Client outcomes

7 tips to help your client consider where to retire

March 10, 2023
A Gen-X generation couple sitting closely and chatting with each other.

Key Takeaways:

  • Choosing a city in which to retire won’t be a one-size-fits all approach; there are many factors for your clients to consider such as cost of living, climate, taxes, access to healthcare, cultural amenities, and social opportunities.
  • Many retirees won’t be able to find the “perfect” location that checks every single box for retirement, so it’s essential to identify the factors they find most important to their lifestyle.

As with many big life decisions, choosing where to retire is deeply personal, and will vary based on what’s most important to the retiree. For many, it’s their first time having the freedom to relocate without being tied down to a job or employer. While some may aim to keep their cost of living low or be near family, others might desire to live in a beach town or reside close to a state-of-the-art hospital. The preferences will vary, but there are 7 general factors your clients might want to consider when choosing a place in which to retire.

Cost of living

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing where to retire is cost-of-living. Retirees typically live on a fixed income, and some will want to ensure that their retirement savings will stretch as far as possible. Some areas of the country are more expensive than others—but if your client has specific goals for retirement, such as living in a walkable city or near a beach (which can both be expensive) cost might be less of a factor. In general, larger, coastal cities tend to have a higher cost of living, whereas smaller cities in the Midwest are generally more affordable.

Tax considerations

Taxes can be a significant factor in retirement planning, and it’s important to help clients understand how taxes will impact their retirement income. Some states, by way of not having income tax, will not tax retirement income at all, including Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.1 Though Alaska or Wyoming might be a bit remote based on other items on this list regarding access to healthcare and public transportation, the other states could be a good option based on tax benefits alone.

Additionally, New Hampshire doesn’t have income tax, however it does tax interest income and dividends. Illinois, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, in most cases, exclude all pension and qualified retirement plan income from taxation as well.2 Because states have varying tax laws, it can be beneficial to speak to a tax professional regarding these topics.

Access to healthcare and long-term care

Access to health care can be an important consideration for retirees with chronic health conditions or other health concerns. Some areas have new or larger healthcare facilities, while others may be lacking in quality medical care. One strategy to consider for more rural areas would be the doctor to resident ration; are there enough doctors for this potential retirement location? In addition, the cost of healthcare can vary widely depending on location, so it’s important for clients to conceptualize what their healthcare expenses could be in different areas.

Clients might even consider specific health concerns; for example, if they need to be near a physical therapist, they might want to choose a city with a great physical therapy program. If they’re generally healthy, they may consider living in a more rural area or in a city with a smaller hospital system. Again, access to healthcare will be a highly personal consideration, depending on your client’s healthcare needs.

Long-term care will also vary depending on the city and state in which you choose to retire. It can be helpful to research average long-term care costs in specific areas, as well as the locations and reputations of different facilities.

Climate and geography

The climate and geography of a location can have a big impact on a retiree’s quality of life. Some retirees may prefer a warm climate with access to beaches and outdoor activities, while others may prefer a cooler climate with access to mountains and skiing. One of the great things about the U.S. is the diversity of landscapes and climates; almost anyone can find a place to retire that satisfies their need for beaches, mountains, or forests, and there are plenty of residential areas to choose from, whether they prefer small towns or dense cities.

Cultural amenities

With more free time for leisure activities, clients may want to consider an area’s access to cultural amenities such as museums, theaters, and music venues. Some cities have thriving cultural districts and scenes; others are much more conservative when it comes to the arts.

Community and social opportunities

As we age, it can be important to keep up with social activities to stay healthy physically as well as mentally.  Bigger cities will usually offer more opportunity for senior-specific classes and community groups. Another consideration for your clients could be where their friends and family reside, as retirement can be an opportunity to move closer to family members, especially grandchildren. Conversely, moving to a state not easily accessible to family and friends who want to visit could be a downside for relocation to certain areas.

Access to transportation

As a retiree, access to public transportation could be an important consideration depending on lifestyle, health and travel needs. Larger cities in the U.S. will typically have more public transportation options, such as buses, trains, taxis, and rideshares, while smaller or more rural areas may be more car-dependent. For some, choosing a walkable or bikeable city in retirement will be necessary. And if your client chooses to move farther away from family, access to an airport might become an important factor if they plan to travel frequently or have visitors from out of state.


It’s clear that there’s no perfect, one-size-fits-all location in which to retire—but working with your clients to find the perfect-for-them retirement location is possible. The 7 tips we’ve shared can help guide you and your clients through the various considerations one may take to find the ideal place to live and enjoy retirement.