Relocating for retirement? 5 factors to consider

Many retirees dream of starting over in a new city or state after they stop working. Maybe they want to move somewhere warmer, or to a place that has more restaurants and cultural events. Either way, it's a popular goal. Three in five Americans dream of spending their golden years in another state or city, according to a 2015 Bankrate survey.

But choosing a new home involves much more than just throwing a dart at a map. Retirees, especially, must think about how easily they can age in their new locale and if they have the connections and support they might need as they grow older.

Here are five details retirees should consider about a new home before packing up the moving van.

1. Does it fit your budget? The first consideration is financial. Before uprooting, find out what cost-of-living adjustments you may need to make. Property, income and inheritance taxes should be on the checklist, says Mark Germain, a financial planner at Beacon Wealth Management. Check out online cost-of-living calculators by city to determine if you're going to pay a lot more for mundane necessities like food, toiletries or haircuts, reducing your quality of life on a fixed income. If so, consider other nearby, but more affordable towns.

Related: Even the Super-Rich Are Worried About Retirement

2. Check out the medical facilities. As you age, you're likely going to see more doctors, so make sure you have access to good ones. Use resources like state health scorecards from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Research local hospitals using Medicare's database. Think about any specialists you need along with a primary physician and dentist who will be taking care of you long term. Make sure there are enough in your area who take Medicare or your insurance.

3. Can you build a support network? "The most successful relocations require having a support system at the new location," says Hui-chin Chen, a financial planner with Pavlov Financial Planning in Arlington, Virginia. "When you move for work, you are more likely to build that community through work initially. But if you move to a brand new location during retirement without family and friends, it will take some effort to rebuild your community." To help with the transition, look into local clubs, churches or volunteer groups. Being near relatives can help, but don't depend on them for your social life.

"Be sure to relocate for something other than where your adult kids live," says Kristin Sullivan of Sullivan Financial Planning in Denver. "They won't be there to entertain you all the time, and they may move."

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9. West South Central

Average spending: $28,540

Younger retirees in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana spent less than retirees in any other part of the U.S. At $11,742 per year on average, their housing costs are lower than anywhere else in the country. (Go here to see how much house you can afford.) They also spent less on health care. But unlike most regions of the country, where retiree spending falls over time, people in the West South Central region spend more as they get older. By the time people are between the ages of 75 and 84, they’re spending $33,257 per year, in part because of a jump in health care spending to $2,600 per year.

(dszc via Getty Images)

8. East South Central

Average spending: $29,140

Retirees in the East South Central region (which includes Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky) have the second-lowest spending in the country. They also have the biggest difference in spending between pre-retirees (those ages 50 to 64) and people ages 64 to 74, with annual expenditures falling from $42,261 annually to a little less than $30,000. Downsizing might be the main reason. The older survey respondents spent nearly $7,400 less per year on housing than those in the 50-to-64 age group.

A low cost of living is another reason this region is also home to four of the 10 best cities for people who hope to retire early.

7. East North Central

Average spending: $35,201

People in the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio had the lowest average spending outside of the South. That’s good news for people retiring in that region, but it comes with a caveat. Average spending in this region didn’t decrease as dramatically with age as it did in some parts of the country. By the time people reached age 85, they were still spending $31,059 per year on average, more than any other region except New England.

6. Middle Atlantic

Average spending: $38,125

Retirees in the mid-Atlantic states of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey spend an average of $38,125 every year, only slightly less than those in the 50-to-64 age group. Their average expenses included $13,440 on housing and $1,940 on health care. (You can determine your housing budget here.)

5. Pacific

Average spending: $38,464

Retirees in Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii and Alaska spent about $38,000 per year on average, including $2,360 on health care and $18,300 on housing. Their housing costs were the second-highest in the country after New England, which may not be surprising considering this region is home to eight of the 10 least affordable cities in the United States.

(peterscode via Getty Images)

4. Mountain

Average spending: $39,411

Living isn’t cheap for retirees in the vast Mountain region, which includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. But things get better as you age. People in these states spend about $10,000 less per year between ages 75 and 84 than they do in the first decade of retirement.

If you end up retiring in the Mountain region, you’ll have lots of company. States such as Arizona, with its sunny skies and relatively low taxes, are perennially popular with retirees.

3. West North Central

Average spending: $42,240

Stereotypically frugal Midwesterners actually had the third-highest spending in the U.S. People in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri spent more than $42,000 per year on average from ages 65 to 74. About $20,000 went to housing and health care, with $22,000 left over for expenses, including food, transportation, travel, entertainment and dining out.

One reason retirees in this region can spend big? Some are quite wealthy. Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa are all in the top 25 states in the number of millionaires per capita, according to a study by Phoenix Marketing International.

(rasilja via Getty Images)

2. South Atlantic

Average spending: $44,350

Retirees in the sprawling South Atlantic region, which stretches from Delaware to Florida, have some of the highest spending in the U.S. People living in Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida spend $44,350 per year, on average, including $16,980 on housing and $3,000 on health care.

