How to Decide Where to Retire: Sun or Savings?

May 17, 2023 4 min read

One of the many questions that you’ll have to ask yourself as you approach or enter retirement is where to retire. When you’re no longer physically tied to a location for your job, you have an opportunity to choose your ideal location. Before relocating for retirement, here are some things to consider. 

Determine Your Priorities

What do you want your retirement to look like? Start by thinking through what is important to you in retirement. Understanding how you plan to spend the majority of your time will help you determine if/where to move. For example, proximity to loved ones (like grandchildren) or access to your hobbies (e.g., hiking, fishing) may be important factors as you consider where to live.  

Think About Your Quality of Life 

Your retirement lifestyle has a significant impact on your quality of life, and where you live is an important factor in shaping your lifestyle. Here are some things to consider as you think about where to live when you retire: 

Access to Healthcare

Will you have access to the medical professionals you need in your ideal location? Think about distance to specialists for care beyond routine doctor visits, as well as proximity to emergency services. The reality is that you’ll have greater healthcare needs as you age, so you’ll want to be comfortable with the health system you’ll have access to. 


How do you want to get around? Consider the walkability, bikeability, public transportation and/or the traffic conditions that you’ll face as you go about your day-to-day life. For those times when you’re traveling or hosting family at your home, is there convenient easy access to an airport and/or a major highway?  Also consider transportation if you can no longer drive; are there senior-focused services that you can utilize?


If cold and snow isn’t up your alley, you may have spent years pining for retirement when you could move to sunnier and warmer climes. Personal preference about the weather is an important factor, but also consider the ramifications of the climate. What will home maintenance mean in the new climate? Will you be able to continue with your hobbies (such as gardening)? What severe weather events does the new location deal with that you may not have experienced?

 Senior-Friendly Amenities

You’ll have a lot more free time in retirement, so think about what amenities you want to take advantage of. Will your location give you access to sporting events or artistic performances? Are there opportunities for you to socialize and meet new people? If you make the decision to transition to a retirement community, will you have to move again or is there somewhere nearby you’d like to live?

Consider the Cost-of-Living Differences

Okay, so moving is the best choice based on what you want, but now it’s time to be realistic about what you can afford. Consider the differences in the cost of living where you are now and where you’d like to move. There are a variety of websites that can give you an idea of how two places compare, but here are some key questions to explore:

  • What does the real estate situation look like – is buying or renting a place you like affordable?
  • What is the average cost of utilities?
  • What are the local and state tax rates?
  • How does the cost of goods and services compare?
  • Will the cost of transportation change?

Overall, the question you need to answer is will the money you have be enough for all of your retirement expenses

Take Cues from Other Retirees

The best recommendations come from first-hand knowledge. Talk to your friends and family members about their experiences. Pick their brains about what they liked/didn’t like and what they found was important – perhaps it is something unexpected. 

You can also crowdsource – where are other retirees choosing to go? Here are some retirement destinations in the United States others are flocking to.  

Top 5 Places to Retire

Many of the factors that you’ll need to consider as you make your decision are impacted by the specific community you choose – things like housing affordability, transportation and access to healthcare. However, there are some general areas that retirees have been favoring. If you’re looking for retirement hotspots, take a closer look in these five states. 


Are you surprised? Florida has a well-known reputation as a retirement destination due to its warm climate, lack of state income or estate tax and high number of retirement communities. Because it attracts a high number of retirees, there are many senior-friendly activities and amenities in many communities across the state. 


The warm climate and number of retirement communities has many retirees opting to move to Arizona. You won’t pay state estate tax or income tax on Social Security earnings, and depending on the exact location in Arizona, you may also benefit from a lower cost of living than retirement hotspots in other states. 

North Carolina

With easy access to outdoor recreation, many retirees who still appreciate seasonality have chosen to settle in North Carolina. With a lower-than-average cost of living, no state estate tax or income tax on Social Security earnings, access to healthcare and an increasing number of cultural amenities, cities in North Carolina are among the top retirement destinations nationwide. 


Another location with a relatively warmer climate that may attract retirees is Texas. With no state income or estate tax and a lower-than-average cost of living across the state, many communities in Texas may meet your financial criteria. 


Colorado is an increasingly popular destination for retirees who want to take advantage of the natural beauty and access to outdoor recreation. With a relatively cooler climate, it’s also ideal for people who don’t enjoy the heat of the South. Healthcare is generally high-quality and more affordable than other states, Social Security income is only partially taxed and there is no estate tax. While some areas in Colorado are expensive, there are areas that have a lower cost of living.

Try Before You Buy 

Moving to a completely new location is a big decision. Before you buy a home, consider renting for awhile to determine if the community is really what you’re looking for. If you’re set on officially moving or buying a second home that you can rent out when you don’t plan to be there, plan to visit the community a few times first to ensure it meets all your needs. 

Have a Plan

Unsure if you’ll be able to move to your dream location in retirement? We can help! Whether you’re still years away and are saving for retirement or are planning your retirement party and thinking about your income distribution plan, we can work with you to prepare. Connect with a Farm Bureau agent or financial advisor today. 

Neither the Company nor its agents or advisors give tax, accounting or legal advice. Consult your professional advisor in these areas.

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.