but we have everything we need on the bottom floor so we are good. We also own a farm about 35 mins away where we also have a home. We raise cattle with our children who also live close by so that is my husband’s outlet and all we need to do is to stop and get a few groceries and we can stay there is we want. I work 16 hrs. a week. The one thing we know that we won’t always be able to do is the yard care that a home requires. We are 45 minutes away from good doctors and hospitals. Although we do have fair care in our town but for anything major it is to go 45 minutes away. We have our church where we are both involved in things beside Sunday Services and friends here. Since I was sick at the end of last year made us think about our house which does not have handicap bathrooms but we have a plan that make that work with some minor renovations if necessary. Will I want to live in this big house if he were gone not sure about that. But will decide that when the time comes.

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:43 pm

      Thanks for sharing Elizabeth! It sounds like you’ve got a fabulous plan. I do know any choice we make needs to be flexible so I won’t beat myself up about needing it to change.

  26. Jean
    August 24, 2018 / 6:49 am

    We are from Cincinnati, retired to Fl, adult community with a golf course for him, tennis for me. Your list is similar to ours. We live in a city full of theatres, art gallerys, concerts and restaurants. I unfortunately have needed medical care and I’ve had the absolute best. The one thing we found we just couldn’t meet on our list while having all our other wants was living near our 3 children. They are far spread from one another, they are vulnerable to transfers, they live in the cold! There are planes. I’m not one for long road trips. So that’s what we do. Another option is to rent a place near the kids for longer visits. A bonus living 15 minutes from the #1 beach in the US is the grandkids always want to come. We enjoy lots of family visitors. They hardest part is how fast the time is going – can’t seem to solve that one. This was a great move for us. Ben u years already. We are here until they have to come for us!

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:40 pm

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve had medical challenges but that struggle is real for many of us as we ago. I love how you’ve decided what works best for you.

  27. Stormy Smith
    August 24, 2018 / 6:48 am

    This is an issue I think about often. Our children/grandchildren are spread out all over the states, so there’s no chance of being near all of them. It also seems crazy to move somewhere in the middle of them where we don’t know anybody. So with the help of this post and other ideas in the comments, I will make my criteria list and see how it goes. We have moved several times in our marriage for my husband’s career and while it’s sometimes challenging, I think it’s also made me more independent, courageous and creative. I think the main thing is once you make your choice, to make it work.

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:38 pm

      Thanks for sharing Stormy. I often need to refer to our list when we see something enticing that meets very few of them. It keeps me on track.

  28. August 24, 2018 / 6:31 am

    Oh my gosh; my husband and I feel like we are alone in this quest. Thank you, Jennifer, for talking about it. We live in downtown Chicago, which is perfect in every way except for winter and cost of living – can we make it work? Don’t know. Our other options are Galveston or Las Cruces – both very very different. We can’t decide around where his kids might live – but I know he wants to be close to them. I want some travel time thrown in as well . . . I’ll think about it tomorrow. 😉

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:35 pm

      You are not alone “Scarlett!! It’s a big decision.

  29. Dorothy
    August 24, 2018 / 6:26 am

    We have children and grandchildren scattered up and down the east coast of the US and we see our early retirement years as seasonal migration! To faciliate the summers in Boston, the winters in Atlanta and spring/autumn in DC, we’ve “bought” a bedroom in each of their homes. Once we can no longer migrate, we’ve identified a community in Mexico where we can afford to live with assistance. So we’re learning Spanish now!

    • Jackie S. Middleton
      August 25, 2018 / 7:48 am

      Would love to know more about the Mexico option, Dorothy – where can I find info?

  30. Suzanne
    August 24, 2018 / 6:15 am

    I think your list is excellent but would give a weighted average to proximity to either of your children/grandchildren. You can’t replace time spent with them plus as you age, being close to an adult child will be a big help.

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:32 pm

      I completely agree Suzanne.