(DenisTangneyJr via Getty Images)

1. New England

Average spending: $46,019

New England retirees are the biggest spenders in the U.S., with annual expenditures of a little more than $46,000 per year. People in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut have the highest housing costs in the country, at $19,507 annually — almost twice as much as those in the cheapest states — though costs fall significantly as people age. Health care spending among 65- to 74-year-olds is also higher than anywhere else, at nearly $6,000 per year, almost twice as much as what retirees in other parts of the country pay.

(kanonsky via Getty Images)


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4. Does it have the amenities you need? Think about what activities and infrastructure you need to make your new location work for you. For instance, look for a home near good public transportation if you can't drive or have restrictions, such as no night driving, says Marguerita Cheng, CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth in Gaithersburg, Maryland. She had one client who had to move twice in six months after relocating to Palm Beach, Florida, because her first home wasn't located in a walkable neighborhood. Germain of Beacon Wealth Management recounted a client who relocated to Florida from New York City who later regretted her decision because her new home lacked "the same caliber of restaurants and cultural experiences."

5. Give it a test run. Before making a permanent decision to move to a new location, consider a long-term vacation rental for six months, says Blake Street, the chief investment officer of Warren Street Wealth Advisors in Tustin, California. That way, you can check out the social scene, different neighborhoods and seasonal weather patterns. "Some folks are surprised by these things," Street says, "as you don't get a full preview with just a short-term visit."

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Rent and Utilities: $205.79 

Sing Bob Seger's "Kathmandu" as you retire to Nepal, one of the coolest places to retire. 

The capital Kathmandu offers plenty to sing about, from its low cost of living to Hindu and Buddhist temples. Outside the city, watch wildlife in Langtang National Park or take a weekend trip to Mount Everest. 

Photo credit: Getty

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico 

Rent and Utilities: $296 per month 

A popular and affordable vacation spot, Playa del Carmen has brilliant turquoise waters and temperatures in the 80s and 90s year-round. When you want to get out of the sun, walk to the town's public square. Treat your taste buds at eateries on La Quinta Avenida. Go snorkeling in the Caribbean, or head out to explore Mayan ruins in Tulum. 

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Marrakech, Morocco 

Rent and utilities: $299.24 per month 

Marrakech offers centuries of history tucked into a city with all the modern amenities. Explore the 11th-century Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to delve into the city's rich history. Or spend your days people watching along the wide boulevards of the Villa Nouvelle while sipping a beverage at a cozy cafe. A mix of old and new ways, see the city by horse-drawn carriage to explore streets lined with mosques and the French and North African culture that infuses Marrakesh with an ambiance all its own. 

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Rent and utilities: $316.80 per month 

You'll never tire of watching the sun rise or set between the ornate spires of the city's ancient architecture. Or even being its ultra-modern high-rise buildings, with a character as unique as the historic turrets stretching toward the clouds. Discover open-air markets, and tour the city to see towering Buddha statues. 

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Rent and utilities: $345.29 per month 

As the former seat of the Ottoman and Byzantine empires, Istanbul brims with monuments and historic architecture. The new city grew up amid the remains of the past. It's not unusual to discover a Byzantine church nestled in the shadow of a skyscraper. You can shop in a modern mall, but the real treats are the open-air markets. Spend your days enjoying Turkish treats from street vendors or bartering for folk art. 

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Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Rent and utilities: $437.70 per month 

Dramatic church steeples rise among modern high-rise buildings, revealing Buenos Aires' mix of old and new at first sight. Enjoy many free attractions in the city from exploring the colorful Palermo neighborhoods to the National Museum of Fine Arts. Meander down Paseo del Rosedal to enjoy the fragrance of more than 1,000 species of roses. 

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Santorini, Greece

Rent and Utilities: $511.92 per month

Spend your days enjoying sea breezes caressing whitewashed houses perched on the cliffs above a blue Grecian sea in Santorini. Lie on beaches awash in black, red and white lava pebbles. Or, take in breathtaking views as you take an ultra-exclusive yoga retreat in Crete

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Lisbon, Portugal

Rent and Utilities: $522.48 per month

Perched on hilltops overlooking the Rio Tajo, Lisbon has an old-world ambiance contrasting modern amenities. Nibble a custard tart and sip coffee in a charming cafe by day before exploring the city. Head to Alfama neighborhoods by night to discover fado bars and listen to the Portuguese version of the blues.

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Sliema, Malta

Rent and Utilities: $689 per month 

Once home to Malta’s aristocracy, Sliema’s mild seaside climate makes it one of the best places to live in the world. Charming Victorian buildings dot the once-quiet fishing village, tucked among more modern establishments. When you’re not browsing the city’s shops or sipping tea at a cafe, head to the beach or Independence Garden to soak in more of the city’s beauty.

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Barcelona, Spain

Rent and Utilities: $713.40 per month

A city known for its architecture and art, Barcelona offers retirees plenty of ways to fill the days. Visit the Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró to admire creations by the famous artists. Or take an architectural journey of modernist landmarks by Antoni Gaudí.

