I get “best” retirement lists every week. Lately, though, I’ve been doing a double take.
States that consistently make the “most affordable” lists are places that are getting walloped by the impact of climate change, that is, they get clobbered by hurricanes, tropical storms and flooding.
Let’s take some of the states that nearly always make the top five locales for retirement, which typically include Florida, Arizona, Texas and Louisiana, among others in the Sunbelt. While they may be more affordable than states in the Northeast and Pacific Coast, they have some other issues.
Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and other states in the Southeast have been ravaged by hurricanes and tropical storms. So residents there may face higher clean-up costs and certainly higher insurance rates. I’m not sure if that gets factored into cost of living in those areas.
Also consider that some of the cheapest forms of housing such as mobile homes are the most vulnerable to weather events. If you’re going to live near the coast, you need a structure built to withstand epic rain and wind — or have great homeowners and flood insurance, which is expensive.
When working through some of the retirement lists, take into account some key factors. You will need to have access to high-quality health care, long-term care and cultural amenities. Being in a walkable community where you don’t have to drive everywhere is a big plus.
I liked what TOP Data did in a recent survey. In addition to affordability, they also rated states on entertainment, healthcare, elder organizations, safety, wellness and food insecurity. You don’t want to move to a place that’s so isolated that it’s far from services you need.
There are some interesting surprises in the TOP Data findings. For example,
* Massachusetts, not Florida, was top-ranked in the number of geriatric facilities (it was #48 in affordability).
* Connecticut ranked highest in the entertainment category (#42 in affordability).
* Nebraska was the leader in safety.
* Mississippi, Oklahoma and Kansas had the lowest cost of living.
All told, choosing a retirement locale involves a number of factors. Write down what’s most important to you and loved ones. Don’t move based on cost of living. Relocate based on quality of life.