  31. Cindy
    August 24, 2018 / 6:13 am

    I really appreciate your list, Jennifer. My husband & I are nearing retirement & are starting to think about where to live long term. In fact, we’re visiting Florida in September to check out a few areas to see if any of them appeal to us. We also have an RV, so we can plant ourselves in a spot for a while then move on if it doesn’t suit us.

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:31 pm

      The RV is a perfect way to check places out! Getting to know a place before you jump into it seems really smart to me.

  32. August 24, 2018 / 6:08 am

    I enjoyed this post and all of the comments. My husband and I live in a small town West Texas town, Seminole, near the New Mexico border. We are thinking about moving to a new area. I see appeal in a University town and my husband thinks he would enjoy close proximity to a lake for fishing. We are still looking and talking. It’s interesting to visit and see what’s out there.

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:29 pm

      I’m loving these comments too Linda. I’m lucky to have a great group of smart, supportive readers.

  33. Barbara
    August 24, 2018 / 5:57 am

    We went through the same thing when my husband retired 8 years ago, starting to think about it several years before his retirement. We ended up staying put and doing a lot of traveling. We are within short traveling distance of family and close friends and cherish the friends we’ve made during our 26 years here. There is no “perfect” place, but I hope you find the place that brings you the most joy. BTW, I’m in Waco, Texas, home to the “Fixer-Upper/Magnolia” folks.

    • Beverly Glotzbach
      August 24, 2018 / 6:05 am

      Stay or go and “Bloom” where you are!!!!

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:27 pm

      It sounds like you made a great choice!!

  34. J'Laine Bradley
    August 24, 2018 / 5:38 am

    My husband and I are 55 and trying to make plans toward retirement. Our youngest just moved out and we are finally empty nesters. However, without a break we are now caring for my 83 year old mother. We are blessed that she only lives a couple miles away. Although she has worsening dementia and it looks like she won’t be able to stay alone much longer. We have changed our plans and are considering selling our home and moving in with her. That way we could save money, get our house sold and be ready to purchase another when we find the “perfect” place. Is any one else in this situation?

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:26 pm

      That’s a tough spot J’Laine! What will you do when she needs more care than you can give her? These are such challenging times. Good luck!

  35. Beverly Glotzbach
    August 24, 2018 / 5:30 am

    I loved reading your thought process about where you want to permanently “land” in retirement. We are about to do just that. The only point you made I have a bit of concern about is climate. We are moving from South Georgia (almost Florida) to Alabama. We will need a bit of warmer clothing. I grew up in Tennessee so I am familiar with the climate, but have lived in South Georgia for 30 years. However, I think being close to my daughter and granddaughters will be so worth it. We are trading hurricanes for tornados. (We are installing a tornado shelter!) And I am looking forward to having a change of seasons, which I have missed! All other comments you made, I feel we are right on point. My husband’s main requirement for retirement was he wanted a detached garage for his woodworking shop, so he will not be bored. I will have to look for a new church home and also want to join the YMCA so we can stay active and be around people our age on a regular basis. Our new neighborhood is a mix of ages, which I think I will like. Older people to form friendships with and younger people to keep my outlook young. Wish us luck, that our choice is on target. (P.S. My husband has been analyzing pros and cons for a couple of years)

    • Beverly Glotzbach
      August 24, 2018 / 6:03 am

      And yes! We are moving into a one story house with wide doorways for wheelchairs (which we might need someday) and a roll in shower and raised toilets!(all brick so low maintenance) It’s our old people house!

      • August 24, 2018 / 6:39 am

        Hi Beverly; it’s Kelly’s sister 🙂 Fancy meeting you here at Jennifer’s and how lovely. xoxo Scottie

        • Beverly Glotzbach
          August 24, 2018 / 7:56 am

          Hey! I see your posting with K. and L. Just visited that sweet granddaughter last weekend. B. is a hoot!!!! I hear about her adventures with K!

        • August 24, 2018 / 7:22 pm

          Such a small world Scottie!

    • August 24, 2018 / 10:06 am

      Hi Beverly, I live in Montgomery, AL & have lived in Birmingham and Gulf Shores. We loved here to be close to family and now my husband just passed, I’m happy we made the move.
      What part of the state are you moving to?

