By Steve Fleming

“Where is the best place to retire?” That question was frequently asked in hundreds of preretirement seminars I have led across the United States. Many “best places to retire” lists are published. The top choices in a few 2014 lists include Akron, Ohio, Albuquerque, N.M., Abilene or Austin, Texas, Winchester, Va., or Raleigh, N.C. Quite a varied list. Of course, the criteria used for each list is different, hence the variety of “best places” chosen.

In fact, there is no best place for you to retire unless it’s the one which fits your criteria, needs and situation. To help you find your best place, here are some questions to consider when evaluating retirement locations.

CLIMATE – Do you want the change of seasons?  Or would you prefer a steady year-round climate? Do you want to live in snow country or the desert?

MEDICAL – Are there good medical facilities nearby? As we age, access to good quality care from doctors to clinics to hospitals becomes even more important.

WORK OPPORTUNITIES — Many retirees plan to work part-time to keep active and earn extra spending money. What is available where you might retire?

TRANSPORTATION – What is traffic like? Good public transit or decent taxi service can be vital when you no longer drive. A nearby airport with several major airlines or passenger rail service available will make longer distance travel easier.

AFFORDABILITY – How expensive is it to live there? San Francisco and New York City are vibrant but expensive. Other locations may offer similar opportunities but at more reasonable cost. Don’t overlook taxes. Some states and cities tax retirement income, others do not. Property taxes vary greatly. Where you retire should not put a regular strain on your budget.

HOUSING – Do the housing options fit your needs and lifestyle? Can you buy or rent what you want and need at a price you can afford? Utility costs?

CONTINUITY – Do you want to live someplace similar to where you live now, or do you want to try something new? If you now live in the country, are you ready to live in the city? How will you maintain some continuity with your past?

FAITH COMMUNITY – Many want to continue to be active in a faith community when retired. Does your new location allow this?

CULTURE – If you like ballet, the symphony, live jazz or art galleries, you would want to live where you have access to similar cultural amenities.

SPORTS & RECREATION – If you enjoy an active lifestyle or attending sports events, what are the opportunities to continue with those interests?

PROXIMITY – Finding the best spot for you may include being close to family or significant friends. Moving nearer to these special people can be rewarding, but may also mean renegotiating expectations.

LEARNING & GIVING BACK – Are there educational opportunities available if you enjoy learning new things or skills? Many retirees want to help others through volunteering and community service. What exists to allow that?

GEOGRAPHY – I don’t sleep well at altitudes over about 5,200 feet. Santa Fe is a great retirement location, but at 7,000 feet in altitude it is not a good choice for me. High pollen, very humid (or very arid) areas may cause problems for you. Consider the geographic consequences of anyplace you may retire.

SHOPPING & PERSONAL SERVICES — Are the basics (grocery store, pharmacy, department store) available nearby? Barber? Hair salon? Auto repair? If you love shopping, what retail is available?

RELATIONSHIPS – If you are a social person, this place should give you opportunities to make new friends and build new relationships. Does this location offer those avenues?

SCENERY – Many retired people want to find places offering natural beauty and scenery. What would be near to your retirement location that would meet your needs?

HOME – The truly “best place” for your retirement will be that place where you can feel at home. It will be a place of comfort, whatever that means to you.

These are just a few of many things to consider as you seek the best place for your retirement.

Steve grew up in Hagerstown and has spent his life working with people in their life journeys. To find free resources you can use, log on to

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