The word “retirement” evokes a lot of images — perhaps visions of golfing, leisurely cruises, finally starting that hobby, or just enjoying life with your loved ones. But the truth about retirement is a bit more down-to-earth, and if your dream retirement involves relocating, there are some things you might want to consider before packing up your things, selling your house, and setting down roots elsewhere. Weighing these factors before you pull up stakes can make a big difference, especially in states like Virginia or Florida.
1. Your Reasons for Relocating
Before you even look at the details of a new state — assuming you have one in mind — take some time to think about exactly why you want to move there. While the weather is always a good reason to relocate, it shouldn’t be the only reason. Are you moving to improve your quality of life? Be closer to family? Reduce your cost of living? These underlying motives can play a big part in where and how you choose to relocate, and defining them clearly can help you make a well-informed decision.
2. The Cost of Living
One of the most critical factors to consider is how much it will cost you to live in your prospective new state. Retired people are often on a fixed or limited income, and it’s important to watch your expenses so you don’t run into financial trouble down the road. Fuel costs, food costs, mortgage, rent, utilities, and insurance can all vary significantly by state and even zip code — so do some research before you go. For example, it’s worth knowing that in Florida, there’s no state income tax, but other costs of living in the state could nullify those potential savings.
3. Healthcare Options
Quality health care becomes an ever-increasing necessity as we grow older, and it’s crucial you take time to study the available facilities in your new state, as well as the insurance situation. Both Virginia and Florida have reputable healthcare providers, but with healthcare costs spiraling ever higher in the United States, it pays to examine your options and make sure you’re not going to be stuck with an untenable financial situation.
4. Lifestyle and Community
Unless you’re a devout homebody, the kind of community you want to live in could significantly impact how satisfied you are with your post-retirement lifestyle. Florida, for example, is well-known as a haven for seniors, with plenty of appropriate recreational activities and retirement communities. If that’s important to you, and you’re hoping to make new friends in your new state, take some time to look at your options before you go.
Many retirees opt to downsize to a smaller property once their kids are out of the house and their working days are over. You might choose to move to a smaller house or a retirement village, which often have more amenities than you might otherwise expect — but you also may end up paying HOA or retirement village fees, which could cut into your budget.
If you are living alone or really want to downsize, you might consider renting. This is likely to bring down your utilities and maintenance costs dramatically, Renters insurance is also notably cheaper than homeowners insurance — an average of $19 per month, according to Ross Martin at insurance comparison site The Zebra.
6. Urban or Rural?
Many aspiring retirees envision moving to a farm or ranch to live out their golden years, but this might not be the most practical solution for everyone. If you’ve lived in an urban (or even suburban) area all your life, you might find you miss some of the conveniences and amenities of the city, particularly when it comes to healthcare and social activities. On the other hand, urban life may have made you all the more ready to get away and enjoy some peace and quiet. If you think you have what it takes to handle rural living — and yes, maybe even take up farming — go for it! But do some careful thinking about it first.
7. Friends and Family
Last but most certainly not least, think about friends and family — not just the ones you might be leaving behind, but anyone you might be moving closer to. Leaving behind a support system you’ve known for years is always scary and difficult, and it’s prudent to take some time and prepare yourself for the psychological and emotional impact that may have on you. You may even decide that the benefits of relocating don’t sufficiently outweigh the challenges of leaving your loved ones — and that’s okay, too.
Testing the Waters
A move to another state is a big commitment, and it’s likely worth your time to give your new state a “trial run” before you move there for good. A short visit will let you discover more about what daily life is like, get a handle on cost of living, and help you make an informed decision about whether to put down roots.