Did you know roughly 40% of retirees and pre-retirees plan to move during their golden years? After decades of the daily grind, it's normal to want to spread your wings once you're no longer confined to a cubicle. We have just one important question first: Did you factor this change of scenery into your retirement plan?
Before you start packing up a life's worth of belongings to head to sunny Florida or another country entirely, ask yourself these four questions to see if you're ready – financially and otherwise – to spend your retirement in new and unfamiliar territory.
What can you afford?
Picking a place to retire involves a lot of planning and forethought. Start the process by determining what you can afford based on the size of your nest egg. For example, cities like Tampa, Florida and Rockport, Texas have been deemed more affordable for retirees, while places like San Francisco and Honolulu are much pricier. And just because many overseas locales are considered bargains for U.S. retirees doesn't mean you should rush to book your one-way ticket.
Spend time researching various price points for the areas in which you're most interested. From cost of living to average home prices and tax rates, make sure you can comfortably afford your intended new home destination without running the risk of outliving your savings.
How's the economy?
According to Career Builder's annual retirement survey, a majority of seniors (54%) plan on working in retirement on at least a part-time basis. Even if you don't currently anticipate a future need to go back to work, you may change your mind later so that you can pursue an encore career, stay busy, meet new people, or more easily make ends meet. A scarcity of employment opportunities near your new home, however, means you could find yourself in trouble when it's time to find a new gig. Before deciding to relocate, learn more about the region's economy and expectations for future job growth – just in case.
Will you have access to quality, affordable healthcare?
In most cases, Medicare doesn't pay for healthcare received abroad, meaning you'll have to pay out of pocket for any chronic conditions or emergencies that require medical attention when you're outside of the United States. If you calculated your retirement savings goal without healthcare expenses in mind, then retiring overseas may prove to be more difficult – especially since you won't be able to count on Medicare to help cover the cost of healthcare.
Further, while big cities tend to have a full range of medical facilities, smaller towns and rural areas may not have access to the equipment necessary to treat complicated medical situations. Even if you're healthy as a horse now, keep in mind that most retirees eventually need some form of continued assistance or long-term care.
Where are your loved ones?
Living near friends and family is important to a majority (53%) of seniors, according to the 2013 edition of The United States of Aging Survey. In fact, staying connected to loved ones has been shown to be a significant influence on retirees' quality of life, helping to reduce feelings of loneliness and even lowering the risk of depression. If your choice of residence in retirement means you'll be far away from friends and family, make sure you'll have the means to visit regularly (and vice versa) to help protect yourself against the negative effects such distance might create. (Plus, it's just plain rude not to invite us to your new beachfront condo in Puerto Vallarta!)
Many seniors view retirement as an opportunity to forge a new life for themselves. For you, this may or may not include a geographical move. While there's no perfect place for everyone, examining your needs and taking the time to research the features of each possible location will help increase the chances of finding the setting for your dream retirement.
If nothing else, the need to explore these areas in person before making a final decision is as good an excuse as any to use those extra vacation days.