5 Steps to Take Before Relocating in Retirement

If you’re like many Americans nearing retirement, you may have considered relocating for your golden years. Some retirees move to enjoy better weather, others are searching for a lower cost of living to stretch their retirement income a little further. In some cases, it could be both.

No matter your reason for relocating, a little research and preparation can help alleviate disappointment down the road. Stick to these guidelines as you plan your relocation:

— Determine your goals and priorities.

— Research potential locations.

— Create your shortlist of locations.

— Consider a trial run.

— Plan and execute your move.

Determine Your Goals and Priorities

If you’re moving for a change of scenery or to a climate that suits you better, determine how that goal will factor into your financial plans.

For instance, popular retirement locations such as Florida are becoming increasingly expensive due to rising insurance prices and other environmental factors.

If you plan to move internationally, be aware of the tax implications and other expenses you may incur as an expat. Beyond the initial cost of the move itself, these expenses could include import taxes on your belongings and even flights back home to spend time with family.

You should also think about your preferred type of housing, whether it’s a single-family home, apartment or a retirement community. Once you’re clear on your goals and priorities, it’s time to focus on your desired locations.

[Read: How to Buy Property Overseas for Retirement]

Research Potential Locations

Based on the goals and priorities you set, make a list of potential locations that meet those initial requirements. Here are three key aspects to consider for each location:

1. Cost of Living

Try to get a complete picture of what your monthly expenses would be in each location. Include expenses such as housing, utilities, groceries and transportation. Knowing this breakdown every month will help you compare what you’ll spend versus the income you’ll bring in each month. For international moves, you should consider costs such as visa fees and professional services from lawyers and accountants who will assist in the immigration process. Understand how these costs will impact your ability to live comfortably on your retirement income.

2. Medical Care

Look into local health care options and determine how far you’d need to travel to see a family doctor, specialist, or quality hospital or urgent care. If you suffer from chronic health conditions, understand how medical expenses will affect your monthly living costs. “Certainly, if considering relocating internationally, you will want to consider the cost-benefit of the care provided wherever you might move to,” Chris Urban, a certified financial planner and founder of Discovery Wealth Planning in Vienna, Virginia, said in an email.

3. Local Cultural and Recreational Options

Research access to local amenities such as shopping centers, restaurants and public transportation. Whether you enjoy golf, hiking, fishing or cultural experiences like museums and theaters, make sure the location supports your hobbies. It’s also a good idea to talk to locals about the culture and prevailing attitudes in the region. For example, if you prefer lively, bustling nightlife but you’re considering a relatively quiet and conservative town, you may be bored or even feel uncomfortable.

[READ: The Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirees]

Create Your Shortlist of Locations

Once you’ve evaluated the important aspects of a few locations, narrow down your list to two or three choices. Next, find expat groups on Facebook or similar community groups focused on a city or neighborhood of interest.

Connect with local professionals who can address any questions you may have about living in the area. These might include real estate agents, tax professionals and legal counsel.

You may face some challenges in connecting with locals and getting things done. Consider this a good sign. It’s better to find out what could go wrong early so you’re not surprised after you’ve already moved there.

[READ: The Best Places to Retire in Mexico.]

Consider a Trial Run

Think about visiting the areas you’re considering for a long weekend or a whole week. If you enjoy your time, you might return for a month or two to sample living there.

“Before committing to a move — which is a huge investment of time, money and energy — you want to truly make sure it’s the right fit,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and founder at SparkRental.com. Spend as you usually would on groceries, transportation and entertainment to see if your budget works.

Try to meet locals through activities like recreational outings, festivals or special events, which can help you gauge how easy or difficult it would be to build a network of friends.

Plan and Execute Your Move

Once you’ve chosen a location from your shortlist, it’s time to plan your move. To manage the process, create a moving plan, checklist and budget.

Make a schedule that includes cleaning, purging and packing your belongings. If you’ll be selling or renting your home, transition your utilities and redirect your mail. Ask friends and family for help throughout the move to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Once you’ve settled into your new place, it’s time to relax and enjoy your golden years in the home you’ve carefully chosen.

More from U.S. News

The Best Places to Retire in Latin America

The Cheapest Places to Retire Abroad on $1K Per Month

How to Retire in Africa for $1,200 a Month

5 Steps to Take Before Relocating in Retirement originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 06/26/24: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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