This list goes in the opposite direction –- the 10 cities that your financial adviser would least like to see you make your home in retirement. They feature high taxes, high home prices, a high cost of living and a host of other negatives that will wear away at both your retirement income and investment portfolio. To rank the cities, we scored them on the following objective criteria:
- Relative cost of living (U.S. average equals 100)
- Overall tax burden (by state, taking in income, sales, real estate and other taxes below the federal level; U.S. average is 9.9 percent of income)
- Median house prices (U.S. median is $198,500 as of March)
- Weather (using the high/low temperatures for January and July, or the warmest month)
- Traffic congestion (based on a recent analysis of large cities by Forbes for the 10 cities with the most gridlock)
Likewise, spending a lot of time in bumper-to-bumper traffic can wear down an automobile a lot faster than driving a lot of highway miles, to say nothing of the fuel it wastes. As a retiree, you may not need to commute every day, but in the cities with the worst traffic, congestion can be a problem at any hour.
Reality Check: Millions "Choose" to Retire to These Cities
By default, hundreds of thousands of pending and current retirees "choose" these high-cost cities every year -- by staying in the same place as they lived when they were working. And there are plenty of reasons to stay put:
- Tradition: You've lived there for decades and can't conceive of living anywhere else.
- Your family is there.
- Financial entanglements, such as business interests or real estate.
- Emotional entrenchment: You can't bring yourself to leave your house, especially if you raised your kids there.
- Inertia: You just never get around to moving anywhere else.
The Fine Print
One complication in compiling a list of cities that are hazardous to retirees' financial health is that the top contenders tend to be the biggest cities. Locations that appear on lists of best cities to retire in are typically small and fairly uniform from one end of town to the next. Although this list may identify an individual city, we're actually looking at its general metropolitan area.
Big metro areas are diverse places, well-stocked with positives and negatives. While the core city may have many negatives, quiet and comfortable suburbs can make perfect retirement locations. Keeping that in mind, we're going to look at the cities in the most general sense. And from a retirement point of view, you generally find the big-picture financial characteristics –- like high property values, taxes and cost of living –- are fairly uniform across a metropolitan area.
Can you think of other cities that should be on this list? Tell us about them in the comments section below.