      • Beverly Glotzbach
        August 24, 2018 / 6:37 pm

        We are moving to Athens. (close to Huntsville). My daughter lives in Madison. My mother lives about an hour away in Tennessee.

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:21 pm

      That sounds wonderful Beverly!!

  36. August 24, 2018 / 5:29 am

    The comment about moving to a one story home is so right on!!!

  37. August 24, 2018 / 5:26 am

    We thought about everything that you mentioned as criteria except we don’t have any children so that deleted that question. we had been vacationing in the area we chose to retire for about ten years. We knew what we were getting into moving to a very hot climate in Florida. When we got serious about moving here, we went to the local urban area (Tampa) and walked around the Hospital. Someone saw us and asked”can I help you” and it turned out to be the CEO of the entire Hospital! From her we got a lot of good information on how to find good doctors in the area! We are in a small community now but close enough to Tampa to be able to enjoy dining, shopping, and the theatre. The summer months are a challenge, but the rest of the year is delightful!

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:16 pm

      It’s interesting you say this Linda. I often think our decision would be so much easier if we didn’t have children. I want to be in shooting distance of them which keeps us on the west coast.

  38. Kathy
    August 24, 2018 / 5:20 am

    This is a great list and important to consider all these factors to enjoy a happy retirement life. However, I think you will find, like many, that being close to family is the most important. I know my parents moved to a location they considered perfect, but after a few years and a couple more grandchildren, they moved back. They still have friends and stay in touch, but family brought them back. Many people are lucky enough to have grandchildren close, but for those of us who don’t it’s difficult. GOOD LUCK! And thanks for sharing your list.

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:14 pm

      Thanks for sharing Kathy! Family dynamics are all so different. Our hunt goes on as we weigh the options.

  39. Barbara Daley
    August 24, 2018 / 5:19 am

    I love your list. Its perfect. Retired 8 yrs ago and at the time was living in a 2 family w my daughter and her family above me. For me the top of the list was family and cost. So I’ve stayed where I am and have loved it . I’m a nurse and continue to work some so I can travel. And I try to focus on the perks of getting older and not the negatives????

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:10 pm

      That sounds like a perfect situation for you Barbara! Thinking positively brings more if it our way 😉

  40. Susan
    August 24, 2018 / 5:14 am

    To be quite honest, I have never quite understood why retirees pack up and move hundreds (or thousands) of miles away from their families, friends, dentists/doctors/accountants etc.

    • Margot
      August 24, 2018 / 5:57 am

      It saddened me that my in-laws retired to Florida (we are in the Chicagoland area as were they) just before we had children. Once we had children we didn’t want to spend all of our vacation traveling to Florida plus they moved to an area without much for a family to do (their area didn’t even have a swimming pool or hotels close by when my kids were younger). Being on a fixed income, they only visited here 2-3 times over almost 30 years. When they entered their 80’s they became interested in knowing the kids and my FIL had a relationship with them via email and Facebook. When my FIL became ill we spent hundreds of dollars flying to be by his side and on hotels and when they passed away we didn’t ask the kids to take time away from college studies because they really didn’t know them. A regrettable experience.
      In contrast, my mother lives 4 hours away – a doable distance (and expense) and we drove there every 4-6 weeks (or more often) when they were younger and hung out with family. My kids remain close to their maternal grandmother and cousins and, in fact, are closest to their cousins who live 10 hours away but planned their “grandma-on-the-farm” visits to coordinate with ours.

      • August 24, 2018 / 7:06 pm

        One never knows why people make the choices they do Margot. I do know we all live the the consequences of those decisions. That may be why I am weighing my options so carefully.

    • Roseanna
      August 24, 2018 / 9:20 am

      I am with you. I live in Los Angeles and even with its biggest drawback-traffic, I love it. It so much the city but my friends, dentists, doctors etc. I am 78 and still go to the beach. It takes 15 minutes and now there is the option of the metro. I may just have to Uber more someday.

