How To Find Destination Retirements

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From active adult communities to assisted living communities, you can find everything you want and need right in your backyard. But if you are one of the many retirees who think that now is the time to finally wake up with an ocean breeze drifting through your window or spend your evenings strolling through the streets of a historic town, you may want to look beyond your current town or city for retirement options. A destination retirement community may be just what you are looking for.

Destination Retirement communities offer all of the amenities and services of traditional active adult communities or continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) in a highly desirable location. In order to determine the destination that is right for you, you will want to start by considering your interests and personal preferences.

Do you want to be close to specific recreational facilities, such golf courses or national parks? Is it important that the climate be warm year round, or would you prefer to experience seasons? Are you looking for a rural location, or would an urban location better fit your needs? Do you want to move closer to your children or near where you grew up? There are retirement destinations that can provide all of these things at a variety of financial levels.

Before moving to a destination retirement community, however, you should carefully investigate the services and amenities available in the community itself and in the larger area. Active adult communities often offer long-term stay packages to prospective residents, allowing you to vacation in a desirable location while sampling the lifestyle at a community that interests you.

During your visit, be sure to speak with current residents about their experiences. What do they do for entertainment? How does their lifestyle vary from season to season? Talk to as many residents as possible to determine whether or not their community would be the right fit for you. While you are in the area, you should also spend some time sampling the local cultural and recreational offerings; this will help you get a feel for what daily life would be like in this area.

Visiting the area at different times of the year is also advisable. This is especially important for destination areas because you will want to experience the community not only during vacation season but also during the off-season. David Savageau, author of Retirement Places Rated, explains, “Some retired folks are disappointed early in their choice and move on. That’s why it’s important to take the time to identify a place and visit it frequently before retiring there.”

A destination retirement will require more planning on your part than moving within your area; however, there are countless resources available to help you. You can search for retirement destinations based on climate, economy, housing, education, health, crime, recreation, and arts and culture on Sperling’s Best Places at This is an excellent tool for narrowing your initial search. The retirement or lifestyle section of your local bookstore will also offer a variety of titles on retirement destinations compiled with various rating systems. The preliminary questionnaire below will help you start to determine what is most important to you in a retirement destination.

Which Retirement Destination is Right for Me?

What type of climate do you prefer?
Would you prefer to live in an urban, suburban, or rural environment?
Would you like to live near your Alma Mater or in another college town?
How important are income, property, and sales tax levels to you in choosing a place to retire?
Would you prefer an area with a low overall cost of living or an area with a higher cost of living with more available resources?
Is it important to you to have access to local colleges for continuing education?
How close do you need to be to a major research hospital and/or medical specialists?.
Are their any particular sports or hobbies you would like to pursue (skiing, golfing, biking, horseback riding, fishing), and do they require access to nearby facilities?.
Is it important to you to have close access to libraries, theaters, opera houses, museums, or other cultural venues?.
Do you need access to public transportation for local destinations or an airport or train station for longer trips?

Once you have narrowed your search, you will want to contact the local Chamber of Commerce for the area you are interested in. You can locate the Chamber of Commerce for most areas at or call the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at 202-659-6000 for more information. The local Chamber of Commerce can usually offer relocation materials and helpful community information. Most cities and towns also have individual websites that detail the area history, culture, and recreational opportunities.

Before moving to a Destination Retirement Community:

Visit the community for a long-term stay, not just for a vacation.
Visit the area during different seasons.
Talk to other residents of the community about their experiences.
Sample some of the cultural and recreational opportunities in the area
Determine the location of the nearest doctor’s office, hospital, pharmacy, grocery store, etc.
Get information from the local Chamber of Commerce about relocating

Relocating to a vacation area for your retirement may require more initial planning and preparation, but you will certainly reap the rewards of your foresight when you are enjoying the ocean breeze, taking in the cultural opportunities of a historic town, or hiking through miles of unspoiled forests.

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