How To Decide Where To Spend Your Retirement

Why It Matters:

  • One in five American adults spend more time planning their vacations than managing their finances.1
  • Today’s typical retirement will last approximately 1/3 of your adult life.
  • Investing time on where and how you’ll spend your retirement can help guide your financial goals.

Rebecca Griffith tkc.profilePicture Written by: Rebecca Griffith | Transamerica
Oct. 23, 2019

5 Min readClock Icon

Retirement is a journey — where will yours take you? With today’s typical retirement lasting 8,000 days or more (roughly 1/3 of your adult life),2 planning for it is more essential than ever.

The good news is, that’s the fun part! Think of it as planning for an extended vacation because you’re in control of how you spend your time. It has the potential to combine your big, bucket list items with your ideal day-to-day. And the more you plan, the more you have to look forward to.

Without the need to choose where you spend your retirement based on a job, you may find you have more freedom and control than you’re used to. With so many possibilities, it can be tough to narrow it down. It can help to identify things you’re passionate about, then pair them with practical considerations.

Define the dream

To get to your “where,” it can be helpful to know your “why.” The why is the reason you’ll wake up each morning with a sense of excitement as you look forward to the day ahead.

Are you spending the day with your family? Touring Prague Castle in the Czech Republic? Donating your time at a local charity whose mission is close to your heart? The fact is, it can be a combination of things, as long as they’re things you love.

The goal is to help ensure you have access to your dreams so you can live life on your terms. For instance, if you want to spend time with family on a regular basis, you’ll need to live close enough to be able to do that. If you enjoy traveling frequently, it’s ideal to have easy access to a major airport.

Once you know (and potentially, even rank) your passion points, you can begin to hone in on the best place to be. In addition to knowing your “why,” another trick that can help pinpoint your preferences is to ask yourself who you’d like to be spending time with, what you’d like to be doing, and what means the most to you.

Location, location, location

In other words, you have options. Once you identify, say, an area you’d like to live in (it may be the one you’re already in), you have additional choices available. Based on your current financial and physical situation, you could stay in your current home, move in with a family member, or explore older adult communities ranging from independent to assisted living.

If you’d like to remain in your current home for as long as possible, you’ll need to be sure it can meet your needs both now and in the future. Do you have assistance with maintenance or housekeeping? Does your home have grab bars in the bathroom? Is it wheelchair accessible? While apartments offer fewer personal responsibilities, they also limit your ability to modify the space to suit your needs.

These days, older adults have a wide range of communities specifically tailored to them to choose from. See our previous articles on independent living and assisted living for a deeper dive into the details. In general, the names say it all, with independent living options best suited for those living mostly independently, and assisted living intended for those needing assistance with more basic activities of daily living.

Both offer the benefit of access to the individual level of care needed, as well as physical, intellectual, and social activities. Meals, housekeeping, transportation, and laundry service are also often included. While the amenities and services are undoubtedly appealing, the cost of living in some communities can often be cost prohibitive.

Practically speaking

There are a few practical considerations to take into account as you fine tune your plans. Consider working with a financial professional and sharing your goals about where you’d like to live and the lifestyle that you want.

  • Budget
  • First is your budget and what it will allow. Compare costs of local communities to see what’s within your range. If you own your home and want to make it accessible now or down the line, a Medicare Advantage plan may be able to help. Starting this year, Medicare Advantage plans may offer supplemental benefits that cover nonmedical services, including in-home modifications. However, they are not available under fee-for-service Medicare.3 Also consider how you’ll pay for your housing in retirement — do you have supplemental income options?
  • Taxes
  • Are there tax benefits to one location over another? If you own your home, are the property taxes still in line with your budget?
  • Health Care
  • Even if we’re taking steps to live longer and better by protecting our finances and our health, healthcare needs are likely to increase as we age. Know your family history, assess your current condition, and be sure wherever you decide to live will have access to any care you might need.


Oh, the places you’ll go!

Like Dr. Seuss said in his book for new phases of life, “There’s fun to be done.” This next chapter is the culmination of who you’ve become and all that you’ve done. And the reality is, retirement is an adventure that you get to choose. Plan ahead to help ensure the quality of life you and your family deserve.

Things to Consider:

  • Where you spend your retirement depends on your dreams, your priorities, and your needs.
  • Your decision should take into account your financial situation and your physical health.
  • Talk to a financial professional to ensure your goals align with your retirement plan.


1 “You’re not alone if you spend more time planning your vacation than working on your finances,” CNBC, August 2019

2 “Why 8,000 Is The Most Important Number For Your Retirement Plan,” Forbes, April 2019

3 ”The Forgotten Middle: Many Middle-Income Seniors Will Have Insufficient Resources For Housing And Health Care,” Health Affairs, May 2019


Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment, or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.

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