Retiring used to be all about the Sunshine State. What could be better? Outdoor living all year round. Nearly everyone has their own private pool. No one is further than 80 miles from the Atlantic on one side or the Gulf of Mexico on the other.
Florida was the destination state for retirees; the term Snowbird was coined to cover the retirees making their way south for a better life.
The list of reasons why Florida was ‘the’ place to retire seemed almost endless; no state, estate or inheritance taxes make it attractive to those with no wage and it has a range of recreation options and the climate to go with them. Every possible water sport you could imagine. Great healthcare and a vibrant art community, Florida seemed to have it all.
But now there’s a change in the wind. Florida is no longer top of the list when it comes to the best places to retire, and that’s because there is more to retirement than the weather and how close you are to a beach.
Two big factors seem to make the difference:
Sure, when you first move to Florida you go to visit the family, they come to you. But then everyone realizes the travel involved, and without you really noticing the visits dwindle.
In the winter you’re in heaven. The temperature is great, you eat your breakfast on the patio. But everyone else knows that too. There are traffic jams and parking is a nightmare.
Then in the summer, the weather reaches heights of ‘I can’t move out of the house ’cause it’s too darned hot!’ Then there’s always the worry of hurricanes, so don’t forget your homeowner’s insurance is going to be essential. Incidentally, you need to be able to put up the home storm shutters.
Beyond the Weather
Top of the list for places to retire is, surprise, Virginia, where temperatures in the winter months drop into the forties, sometimes lower. The Midwest is generally well represented, for example even South Dakota is up there.
That’s because retirement is not all about the weather, that’s just one factor in six top ones that are worth considering.
Financial Health of the State
It is important that the state where you want to live is healthy in itself. California’s financial mess means that it is less attractive simply because of the specter of tax hikes. Snowbirds need to have a handle on any ongoing outlay and taxes are one of the certainties and not just income tax, think of sales tax, death and inheritance taxes too.
Access to Healthcare
It may not be something you need to think about today, but at some point, health care is going to become more important.
Affordable age-friendly housing
When you pay $200,000 or so for a house which would cost millions in some of the more expensive states, the lower mortgage is an obvious advantage, perhaps you might even own your house outright.
Employment and Education Opportunities
Have you thought what you will do with your time? You may well want to continue working for a while. If you’re looking to dive into your hobby in a deeper way – what are the available educational opportunities?
General Feel-Good Factor
You need to feel good about where you live. Florida has 11 out of the top 100 dangerous cities in the US. You need to feel safe and happy when you go home at night.
What Places Do Look Good?
If it’s a question of moving for a good standard of living and more bang for your buck, then there are a plenty of places which are not Florida.
- If you don’t mind the cold, Fargo, SD could be on your list.
- If the snow is a no-no, the Forbes lists include Asheville, NC and Athens, GA in its top five.
- If you really like the heat, Arizona’s dry heat might be the place to go.
What You Should Consider Before Moving
Retirement to somewhere far away might be great while you are healthy and wealthy. But when the financial situation changes or your health deteriorates then other factors come in to play.
54,000 people in the bracket of 70 or over moved back to where they had come from in 2017. Factors in that move where the death of a partner, or health factors, which meant that they just wanted to be closer to the family.
Before you head off to the sunshine, you need to consider what the change will mean. What are the things you like to do? If you love horseback riding in the mountains, then Florida is not going to be the place for you.
How far will you need to travel to get to your hobbies and pastimes?
What conveniences do you have right now and will they still be available? If you’re used to walking everywhere and suddenly, everything is a drive away, will that work for you?
Will you be able to integrate into the community? If you have spent your leisure hours with friends of all ages, will move into an age-restricted community work for you?
Did You Know About the Creatures?
By the way, did you think about the animals in Florida? You can find alligators pretty much anywhere in Florida, all they need is fresh water so you may find them in rivers lakes, canals, and the lake on the golf course, and there is no fence between them and you. Further down south, you might also see crocodiles too.
When it’s hot and humid in the summer months, there are going to be mosquitoes. That’s why they mesh in outdoor spaces.
But worse of all (at least in some people’s heads) are the pythons. Pythons can eat a deer. Imagine the panic when Fido, your small bichon is missing!