Why Should I Think About More Criteria?
June 02, 2020
Why Should I Think About More Criteria? This Decision is Hard Enough!

Most decision makers make a huge mistake in deciding where to retire. And it can take years to discover this mistake... and during that time it can cost you in so many ways- between time, money and stress. The decision is not which is the inexpensive place I like best... It’s not which one on this Top 10 list... or which state has the lowest taxes.  It’s actually what are the important criteria unique to me that determine where the good places are for my retirement... as in... what are your priorities?

Most people spend all their time on the mainstream consensus of which cheap place from a small list to pick from and almost no time on the what is important to me?

This is a big decision to decide where to retire. There are big reasons to discover more criteria to weigh in on this decision:

The Data of What Makes People Happily Retired

Your unique priorities are the single most important set of decisions you need to make before choosing where to retire and you need to get this right!

The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies data says 53% of retirees choose where to retire based on cost alone.

The Stanford Center on Longevity’s work shows that 97% of people mention Social Connectedness as the largest contributor to overall life satisfaction in retirement- far ahead of finances, material status and even physical health. What makes you feel social connectedness is unique to you and is what makes up your priorities.

The criteria that make you feel socially connected are unique to you!

What you prioritize is the single most important set of decisions you need to make before choosing where to retire and you've got to get this right!

Other People Influence This Decision

Given the Stanford Center on Longevity’s work which shows that 97% of people mention Social Connectedness as the largest contributor to overall life satisfaction in retirement, it’s important to prioritize people in your decision making.

First there is you yourself. What is your identity after you retire? What do you enjoy and will you be able to do so in the places you’re considering? Are you retiring fully or downshifting to work that is more enjoyable and less taxing?

Where to retire might not be a decision you’re making alone. This can be challenging; having more criteria may be a great way to compare competing priorities and negotiate a best fit with a more objective way to score.

There are friends and family you may want to be near, but maybe not next door to.

Community- and people who you’d enjoy being surrounded by. What makes you feel connected and how much connectedness you prefer is unique to you.

Regional setting influences who lives in an area. From urban or rural, type of landscape and how people enjoy it, to culture – how are the local coffee shops, museums, bookstores, restaurants makerspaces, farmers markets, politics? Are there university classes and performances, can you see live music, or the ballet, hike a mountain, play tennis, go for a swim year-round? Is your favorite yoga nearby, or church, or a good meet up group, or even your favorite foods?

Regionally demographics become important to well-being and connections. The hospitals, the number of doctors per 100k of population, the vacant housing rates, and more. People also matter if driving is not always feasible to stay connected - are there airports, senior services, public transportation, Uber or Lyft or taxis? It will surprise many people that all of these options are not actually available everywhere in the us.

Choose MY Happy Place Type Assessment

The Choose MY Happy Place Retirement Quiz is a free tool to give you instant clarity about your way of deciding and the best next steps for you to find a place that’s right for your needs. The 4 types are summarized in the images below. After taking the assessment, most people want to better understand which criteria are important, even the Prioritizer might discover more to consider.

Unknowns You Might Be Missing Out On

There are hundreds of criteria you could compare or choose to ignore. The Choose MY Happy Place Selection tool lets you rank, sort, weight and compare 382 places across as many as 120 attributes. The Place Reports include over 900 data points per place. There will likely be items you hadn’t considered.
There are surprises - like the number of Independent and public radio stations, not just for pleasure, it is a critical public health issue. This New York times article describes a classic story of how commercial radio stations failed to do emergency alerts during a toxic train derailment injuring hundreds and killing one person. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28WWLN_IdeaLab.t.html

Beyond a fear of missing out (FOMO) on unknowns, the combinations of criteria are also important to review.

For Example
If you’re comparing Albuquerque and Asheville, NC as art towns you're considering - Albuquerque has low taxes, but Asheville has a lower overall cost of living in both absolute dollars and as a percentage of income. However, the number of doctors available per 100k of population is below the US average in Asheville; which might be important to you as you age.

If you are using the Choose MY Happy Place Selection Tool, where you can compare 382 places, you’d see Baltimore is also a place with art and indie community; it has a below average cost of living, a high number of doctors, and a higher than US average life expectancy- and may well score higher than Albuquerque or Asheville, NC. The data will surprise you, so don’t let taxes or cost be the sole criteria to consider.

Combinations of factors are important too
You’ll also sometimes have to look at a wider set of criteria to make sense of data points. For instance, the number of people working after age 70 in the DC metro area is higher than US average but so is the average income and unemployment if far lower than average- people here are not necessarily working late in life out of necessity but because there is opportunity. And that is a huge difference. Especially if you want to keep working part time after retiring.
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