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Researching Your Retirement Haven

Recently, we had the pleasure of interviewing Rita, a former IT professional who is a big fan of research and the author of her own blog called Researching Rita.  Throughout her life, Rita has been naturally curious about the world around her. She prides herself on existing in a constant state of exploration and learning. After a serious accident, Rita was inspired to start the aforementioned blog which highlights her discoveries about the process of researching retirement. After starting to use BestPlaces tools seven years ago for relocation research, Rita grew her knowledge base and harnessed a solid understanding of the ins and outs of how best to evaluate and identify prospective retirement locations.  Fortunately for us, Rita generously shared some of her experiences and tips.

The following is a lightly edited transcript of a phone interview conducted by Newsletter Manager, Emma Butterfield, as she sat with a soy chai latte in hand in her studio apartment in Downtown, Portland OR. 

1. Do you have any pointers for what to take note of when visiting your top retirement town choices? 

Rita: Visit your top retirement town in July because the humidity is bound to be the worst during that month. This way, if you are someone who abhors humidity, you will be able to determine if you can tolerate the humidity when it peaks with intensity.  The availability of reliable healthcare is key, and Rita emphasized her priority of residing within fifteen minutes of a decent hospital. Consider how much dining out costs and  the general cost of living because retirement often means fixed income and living on a tight budget. Consider the hobbies and values that are most important to you and make sure that your prospective retirement communities allow you to continue to nurture those values. For example, having a pool at home is very important to Rita so she made it a priority to talk to a pool builder while she was visiting her top town choices. 

2. Other than low crime rates, what else draws you to small town living for retirement? 

Rita:.Rita emphasized the fact that low rates of crime is the factor that holds the most weight for her in terms of what she looks for in a retirement location. Smaller towns typically aren�t as expensive as their larger counterparts, so this is another component that attracts her to them. Less traffic is another feature that draws her to small town life.   As retirement draws near, she�s come to appreciate time more and loathes wasting it in traffic, something that big city dwellers have to get used to.

  Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

3. Which tools on our website do you find to be most helpful for retirement location research and why? 

Rita: A particular tool of interest is our city compare tool which compares each area based on a variety of components that are important to the relocation process. Rita discussed how she found this tool to be particularly useful for her relocation to Texas from Illinois in 2014, which inspired her to use it for her retirement research as well. Rita shared that she uses each comparison portion of the tool, including the demographics option which she utilizes to identify towns that have inhabitants that are at similar stages in life as she is. Making sure that she is not the only older person in a neighborhood with mainly young people with children is a priority for her. Additionally, many like Rita find the comparison feature to be quite helpful to eliminate locations that have undesirable features and to highlight locations with other features they are seeking. 

4. Do you have any other comments or pointers for our readers that you think will be helpful? 

Rita: Above all else, Rita emphasized the  importance of identifying your top priorities before you even begin your search.  Next, pick your top three places and visit them. While you�re there, mix with and chat up the locals. Ask them things like: �where are the best places to eat and shop at in town?� and �do you know of any good realtors?�. Make it a priority to really immerse yourself and maybe even visit a couple times to make sure it�s the place for you. Another smart move is finding a realtor to give you some house sheets. This will allow you to get a better feel for the neighborhoods and what zip codes you want to live in. Tell them that you�re really interested in the area and chances are they�ll be more than happy to help you out. Another trick Rita shared is her utilization of Excel spreadsheets to organize and analyze the data she carefully curates.   During this process, she identifies the aspects of a town that are most important and attributes the appropriate weighted value to each, with the most important attribute being given the highest rating.


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Have a Story That You'd Like to Share? 
We love hearing from our readers! If you have experiences or insight that you would enjoy sharing, please reach out to us! To be interviewed and potentially featured in an upcoming newsletter, reach out to emma@bestplaces.net


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