Prime Time Living - Page 20 - Best places to retire

Prime Time Living
- Page 20
Best places to retire
Affordability, safety and amenities in high demand

By Margit B. Weisgal, Contributing Writer

Alan Williams contemplated retirement. He still works full-time, is fairly healthy, and will turn 75 next year, so thinking about the future is realistic. “Like a lot of our generation,” he says, “I can’t afford to retire. Once I do, my lifestyle will change. One big question is affordability and, then, is it a setting that provides all I need or want?”

Williams is in good company. His questions and similar queries are being asked by baby boomers as they assess their fiscal circumstances once they retire. They demand detailed information and many particulars on a variety of topics before considering a specific locale.

Good, dependable, accurate research is a prerequisite. A recent article on the best places in the U.S. where you can retire comfortably – just one of many with lists of locations – was vilified in the comments by its readers. Hundreds said it was poorly thought out and didn’t include information relevant to retirees. Actual residents of the listed cities commented that, on the contrary, these weren’t the best places to retire and cited errors. Others mourned the lack of detailed information seniors seek before moving.

What do baby boomers consider necessary before even thinking about leaving their current homes? And what other musthaves do they want? To answer all these questions and more, an excellent and reliable source since 1992 is Where to Retire (, “the authoritative source of useful information for the 700,000 Americans who move to new towns to retire every year,” according to the web site.

Talking with Annette Fuller, editor of Where to Retire magazine, she says, “Where to Retire has all the details you should think about when looking at different cities, like climate, state and local taxes, cost of living, housing costs, health care, crime and more. We include interviews with retirees who relocated, what they say you should look for and what to look out for. We also include charts and stories on where people are actually living,”

Her readership is not shy about voicing their opinions as to what they want. In order of importance, these factors are important for retirees.

1. Low crime

2. Good health care

3. Active, clean, safe downtown

4. Low overall tax rate

5. Mild climate

6. Scenic beauty nearby

7. Friendly like-minded neighbors

8. Low cost of living

9. Active social/cultural environment

10. Good recreational facilities

11. Walkability

12. No state income tax

13. Low housing costs

14. Airport nearby

15. Major city nearby

16. Friends/relatives in area

17. College or university town

18. Full- or part-time employment opportunities

Beyond having these resources available in the vicinity, the physical attributes are important, too. The ideal locations are either a small town or suburban. Far behind those, but still listed, were resort, rural or urban places. Geographically, preferences are coastal, lake or river, mountains or foothills, forested flatlands, or desert. The last two got very few votes.

Taking all this together, which states are people moving to? It should come as no surprise that most of them are in the sunbelt. Fuller says, “The five chosen here represent the top five states in our recent story interpreting the latest U.S. Census Bureau data on retirement relocation. More people relocated to these places than left.”

The top five states attracting retirees are, in order, Florida, Arizona, South Carolina, North Carolina and Nevada. It’s interesting that a desert was not geographically desirable, yet Nevada is one of the top five states. This is because there are more benefits to that area than Las Vegas and the desert.

Sadly, Maryland ranked 40th with a net loss in retiree population. California and New York did not fare well either; both lost