After years of working and saving, you are finally ready to start planning for retirement. If you are considering a move, there are a few cities that work great for retirees. In making this important decision, you should consider things like your personal budget, the cost of living, taxes, and activities that you can do in that area that fit your lifestyle. Ultimately, however, the best place to retire is up to your unique needs and interests—but we have a few ideas to get you started.
Getting Started: What Does the “Best City to Retire” Mean to You?
Making the decision to retire is a big one. It’s an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful time if you want to make sure that your cost of living fits in with your budget. For some, determining where to retire is focused on a few key questions about how you want to live.
- Where are affordable places to retire?
- What are the cheapest retirement cities?
- What kind of retirement budget do I need?
- What expenses will I have in retirement?
- What kind of activities do I want to do in retirement?
- What will my priorities be in retirement?
The answers to these questions will have a huge impact on where you retire. For example, if you are prioritizing being close to family, the best city for your retirement might be limited to a certain geographical location. If you did not save as much as you would have liked, then affordability is going to be one of the most important things to do. On the other hand, if you are prioritizing travel, you might want to retire somewhere you have easy access to transportation, such as airports or sea travel options.
Spend some time thinking about your priorities in retirement because that will dictate the best place to retire for your unique situation.
Factors to Consider When Planning a Move Toward an Affordable Place to Retire
Although everyone is unique when it comes to picking just the right city to live in retirement, there are some overall factors that you might want to consider.
- Median home prices
- The overall cost of living compared with the national average
- State taxes (including tax exemptions for Social Security and other common retirement income sources)
- Quality of life indicators, such as the crime rate, air quality, and walkability of the city or a particular neighborhood
- Access to healthcare options
Resources like the Milken Institute report on the “Best Cities for Successful Aging” also considers things like wellness, health care, transportation, and economics. The last iteration of Milken’s report was released in 2017, and it lists what it considers to be the best places to retire in the U.S.
Your Retirement Budget: Expenses to Plan for in Retirement
Your average monthly expenses in retirement could significantly increase, decrease, or stay relatively stable, depending on what you plan to do with your newly found free time. What you can afford will have a huge impact on where you can retire.
Your costs of living will vary a great deal based on your living situation and goals in retirement. In general, it is a good idea to add the following expenses to your retirement budget.
This expense could include a mortgage, taxes, insurance, and general maintenance. Paying off your mortgage before retirement is a great goal. Rent expense or long-term care facilities may also fall into this category of costs as well. Keep utilities and all of your normal household costs on this list, too.
Medicare Premiums and Other Healthcare Expenses
Depending on what type of plan you have, you may need to keep up with Medicare premium payments, including costs for prescriptions. You might also need to pay for other medical expenses, too. Do some research to determine what type of premium you should plan for throughout your retirement.
You have likely been deferring taxes on at least some of your retirement savings. You need to plan for that tax hit in retirement, too. Any withdrawal from a traditional IRA or 401(k) will see a tax bill. Some of your Social Security benefits may also be taxed, as well. You can take steps now to reduce your tax obligations in retirement.
Food, Entertainment, Travel, and Hobbies
You will have more time for going out to eat, entertainment activities, and pursuing your hobbies in retirement. For some, these items will add some significant additional costs. Think about how these costs will add to your overall expenses.
Each of these areas will vary significantly by personal preference. Food expenses, for example, may increase because you want to go out for lunch with friends or try restaurants that you have not had time to visit before. On the other hand, you can reduce your food expenses by cultivating your inner chef at home, too.
Grandchildren and Legacy Planning
You will want to add some cushion in your budget to help cover expenses for your family members or to give to some of your favorite charitable causes. While not everyone makes this expense category a priority, many like to leave some wiggle room to have the option to give in one form or another.
For some retirees, their retirement planning has not suffered because of COVID-19, but their adult children may have taken a hit. Having some extra funds to help out in emergencies like these can be a big factor for some retirees.
6 Best Places to Retire on a Budget
If you are looking for affordable places to retire, review our suggestions below. While these might not be the cheapest retirement cities, they offer some of the best options for the “biggest bang for your buck.” Note that these are listed in no particular order—rank them how you see fit!
Jacksonville, Florida makes the list for a few reasons. First, it has no state income tax, and the median home price is right around $175,000 for those 60 and older. Monthly rent falls just over $1,000 per month. These factors make it one of the best places to retire financially.
It is also the largest city in the continental United States by land area. It is actually one of the fastest-growing places in the country, too.
It features breathtaking waterways and beaches. It is walkable and ridable, and it has a wide variety of outdoor activities available. It also has some high performing hospitals, like the Mayo Clinic. Crime is slightly above the national average, so that is something to consider, too.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville features the nearby (and gorgeous) Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. The median home price is just under $250,000, and there is no state tax on Social Security benefits. There is also no estate or inheritance tax.
The town is home to just under 100,000 people. It has many available doctors, great air quality, and a good climate. However, like Jacksonville, serious crime is higher than the national average.
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
If you are looking for one of the most affordable places to retire that is also a booming metropolitan, look no further than the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This area has a population of upwards of 7 million when you consider all of the surrounding towns and suburbs.
The median home price is just under $250,000, and the rent average is about $1,000 per month. When you consider just those over 60 years old, the median house price drops to about $165,000. It has no state income tax. It is a great location for sports lovers, as it is home to the Cowboys (NFL), Mavericks (NBA), and Texas Rangers (MLB).
Pittsburgh is clustered around three major rivers. It is great for sports fans, and those over the age of 65 can use the city’s transportation system free of charge in most situations.
The median home price is about $180,000, which is 37% below the national average. As a result, Pittsburgh is one of the most affordable big cities for retirees. Pennsylvania does not tax Social Security income. It also has a high number of doctors per capita and is a great location for both biking and walking.
Nashville and nearby Chattanooga both make the list for Tennessee cities. Nashville’s median home price hovers around $250,000. There is no state income tax.
Nashville, in particular, is full of life, both day and night. You can see Broadway shows and live music everywhere. Some of the biggest country music stars frequent the Nashville area.
If you want a quieter scene, Chattanooga is only about a two-hour drive away from Nashville. It offers even more affordable housing options (and a smaller population), with a lot of activities within driving distance.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
If you want to be in the Midwest, Grand Rapids is a great place to call home. The state has no tax on income from Social Security, and it has a median home price of about $180,000. The city is well-known for its low cost of living. Its healthcare industry is growing, too.
Grand Rapids has multiple art museums and attracts artists from around the world at its annual ArtPrize Awards. It is also well-known for the many craft brewery options in the area.
Planning for an Early Retirement
When most people talk about retiring early, they mean retiring before the age of 65. For those who want to retire early, the average “early” age is 64 for men and 62 for women. The first step in planning for early retirement is defining what “early” means to you. Your planning will look very different if you want to retire by 55 instead of 62, for example.
Keep in mind that you may not have access to some of your retirement funds if you retire early. You also may not want to start your Social Security benefits as soon as you retire—because if you start them early, you will not get the full amount that you could receive every month. That means that you may need to lean on other investment accounts before you can tap into your “true” retirement funds.
Knowing your retirement expenses ahead of time helps you plan for early retirement. You should also take steps to work with a financial advisor to determine when you can retire or how you can make your dream of retiring early work for you.
Getting Help with Your Retirement Planning
Dechtman Wealth Management provides an array of services that focus on helping you accomplish your retirement goals—from tax planning to investment management. Our team can meet with you, help you determine what you need to meet your retirement goals, and assist you in reaching those goals.
Put our years of experience to work for you. Contact us for more information or to set up an appointment with our team.
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