What to Look for In a Retirement Community

As retirement approaches, there are choices and decisions that will need to be made regarding where you plan to live out the rest of your life. What kinds of things will matter when you choose your destination? Forbes Magazine asserts that across the nation there are cities that are more well suited for seniors and retirees depending on their necessities or type of lifestyle that is desired. Retirees looking for slower paced lifestyles lean toward coastal living, while some are looking for a simpler life and seek more rural horizons. Yet, there are those that can’t be without the hustle and bustle of city life and all its social extravaganzas that are in abundance in urban lifestyles. Climate, cost of living and economy, and senior benefits, can be strong motivations as you prepare for your next chapter.

Climate will always be an important motivator for enjoying retirement. Coastal living provides for warmer, milder weather and an abundance of outdoor activities and social opportunities year-round. Perhaps, the drier and milder weather of Arizona and Utah are more desirable. As the seasons change, the varying climates offer seasonal leisure activities that can take you to the tips of mountains or to the valleys of dried riverbeds. Let’s not stop there, there is always much to be adored in experiencing the change of four seasons. The ability to relax in the winter next to a cozy fire or walks along a trail at sunset in the spring, and long summer days by the lake with the fireflies alerting you that the day is almost done. Climate may not only be a preference but a necessity to live the best life after decades of hard work.

Climate provides a backdrop for how you can enjoy your extra leisure time, but cost of living will guide you in how to keep the lifestyle that is desired a reality. Do you require all the bells and whistles that you never had before, or are you maintaining your past lifestyle into the future? Are their enough resources to sustain a more extravagant retirement or is frugality important to maintain retirement for more longevity?  Consider downsizing to maintain a similar lifestyle in an area with higher costs of living. Also take into account, that typically higher costs in living allows for an abundance of medical providers and services not as easily attainable in lowered economic areas.

The economy of a community is important. It determines many programs and services that are afforded and at what price tag. Retirement brings in extra hours to explore and experience different avenues of life whether it be a new leisure or new challenges. The economy of a particular community can guide you into the type of retirement you desire. Will you need to supplement your retirement income? Will you be looking for community programs to enhance your social and philanthropic goals?

Economy also affects crime rates and accessibility to senior benefits and programs. The higher the cost of living typically the higher the crime rate and better senior benefits and programs. On the other side, the lower the cost of living generally the lower the crime rate and less benefits allotted to seniors and retirees. Consider whether your retirement plan can afford to be taxed on social security and retirement benefits or whether the particular state you decide to reside in implements an inheritance tax. Understand tax laws and program disbursements and services. Locate senior services, social and health programs, and volunteer opportunities; and consider the attainability of those such programs and if they offer the benefits you require. Many of these benefits provide for networking opportunities and social introductions to help sustain everyday pleasures and experiences that improve any quality of life.

With retirement approaching, knowing will only make your new journey to retirement a better and wiser informed decision. Invest time into your retirement plan and consider the topics outlined above. Prioritize what’s important to maintain a quality of retirement that you aspire for. Climate, whether personal preference or out of a differing necessity can guide your retirement needs whether it includes leisure activities and adventures or just for personal wellness.

Larger cities and stronger economies offer more opportunities for social advancements, community outreach, and accessibility to programs and benefits. Retirement does not mean you will never work again; it suggests you are enjoying time and space how you like to enjoy it. Do what you love, love what you do! Will you be in a financial position to give back to the community, or will you be supplementing your retirement income. Does    your retirement plan account for extra indulgences or are you looking to simplify your daily obligations? Consider your budget and then reconsider what you want out of retirement. Live by the seat of your pants, enjoy each day, one day at a time, or plan every aspect down to the smallest of details.

Lastly, determine how your retirement finances are working for you. Does your retirement destination implement an inheritance tax, ultimately taxing what you leave to loved ones? Make sure your senior benefits are easily assessable and disbursements are easily attainable. Ensure that your benefits are working for you and the lifestyle that you have projected for you, your family, and your retirement plan. The Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging evaluates successful aging and has concluded, “…With the gift of longevity, new opportunities have emerged for older adults to pursue work and education, social and civic involvement, and rich interaction with younger people—and one another. At the same time, this fast-growing cohort wants better health care and increased financial security. They seek access to amenities that ease the challenges of aging and enhance quality of life for themselves and their loved ones. In our individual and collective efforts to achieve these goals, where we live has never been more important.”

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  1. One of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a senior is whether to move into a senior living community. Being part of a community, making friends and staying active is important for many reasons.

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