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Should You Relocate in Retirement? Ask Yourself These Questions to Decide

By Christy Bieber - Oct 12, 2022 at 7:00AM
A white stone home with a For Sale sign with Sale Pending added.

Should You Relocate in Retirement? Ask Yourself These Questions to Decide

It can sometimes be the smartest move you can make

Many aspects of your life change as a retiree. For some people, it makes sense for your address to be one of them.

Relocating could sometimes help you have a more enjoyable retirement or could enable you to make your money stretch further. But that's not necessarily the case for every senior.

To help you decide if a move is right for you, ask yourself these 15 questions.

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1. What is the cost of living?

The cost of living can vary quite dramatically from one place in the U.S. to another.

If you have a fortune saved and don't have to worry about money, this may not matter to you. But if you need to be careful not to spend your retirement funds too quickly, picking a lower-cost area could make a lot of sense.

Think about what the basics cost in your current location and whether a move elsewhere could help you reduce your spending so your money lasts longer.

ALSO READ: This Is the Most Affordable State to Retire In

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Tax forms laying scattered with a calculator, glasses, some cash, and a pen on top.

2. How is your income taxed where you live?

Tax rules also differ from one state to another. For example, a minority of states tax Social Security benefits, while others charge no tax on any income at all.

Since taxes can take a bite out of your fixed income and leave you with less to live on, it's worth researching whether the government treats seniors favorably where you live.

If you're going to be hit with high taxes that affect your ability to spend your money as you wish, a move may be in order.

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Casket being carried by people in suits.

3. What are the estate tax rules?

It may not be fun to think about, but you should plan for what happens after you're gone. If you hope to leave a legacy behind for loved ones, it's important to understand the rules on estate and inheritance taxes.

Some states don't charge these at all, but others do. If your estate is large enough to potentially trigger a tax bill, it's worth thinking about how your choice of retirement location will impact your heirs.

ALSO READ: Estate and Inheritance Taxes by State in 2021

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4. Where does your family live?

Most people want to be close to their family members -- and especially their kids and grandkids.

If everyone you love has settled near to where you are, a move may not be in the cards. But if your children or other close family members have moved, you may decide your quality of life would improve if you also relocated to be closer to them.

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Two smiling people sit in golf cart.

5. Can you indulge your hobbies in your current location?

Retirement is a time in your life when you can finally spend your days doing exactly what you please.

That's a lot easier if you live near the things you love to do -- and if you have the weather needed to do them.

If you love to golf, for example, a warm weather area with plenty of courses could be your ideal retirement location. If that doesn't describe your current home, perhaps moving would be smart.

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6. Is it possible for you to age in place in your current home?

As you get older, you may develop mobility issues that make it harder to go upstairs, clean large spaces, or manage much yard work.

If you don't want to be forced to move when you start to be unable to manage your house, you may be better off being proactive. Relocating early on to somewhere where you can age in place could help you avoid a forced move later under less-than-desirable circumstances.

ALSO READ: How to Profit From the Massive Aging-in-Place Healthcare Trend

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7. Is your area walkable?

The ability to walk to lots of places can make your life more convenient -- and more enjoyable. It could also help you maintain independence for longer if you stop wanting to drive. And it could cut your transportation costs -- especially if you can get rid of at least one car in your household.

Some areas are much more walkable than others. If yours isn't, consider whether it's worth relocating to find one that opens up the door to walking for groceries, restaurants, and other activities.

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Keys sitting on top of mortgage paperwork stamped Paid.

8. Can you comfortably afford your housing payment?

Many people are retiring when they still have a mortgage. If you are one of them, you'll want to be absolutely sure your housing payment is easily affordable based on your new income after your paychecks stop.

If your housing costs would eat up too much money and you'd need to make large withdrawals from retirement accounts, then moving ASAP could be crucial to affording the necessities throughout the rest of your life.

ALSO READ: Should You Sell Your Home Before Retiring? Here's What Suze Orman Thinks

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An egg with 401(k) written on it on top of a pile of cash.

9. Could cashing in on your equity help you bulk up your retirement accounts?

If you no longer have a big mortgage or if your house is paid off entirely, moving could allow you to access some of the equity you've built up. You could potentially relocate, buy a smaller house with cash, and have money left over to increase your retirement account balance.

Your ability to do this will depend on many factors including how much your home is worth relative to what you owe. But it's worth thinking about -- especially if you wish your retirement account balance were bigger.

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Property tax sign next to calculator with a model house on top of it.

10. How much are property taxes?

Property taxes are much higher in some areas than others. A larger home also means higher property taxes.

If you're paying a lot on your property, downsizing to a smaller space or relocating to a more tax-friendly area could help you to avoid spending more than you should on monthly housing costs.

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11. What are the amenities near you?

Ideally, there will be plenty of services nearby that you can take advantage of as a retiree. For example, you may want to be close to an airport so you can travel or close to a theater so you can see shows.

If you don't have much to do in your current area, you may find it harder to fill your days as a retiree, so you may want to look into relocating to a more happening place.

ALSO READ: Luxury Housing Developers Turn to Senior-Living Projects

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Doctor speaking with patient.

12. How is the healthcare situation for seniors?

Chances are good you will need to take advantage of more healthcare services as you age. So be sure to look into what's available near you.

Ideally, there will be great hospitals and clinics that cater to the elderly and help you to address the problems that can develop over time. If not, you may want to move so you'll be in a location where better services are available if you need them.

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13. What do nursing care options look like?

As many as seven in 10 people 65 and over will eventually need some type of long-term care either at home or in a nursing home.

You'll want to explore options for these services available near where you live. It's best to be located in a place where getting this help is within reach so you don't have to make a big move if you begin struggling with health issues.

ALSO READ: The Shocking Cost of Long-Term Care -- and How to Tackle It

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Two people walking outside.

14. Do you have friends and activities where you live?

Having a strong social network is important in retirement.

If you have lots of friends near where you live and there's a vibrant schedule of activities to do, then moving could be a big mistake. But if there's nothing to keep you entertained and your friends are elsewhere, you may be best off looking for a better place to spend your time.

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People dancing in the living room of a house.

15. Do you like your current location?

Finally, really think about whether you enjoy where you live. With no job to tie you down, you can go anywhere as a senior. At the same time, there may be no place like your current home, and you don't want to make a move you could regret.
Take the time to imagine you living elsewhere versus staying put so you can truly find the option that's right for you.

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Consider your housing choice carefully

As you can see, many factors affect whether you should relocate in retirement or stay put.

You'll want to look at the big picture including your financial situation and your desires for what you want your senior years to look like. This will enable you to make a decision that's right for you.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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