With more unemployed Americans choosing to retire rather than continue their frustrating job searches, many retirees are currently in the process of downsizing and looking for a new retirement rental lease or piece of real estate. Based on surveys of retirees, the following are cited as the seven most important components of retirement real estate.
Cost of Living
Almost 100% of retiree moves are primarily motivated by cost of living; how many retirees have you known to move from Mississippi to Hawaii? The availability of affordable rental lease or real estate prices, of low cost but high quality food, and entertainment that doesn’t break the budget are all critically important to a fulfilling and comfortable retirement.
Newsflash: even between states within the U.S., there are massive variations in taxes (we won’t even get into the availability of low taxes internationally, which is a discussion in and of itself). There are fully seven states with no income tax, contrasted with many states that can cost taxpayers up to 10% of their income just for state and local taxes. And then there another five states with no sales tax, which adds up to another substantial amount of money each year. Couple those tax benefits with areas with low real estate taxes (and don’t think these don’t affect you just because you’re on a rental lease – they’re built into the rent), and these low tax areas can make living immensely more affordable.
Health Care Facilities
Sure, living out in the boonies of Wyoming might offer a cheap rental lease and no income taxes, but that won’t be worth much to you when your spouse needs to reach a hospital within fifteen minutes to survive. Before moving somewhere, call up the local health care facilities, and see how difficult it is to make an appointment, and some of the biggest indicators are how long you’re put on hold, and how quickly someone gets back to you if you leave a voicemail.
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Culture & Recreation
If your time is no longer tied up with a job, then you’re going to have free time, and a lot of it. Some people love mountains, to be near hiking, skiing, mountain biking, etc, while others prefer beach access for swimming, boating, fishing, or even surfing. Or perhaps golf courses and art galleries are for you? Consider towns you’ve never heard of, and consider college towns, as many offer these cultural and recreation activities.
Beyond simple cost, there are several factors to keep in mind when looking into retirement housing. First, how much maintenance/cleaning/upkeep is required? Look for small (but not cramped) apartments and condominiums, with plenty of services (such as landscaping, cleaning, maintenance, etc) available, and within walking distance to amenities such as grocery shopping, restaurants, etc. Finally, consider starting short-term with a rental lease, instead of committing to buying a condo.
Most retirees prefer more temperate climes, rather than the tundra-like winters of Minnesota and North Dakota. Aside from comfort reasons, winters are far more dangerous to seniors than to younger folks: ice means a greater chance of falling, snow means shoveling, and both mean driving conditions that require fast reaction times. Sometimes retirees prefer to simply migrate for winters, rather than moving entirely away from their families, so consider signing a seasonal rental lease, or splitting a condo with a couple who is only interested in living in it during summer seasons.
Transportation & Amenities
Look for areas with easy access to transportation alternatives to driving, including services aimed at senior mobility. Efficient bus systems, affordable taxi services, and strong metro networks can all be great alternatives to driving for seniors. Beyond local transportation, be aware of access to airports or train stations as well, as many retirees enjoy spending some of their free time traveling. Other amenities can include local access to internet and communications networks, public libraries, senior centers, religious institutions, accessible shopping, and anything else you personally live near.
Retirement is supposed to be fun and relaxing, so don’t sweat it. Instead, have fun researching new locales, inexpensive rental lease opportunities, cheap travel, and ways that you can have a full and exciting lifestyle without having to spend a lot of hard-earned money, and you’ll find that your retirement years really are golden.