      • August 24, 2018 / 7:08 pm

        That sounds great for you Roseanna

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:03 pm

      I don’t know Susan. Perhaps the need for change and a fresh start? Or needling a less expensive location.

  41. Leslie Brodbeck
    August 24, 2018 / 5:06 am

    You’re so lucky to be enjoying retirement. I think you’re doing it in the right way, no rash decisions and having fun along the way. My husband had a seizure three days into retirement and passed away five months later with a brain tumour. I sold my house because it was way too big for one person. I live in a townhouse condo and have been reasonably happy here. Now I’m finding it may be time to downsize even more and find a lovely apartment. Good luck in your quest.

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:02 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear about your husband! Downsizing is high on my list too. Now if I could only convince my husband that condos are a great option!!

  42. Monica
    August 24, 2018 / 5:04 am

    Hi Jennifer. Your list is similar to mine but I’m doing it as a widow. I have one daughter here on Long Island but and hour away and another 5 hours away in Northern Virginia. Since I also have a strong group of friends I have decided to stay here on Long Island. The cost of living is higher for retirees but I believe I can find a reasonable community. Healthcare is excellent here too. My sister is a snowbird so I can visit her a few weeks in the winter. I believe everyone has to find the right mix for them but being close to my daughter and grandchildren is very important to me. Good luck with your journey!

    • August 24, 2018 / 7:00 pm

      I love Long Island but do know how expensive it can be. Good friends are critical. Even more so when you’re single. It sounds like you’ve got the best case scenario Monica.

  43. Amy
    August 24, 2018 / 4:48 am

    Hi Jennifer, I’m not quite at that stage yet, but I’m thoroughly enjoying your search. Your criteria would be similar to us, as well as the comment above about a church that we feel called to and needed, as well as the other comment about a community willing to listen to our “not Gen X, Y, Millenial” voices. We live in Cincinnati now, where our 2 adult children and my parents currently live. The more I think about, the more I think about the person above that said they “go south for 6 weeks” in the winter. My husband’s parents moved to an active retirement community in Florida when they hit 55. They enjoyed it greatly, but now that they are 88 and 90 and moved back North they need to be near family. It was also very hard for them as they started out as the youngest in the community and watched all of their new friends pass away before them. I don’t know what’s easiest to be honest. I’m just enjoying your journey!

    • Lis
      August 24, 2018 / 5:22 am

      I too live in Cincinnati, but found the city does not seem to meet the walkability criteria yet.. I have lived here for about 37 years and moving to an area in Columbus where I can walk to the grocery store, library, restaurants, hair stylists etc.

      • August 24, 2018 / 6:57 pm

        Walkability is so important. I’ve never lived in a walkable place but want to now.

    • August 24, 2018 / 6:56 pm

      That’s a tough one Amy. I sure don’t have a crystal ball but it would help. I think being close to our children when we’re that old makes perfect sense.

  44. August 24, 2018 / 4:47 am

    What a wonderful list to consider. We settled on Ft Worth ,TX. Our five daughters are all over the country, but I have four sisters in the DFW area…and we love taking senior classes at TCU. We do escape the heat in the summer by heading to our mountain cabin in Colorado.

    • August 24, 2018 / 12:38 pm

      That sounds like a great plan! A mountain cabin in Colorado sounds dreamy to me too.

  45. Mollie
    August 24, 2018 / 4:46 am

    I have followed your post for a number of years and this is the 1st time to comment. My husband and I retired 10 years ago (early retirement). We moved to a major city (Chicago) for excitement, to be close to our children, for excellent medical care, and ability to have all within walking distance. The city has changed, crime has gotten worse, the taxes continued to increase, and we tired of the cold winters even though we would go south for a couple of months. This spring we sold our condo and moved to an island outside of Charleston. This is not a retirement community as we wanted to be surrounded by people of all ages. We are back to driving (big change), but we live on the ocean and can get everything we need and want by driving once again. Our children have a new place for vacation and we can go back to visit them. This was a perfect choice for us, but one that took over a year to make as we both had to be happy. Good luck with your decision and I think you will know when you find it as everything will feel right!

