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The real best places to retire

Thinking of moving to Florida or Arizona for the sun, or to a small town for a lower cost of living? You may have overlooked the most important thing.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 20, 2012 2:53PM

This post comes from Tom Sightingsat partner siteU.S. News & World Report. on MSN MoneyA blizzard of articles give advice about the best places to retire. They generally recommend fleeing the North and heading for the Sun Belt, to places in the Carolinas, Florida or Arizona. Occasionally they offer a surprise retirement spot in Iowa or Indiana. Sometimes they even tout retirement locales outside the United States.


These articles rely on statistics such as the cost of living or winter temperatures. But they miss the most important thing -- the human element. Here are the real best places to go when you retire:


Stay home. As we get older, moving, making new friends and acclimatizing ourselves to new surroundings get more difficult. Don't underestimate the value of your current community. Think long and hard before you cut those connections to go off to get a sunburn.


Your hometown likely offers more senior citizen benefits than you think, including tax breaks, low-cost transportation and subsidized meals.


We have friends in the outer suburbs of New York who always thought they would retire somewhere warmer. But they finally realized how important their church community was to them and decided to stay put. Now they visit the senior center for a free meal every Thursday night. They walk at the mall two or three mornings a week and stay for coffee with new acquaintances. And they are still active in their church, among the friends they've known for decades.


Move near your children. My brother-in-law spent most of his career working around Pittsburgh After he retired, he and his wife gathered together all the brochures and ultimately decided to move to Massachusetts. Post continues below.

Their daughter lives outside of Boston, and their son is in Rhode Island. They moved from a four-bedroom suburban home to a two-bedroom bungalow in their daughter's town. Their yard is smaller, just right for Grandpa to keep an eye on the grandkids while he relaxes on the patio. They've met new friends through their daughter, and they love their new life -- in an area often billed as cold and expensive.


Follow your friends. One fellow I know retired to Maryland. Why? His longtime golfing partner retired there a few years earlier. He moved to the same town and joined the same golf club. Soon they were prowling the links together, just like old times. A year later, another friend, who had a relative living nearby, joined them, and they all now play golf twice a week.


Their wives, who had known each other casually, are now close friends. They started a bridge club and brought in some other women, and from there developed meaningful connections to the community. These couples now feel as though, as one of the women put it, "we've lived here all our lives."


Move back home. One friend of mine grew up in El Paso, Texas. She went to college in California, then got married and moved to Washington, D.C. Some 25 years later, her husband died, and she felt lost in the big city. She moved back west, to New Mexico, where she started a small business that included some clients in Washington. Now she lives in her beloved mountains and travels to Washington occasionally to see clients.


Another woman grew up outside New York. She got married and moved to Oregon and spent most of her 20s and 30s around Portland. Eventually she got divorced and moved first to California, then Arizona, with a yearlong stint in Alaska. But when she retired, she felt the pull of Portland, where she still had friends. To her, that was home. And that's where she moved.


No matter where you end up in retirement, remember that relationships are more important than the weather. The warmest climate can be found amid the safety and security of family and friends.


More from U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money:

Jan 20, 2012 5:08PM
I'm looking for any warm place to retire.  It was so cold here yesterday, I actually saw a politician with his hands in his OWN pockets!
Jan 23, 2012 1:17PM
I'm looking for any warm place to retire.  It was so cold here yesterday, I actually saw a politician with his hands in his OWN pockets!
Must have been right after he took them out of mine!
Feb 6, 2012 2:52PM
Thank you!!! Finally an author of a best place to retire article that makes sense. Most I have read seem to be misinformed and not fully researched. It is refreshing to read an article that is realistic for our modern time.
Feb 6, 2012 7:23PM
I retire to El Paso Texas it's nice weather people are nice and don't believe that every Hispanic is illegal.
Feb 6, 2012 8:04PM

As a gay couple, we will try to stay near our kids (both grown, married and graduated from college) esp  if they have kids (both married opposite sex but the one may still adopt)


We live in a small rural community and have so many good friends of all kinds that moving would be very difficult.  I just hope at least one of them stays close, within 3 hour drive.

but its all about the PEOPLE, whatever happens. Everything else is just stuff and weather

Feb 6, 2012 9:01PM
This is the stupidest article I have seen on the subject.  I live in Maryland and anyone who can retires elsewhere.  Maryland has a high income tax, high property taxes, high crime (Baltimore) and is one of the handful of states that imposes a state death tax on top of the Federal estate tax.  Maryland is always listed as one of the worst places to retire.  We are out of here as soon as my husband stops working full time. 
Feb 7, 2012 1:19AM
I wrote two comments but neither has appeared.  Is Urkel monitoring this website?
Feb 6, 2012 9:31PM
You need warm weather to play golf.  Believe me the guys playing golf in Maryland are not playing year round.  Thery're watching it on TV at least three months out of the year!  I lived in York, PA for five years just up the road from Maryland.  One winter we had three feet of snow in early January and didn't see the ground again until April!  I live in Florida now where I can play every day if I want to.  Friends are great but if you're talking golf you need good year round weather as well!   
Feb 6, 2012 7:08PM

I retire to El Paso Tx where it's warm people are very friendly

Feb 7, 2012 1:17AM
I want to retire in a country that does not have a Marxist dictator impersonating a US president.
Feb 7, 2012 1:18AM
I want to retire in a country that does not have a Marxist dictator impersonating a US president.
Jan 21, 2012 5:26PM
Water quality, system source & distribution should be main factor to live out a life. Most aquifers from the 80's on are now out of commission .
The essentials of 1. Water  and 2. Air will ultimately determine iivibility & property values.

Whoops, I stand corrected  it should be 1. Constitutional Rights (unamended) 2. Freedom 3. Water 4. Air. & 5.  and prevention of a 47 storey WTC 7 steel & concrete building collapsing from a paper fire !             
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