Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Where NOT to Retire

While not all of us have the option to retire to our "dream" locations, there is no doubt that some areas are better suited to retirees than others.  As a result, rather than focusing on the "best" places to retire, some researchers have been studying the worst places to grow old ... the locations you will want to avoid, if at all possible.

There are various reasons why one state or community might be worse than others ... lack of services for the elderly, high crime rates, low life expectancy, limited or non-existent public transportation, etc.

Based on different criteria, below is information about some of the places where you might want to either avoid growing old or take steps to minimize the problems of aging of in these locations.

Five Worst States to Grow Old

According to an article on Yahoo Homes, below are the states where the elderly have an average life expectancy of less than 80 years of age, where violent crime is among the highest in the nation, and where the educational level of senior citizens is lower than the national average (and education often translates to higher income, better health and longer lives).

1.  Mississippi
2.  Louisiana
3.  West Virginia
4.  Arkansas
5.  Nevada

Of course, even within these states, a person with a high retirement income, who feels they live in a safe community with plenty of access to the services they need, would still be able to have a satisfying retirement.  However, retirees in those states may need to do more advance planning to make sure they have taken all the necessary precautions before they become old and more vulnerable.

Cities with the Highest Crime Rate

Regardless of other factors, most senior citizens are not going to want to live in the middle of cities that have a high crime rate.  Listed below are the twenty cities in America with the highest crime rates.  If you want to see the entire list of the top 100 cities, you can use the link at the bottom of this article:

1. Camden, NJ
2.  Chester, PA
3.  Detroit, MI
4.  Saginaw, MI
5.  Oakland, CA
6.  Bessemer, AL
7.  Flint, MI
8.  Atlantic City, NJ
9.  Wilmington, DE
10.  Memphis, TN
11.  Alexandria, LA
12.  Myrtle Beach, SC
13.  Harvey, IL
14.  St. Louis, MO
15.  Newburgh, NY
16.  Cleveland, OH
17.  Homestead, FL
18.  Baltimore, MD
19.  Little Rock, AR
20.  Rockford, IL

There were some surprises on this list.  For example, I was shocked to see the popular community of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina ranked at number 12 for crime.  In addition, I was surprised that Washington, DC did not make the top 20.  (Washington is actually number 30)

Of course, many of the above communities have safer suburbs within a short drive of the inner cities.  As a result, if you have relatives in those areas and you want to live near them, it becomes a little more important to make sure you check the crime rate in various neighborhoods before you get settled.  You may be able to find a retirement neighborhood or apartment complex that is safe, or move to a nearby suburb with a lower crime rate.  What you do not want to do is ignore the crime rate until you become frail and vulnerable.

When I was a Realtor, we often had people contact the police department and get the incident report for a specific neighborhood, if we had any question about the crime rate.  For example, while a general area in a city might have a high crime rate, a particular high rise condo complex or a nearby gated housing development might have a low incident report.  You will want to know both the general crime rate and the incident report before making a final decision, especially if you are moving into a unfamiliar or questionable area.

Make Sure Public Transportation is Available

Another concern for people who are planning their retirement should be public transportation.  In a study conducted by Dr. Angela Curl at the University of Missouri, many people are negatively impacted when they can no longer drive ... even if they have a spouse who still drives.  Dr. Curl discovered that when one partner stops driving, both spouses become much less likely to work or volunteer.  It also becomes more complicated for either person to socialize.

When one person becomes responsible for doing all the driving for the household, it is more difficult for either of them to maintain their outside interests and connections as they age.

While this problem may not be completely resolved with access to public transportation, it can help reduce the impact on the individual or couple.

As a result, you may not want to retire in an area that is so rural that retirees will be completely dependent on their own ability to drive ... since a time comes when nearly everyone will have to give up their driver's license. On the other hand, if you live in an urban area, you need to consider whether you will feel safe using the local public transportation as you age or whether there are viable alternatives ... such as occasionally using a taxi for medical visits or shopping. 

Proximity to Medical Facilities

We are fortunate in the United States that most communities have access to basic medical care.  However, as you age it becomes more likely that you will need specialists, particularly if you develop cancer, need kidney dialysis, or require open-heart surgery.  One factor you will want to consider is how far you might have to travel to receive specialized care, especially if you already know you have a chronic health condition.  While you may not want to live in an inner city, you might want to reconsider the idea of retiring to a remote mountain cabin or island.  When my husband and I were young, we always thought it would be fun to retire on Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California.  Now that we are of retirement age, we understand that it might be more complicated than we realized ... our children would have to take a ferry to visit us and medical facilities on the island are limited.

Bottom line:  Once you decide the general area where you are going to retire, you need to give thought to the specific locations that will be the most practical as you age ... taking into consideration issues such as access to medical care, public transportation, the crime rate, etc.  That may or may not mean that the place where you currently live will be a good retirement location for you.  Just remember that if you think you will eventually need to move, it will be a lot easier to make that change in your 60's or early 70's than it will be in your 80's.

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1 comment:

  1. This is a terrific article and a different approach to making decisions about where to live when you retire. Thanks for giving us the flip side. Great job!


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