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How did you decide where to retire (to)?
Old 04-24-2012, 08:29 AM   #1
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How did you decide where to retire (to)?

We are only a couple of years out and are looking at heading south. We are visiting various locales to see if we like the areas, and will probably spend some long weekends to get better acquainted with the areas we think we like best..

We have been advised that once we find a place we should rent, not buy, to see how things are for an extended stay, say 3 months.

So for those who made a move, I am wondering how you chose where you moved to and how you made the move--did you ease your way in or jump in head first? And what advice would you give us? Also, I would appreciate any sources on the net or books/reading materials you found helpful.

Thanks in advance,
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:48 AM   #2
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We haven't moved, but my parents owned an RV for a few years after they first retired and traveled some spending a few weeks in areas that they found intriguing (which was their version of renting). After a few years, they were visiting some friends and staying at a nearby campground and enjoyed the area and met some others through these friends and ended up buying a place (15 years ago).
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:58 AM   #3
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I researched every place I was considering on Stats about all US cities - real estate, relocation info, crime, house prices, cost of living, races, home value estimator, recent sales, income, photos, schools, maps, weather, neighborhoods, and more They also have a forum by state where you can ask residents questions about their home town. We decided on the the southwest and made two trips there and visited 5 cities. We finally picked the place we liked the best. Unfortunately my wife died just before she was to retire and everything of course changed. I was lucky enough to met a wonderful woman and ended up staying in the same area.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:11 AM   #4
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My late husband wanted to retire to Florida especially Sarasota county so we made several trips to the area . We then sold our house and most of our furniture in New Jersey and moved into a rental in Venice ,Fl. for nine months while we looked for a house . This gave us time to really pick a neighborhood we wanted and find the house . Unfortunately like Blue Moon I was widowed a year after we moved . I did stay in the area and built a new life . One of the best things I did when looking for a place was subscribe to the local newspaer . It gives you a sense of the area and the cost of homes . I highly recommend Sarasota county especially Venice for a retirement destination . Good Luck with your search !
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:24 AM   #5
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So for those who made a move, I am wondering how you chose where you moved to and how you made the move--did you ease your way in or jump in head first? And what advice would you give us?
We eased in, and then jumped back out.

After Hurricane Katrina (in 2005) we found ourselves living surviving in the middle of an ongoing, seemingly never-ending catastrophe, and decided to leave as soon as we could retire (2009-2010). We set some criteria and scoured the internet for a town that met these criteria. Living near relatives was not one of them; I have a daughter but she lives in a higher cost-of-living area and he has no kids. Cost of living was high on the list of criteria for us.

We visited the top 3 towns on our list and a few more, and it was crystal clear to us that we both much preferred the town at the top of our list, Springfield, Missouri, to the rest. We used all of our vacation time for four years visiting Springfield, and did an intensive internet search to find out as much as we could about it between trips. We read their newspaper website regularly, too.

By 2010 we had both retired and we renovated and staged our houses and put them on the market. We sold, threw our, or donated over 80% of our stuff, including almost all of our furniture, in preparation for the move. We priced rental trucks and bought boxes and packed virtually everything up for the move. After four months of having buyers tramping through our homes with only one offer, my companion F. decided he wanted to stay here, for now. I was feeling ambivalent so that made up my mind for me, as well. Part of the reason why we found ourselves backing away from our plans, was that finally New Orleans was starting to recover from the hurricanes to a greater extent.

We are still planning to reconsider moving in another five years or so.

My advice would be to proceed with caution, to remember that the heart is heavily involved in this type of decision, and also to remember that nothing is a "done deal". If you don't like it in your new location, or if you get cold feet like we did, you can always change your mind.

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Also, I would appreciate any sources on the net or books/reading materials you found helpful.
I used everything I could find on the internet, although I didn't read any books on the topic. I found www.census.gov to be especially helpful in comparing various locations in terms of statistics like median income, median home prices, population, and median age of residents there.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:54 AM   #6
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One of the things I always wanted to do is move from NY to Florida. But I thought that once our kids have kids and stay in the area DW wouldn't want to leave town. Then I got lucky, DD was dating a guy through HS and College and his Dad got transfered to Florida. When DD and her then boyfriend graduated from College they both decided to do their grad work in Florida. That's when my plan went into action, DD got married and then Grand Kids, I win!
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:59 AM   #7
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At one point that we were considering moving in retirement, I had explored this website. You input your like/dislikes and it provides a list of potential places to live that fit with your criteria. I thought it was pretty cool.

