If you’re at the beginning of your search, a good starting point is to take the “Find Your Best Place” retirement quiz at Sperling’s Best Places (BestPlaces.net/fybp). This free quiz asks 10 questions on preferences such as climate, recreation, community size and more, and suggests possible destinations that match your answers. MarketWatch also has a new matchmaking tool, “Where’s the best place for me to retire?”, at MarketWatch.com/graphics/best-place-to-retire/.
Media resources like U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Forbes and Money Magazine also publish “best places to retire” lists on their websites each year. Be sure you check out Milken’s “Best Cities for Successful Aging” (SuccessfulAging.MilkenInstitute.org), which ranks 381 U.S. metropolitan areas based on factors important to older adults.
You should also consider getting a copy of “America’s 100 Best Places to Retire” (the sixth edition book; $25 at Amazon.com) that looks at a range of destinations, and groups some in categories like best college towns, mountain towns, undiscovered towns and main street towns.
Once you have narrowed choices to two or three, spend a couple weeks in each location at different times of the year so you can get a feel for the seasonal weather changes, and so you can carefully weigh the pros and cons of living there. You may find that you like the area more as a vacation spot than as a year-round residence. It’s also a good idea to rent for a year before buying a home or making a commitment to a retirement community.