Retirement relocation: What to know before you leave the snow

International Living has released their list of the top 10 retirement destinations around the globe for 2017. Mexico is rated as the top location, followed by Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia and other warm, exotic countries. Most people aren’t planning to head that far south as they move into their golden years, but relocating is common. Before you pack your bags and grab your sunscreen, map out your retirement must-haves. You have the rest of your life to perfect retirement. When you’re retired, life follows your schedule.

Weather watch

As you look into retirement destinations, consider what kind of lifestyle you enjoy. Weather is perhaps the first thing people think about when they start moving toward retirement. It’s no surprise that warm, sunny communities are the most desirable. Snowbirds are the people who live in the North during the summer months and spend winters in the South. They get the best of both worlds when they split their time between locations, but there are more logistical complications. Once you get a feel for an area’s climate, investigate what leisure activities are available.

Community centered

Would you prefer to spend your summer nights at an outdoor concert, surrounded by a group of friends or in the quiet of nature with grasses, trees and open skies for company? Travel, volunteering, fishing and other hobbies will only fill your days with pleasure if you actually enjoy them. Make retirement decisions based on what you want in a community. Crime rates and health care resources are other considerations that can help lead you toward the best destination for your move.

Money matters

As you’re dreaming of blue skies and yellow sunshine, come back down to earth and put some thought into green money. Take a close look at your finances before you move. The popularity of certain retirement areas can increase the cost of living. If taxes, property values and food are expensive, you will have less money to spend on golf courses, vacations and all the activities you plan to enjoy in retirement. With all your new flexible schedule, you’ll have more free time to fill with hobbies and entertainment. The cost of leisure can add up quickly. Plus, saving money to maintain an emergency, rainy day fund is always a wise investment.

It’s never too late to start financial planning. Evaluate where your money is being spent, and see if there are ways to cut back. Paying off loans will save you money in interest, so you can start using that money for actives. Some people want to work part-time during their retirement, others would rather not, but earning a little extra income helps fund a comfortable retirement lifestyle. This job doesn’t have to be the same tedious work from your career. Look for employment that suits your new way of life, something fun with flexible hours.

Family focused

For some people, there aren’t enough fishing holes or sunny beaches in the world to separate them from their loved ones. Family is a huge factor when choosing a retirement destination. The role of grandpa and grandma can be more meaningful than the status of a glamorous retirement. Big moves are always challenging, and it’s hard to get adjusted in a new town. Advanced age presents additional factors to review with these relocation difficulties. Having an established network of family and friends nearby can make this transition easier.

Many people transition into their golden years with a big move. Florida has become the standard for idealized retirement in the US. Before you pack your bags and head south, consider all the options for retirement relocation. Think about what will work best for you and your lifestyle, what you can afford and where your family is located. The good news is, you have time to think about these decisions. With retirement comes true freedom and flexibility to live on your own terms.