Find Your Spot | Find Your Spot
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:10 AM   #8
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Wow, thanks for all your good advice so quickly. I will be checking the websites you provided.
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Old 04-24-2012, 05:22 PM   #9
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I researched over 100 retirement communities (mostly on the internet) and several other towns that I thought might be a good place to retire. I narrowed down the list over time to about 15. I visited 7 of these places and spent several weeks in a couple. Number 8 I visited for 3 days and bought a home. I knew it when I found it. Officially retired March 31 this year. Getting the current home ready to market and will move when it sells.

Do research, narrow the list based on your requirements, visit several, rent and spend time when you get it down to a few, and you will know when the place is right.
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:03 PM   #10
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You might also consider looking at bestplaces.net, which also has lots of good info on climate, health (i.e., air and water quality), crime rates, cost of living....
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:18 PM   #11
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I've been researching for nine months and we have a tentative #1. We're all different, so (unless cost is no object, in which case you may be able to have it all) each unless of us has to decide what we're looking for regarding climate, city size, crime, education, cost of living, transportation, taxes, religion, sports, culture, activities, politics, etc. and priorities among them. Then research online using the great links above (I used them all too) like citydata, sperlings, findyourspot to narrow your search. I also like

Get Your Walk Score - Find Walkable Apartments and Rentals
and
Neighborhood Search for Home Buyers and Real Estate Investment - NeighborhoodScout

FWIW. After you narrow your list as much as you can, you simply have to visit them to pick one. Ideally you spend some time and visit more than once, different times of the year maybe. And even after picking a place, renting before buying as you noted is probably a very good idea. Best of luck, should be a fun exercise...
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:16 PM   #12
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Everyone's situation is different, but in our case, we knew that we wanted to keep living for most of the year in our current location (Michigan), but we definitely wanted to go south for part of the winter, to get out of the snow and cold for a while. So, we checked out a few places.......Florida Panhandle and Coastal Bend of Texas, mainly. We definitely liked the Coastal Bend of Texas better, so that's where we have been spending part of our winters lately. We rent a house down there for what I consider to be a reasonable price, right on the water, that meets all of our requirements. And we love the area and all that it offers. We've made some great friends down there too, that we look forward to seeing every year now. So, we plan to keep doing what we have been doing for the next several years, anyway.........it works for us.

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Old 04-25-2012, 10:28 AM   #13
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Having spent many years working outside the US and being married to a native born Russian (naturalized American) we had the benefit of that experience. I have either worked or lived in nearly every area (except Asia) and spent 6 years in Germany. I particularly lived Europe but with my second wife we had decided to retire to Hilton Head and had purchased a house there. However, the best plans usually go awry soon after that divorce I ended up with the Hilton Head house. This was almost immediately after Katrina. The HH property tax was raised to 6% and insurance was also increased heavily so I was facing $16,000 a year for just these two items for the privilege of living near the beach. My third wife and I decided to dump the house just as the market crashed so we lost about $150K in equity but still were able to get out of it with significant cash. We also had three other houses in Virginia and have now sold one. That plus all of our pooled cash resources enabled us to look outside the US to Europe. We had decided to retire early to Europe after touring the Domincan Republic, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Peru, Argentina, Costa Rico, and Panama. We could have done that but decided on Europe instead mostly to be closer to her family in Moscow and Jerusalem, and I have family in Jerusalem as well. We also considered (very briefly Israel). We then spent a couple of years travelling in Europe before finally deciding on Hungary. We were seeking a good lifestyle, moderate climate, accepting of Americans, no property taxes, no death taxes, good but inexpensive health care, good and organic foods, and something near skiing and central to Europe for travelling. This led us to Lake Balaton in Hungary and we bought a luxurious home on 5 acres for under $250K then spent another $100K renovating it to US standards. We have been exceptionally happy here and do not regret it for one minute. My advice is to decide on what you want to do, what the minimum requirements are, what you can afford, do research, then go and see for yourself.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:26 AM   #14
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For us, DW's main criteria was that it be within an hour of family. I just wanted to get out of the Washington, DC area traffic insanity.

