When you no longer need to live near your job, a world of possibilities opens up. Relocating can sometimes save you money if you can find more affordable housing and lower your tax bill. Residing near friends and your children and grandchildren can also play a role in your retirement happiness. And you are finally free to move to a place with better weather and the amenities that suit you best. Here are some characteristics of a great place to retire.
You will be able to maintain your independence longer if you select a home with age-friendly features. A few simple upgrades to your home, such as handles or a seat in the shower, can help to prevent injuries, but in some cases a larger move is necessary. Homes with a bedroom, bathing and laundry facilities on a single level with a no-step entry are generally the easiest for older people to navigate.
Good public transportation
There may be a time when you need to give up driving. At that point public transportation becomes essential to maintaining your independence. A few cities have reliable train and bus services for people of all ages. Some communities also provide low-cost taxi or van services just for older people. Make sure you will be able to get around town without driving a car.
Nearby health care
You're likely to use more health care services as you age. Living in close proximity to a doctor, pharmacy and major hospital can make it easier to receive medical care and comply with a treatment plan. Think about how far you will need to travel to receive medical care to treat ongoing conditions or in an emergency.
You don't want to spend your retirement years worrying about your next house payment and scrambling to make ends meet. Aim to retire in a place where you can comfortably cover your bills and have a little bit left over for fun. It helps if the local community has a library and senior center or sponsors free activities such as concerts and movie nights.
Year-round weather you can tolerate
Many people dream of an escape from cold, snowy winters. But before you head south, make sure you can tolerate the often sweltering summers. Spend a few months or even a year in a new place before you make a permanent move. Renting for the first year makes it easy to move on if a community is not a good fit.
Opportunities to socialize
Without a job to go to every day, you may lack opportunities to leave the house and socialize. Some communities have senior centers that plan activities or meals that give older residents opportunities to stay engaged with others. Volunteer work is another way to meet new people and serve the community.
Help with chores and maintenance
Maintaining your home gets more difficult as you age. Cutting grass and shoveling snow can be labor intensive, and even changing light bulbs gets more dangerous. It's important to have someone who can help you with these tasks, whether it's a friendly neighbor or paid help. Some retirees move to apartment buildings where the landlord is responsible for much of the building maintenance.
Children and grandchildren
Most older people want to live near their children and grandchildren. That might mean relocating to where your children found jobs or remaining in your current community. Residing in the same city as your relatives can add meaning to your retirement years and be a source of help with errands you would otherwise have to pay for.
Amenities for seniors
Whether it's a golf course or mountain views, a great retirement spot should have the things you are interested in doing. This might mean a museum where you can volunteer as a docent or a scenic walking trail along the river. Start to dream about what you will do all day in retirement, and look for a place that provides those opportunities.
RELATED: Best cities for stretching your retirement nest egg
Best cities for stretching your retirement nest egg
Best cities for stretching your retirement nest egg
25. Orlando, Fla.
Annual healthcare services: $6,126.37
Annual taxes: $3,651.94
Annual utilities: $3,886.59
Annual housing: $8,780.50
Overall cost of living: $46,696.15
Located in one of the best states to retire in the U.S., Orlando offers a potential benefit for retirees: Your kids and grandchildren might visit you more often so they can go to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida and SeaWorld Orlando. When your kids are looking to knock out two birds with one stone — take their children on vacation and visit you at the same time — Orlando could be the perfect lure.
(bobbyuzda via Getty Images)
24. Charlotte, N.C.
Annual healthcare services: $6,031.32
Annual taxes: $3,595.27
Annual utilities: $3,826.29
Annual housing: $8,644.26
Overall cost of living: $45,971.63
You can make your retirement savings last in Charlotte, and you could also earn some money back on your home’s value if you decide to move again. Zillow's data shows home values have been on an upward trend over the last couple of years and predicts they will rise about 4 percent in the coming year.
If you want to move to Minnesota, consider St. Paul over other popular cities — such as Minneapolis. Not only is St. Paul less expensive than Minneapolis, according to Sperling's Best Places, but the crime rate is also lower. St. Paul also shines in terms of healthcare, having 279 physicians per 100,000 population compared to the U.S. average of 210.
