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Stay put or move? Factors to consider when deciding where to retire.

You may dream of retiring in Florida or Arizona. But have you considered Manhattan, Kansas? It claimed the #2 spot on Milken Institute’s Top 10 Small Cities for Successful Aging. The right place for you may be closer than you think, especially since St. Louis and Kansas City came in at #26 and 27 on the Top 100 Big Cities list.

If you've planned your retirement, you're likely thinking about where you'll want to live. The key is finding an area that will support your lifestyle as well as your ability to be secure, healthy and happy well into the future. Here are some factors to consider as you evaluate where to retire.

Proximity to family and friends.
Maintaining close relationships can enrich your retirement years, as well as help prevent loneliness. If you have kids or grandkids, consider whether you’d like to live near them, keeping in mind they may not stay in the same place long-term. You also want to make sure you won’t become a default caregiver to grandkids if that’s not what you want. Depending on how often you want to visit your family, also evaluate how convenient (and costly) it would be to travel to see them.

Then, do you have a thriving social life where you are now? If you opt to move, you may have to start from scratch and rebuild your network. Fortunately, if you do move, there are plenty of ways to plug into a community and start to make new friends.

Size and type of home.
Imagine your ideal lifestyle during retirement and as you age. How much time (and money) are you willing to spend maintaining your home? If the answer is, “Not a lot,” or you plan to travel for much of the year, you might downsize to a low-maintenance home with a smaller yard.

Do you anticipate hosting visitors or working part-time from home? Make sure you have the extra room to turn into a guest room or office.

Interests and hobbies.
How active do you plan to be in retirement? According to research by the Urban Institute, retirees who are active are more likely to feel satisfied with retirement than those who are not. Whether it’s volunteering, learning a new skill, taking up a hobby or even becoming a foodie, consider how you’d like to spend your time during retirement. Make sure it’s possible to get involved in activities you enjoy wherever you’re looking to retire.

Cost of living.
If you’re considering a move to a different area, it’s a smart idea to research the cost of local taxes, insurance premiums and even gas, groceries and entertainment. Consider whether you'll be able to live comfortably as you manage expenses in retirement. For example, if you’re moving closer to the coast you may be required to purchase hurricane or flood insurance.

Transportation options.
Do you desire a walkable neighborhood, access to public transportation and a nearby airport? As you think about your ideal retirement spot, consider how far you’ll have to travel for essentials, like groceries and medications. If you’ll be working part-time, gauge how easy it will be to get to and from your job.

Access to healthcare.
Check the availability of doctors, specialists, hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as the quality of care and average healthcare costs for the area. Is it easy to get appointments and get to the medical services you may need? For example, a move to a rural area could mean an hour’s drive to a healthcare facility.

Location details.
If you’re considering relocating, gather as much information as you can about the area – before you make the permanent move. Research climate, crime rate and employment rate and try to visit for an extended period to get a feel for what it might be like to live there. While you’re in town, talk to locals about the pros and cons of living there.

Whether it’s a home across the country, across town, or the one you’re in right now, planning ahead and identifying what’s most important can help guide you to your ideal retirement spot. If you have questions about how a move can impact your retirement planning, contact a Commerce Bank financial advisor to learn more.

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