    • August 24, 2018 / 12:36 pm

      Thanks for sharing with us Mollie. It’s good to know our decision needn’t be final and if we choose the wrong thing, we are free to make a change. I needed to hear that so thank you!

  46. Janet
    August 24, 2018 / 4:42 am

    I agree with your list. Number one is accessible health care. I work in senior care and I know what the future brings. I would add one storey housing.

    • August 24, 2018 / 12:34 pm

      One floor living is on our list too but I could live without it if needed and the master bedroom was ground floor. Good, close medical is huge for me!!

  47. Sandy Andry
    August 24, 2018 / 4:40 am

    I love your list. It’s more specific than I’ve ever been and it’s good to think about. Having a church close by that we enjoying attending and fits with our theological philosophy is important. Living in a community that has a pool, paved trails for biking and sidewalks for walking would also be on my list. For my husband it would be proximity to golf courses. We live in the Chicagoland area now and our two children and their families are close by. In the winter we travel to Florida for 6 weeks to escape the severe weather.

    • August 24, 2018 / 12:32 pm

      Being a snowbird works for many folks. We don’t play golf but sure do enjoy living near it’s pretty green.

  48. August 24, 2018 / 4:32 am

    We recently went through this same exercise. One thing we considered was diversity and inclusion. We wanted to know that we were going to live someplace where we our voice would be heard and respected. BTW – we settled on Gainesville, FL. It’s a small college town.

    • August 24, 2018 / 12:24 pm

      College towns are great places to retire!

  49. Melissa R
    August 24, 2018 / 4:28 am

    We are also thinking about and looking for the perfect retirement home.Big box stores are high on my list along with a quality grocery store. We live in a small town and I drive 45 minutes or more to these stores and nearest shopping. My husband wants to be in a golf community. We both have lived in the SE all our lives so weather is not a big issue. Family is an issue. This is a huge decision. I am not 100% on board. My husband could move tomorrow and never look back. Your post was very timely this morning!

    • August 24, 2018 / 12:23 pm

      This decision can be costly if you get it wrong too because moving isn’t inexpensive! Good luck Melissa

  50. Barbara Sewell
    August 24, 2018 / 4:25 am

    We found ourselves in your situation where our two children and their two children each live half a continent apart. Since we can’t be two places at once and we were already living relatively close to our daughter, we moved closer a year ago and couldn’t be happier with our decision. Fortunately, many things, including climate and amenities were the same so it didn’t take much adjusting. Much luck in finding your new spot.

    • August 24, 2018 / 12:22 pm

      You are lucky, Barbara!

  51. Lori Stewart
    August 24, 2018 / 4:11 am

    I completely agree. Another one on my list is walkability. Can you walk to restaurants and shops.

    • August 24, 2018 / 9:18 am

      I agree! I don’t want to need my car for everything.

    • Gina
      August 24, 2018 / 6:59 pm

      Hello Jennifer.
      I have stumbled upon your blog recently and am enjoying it, all the way from Adelaide South Australia. My husband and I are in our mid fifties, very active but starting to think along the lines that you are. Currently we have a future retirement property on a river in a coastal town about an hour south of Adelaide, but live in town. We plan to keep a modest house in the city in case we need to go back there for family and medical reasons. We might even find it too boring on the south coast! Adelaide isn’t a huge city, medical services are good and crime etc isn’t bad either…however I plan to follow your example and drive around the country checking out other places. Queensland is very popular with retirees as it is tropical so that could be an option. I agree with other comments saying it’s fine to reserve the right to change your mind. As you get older your ideas about what suits you may change.
      All the best,

      • August 26, 2018 / 2:50 pm

        Welcome, Gina and thanks for adding your voice to our conversation!!

    • Gloria
      August 25, 2018 / 3:43 pm

      Not only restaurants and shops, I want to be able to travel to several choices of grocery stores, farmers markets, large shopping venues, doctors, salons, museums, monuments and public gardens, etc. Sounds like….Paris! I do spend a lot of time in France, but in the US , I live in the most French-influenced city….Washington,DC

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