22. Louisville, Ky.
Annual healthcare services: $5,954.81
Annual taxes: $3,549.67
Annual utilities: $3,777.75
Annual housing: $8,534.61
Overall cost of living: $45,388.48
Cost of living in Louisville is low compared to the U.S. average, especially when it comes to housing, according to Sperling's. And, there are 335 physicians per 100,000 population.
For retirees trying to live life on a budget, cost of living in Indianapolis is lower than the national average. To save on housing, neighborhoods outside of the I-465 loop tend to offer a balanced combination of low-cost living and lower crime rates, reports Movoto.
Annual healthcare services: $5,942.64
Annual taxes: $3,542.41
Annual utilities: $3,770.03
Annual housing: $8,517.17
Overall cost of living: $45,295.70
The population of seniors has grown considerably — 20.3 percent — in Atlanta in recent years, reports Forbes. And, it's one of the best cities in the country for a healthy and affordable retirement, offering a satisfying senior social life, access to healthcare and more, according to Sperling’s.
Annual healthcare services: $5,922.93
Annual taxes: $3,530.66
Annual utilities: $3,757.53
Annual housing: $8,488.92
Overall cost of living: $45,145.50
Houston is a booming metropolis and a good choice for making your retirement savings last. In fact, it's one of the 50 cheapest places to retire. Health costs are cheaper in Houston than the U.S. overall, according to Sperling's. The city also provides easy access to top medical facilities, including the Texas Medical Center — the world’s largest medical complex.
18. Tampa, Fla.
Annual healthcare services: $5,882.36
Annual taxes: $3,506.48
Annual utilities: $3,731.79
Annual housing: $8,430.77
Overall cost of living: $44,836.25
Tampa boasts affordable rent and cost of living expenses, including groceries, according to Numbeo data. Many suburbs around Tampa have great retiree-friendly amenities such as golf courses, libraries, volunteer activities and more, reports Movoto. And with home values on an upward trend, it could be one of the best cities to own investment property.
17. Memphis, Tenn.
Annual healthcare services: $5,838.89
Annual taxes: $3,480.57
Annual utilities: $3,704.21
Annual housing: $8,368.47
Overall cost of living: $44,504.92
Memphis is affordable, making it a great place to stretch your retirement savings. The cost of living is more than 25 percent lower than the nation's average, according to Sperling's. On a broader level, retirees will appreciate Tennessee’s total tax burden — it's one of the best states for taxes.
16. Newark, N.J.
Annual healthcare services: $5,835.41
Annual taxes: $3,478.49
Annual utilities: $3,702
Annual housing: $8,363.49
Overall cost of living: $44,478.41
Newark’s housing market could help you grow your nest egg — if you're looking to make a good investment in real estate. Home values rose by nearly 20 percent over the last year, and Zillow forecasts they will continue to rise within the next year.
15. Columbus, Ohio
Annual healthcare services: $5,820.34
Annual taxes: $3,469.51
Annual utilities: $3,692.44
Annual housing: $8,341.89
Overall cost of living: $44,363.55
Fortunately for retirees, Columbus' cost of living is lower than the U.S. average. And a little further outside the city, retirees can find affordable suburbs with high proportions of residents age 65 and up, such as Lithopolis and Canal Winchester, reports Movoto.
14. Nashville, Tenn.
Annual healthcare services: $5,808.17
Annual taxes: $3,462.26
Annual utilities: $3,684.72
Annual housing: $8,324.44
Overall cost of living: $44,270.77
If you're thinking about retiring near Nashville, consider Ridgetop, Hendersonville or Oak Hill — all three suburbs ranked among Niche's top 20 places to retire in Tennessee.
13. Bakersfield, Calif.
Annual healthcare services: $5,796
Annual taxes: $3,455
Annual utilities: $3,677
Annual housing: $8,307
Overall cost of living: $44,178.00
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, Bakersfield might offer refuge. Not only will your $100,000 go far in the first couple years of retirement, but another GOBankingRates.com study found it's the No. 2 city where your paycheck will stretch the furthest.
Like other cities on this list, Phoenix is experiencing a marked increase in the population of seniors, reports Forbes. Other nearby areas you might want to consider for more senior-friendly amenities — such as restaurants, retirement homes and recreation centers — include Litchfield Park, Sun City and Florence city, reports Movoto.
