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  • 4-Minute Article
  • |
  • Oct 06, 2017

5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Retirement Destination

Identify retirement requirements to discover your best move.

Created in Collaboration with Kiplinger as a part of our Moving in Retirement series.

Brad and Kathy Warren knew when they wanted to retire: shortly after their only child graduated from high school. For them, the question was where.

For nearly five years, the Oregon couple researched retirement locations. “We knew we didn’t like dry and hot,” says Brad, 56. That realization helped the couple narrow their options.

“There were two big things we talked about,” adds Kathy, 58. “Being someplace with lots of natural beauty and recreational opportunities, and not too far from civilization.” With their priorities in mind, the Warrens chose a home on the majestic Olympic Peninsula, in Sequim, Washington.

In a rural town where natural beauty abounds, the couple’s new home is only about two hours from everything Seattle has to offer. Their move makes them part of a growing trend: Three out of five Americans say they plan to consider a move once they retire.1

A 2017 Bankrate survey compared retirement desirability for all 50 states to help people determine the best retirement destinations.2 Yet the decision to relocate is never as simple as consulting a list. Every retiree will have different requirements. As you consider your own priorities, here are a few factors worth investigating:


The price of housing, whether for sale or rent, is an obvious concern. But don’t stop there. Look at a comprehensive cost-of-living analysis, like this one from Moving.com. It will help compare current average living costs to those of the states under consideration. Then, work with your financial professional to determine if your retirement income plan will support your choices.

Before making any retirement decision, consider another financial implication – taxes. Work with your financial professional to understand how new rates of income, property, and sales taxes will affect you, and think about how inheritance taxes could affect your estate.

And check out this helpful resource: Kiplinger.com’s map outlines the most and least tax-friendly states, particularly when it comes to retirees’ special concerns regarding property tax breaks, whether Social Security and other retirement income is taxed, and if the state imposes its own estate tax.


Many retirees seek a change in the weather more than anything else, so a move from a rainy, cold climate to a sunny locale can be tempting. But that’s not the only consideration.

Think about public transportation, proximity to a travel hub, and learning opportunities like a community college, among other things. One person’s list may include a community theater, while another person’s top requirement may be the chance to volunteer with a charitable organization. Define the intangibles that will make a community feel like home.


If art and theater are favored interests, for example, consider the entertainment options available. A big city typically offers plenty of opportunities, such as museums, sporting events, concerts, shopping, and plays. Figure those expenses into personal cost-of-living estimates, whether the options are local or something that requires occasional travel to enjoy.

Health Wellness

Good health becomes an increasingly important part of a vital retirement life. To stay healthy, keep in mind that easy access to top-notch medical care, including hospitals and specialists, can play a big role in overall wellbeing and healthful living.

Use health care quality measures to narrow a location search, such as this one from U.S. News & World Report. Select a state to see what kinds of medical facilities are available, as well as how they are rated. Find out if existing insurance plans will continue in the new area. If switching providers would be necessary, investigate the options to make sure there are satisfactory choices.

In addition, if activities like golf, gardening, cycling, or swimming are important, explore the scope of fitness options available within the retirement destinations under consideration.

Economy Work Opportunities

The Warrens chose a location where the economic recovery lags behind national norms. That turned out to be a good thing, as the couple found many affordable homes to choose from.

In addition, Brad’s retirement plans have been delayed a bit. A bank executive, he let his company talk him into putting in a few hours at a local branch office. Although that might not be in your retirement outlook, the ability to find part-time or temporary work somewhere might become a benefit.

Once you have narrowed your retirement location down to a few choices, consult again with your financial professional to help ensure your relocation plan lines up with your financial plan.

Kiplinger has an in-house content studio, which reports on investing, retirement planning and wise money management for its partner organizations, providing trustworthy advice and guidance for their readers.