I’ve lived in Maryland my entire life. Grew up in Maryland, went to college in Maryland, and have always worked in Maryland. Surely there must be a world beyond the Old Line State, right? Once we retire – where should we go? Should we be snowbirds and flock to Florida? Should we move to a mountain town like OurNextLife did? Should we travel the world non-stop like GoCurryCracker?
Our current location
An obvious option is to stay where we are. Although our current house should be paid off in the next few years, it’s way bigger than we need. Even with the four of us (plus our dog) it’s a bigger house than we need and at some point in the not-too-far future, it will only be two of us (plus of course the dog). But in the DC Metro area, it’s hard to come by a view like we have at the end of a peaceful cul-de-sac. In addition, once we pay off the mortgage fully, the cost of living here will be go down pretty significantly.
Although I started off this post lamenting against my home state, there are actually quite a few good things about the area. Here are some of the pros:
- Lots to see and do. Between Washington DC and Baltimore, there are more restaurants than we could ever eat at. There are plenty of cultural opportunities with concert venues, theaters, and plenty of professional and semi-professional sport teams to root for. Throw in all the museums and historical sites in the area and our weekends could be booked for years.
- Close to the beach – close to the mountains. We are within a three hour drive from the beach or the mountains. I remember being taught in elementary school that Maryland was ‘America In Miniature’ since we have every terrain covered.
- Transit options. We are within an hour of three major airports. And if flying isn’t your thing, Amtrak is also nearby if want to take a train up the Northeast corridor.
- Medical facilities. There are plenty of good hospitals and other medical facilities close by. Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore is widely regarded as one of the best hospitals in the country.
- Four weather seasons. Outside of the nasty humidity in the summer, the weather isn’t too bad. Most years we truly have four seasons, although snow seems to be hit or miss. This year was a miss.
- Family. Our family – parents, sisters, and brothers, are all in that 3 hour radius.
That’s a lot of pros. Why would we want to leave all of that? What would motivate us to want to leave?
- We want to explore. It’s a big world out there and we are looking forward to seeing new places and meeting new people. It’s time to discover our inner Ponce de León!
- Cost of living. Although the incomes tend to be high in Maryland (at least the DC Metro area), the cost of living is also high. Housing and property taxes are on the high side, income taxes aren’t great, add in 6% sales tax along with an elevated cost on goods and services and it’s not cheap to live around here. We could certainly make our retirement money go farther in many other destinations.
- Traffic and population density. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I prefer a quieter environment over the hustle and bustle of our current location. Maryland is the fifth most densely populated state in the country and the traffic can be horrendous. Even when we give up our daily commute, we don’t want to fight traffic to get to places.
- We don’t know where our sons will end up. Moving or staying in an area because of your immediate family is silly if you have the time and means to travel to visit whenever you want to. Unless any of you are in need of more frequent support, say due to medical issues, than we want our sons to be free to follow their dreams wherever those take them. We’ll be happy to visit them.
Criteria for a retirement location
Once you’ve accepted that you want to probably live elsewhere, how do you go about narrowing down the possibilities?
Honestly, we would like to have a lot of what we have right now for our retirement location. We want to be within an hour or so from an airport for convenience when we want to travel. We also want plenty of things to see and do in regards to restaurants, music, and cultural activities. An abundance of outdoor recreation options is a must – biking, hiking, lakes, and rivers. Although we are currently in good health, easy access to good medical care will be important as we continue to age.
Ideally we would settle down in a location with temperate weather, but that’s not a must. We could always escape for a bit during the harshest months. One area I haven’t mentioned yet is crime rate. Baltimore certainly drives up the crime rate for the state, but the crime rate in our immediate area is reasonably low. Obviously we want to be safe wherever we end up.
The cost of living needs to be lower than what we currently deal with. A sizable contributor to this will be the tax situation. How tax friendly is the location? Is there an income tax? Do they tax interest and dividend income? What is the sales tax like? As we look even further down the road, how does the state tax Social Security, pension, and retirement plan withdrawals?
How are we going to figure out where to land?
We aren’t in a big hurry to ‘settle down’ in a final location. During the time between now and our anticipated retirement (around 7 years – more like 6 or less if Mrs. Need2Save gets her way) we plan on taking short exploratory trips, long weekends, and vacations to different areas around the country. There are many places that we’ve wanted to visit for a while – Nashville, Savannah, St. Louis, Memphis, Madison, Denver, etc. Being an avid runner, I’ve also tried to pick events in different locations around the country. So far that’s only gotten us to Chicago and Minneapolis as race destinations. Even then, we didn’t get to so see that much of those cities so we should probably do a return trip.
After we retire, we plan on doing a significant amount of traveling as we discussed in Part One of our Numbers Game post. Although I don’t think we would spend years overseas, our international travel itinerary list is pretty long as well. We are also planning to take at least an entire year to travel the country in an RV. Based on these trips, we will likely do some short term rentals in a few areas to get a better idea of ‘local life’ in the areas we find most appealing.
Although our retirement is likely years away, we are excited to leave the 9-to-5 world and start on this exploration. There are so many places to see and experience, who knows what will feel like home. Some of you may plan to retire in place, but other’s may have that relocation itch like we do. If so, how are you going about deciding the best new place? How do you narrow your long list to a short one?
What is important to you in your retirement location?
Is anyone considering spending a significant amount of time abroad?
Any recommendations on places we should check out?