7 signs you picked a bad retirement spot

The Best—and Worst—Places to Retire

Many people consider moving to a new place in retirement in search of better weather, scenic beauty or a more affordable cost of living. But relocating for retirement creates many challenges for retirees, and you could end up worse off than if you had stayed put in your current home. Here are some signs that a retirement spot might not be a good fit for you.

Inadequate health care facilities.

Before you move to a new place you need to make sure there are local doctors who will be able to monitor and treat any ongoing conditions you have. It's also a good idea to live near places with major medical facilities and doctors who specialize in geriatric care, so you can effectively deal with any new health problems that crop up. "You want to make sure there is good health care and a good hospital system, and you would feel comfortable if you need to get surgery in this place," says Virginia Morris, author of "How to Care for Aging Parents." "Whatever your perfect place to live is at 75, make sure it's also going to be a good place to live at 95."

Little public transportation.

It can limit your ability to travel in retirement if you don't live near an airport or train station. And if you become unable to drive in retirement, you will need to find another way to get around town. Some cities have public bus and train systems or affordable van or taxi services specifically for older residents who need assistance getting to appointments or running errands. In cities without reliable public transportation services, it can be difficult to accomplish daily tasks if you become unable to drive. "Certain cities are great places to grow old because you can have almost everything delivered, and it's an elevator ride and a few steps to get what you need," Morris says. "But if you move out to a golf course retirement village, if you suddenly couldn't drive you couldn't get to anything."

No family members nearby.

Living near family members enriches your retirement years in a variety of ways, including companionship and help with household chores or emergencies. "Don't move to appealing exotic places if they would isolate you from family and friends," says Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain, a senior research scholar and managing director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. If you relocate to a place where you don't have relatives, you might need to hire someone to help you maintain your home and accomplish errands.

Few job opportunities.

The employment options in the place you retire continue to matter because you might need or want to return to work at some point. "For many retirees who imagine living healthy, active, productive lives into their 80s and 90s, the necessity to maintain opportunities and, if necessary, seek new employment and income is a real factor," says Larry Rosenthal, executive director of the Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy. "Not only do they need to pay their bills, they wish to make continuing contributions toward their communities."

Constant heat and humidity.

While escaping winter often sounds wonderful to people in the northern U.S. in February, make sure you aren't trading one weather problem for another. A sweltering summer can also be uncomfortable, and you may just be swapping a high heating bill for exorbitant costs to air condition your home someplace else. "For some people winter just becomes intolerable, but you have to be very careful about making that your primary consideration," Morris says. "Ideally, you would go visit [a potential new location] a couple different times of year, maybe a week in August and a week in February, getting to know the area."

High crime.

You don't want to spend your retirement years worrying about your property being stolen, or even worse, your personal safety. "The red flags retirees seek to avoid when relocating are much the same as the ones they relied on earlier in life: higher-than-tolerable cost of living, tax levels and crime rates," Rosenthal says. "What separates them from their younger house-hunting peers is their delight in being liberated from that once overarching factor: quality of schools."

You have to stretch to afford it.

Make sure you can comfortably afford your retirement home, and have some room in your budget to pay for luxuries or unexpected expenses. Also watch out for high tax rates and an unaffordable cost of living. "It's always good to buy a little under what you think you can afford because it can help you to feel less stressed," says Andrew Schiller, founder of the real estate research website NeighborhoodScout.com. "The biggest gift you can give yourself is the ability to relax and not be stressed."

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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