DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: What tips or resources can you recommend for researching communities in the U.S.? My wife and I will both be retiring in a few years and are interested in relocating to a smaller house in a sunnier climate but could use some help. What can you tell us? — Ready to Roll

DEAR READY: For many, retiring to a new location is an exciting adventure and a great way to start a new chapter in life. Here are some tips to help you find and research a new community that meets your budget, and satisfies your wants and needs.

While nine out of 10 U.S. retirees stay where they are when they retire, the other 10 percent choose to relocate. Whatever your dream retirement location may be, you need to do your homework and learn everything you can about the area you’re interested in. Here are some things to consider in helping you get started:

The three Cs: Also known as crime, climate and cost of living. For most retirees these are high priorities in choosing a retirement location. To research these areas go to, a fantastic Web resource that offers climate profiles, crime statistics, a cost of living calculator and more, and lets you compare cities side-by-side. You can also click on the “Cost of Living” tab, plug in your annual income, and find out how much you’ll need to maintain your current standard of living. Also see

Taxes: Some states are more tax friendly than others. If you’re planning to move to another state when you retire, you’ll want to research your prospective state’s personal income taxes, sales taxes, taxes on retirement income, property taxes and inheritance and estate taxes, which you can do at — click on “Taxes by State.”

Health care: Does the community you’re considering have good medical facilities nearby? and are two good websites to help you research this. Also, to search for doctors in your new location that accept Medicare, visit and click on “Facilities & Doctors” or call 800-633-4227. is another good resource for researching new doctors. It’s also important to keep in mind health care costs as they, too, can vary by market. Contact your insurer to research this.

Transportation: If you plan to travel much, or expect frequent visits from your kids or grandkids, convenient access to an airport or train station is a nice advantage. Another consideration is public transportation. Since most retirees give up driving in their 80s, what services will be available? The area aging agency (call 800-677-1116 to get the local number) can help you with this.

Recreation and work: Depending on your hobbies and interests — golf, fishing, art, music, continuing education and more — your retirement destination should meet your needs. Or, if you’re interested in occupying your time with full time or part time work or by volunteering, what kinds of opportunities are available?

Once you find a location you’re interested in, it’s wise to make multiple visits at different times of the year so you can get a feel for the seasonal weather changes. It’s also prudent to rent for a year before buying a home or making a commitment to a retirement community. You may find that you like the area more as a vacation spot than as a year-round residence.

For more help researching a location, contact the prospective city’s chamber of commerce. Also see, and — all excellent resources for learning more about thousands of locations across the country.

If you aren’t sure where you want to retire, visit and take the interactive quiz that poses dozens of questions on your preferences such as climate, recreation, community size and more. It then suggests possible destinations that match your preferences, and offers detailed reports on the suggested communities. Also, see, and also consider getting a subscription to “Where to Retire” magazine (