Where Do We Go When We Retire?

I retired over four years ago; my wife plans to retire a bit over two years from now. We’re starting to think about where we might move when she retires. It seems pretty clear that we’re going to move somewhere, if for no other reason than that my wife doesn’t want to deal with Boston winters. (She deals with them now, while she’s working, by arranging some of her necessary travel so that she visits warmer climes in January and February. Clever woman.)

One challenge is that we’ve moved around so much (gradually making our way north) both individually in our youth and together as a couple that’s there’s really no “home” to return to. Each of us has some attraction to a particular place, but that doesn’t help much. On my own, I’d think seriously about moving to Germany, where I graduated from high school. If she were on her own, she’d likely move to the DC area, where she lived during elementary school and where we lived together for 10 years before moving to Boston.

So I had more than a passing interest in a recent study ranking the 50 U.S. as good places to retire, based on five indicators: affordability, quality and cost of healthcare, well-being, weather, and crime. It’s not at all surprising to see that Massachusetts is 46th overall, primarily because of affordability (where it ranks 48th, better than only California (49th) and New York (50th). I’m a little surprised to see Massachusetts ranked 31st for weather. Perhaps I’m biased by my wife’s response to Boston weather, but I would have expected a lower ranking there. Still, the high cost of living is a heavy weight.

One bright spot for us in this study: we’ve recently been thinking about Wilmington, Deleware, and the state of Delaware is ranked second overall. Its ranking is very high on well-being and weather and relatively high on affordability. There’s some reason for caution in its relatively low rankings on health care and crime.