Best Places to Retire

picture of Riverwalk in San Antonio, TXIt can be a daunting task, planning for retirement. Do you stay (or move) to be near family? Do you move for financial reasons or for quality of life? And furthermore, where do you start with so many best places to retire lists to browse through?

The sheer number of “Best of” retirement lists — some great, some not-so-stellar — can be a bit dizzying to those planning for retirement. To that end, we’ve taken a good hard look at a number of sources that have come out this year to present a good sampling of retirement hotspots for you within the Regions 16-state footprint. But remember choosing the best location to retire to is always going to involve subjective decisions, consequently take all such lists with a good pinch of salt.

Warm Weather Retirement Beckons

Forbes Magazine’s most recent annual “Best Places To Retire” list reflects a recent tilt towards warmer retirement destinations—not really a big surprise for those who’ve pondered how they want to spend their golden years. A more significant bias is reflected in the number of places making the list that are located in states where the average home price, tax burden on retirees and cost of living is lower. According to Forbes, listed among the best states for retirees from a tax perspective include a number of states in Regions 16-state network, including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.

80 Million Active Boomers

Fortune Magazine takes a different track, updating the golf course/warm weather approach that informs many lists, instead opting for a 20 "best places to retire now" list. The idea being is the nearly 80 million Boomers nearing retirement age will live much longer, lead more active lives than previous retirees and generally revolutionize how we think of retirement. In fact, with a life expectancy of 20 years longer than their parents, you can be sure this generation will be active and involved wherever they retire.

After weighing a variety of factors like availability of biking trails and educational opportunities, Fortune organized it by five types of locations: big cities, small cities, foreign cities, mountain towns, and even some traditional sun and golf destinations. Among the list are spots like Sarasota, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Richmond, Virginia and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Retirement by Income

In many cases, access to income during your retirement can have a profound impact on how and where you spend your retirement. To this end, AARP Magazine has compiled their own list, “10 Best Places to Live on $100 a Day,” based on pre-tax income of $36,500, or $100 a day.

Three towns in Regions’ footprint make the list. Roanoke, VA, a small "City of Festivals" nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, stands out as one of the few that fall below the national average for each component of the national cost-of-living index (which includes items like groceries, utilities, health care and transportation). San Antonio, Texas, for its part, has five times as many libraries and museums per capita as Austin as well as a much lower median home price. Finally, Gainesville, Florida, makes the grade not only for the cultural and academic offerings a well-regarded university brings but also for combining old-fashioned Southern charm with a funky, cosmopolitan flavor.

Best Places to Retire

Interestingly, many folks in the AARP comment thread observed that $100 a day represents a fairly substantial retirement income, especially for those relying on Social Security. According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker was about $1,230, which comes to around $40 a day. It just reinforces the idea that planning for retirement and determining the best place to retire involves a number of subjective judgment calls and assumptions. No place is perfect. Enjoy the journey.

Tips icon
  • Save Time - Use free Regions Online Banking with Bill Pay to set up automatic payments for reoccurring expenses. Never search for a stamp again.
  • Save Money - Track all of your spending for two weeks—this includes coffee, magazines, tollbooths, etc. Look at the results and see where you might able to cut back.
  • Save for the Future - If your company offers a 401(k) retirement savings plan, make sure you're investing at least as much as your employer will match. That's free money!
  • Save Time - Schedule errands around your other appointments so you don't waste time driving back and forth all over town.
  • Save Money - Examine your cable bill, cellphone bill, home security system and other monthly expenses to see what services you really need. Call each company to see if you can get a better rate. Consider bundling these services with one provider for a discounted package rate.
  • Save for the Future - Set up automatic savings transfers from your checking account, so that you are always saving.
This information is general in nature, is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. Regions neither endorses nor guarantees this information, and encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.