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Killarney, Ireland

Rent and Utilities: $775.93 per month

Tucked on emerald hills overlooking the lake Lough Leane, Killarney has plenty to keep both outdoor lovers and history buffs busy. Head to Killarney National Park where you can boat, bike, ride horses or fish. Dive into the past exploring the ruins of the Innisfallen Abbey on the Innisfallen Island. 

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Cairns, Australia

Rent and Utilities: $804.98 per month

Live alongside the Great Barrier Reef, and spend your days swimming among 1,625 species of fish. When you’re waterlogged, check out Cairn’s other sights. Take a train ride through the upper Barron Gorge on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, hike through Barron Gorge National Park or visit koala gardens in nearby Kuranda.

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Panama City

Rent and Utilities: $812.83 per month

International Living named Panama the World's Best Retirement Haven in 2016, and Panama City makes it easy for you to live in a tropical paradise. With $1,000 pension per month or more and a clean police record, you’ll get discounts through the country's pensioner program, earning you up to 50 percent off nearly anything you buy. That leaves more in your retirement budget to enjoy the country's many sights, including its famous canal.

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Rent and Utilities: $857.08 per month

Want to retire rich overseas in one of the busiest cities in the world? You can stretch every dollar by visiting free attractions like the Imperial Palace, Tsukiji Market and Meiji Shrine. Savor local cuisine like ramen and sashimi that will save you money over western dishes.

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Rent and Utilities: $862.50 per month

With fame reaching from its Pantheon to the Pope, Rome will fill your days with a host of architectural, historic and religious sights. Head outside the city to explore natural preserves such as the National Park of Abruzzo. Discover the city’s modern side filled with avant-garde restaurants and engaging shops.

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St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda

Rent and Utilities: $880.65 per month

As the capital city of Antigua and Barbuda, St. John’s is a hub of the best shopping and dining. Visit the Saturday Morning Market where vendors congregate to sell goods ranging from local produce to crafts. Meet visitors from all over the world at the cruise ship docks or venture back into the area’s 10,000-year history.

Las Vegas

Rent and Utilities: $940.39 per month

Las Vegas is famous for its casinos and over-the-top entertainment. But you’ll find a relaxed side to the city, as well. Take a hike to hidden springs in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area or spend time at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Visit Vegas museums, like the Neon Museum or Mob Museum.

Find: Great Places to Live for $1,000 a Month 

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St. Andrews, Scotland

Rent and Utilities: $992.23 per month

If you love golf, retire to St. Andrews, a city known for having roots in the sport. Book a round at the Old Course or one of 10 other courses in the city. There’s much more to St. Andrews than golf, though, and you’ll find many ways to spend your golden years.

Stroll through Craigtoun Country Park or St. Andrews Botanic Garden to enjoy the city's natural beauty. Enjoy entertainment at the Byre Theatre, marvel at colorful fish in the St. Andrews Aquarium or kick back with a cold one at the Eden Mill distillery and brewery.

Photo credit: Getty


Rent and Utilities: $1,004.98 per month

Retire in Paris and you'll spend your days people watching at sidewalk cafes near the Eiffel Tower. Undoubtedly one of the best places to live in the world, Paris life reaches far beyond its stereotypes of romantic ambiance and rich cuisine. Amble tree-lined cobblestone avenues along the River Seine to explore museums and churches.

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Aruba, Aruba

Rent and Utilities: $1,154.79 per month

Tucked in the center of the island of Aruba, the city of Aruba is perfectly positioned for easy access to the island’s many sights. Soak up the sun on the shimmering white sands of Palm Beach, or dive below the water to explore reefs and shipwrecks. Or, strap on your hiking shoes for a trek through Arikok National Park.

Photo credit: Getty


Rent and Utilities: $1,183.93 per month

Amsterdam is easy to explore by bike, making it one of the best places to live for active retirees. Picturesque canals, tasty cuisine and a minimal language barrier — most residents speak English as well as Dutch — add to its charm. Visit famous sites like the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum, or try kitesurfing at the beach.

Photo credit: Getty

San Diego

Rent and Utilities: $1,482.01 per month

If you’ve been California dreamin’ on a winter’s day, make your dreams come true when you retire to San Diego. You'll find free activities around the city. Hike windswept cliffs at Torrey Pines State Reserve or enjoy gardens surrounding Spanish renaissance architecture at Balboa Park. And don’t miss watching the sun sink into the Pacific Ocean from Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.

Photo credit: Getty


Rent and Utilities: $1,648.85 per month

While London is famous for sights like Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, you’ll find plenty of free ways to spend your retirement in the city. Take selfies in front of double-decker buses or the iconic advertising display in Piccadilly Circus. Tread in the footsteps of King Henry VIII at Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens or browse museum displays at London’s National Gallery.

Photo credit: Getty


Rent and Utilities: $1,662.13 per month

Make every day a Hawaiian vacation when you retire to Honolulu. The city is ranked highly in the U.S. News and World Report's 100 Best Places to Live in 2017. The city took 10 out of 10 points for desirability, and without a doubt it’s one of the most beautiful places to live.

But, the city can come with a high cost of living, so take advantage of low-cost deals. Wiggle your toes in the sand at Waikiki Beach, visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial or watch the sunset from Sunset Beach for starters.

Photo credit: Getty

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