13 August 2019

How to choose the best place to retire

older couple walking along a harbor

After retiring, and when all the kids have moved out of the family home, you may decide to move to a more suitable town to grow old in. As well as downsizing, and looking for a home that’s perfect for accessible features such as UK stairlifts, there are many questions you have to ask when looking for the best place to retire, read on to discover what they are.

How close is it to family?

Grandparent with two children

It’s important to stay in touch with your friends and family as you get older, and in retirement, you’ll have plenty of time to do so. If you’re considering moving to a different town from your loved ones, bear in mind that even a one or two-hour trip may become quite strenuous in a few years’ time.

Rebecca from Baby Boomster, a lifestyle, wellness and travel blog perfect for those over 50, tells us about her ideal place to retire: “Retire in a place that feels like home, whether it’s in a scenic location or a vibrant city. Stay close to family if you can because if you’re far away and have an emergency, that would be scary.”

What is the local community like?

The type of community you live in can make a real difference to how you enjoy your retirement. Although it’s best not to move to somewhere completely off-the-beaten-track, you may want to consider moving to a quieter area. Smaller towns and villages are more likely to have a strong sense of community, which is great for older people.

Kerry from Fabulicious Fifty a health and wellness blog, tells us what she thinks the perfect retirement town should have: “I think the community is really important. When you no longer go into work, it’s important to be part of a group or community. I am a crafter and l love my craft meet-ups, plus, coffee dates are the best!”

We also spoke Laurie who writes insights on ageing and family life on her blog Laurie Stone Writes, she shares her thoughts: “If I were to pick my ideal retirement community it would be a rural place with a mixture of different ages (not just people of retirement age).”

A mixture of ages is a popular choice in the criteria for the perfect retirement town, as Paula, a life coach for older, single women and founder of Starting Over Sixty, tells us: “Just because a town has a bike or walking path, doesn’t make it perfect for retirement in my eyes. I still want to live in a vibrant environment with restaurants and entertainment. I want to take classes, to be able to have friends my own age, but not exclusively my age. I love spending time with younger people, so I’m not interested in a community that is 100% over 70.”

Can you enjoy your hobbies?

Painting and paint brushes

Retirement is a great time to dedicate more hours to doing what you love as well as exploring new hobbies. When looking for places to retire, conduct a bit of research into the local area to find out which local clubs are available. This will not only stimulate your mind and get you out of the house, but it will also be an easy way to get to know people living in the local community. Whether it’s painting, golf or something entirely different, making sure you have plenty of things to enjoy is one of the key ways to achieving a great retirement.

How close is everything you need?

When you’re searching for a place to retire, make sure to think about your future needs. Although you may be able to walk far or drive at the moment, that may not be the case in five to ten years. With this in mind, try to avoid basing your decision on lists such as ‘the best places to live in the UK’, as this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re perfect for everyone, including older people.

Rebecca from Baby Boomster continues: “I’ve found as I get older I don’t love driving my car so much. Right now, I live in an area where I can walk to the grocery store, the bank, and a variety of restaurants. The less time I must spend on the freeway, the better. Plus, it’s a wonderful way to get exercise, stay in touch with the community, and get to where I need to go. Convenience is always a plus. As for older people, it isn’t a good thing to be isolated.”

Having everything you need in walking distance is recommended by many, as Kerry from Fabulicious Fifty also adds: “I think as you get older, and possibly not as mobile or active as you are when you are younger, accessibility is key. I suffer from arthritis, and this is always a concern to me. I love to walk, but then there are times I might need to hop on a bus or a taxi on the way back.”

Have you researched the local Infrastructure?

Bus floor

When looking for a place to retire, be sure to do your research into the local infrastructure. Ideally, you want to choose somewhere close to the essential places such as the local supermarket, the doctors, dentist, etc. However, it’s also great to be close to restaurants and shops to keep you entertained. As previously mentioned, remember to consider how you’d fare if you could no longer drive, as this is something that could occur in the future. If you're considering moving abroad to enjoy your retirement, thorough research is crucial. So make sure to look at local facilities and healthcare, research the best countries for older people and speak to other retirees who have moved countries.

Although it’s great to live in walkable distance to everything you need, it’s also worth checking the transport links in the area. Check to see how regular the buses run and where the bus stops are, whilst also researching what days out and attractions can be reached from the bus routes. You will also want to check whether you can catch a train locally, so you can easily visit friends and family across the country from your new home.

Kathy from 50 Shades of Age, a travel, lifestyle and family blog for the over fifties, tells us her advice: “The perfect town for retirement should include good amenities for retirees, like medical, hospital, community centres, social clubs, a shopping centre, physiotherapists, exercise classes for the over 50s, public transport and smooth pavements for walking. Regional towns generally offer all these facilities without being overly populated or too bustling as most cities can be.”

Are there local nature spots?

Sea pier

For anyone, whether you’re retired or not, it’s important to get a daily dose of the outdoors. Spending time in nature can have benefits to your physical and mental health, including, as reported on Goodnet, reducing stress, improving sleep and strengthening your immune system. When you’re looking for your new place, do some research into the local nature spots, whether it’s woodland walks, parks or beaches.

It’s also worth checking whether the place becomes overcrowded in certain seasons, the level of noise pollution and the amount of local traffic. Kathy from 50 Shades of Age continues: “Qualities I would look for in a town would be a much easier and slower pace with less traffic and congestion, fewer crowds and in a pretty location, either by the seaside or in the country. Good sporting and leisure facilities would also be a bonus.

“I’ve recently downsized my house and moved into a smaller home from the city to a small seaside village. The town I’ve chosen is located by the sea, has no traffic lights, no high-rise buildings and is quiet and serene. There are also good amenities here and a sense of community amongst the people that live here that I think is also very important as you get older.”

Kerry from Fabulicious Fifty also mentions: “My perfect retirement would involve walking every day, with lots of sunshine, and living a simple life with no stresses. Being beside the sea is healing for me, it really lifts my mood.  A bit of cliché really - sea and sunshine!”

For quick reference, here are the questions you should ask when choosing the best place to retire:

  • How close is it to family?
  • What is the local community like?
  • Can you enjoy your hobbies?
  • How close is everything you need?
  • Have you researched the local Infrastructure?
  • Are there local nature spots?