Determining Best-Retirement-States is a Personal Choice

Deciding on one of many best-retirement-states should be based on your unique circumstances and is a personal decision. If you are married it is a joint decision based on mutually acceptable criteria. With me, I am happy if my wife is happy. We talked about what is important to us as a couple and then considered our options. Our reality included budgetary considerations as yours may as well.

We reviewed two articles published on the AARP web site entitled “10 Best-rated States for Retirement” and “10 Worst-Rated States for Retirement.”

The AARP web site is a great source for a lot of very helpful information. However, my list of the 10 best-retirement-states was quite a bit different from theirs. Only one of our picks was included in the top ten of best states on the AARP site. Selecting a place to retire is not a one size fits all type of decision.

Twelve criteria for decision on best-retirement-states:

  1. Proximity to family and friends
  2. Our own financial condition.
  3. Climate
  4. Cost of relocating to another state
  5. Cost of living in each state
  6. Cost and availability of real estate
  7. Crime rate and safety issues
  8. Job opportunities
  9. Business climate
  10. Taxes
  11. Senior friendly policies and programs
  12. Recreational opportunities

Our choice of a retirement state was difficult because we love both Florida and Indiana. Indiana was home for several years and all of our children and grandchildren reside there. We also love Florida because I worked in Central Florida for several years and enjoy many friends in the sunshine state.

We have friends in North Carolina and Arizona. We considered both of those states as well as South Carolina and Georgia before making a final decision.

Initially our decision was to sell our second home in Indiana and continue to live in Florida. This decision was based on the following factors:

  • We have traveled to Indiana and back several times during the past several years and found that the cost of living is significantly higher in Indiana than it is in Florida. This is especially true with taxes, groceries and gasoline.
  • Florida has a sales tax that varies slightly depending on your county of residence. Ours is seven percent on purchases excluding groceries. Florida property tax on our home is about a third less than the Indiana level because we take our homestead exemption in Florida. Florida does not have a state income tax or local county income taxes.
  • Indiana has a state income tax, county income taxes, a seven percent sales tax, and annual excise tax on automobile license plates. The renewal on license plates for my car in Indiana would have cost over four times what it does in Florida.
  • Unfortunately for us our homes were purchased before the financial meltdown. Timing in life is very important.
  • Medical facilities and physician care is excellent in both states. Florida had the edge with us because we have established relationships for medical care.
  • Recreational and cultural facilities are important in selection of best-retirement-states. They are very good in both Florida and Indiana with a slight edge to Florida. The big difference is that you have more great weather to enjoy them in Florida.
  • Since we already live in Florida, relocation expense would be minimal.
  • The differences in climate between Indiana and Florida are dramatic. Last year I accepted an interim management position in Crown Point, Indiana. We were there long enough to endure the blizzard of 2011. That experience was a final deciding factor on electing to retire to Florida.

After making the decision to sell our Indiana home and continue to make Florida are home, life got in the way as it often will.  The first thing that happened was that we got a really good offer on our home in Florida and while we still took a beating it could have been worse so we accepted the offer. The second thing that happened was that I had a medical emergency while in Indiana that complicated the issue still more. The result is that we made Indiana our permanent residence.

The nice thing about not being tied to one spot is that you don’t have to live with one decision forever. We are reviewing our twelve decision criteria again to determine our best-retirement-states and are reconsidering our decision to stay in Indiana. For us the states under consideration are Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida.   

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In the end it's not the years in your life that count but the life in your years. Abraham  Lincoln

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