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The New Rules of Retirement by Robert C. Carlson

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Chapter 14Choosing the Right Retirement Location

The image of the ideal retirement ingrained in the imaginations of most Americans includes a home in a sun-drenched retirement community.

Reality often doesn't match the ideal. Not every retiree moves to a Sun Belt state. Not every retiree who moves to a Sun Belt state enjoys the experience. Some studies show that 25 percent or more of those who retire to Florida leave the state within five years. I've met retirees who admit to choosing the wrong place to retire. Many people don't realize that despite the publicized exodus of seniors to Florida, Arizona, and other states, most retirees never move from their longtime residences.

Only about 37 percent of retirees have moved in retirement, according to a survey taken in 2015 for Merrill Lynch Bank of America by Age Wave. Another 27 percent say they anticipate moving, but it's not clear they actually will move, when, or where. Many say they anticipate they'll have to move some day for health or medical reasons. A hefty 36 percent say they don't anticipate moving in retirement. So, close to 60 percent of retirees didn't move after retiring, and it wasn't clear they ever will, at least not because they want to.

The biggest reason people give for moving or anticipating a move in retirement is to be closer to family, not to be in a warmer climate or near more golf courses.

Another widespread belief is that when most people move in retirement, they downsize. That is, they move into a smaller, ...

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