11. Austin, Texas
Annual healthcare services: $5,752.53
Annual taxes: $3,429.09
Annual utilities: $3,649.42
Annual housing: $8,244.70
Overall cost of living: $43,846.67
Austin saw a substantial growth in its population of senior citizens from 2010 to 2014, reports Forbes. With minimal unemployment and major job growth projected for the future, the city offers many opportunities for retirees who might want to re-enter the workforce.
Although Dallas is one of the top cities experiencing skyrocketing home prices, it's still an affordable place for retirees looking to stretch their retirement savings. The cost of living is still lower than the U.S. average, and Sperling's estimates future job growth over the next 10 years will be more than 42 percent.
9. Sioux Falls, S.D.
Annual healthcare services: $5,710.80
Annual taxes: $3,404.21
Annual utilities: $3,622.95
Annual housing: $8,184.89
Overall cost of living: $43,528.58
Your nest egg can go further in Sioux Falls. Plus, the city offers work opportunities for retirees — more than a third of people age 60 and older are employed in the city, reported U.S. News.
8. Tulsa, Okla.
Annual healthcare services: $5,662.69
Annual taxes: $3,375.54
Annual utilities: $3,592.43
Annual housing: $8,115.94
Overall cost of living: $43,161.91
The cost of living in Tulsa is about lower than the national average, according to Sperling's. And homes are pretty affordable, too. The median home listing price is $159,900, according to Zillow.
7. Madison, Wis.
Annual healthcare services: $5,660.95
Annual taxes: $3,374.50
Annual utilities: $3,591.33
Annual housing: $8,113.45
Overall cost of living: $43,148.65
In 2014, the Milken Institute ranked Madison as the No. 1 best large metro in its Best Cities for Successful Aging report, largely thanks to the city's high-quality healthcare and healthy environment.
6. Kansas City, Mo.
Annual healthcare services: $5,653.42
Annual taxes: $3,370.01
Annual utilities: $3,586.55
Annual housing: $8,102.65
Overall cost of living: $43,091.22
Low living expenses, notably on groceries, help make Kansas City one of the most affordable places to retire. Plus, buying a home in Kansas City is affordable — the median home price is only $165,000, according to Zillow.
5. Rochester, N.Y.
Annual healthcare services: $5,601.25
Annual taxes: $3,338.91
Annual utilities: $3,553.45
Annual housing: $8,027.88
Overall cost of living: $42,693.62
Saving on retirement living expenses in Rochester shouldn't be that big of a challenge. After all, the city’s cost of living is almost 18 percent cheaper than the country’s average, according to Sperling's.
4. Salt Lake City
Annual healthcare services: $5,593.72
Annual taxes: $3,334.42
Annual utilities: $3,548.67
Annual housing: $8,017.09
Overall cost of living: $42,636.19
Your retirement savings should go far in Salt Lake City. But if you prefer living in suburbs, consider these top picks from Movoto: Bountiful, which has beautiful retirement housing options, and Midvale, which might attract active retirees.
3. Albuquerque, N.M.
Annual healthcare services: $5,477.22
Annual taxes: $3,264.98
Annual utilities: $3,474.77
Annual housing: $7,850.12
Overall cost of living: $41,748.21
Albuquerque is also one of the topcities where your paycheck and retirement savings go far. And when it comes to healthcare, retirees benefit from the fact the city has 233 physicians per 100,000 population, which is higher than the U.S. average of 210.
2. Tucson, Ariz.
Annual healthcare services: $5,445.92
Annual taxes: $3,246.32
Annual utilities: $3,454.91
Annual housing: $7,805.26
Overall cost of living: $41,509.65
Nearly 18 percent of the population in Tucson are senior citizens, reports Forbes. Besides being an excellent city to stretch your retirement savings, Tucson also offers one of the cheapest rents on apartments in the U.S.
1. Oklahoma City, Okla.
Annual healthcare services: $5,425.64
Annual taxes: $3,234.23
Annual utilities: $3,442.04
Annual housing: $7,776.18
Overall cost of living: $41,355.03
Oklahoma City is one of the best cities where your $100,000 retirement savings will go far in your first couple of years in retirement. And according to another GOBankingRates.com study, you only need to make about $44,180 to live comfortably.
Methodology: Cities were ranked based on their cost of living index relative to the average annual expenditures for retirees 65 and older. In order to find the average annual expenditures for retirees 65 and older, GOBankingRates.com used data from the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey. Cost of living indices were taken from Numbeo on Nov. 30, 2016.