Leading up to retirement, there are a lot of questions you must ask yourself about how you will spend your newfound free time. Will you downsize? How will you budget so that your retirement savings and income will last? What activities will you participate in, and how will maintain your physical and emotional health after you quit working? Will you travel? Not surprisingly, almost all of these decisions hinge heavily on one common factor: where you will live. If you’re considering Arizona, you’re not alone. The Grand Canyon State isn’t historically known as a retirement mecca, but it is growing in popularity among retirees thanks to its natural beauty, plethora of attractions, and low-maintenance landscape. Of course, there are other considerations to be made, starting with the five that follow.
Cost of Living in Arizona
Cost of living is one of the primary concerns of most retirees when it comes to choosing a place to spend their golden years — and their retirement income. Generally speaking, Arizona is more expensive to inhabit than other states. One estimate suggested that a typical couple would need a little over $60,500 per year to live comfortably. The good news is that in certain areas of Arizona, you’ll pay less than the national average, including Phoenix, Tucson, and Bullhead City. However, areas like Flagstaff, Yuma, and Lake Havasu City will cost you considerably more. The state as a whole is considered moderately tax friendly, since Social Security income is not taxed, pensions qualify for a deduction, and groceries are not taxed. Property taxes are also lower than the national average, but the valuation system can be tricky.
Housing in Arizona
Most of the time, housing is a retired person’s top expenditure each month. This is true no matter where you go and regardless of your mortgage amount. Even if you sell a home you own outright and purchase a new one with cash, you will have to pay property taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance costs. Alternatively, many seniors choose to get a mortgage on a new home so as not to tie up all their liquid assets. Of course, all of these factors will play a role in how much home you can afford in Arizona, where the average home value is $253,000. Of course, home prices depend largely on location. If you want more square footage for your buck, try Tucson, where homes average $164,800. If you can afford a $421,400 mortgage, check out Scottsdale. Either way, you’ll need an experienced lender to help you navigate the homebuying process. Securing a mortgage after retirement requires some special finesse.
Healthcare in Arizona
By most estimates, the quality of healthcare in Arizona is average. Compared to the rest of the country, the state ranks 27th. That said, even if it were first, you’d want to do your due diligence when it comes to sourcing providers. Specialists, primary care physicians, and emergency services that are friendly, accessible, and affordable are an absolute must for an aging adult. Speaking of affordability, you and your partner should expect to spend approximately $409,000 on healthcare in retirement if you choose to settle in Arizona. While this already undercuts the national average by more than $13,000, you can make your healthcare dollars go even further by using a pre-tax health savings account (HSA) and getting the most out of your Medicare coverage once you turn 65.
Crime in Arizona
Crime in Arizona occurs at a rate below the national average, but individual safety scores vary from city to city. Based on the data, the safest areas may also be the most expensive. Several of the more affordable cities have crime rates that are significantly higher. This includes Phoenix. To help protect elderly people from fraud, abuse, and crime, the office of the Attorney General in Arizona maintains a list of known scams and senior-specific resources. The Attorney General has also created a task force against senior abuse.
Climate in Arizona
When it comes to weather, Arizona has it all. From snow and freezing temps to the heat of the desert, you can find a wide variety of climates to fit your personal preference. Even better, the warmer, drier weather the state is known for may be better for your asthma and arthritis than wetter, colder climates around the country. Your allergies, on the other hand, could be just as bad or worse, since plants bloom there year round. As a general rule, a visit to the state before you choose it as your home will help you know for sure.
While we hope this information was useful and beneficial, only you can make the final decision when it comes to where you will retire. Furthermore, it won’t be based on just stats and data alone. So, talk to your partner, your financial planner, and other trusted advisors. If, after all that, your gut says go… we’ll see you in Arizona!