Living in Retirement

An Asian family sitting at the table.

Key Takeaways

  • Consider your motivations and priorities like family, cost savings, activities, and healthcare access when deciding where to retire. Research locations thoroughly.
  • Evaluate ongoing costs like taxes, maintenance and homeowners fees when buying a retirement home, along with livability as you age.
  • Popular affordable retirement destinations include Midwest college towns, Southern beach towns, and overseas depending on your goals.
  • Retirement communities and part-time work can provide social connections and purpose.
  • Stay active and engaged through hobbies, travel, classes, volunteering and time with loved ones.

When you work 40 hours a week, year in and year out, there's often little free time left over for yourself. Retirement comes with lots of newfound free time. That's why retirement can be so sweet. If you're nearing retirement, you might be considering how your lifestyle may change.

Retirement doesn't have to mean the end of your professional life. You don't have to stop dreaming just because you're retired. Learn how you could start a new career in retirement, relocate, find new hobbies, and pursue encore careers to make the most of your retirement years.

Where to Live in Retirement

When deciding where to relocate for retirement, first consider your motivations:

  • Do you want to be closer to family and friends?
  • Do you pursue new activities and communities?
  • Do you want to reduce housing and living expenses or align with a spouse's retirement plans?
  • What will your regular routine be in retirement as that will shape your priorities?

Once you've narrowed down locations, research important factors like healthcare quality, taxes, cultural amenities, crime rates, weather and air quality, walkability, and commute times. You would need to weigh costs of living, but also quality of life factors like proximity to loved ones and opportunities to enjoy retirement. Select locations that align with your retirement goals and offer an affordable lifestyle. Focusing on these factors can help identify the ideal place to call home in your retirement years.

Buying a New Home

When preparing to buy a home for retirement, it's important to look beyond just the mortgage and consider ongoing costs like property taxes, maintenance, and homeowners association fees. These can add up to thousands per year. Also consider if the home will remain livable as you age - features like single-floor living and wide doorways make aging in place easier.

The location is also key. Make sure the climate is comfortable year-round, the area will hold resale value, and local amenities and services meet your needs. Doing research on the full costs and practicality of a retirement home before committing can help ensure it remains a comfortable place to live for years to come.


When deciding where to retire, location can play a big factor in your retirement planning. Ask yourself: do you want to live in the Midwest? Or near a beach? How about retiring overseas? Here is what to consider for each of these places:

  • Midwest - The Midwest offers affordable and appealing retirement spots like Appleton, Wisconsin; Columbia, Missouri; Troy, Michigan; and Iowa City, Iowa. These cities provide retirees with below-average living costs, median home prices well below national levels, educated populations, quality healthcare, and small town charm mixed with urban amenities. Other popular Midwest retirement destinations include Cincinnati, Ohio for culture and Kansas City for amenities. With its range of college towns, historic cities, and major metros, the Midwest gives retirees many budget-friendly options.
  • Beach Retirement Towns - Southern beach towns like Gulfport, Mississippi; Pensacola, Florida; Corpus Christi, Texas; Astoria, Oregon; and Bluffton, South Carolina provide affordable coastal retirement options with median home values under $300,000. Their warm weather, amenities, and low costs allow retirees to stretch savings further. Whether opting for major metros like Pensacola or cozy towns like Bluffton, the South gives retirees budget-friendly access to beaches and coastal activities.
  • Retiring Overseas - Retiring abroad requires planning for health insurance, banking, investments, taxes, and housing. Most retirees keep U.S. bank accounts and credit cards to easily access funds abroad. Investing through U.S. brokerages also tends to be simpler. Retirees still owe U.S. taxes on Social Security, pensions, and U.S. investments above an income exclusion limit. Many initially rent abroad since buying real estate as a foreigner can be challenging. Consulting professionals familiar with the foreign country's laws helps ensure a smooth transition.

Retirement Community

Deciding whether to stay in one's home or move to a retirement community involves weighing factors like proximity to family support, engagement with community activities, and availability of care services. Retirement communities like continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) offer housing, amenities, and increasing levels of care as needed, for entrance and monthly fees.

More independent options like niche/affinity communities and cohousing offer social connection without extensive services. Financial considerations around home equity, retirement savings, and community costs should be evaluated to determine if and when moving makes sense. The key is thinking ahead about goals and resources to enable smart choices when the time comes.

Working While In Retirement

While you have retired from your career, it doesn't mean you do not have to work anymore. You can work while you are in retirement. Some of the cool jobs to have in retirement are:

  • Selling crafts online or at a craft market
  • Become a fitness instructor
  • Join the gig economy
  • Start acting in the local theater
  • Take on nonprofit work

Perhaps you are looking for another career, or an 'encore' while you are in retirement. To do so, first identify your true passions by reflecting on what activities give you energy and fulfillment. Once you know what you're passionate about, consider how you could align those interests with your existing skills and experience to find a fulfilling new career path.

Be patient and persistent when starting something new, as there may be ups and downs. Prepare yourself mentally for the challenges by focusing on your motivation. Examine resources like classes, networking groups, and volunteering to develop any new skills you may need. Approach your encore career with an open mindset and remind yourself that you get to define success on your own terms.

What to Do in Retirement

Retirement opens up new possibilities after a lifetime of work. With more free time, you can finally pursue passions, see the world, or just relax. But some retirees feel aimless without the structure of a job. If you're struggling to fill your days with meaning, consider some of these ideas:

  • Volunteer for a cause that matters to you
  • Take classes to learn new skills and hobbies
  • Spend quality time with family and friends
  • Travel to places you've always wanted to visit
  • Explore your creative side through art, music, writing


As you plan for retirement, reflect on your goals and priorities to choose a location and housing aligned with your needs and budget. Stay active and connected through community engagement, new hobbies, travel, and time with loved ones. With thoughtful preparation guided by your personal values and interests, retirement can become a fulfilling new chapter in life.

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