4 questions retirees should ask before moving

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
The best state to retire in is...

Who doesn't love reading real estate listings? It's fun to dream, and lists of the "best places to retire" are fodder for the imagination.

However, you wouldn't want to rely on such lists for making a decision about where to retire. Your own best-of list has to take your own life and particular needs into account. That is something no one but you can do.

Moving in retirement requires a different kind of planning. Changes — in finances, health and mobility — can happen quickly after age 60. An idyllic spot in the mountains or by the seashore may become too remote, or your home too hard to maintain after you've had a heart attack or diabetes, or simply have slowed down.

Best-of lists often oversimplify the attractions of an area. I live in the Pacific Northwest, in a town recently discovered by retirees from seemingly everywhere. Many find this place through online research. Some even move here pretty much sight-unseen.

But while everyone knows that the coastal Northwest is rainy, a quick internet search can make you think you've found Shangri-La. In reality, winter days are short, damp and dark, with endlessly overcast skies.

"It's raining," a new neighbor complained to me. He seemed surprised. Maybe he'd moved here after reading best-of lists.

Enjoy those lists, but keep digging before you go. These four questions can help you decide if a new place will really work for your retirement, now and in the future:

1. Who will help care for me?

Most older people require help eventually, and many need a lot of assistance. The Family Caregiver Alliance says someone who is 65 today stands a 68 percent chance of eventually becoming cognitively impaired or unable to manage two or more activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing or bathing.

Of course, no one wants to burden children or friends. But in reality, loved ones usually must step up when elders need care. Just 9 percent of people who get care in their homes use only paid help, the alliance says.

So make things easier for your kids and be realistic when you make a move. Adult children who are holding down jobs and rearing children will be severely burdened if they must travel long distances to help elderly loved ones.

See the best states to move to for retirement in 2016:

11 PHOTOS
Best states for retirement
See Gallery
Best states for retirement

1. South Dakota

Photo: Getty

2. Iowa

Photo: Getty

3. Minnesota

Photo: Getty

4. Alaska 

Photo: Getty

5. Oregon 

Photo: Getty

6. Colorado

Photo: Getty

7. Hawaii 

Photo: Getty

8. South Carolina

Photo: Getty

9. Nebraska

Photo: Getty

10. Wisconsin

Photo: Getty

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

2. Is good medical care nearby?

Living longer usually means living with a chronic disease — or two or three. Ninety-two percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease, according to the National Council on Aging.

In fact, 77 percent of older Americans have two or more chronic diseases. Four of these diseases — heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes — cause almost two-thirds of deaths annually.

With age, medical tests become more common and more frequent, as do visits to specialists like oncologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists and orthopedists. Managing a chronic condition well — avoiding hospital stays and emergency room visits — means having easy access to care you trust.

The joys of living in a scenic but remote retirement mecca are diminished if you have to drive hundreds of miles — frequently — for expert care. So again, consider not only what you need today but what you'll need in the future.

3. How safe is this place?

It's smart to research crime rates in an area before deciding to relocate there. You'll find plenty of free tools online. When viewing crime statistics, city-level averages aren't very helpful because averages obscure what's going on in any one neighborhood.

Instead, look at statistics for the neighborhood you want to live in. Two sites that offer a lot of neighborhood-level detail are City-Data and CrimeReports.

Even the best online sites, though, may have outdated information or fail to offer a complete look at a place. So check data from a city's police department. Fortunately, that's usually easy. Many departments post their crime data online for citizens. Find it with a search like: "Denver police department crime statistics."

Look also for maps showing the prevalence of crime by area, and watch local news reports about crime in the city.

With smaller cities, you might strike out searching online for police department data. After all, small towns might not have the latest resources. Instead, call the police department and ask how to learn about crime in specific neighborhoods.

And don't stop there. Visit neighborhoods you've got your eye on numerous times, during the day and at night. Talk with many people — in coffee shops, hardware stores, parks and shops — until you feel you've got a good sense of the place.

4. How will I get around if I can't drive?

At some point in their elder years, drivers have to face a hard truth: It may be time to hang up the car keys.

Moving in your later years means thinking ahead about the availability of public transportation, something that might not have mattered to you as a driver. Smart Asset crunched numbers for its report "The Best Cities for Public Transportation." Here are the top towns for ease of getting around:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. San Francisco
  3. Boston
  4. Chicago
  5. New York
  6. Seattle
  7. Jersey City, New Jersey
  8. Pittsburgh
  9. Philadelphia
  10. Oakland, California

You might not want to retire in a metropolis. But bear in mind that wherever you are, you'll probably need help with driving and shopping. So look into senior services and transportation options. Steer clear of remote areas, however beautiful, unless you've got a sure means of transportation if you can't drive.

If this is to be your last, best move, take time learning where you want to land. Here's help researching neighborhoods:

What's your plan for retirement living? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Now see the average retirement age in every state:

51 PHOTOS
Average retirement age in every state
See Gallery
Average retirement age in every state

Alabama - Age 62

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Alaska - Age 65

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Arizona - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Arkansas - Age 62

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

California - Age 64

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Colorado - Age 64

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Delaware - Age 62

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Connecticut - Age 64

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Florida - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Georgia - Age 62

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Hawaii - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Idaho - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Illinois - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Indiana - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Iowa - Age 64

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Kansas - Age 65

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Kentucky - Age 62

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Louisiana - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Maine - Age 64

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Maryland - Age 64

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Massachusetts - Age 64

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Michigan - Age 62

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Minnesota - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Mississippi - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Missouri - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Montana - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Nebraska - Age 65

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Nevada - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

New Hampshire - Age 65

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

New Jersey - Age 65

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

New Mexico - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

New York - Age 64

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

North Carolina - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

North Dakota - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Ohio - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Oklahoma - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Oregon - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Pennsylvania - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Rhode Island - Age 64

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

South Carolina - Age 62

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

South Dakota - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Tennessee - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Texas - Age 64

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Utah - Age 65

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Vermont - Age 65

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Virginia - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Washington - Age 64

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

West Virginia - Age 62

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Wisconsin - Age 63

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

Wyoming - Age 65

Via Smart Asset

Photo: Getty

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

More from MoneyTalksNews:
6 Ways to Get Your Official FICO Score Free
5 Ways to Begin Your Journey to Financial Independence
Food Shopping at Walmart Soon? Here's a Free $10 Gift Card

Read Full Story

Want more news like this?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from business news to personal finance tips delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners