10 Tips for Picking a Place to Retire

Use these strategies to find your ideal retirement spot.

Map of the Southeast United States
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Consider the political, religious and social climate. Some people want to retire in a community of like-minded individuals. There are retirement communities that cater to artists, RV owners and people of various ethnic heritages. "You need to understand the politics of the state and whether you can cope with that," Cole says. "You want to think about the politics and whether it is in line with who you are. You don't want to spend your last years constantly irritated and agitated." Of course, if you like to engage in lively debate about politics and religion, you might want to seek out a more diverse community.

Job opportunities. Americans are increasingly planning to work during the traditional retirement years. If a retirement career is part of your plan, you may want to line up a job opportunity before you make a move. "A place that will enable you to do what you want to do with your post-retirement work career is very important," Languirand says. "Some people have very portable skills where they could practice anywhere, while some people are more place-dependent."

Transportation options. Many seniors reach a point when they can't or no longer want to drive. Some cities have public transportation systems that give discounts or are even free for senior citizens, or low-cost van or cab services that will help seniors get to doctor's appointments. "If you move away from family and you are in a place where there is not much of a public transportation infrastructure, you are going to have to find a way to meet basic needs, your grocery shopping," says John Eaton, a certified financial planner for Cypress Wealth Advisors in San Antonio.

Better weather. Some people seek retirement spots with warm weather so they can avoid winter, but you might find that you miss the change of seasons or that warm weather comes with its own challenges. "Professionals come down here and they just can't take this heat," Eaton says about San Antonio. "It's hot, and if you are somebody who is used to seasons, it might not suit you."

[See: Best Places to Retire for Longevity.]

Test it out first. One way to be more certain that a retirement spot will be a good fit is to test it out by renting for a few months or even a year before buying. "When you first move to a place, it might seem wonderful, but once you have tried living in it, you might find that it doesn't really suit your needs," Languirand says. "There's nothing like actually living in a place to know all its little eccentricities and ins and outs."