5 expenses to consider before relocating for retirement
Americans ages 55 to 74 moved more than any other age group, according to the 2019 United Van Lines 43rd Annual Movers Study. Maybe you long to live in a temperate climate or near the beach when you retire. Maybe a mountainous region is more your style, or perhaps you're drawn to a city with new cultural attractions to explore. Many retirees move to a different state so they can live closer to their kids and grandchildren.
Whatever your reasons for relocating in retirement, make sure you investigate these six expenses before making a move.
1. Cost of Living
Costs for expenses such as groceries, gas, utilities, auto repairs, healthcare, and insurance add up fast. And those costs could be much higher — or maybe even lower — in the city where you want to relocate. To get an idea of the cost-of-living index in a specific city or town, search sites such as Sperling's Best Places or City-Data.com. While you're at it, compare with a cost-of-living calculator how much you would need to live comfortably in the new city versus where you live now.
2. Housing and Property Taxes
Housing accounts for more than 30% of Americans' annual spending, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To find home prices or rental costs for a specific city or town, search real estate sites such as Realtor.com and Zillow to get a general idea. Make sure you factor in property taxes and premiums for homeowner's or renter's insurance as part of the overall housing cost.
Property taxes on real estate, vehicles, and other property vary greatly by state, city, or county and could cost much more than you're used to. Consider contacting an experienced real estate agent in the area for a better estimate of what to expect for housing costs, along with information on desirable neighborhoods.
Often, the property history on the listing includes past annual property tax amounts. To learn how much property tax you would pay on a house or other types of property, visit the official city or county website ending in the .gov extension.
3. State Taxes
Florida, Texas, Nevada, and several other states don't levy individual state income taxes, so a lower tax burden could help retirement income stretch further. Visit the official state website for the agency charged with tax collection in the state where you want to move to find out how much you would pay in taxes on income, retirement benefits, pensions, or other retirement income.
Several states also tax social security benefits, so make sure to factor any reduction of your monthly benefit after taxes into your retirement budget.
If you retire before age 65, you won't yet be eligible to enroll in Medicare, so you'll need to research how much monthly health insurance premiums will be in the zip code where you want to move. Call a health insurance agent or broker or check premiums on the government Healthcare Marketplace.
Even if you're enrolled in Medicare, costs for Medicare Advantage or Medigap plans vary by zip code. To get an idea of costs for those plans in a specific zip code, visit the Medicare Plan Finder.
5. Long-Term Care
Nobody wants to think about needing long-term care as they age, but the fact is that nearly 70% of people turning 65 today will need some form of long-term care in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Medicare doesn't pay for long-term care in most cases — and costs for assisted living, in-home care and nursing home expenses vary greatly by state.
For example, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey the median annual cost for an assisted living facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was $54,000 in 2020, but in Sarasota, Florida, the annual cost for an assisted living facility was $46,000. Nursing home costs were reversed for those states, however. The median annual cost for a private room in a nursing home in Winston-Salem was $98,000 in 2020. But the median annual cost for a private room in a nursing home in Sarasota was $125,000, a difference of $27,000 a year.
The AARP Public Policy Institute offers an online Livability Index that scores locations throughout the country. You can adjust the factors to give more weight to those that are more important to you and less weight to those that are less important. It may help you evaluate your choices on where you'd like to retire.
While moving can be stressful, knowing that you’ve reviewed both the costs and the benefits of your destination, will help make the decision easier. You may find that there are many advantages of staying in your current community.