While I would have preferred a warmer climate in one of the Carolinas, but not too close to the storms, WV has worked out well for us.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:28 AM   #15
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How did we decided where to retire to?

For 20+ years we were essentially vagabonds, being transferred every 18-24 months. During that entire time we developed the plan of moving back to the D.C. area where I grew up. Subscribed to the local paper, read everything we could about the history, culture and flavor of the area. Ultimatley, bought a log and frame house on the Shenadoah, had furniture shipped there over time, etc. etc. It's great to have a plan.

When I decided to retire, the time came to move from Louisiana to Virginia. One day, DW told me that, now that the time had come, she had serious misgivings. So we discussed it and decided to start looking locally. We found a wonderful place in the country about 25 miles from where we were living, we bought it and put the Virginia home on the market.

Couldn't be happier.

How did we decide on where to retire?? I listened to "She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed"!!
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:30 PM   #16
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So for those who made a move, I am wondering how you chose where you moved to and how you made the move--did you ease your way in or jump in head first? And what advice would you give us? Also, I would appreciate any sources on the net or books/reading materials you found helpful.
The Navy helped us move all over the world. When we arrived in Hawaii, we knew we'd seen enough.

We also had concerns about family proximity. After we'd lived in Hawaii for about a decade, spouse's parents decided to join us here to watch their only grandchild grow up. They lived in our rental property for about five years, which was full of its own challenges. (Our ER calculations had to include the "parents-in-law lifestyle subsidy".) They also did not acculturate here (which is a very tactful description of the situation) and they didn't make friends.

Then our daughter became a teen and was no longer interested in hanging out with anyone who she was even remotely related to, so the grandparents decided they'd been here long enough. During the time they were absent from their old neighborhood they'd missed out on something like $250K of real estate appreciation.

Today spouse's parents live 5000 miles away again, which seems to be about the right distance. Sometimes I wonder if they think it was worth the moves and the experience, but I'm not curious enough to start a conversation. Spouse was quite happy to see them go, and staying here in Hawaii seems to cut down on any interest in family reunions...
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:29 AM   #17
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...and staying here in Hawaii seems to cut down on any interest in family reunions...
Now, if I could only talk DW into Hawaii. Sigh.
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:33 AM   #18
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So for those who made a move, I am wondering how you chose where you moved to and how you made the move--did you ease your way in or jump in head first? And what advice would you give us? Also, I would appreciate any sources on the net or books/reading materials you found helpful.

Thanks in advance,
After our plan A failed we decided to consider relocating to S. Florida. We took a few trips down, decided it was workable, so we moved down and rented a home for 3 years. That's how long it took us to get comfortable with the idea of living there permanently, then getting to know the area well enough to choose where to live. In our case all the online tools, calculators, cost of living estimators, etc were no help. That is, they were very informative but not a substitute for just moving down and living in an area. We were very clear from the start as to what our location requirements were and that made the search much easier.
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:51 AM   #19
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We made a "want to have" list and as I recall it looked about like this, prioritized:
1. Being at the "correct" distance away from "all" relatives.
2. A place with weather that doesn't require owning a heavy coat/gloves.
3. A very walkable place, so that traffic issues were irrelevant.
4. Proximity to good hospitals, education, and cultural activities.
5. Near the ocean for surfing, sunning and body watching.
etc.

We then discussed places we had been, and memories of those, making sure not to glamorize too much. Used an old fold up National Geographic map to glance over to make sure we were not leaving out nice places.

We picked 10 places to visit and did each of them for a week at least; San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco, and Las Vegas seemed to have 3-4 of our "wants", and Denver, Portland, DC, Charlotte and others had 2-3. So we visited each of those 3-4 score places again and decided on San Diego. Been 2 years, no regrets but we still visit Seattle a lot, and San Francisco so I suspect eventually we will move again.

That's how we did it.
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Old 04-26-2012, 08:09 PM   #20
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We are in the process of looking where to retire to. As in past moves, we plan to rent in the area or areas we are considering for a period of time, A) to see if we really like it, B) find a good deal on a home.
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