We work hard during our careers to enjoy a comfortable retirement, and for many of us, that means settling down someplace where our nest eggs can go the furthest. But for some folks, finding an affordable place to retire is a matter of basic survival. More than 40% of households aged 56 to 64 have no retirement savings to show for, or so states the Economic Policy Institute. And even among older workers who are saving, confidence about retiring comfortably is declining. With that in mind, WalletHub recently did a review of the top cities to retire in this year, as well as the least desirable cities for retirees. Here’s what they came up with.
What makes for a happy retirement?
Though money isn’t everything when it comes to retirement, it’s a big factor to consider. Even if your tastes are modest, and you’re naturally not such a big spender, you’re bound to encounter certain expenses outside your control. Take healthcare, for example, which, according to recent projections, could cost the average healthy 65-year-old couple today over $400,000 in retirement. It therefore stands to reason that finding a city with a relatively low cost of living can be crucial to your overall happiness as a senior.
But while #affordability is one of the metrics WalletHub reviewed in its recent study, it’s not the only one. Factors such as recreation, senior services and population, hospital systems, and even climate were all considered in compiling this list.
So which cities offer the best overall quality of life for retirees? Among the 150 cities reviewed by WalletHub, here are the top 10:
|Rank: Best Overall||City|
|6||Salt Lake City, UT|
|10||Las Vegas, NV|
DATA SOURCE: WALLETHUB.
Keep in mind that these 10 cities aren’t necessarily the most affordable. In fact, some, like Honolulu and Denver, scored relatively low on affordability alone. If a low cost of living is paramount in your mind, here are the top 10 cities you might consider as a retiree:
|Rank: Most Affordable||City|
|3||St. Petersburg, FL|
|5||San Antonio, TX|
DATA SOURCE: WALLETHUB.
Of course, what you gain in affordability, you might forgo elsewhere. Take Laredo, Texas, the cheapest city for retirees. Though you might snag housing and groceries on the cheap, Laredo scored pretty low with regard to activities and amenities, and it came in nearly last on healthcare.
So which cities might you try to avoid as a senior? Here’s what the list of the 10 worst retiree states looks like:
|Rank: Worst Overall||City|
|3||San Bernardino, CA|
|10||Rancho Cucamonga, CA|
DATA SOURCE: WALLETHUB.
Most of the cities on this list scored relatively low in terms of affordability, and all landed at the bottom of the heap with regard to healthcare. Interestingly, none of the cities with the highest cost of living, including New York, New York; San Jose, California; and San Francisco, California, came even close to making the bottom 10 overall, which goes to show that money shouldn’t be the only factor to consider when determining where to live as a senior.
Finding the right place for your senior years
Clearly, the place you spend your days in retirement will have an impact on not just your budget but your everyday quality of life. If you’re not sure where to go once you stop working, try asking yourself the following questions:
- How much do I want to spend on housing, transportation, and essentials? The more you fork over to cover your basic costs, the less cash you’ll have available for leisure. On the other hand, if you choose a city that offers much in the way of free entertainment, it might be worth the higher rent or mortgage. Furthermore, don’t just consider how much you want to spend but also what you can afford to spend. You might dream of retiring in Honolulu, but if your nest egg won’t hold up there, you’ll need to pick someplace with a lower cost of living.
- How’s my health? Though having good access to healthcare is important for all retirees, if you have a known medical issue, you’ll need to pay even closer attention to how local hospitals and doctors are ranked. The last thing you want as a senior is to have to travel long distances to receive quality medical care.
- How important is it for me to live near family? Your family might serve as a key social outlet and support system in retirement, so be sure to factor in proximity to children, siblings, and grandkids when deciding where to live. If you’re not willing to relocate to get closer (say, your family lives in an expensive city or someplace whose climate isn’t ideal), consider the cost of traveling from your city of choice to where your loved ones live, because you don’t want to grapple with perpetually pricey air fares when you’re stuck on a fixed income.
Choosing the right place to retire is crucial to your overall happiness. The more thought you put into where you retire, the more content you’re likely to be down the line.