Guess what? The best state to retire in is ... the one decided by you for you.
There are many published surveys and assessments with such eye catching headlines as 'the best place to retire, 'the lowest cost place to retire' and 'the best retirement communities'.
Using one of these might look like an easy way to make a complex decision. But unfortunately it's not that easy.
Clearly when looking at surveys on the “best” of anything everyone has a different way of selecting the “best”.
Overall surveys of the best state to retire in are the result of someone choosing factors which they think are important to you. These factors are then rated and weighted with their judgment of what they think is more or less important to you.
The result is their “best” number ... and an enticing headline?
Making your selection
As an integral part of your retirement planning you should do your own selection of the best state to retire.
First decide which elements are important to you. These could include:
- being near to children and grandchildren;
- living close to parents;
- close proximity to friends;
- warm climate;
- medical facilities;
- sporting facilities;
- recreational facilities;
- coastal or mountains;
- town or country;
- retirement communities;
- a low cost of living;
- inexpensive property prices;
- low average tax (including income tax, property tax, sales tax, tax exemptions);
- plus anything else you can think of.
For the ones you select give them a weighting based on how relatively important they are to you. Do it simply with 10 being essential, 5 no strong feelings and 1 is unimportant.
For example climate may be important if you have a health problem. Or you may have a specific interest, hobby or part time which can only be done in certain areas.
Tax will become a more and more important element as people struggle to look after their retirement pennies. So for many people it will be a high ranked factor with a high weighting.
But, as an aside, remember that tax rates are controlled by politicians and legislators who manipulate them for their own devious ends.
Remember the definition of politics - Poly = many, ticks = blood suckers
Some of the financial factors may cancel out. For example low property prices but high property taxes or low property prices with a higher cost of living.
Then allocate a rating value for the different elements using input from sites such as Top Retirements which includes "Facts about ...." many towns and communities or MSN for detailed tax comparisons.
Other sites that may be helpful are Walletpop and Kiplingers.
Using your own judgment give each element, for each town you are comparing, a weighting using the same basis as above. From 10 being excellent to 1 being unacceptable.
Multiply the element with the rating and add the totals up. The one with the highest score is your numerical "best state to retire."
The final selection
However the numbers will not be as important as the thinking that goes into exercise.
Understand that with certain factors, such as cost of living and total tax, some of the state surveys do not take into account differences between cities, towns or even neighborhoods. If these elements are important in your assessment then make sure you fully understand the basis of their rating before giving it your weighting.
To ensure you haven't left anything out, or overlooked anything, you should now compare the results of your best state to retire with the various published "best" surveys.
I recommend that you use Top Retirements who have a wide selection and range of survey options to use.
For your assessment to be of any use it must be complete. It's no good subjectively taking odd elements out of context and using them to make a decision.
Also appreciate that using a rating is not just like a paint by numbers picture. Life planning is much more complicated and will require a lot of your thought and input ... but it can be quite fun.
If you need any assistance or have any questions regarding your best state to retire analysis please contact me I've got a simple spreadsheet example which I will send you.
And always remember "it's not the plan that's so important it's the planning"