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Ready to retire? Here are the best cities for seniors

In addition to strategic financial planning, preparing for retirement also requires choosing the right location.

Want to get the most benefits during your golden years? Perhaps you should move to Orlando, Fla., which has been named 2017’s best city for retirees by WalletHub. The city earned the best average score for its affordability, quality of life, health care options and available activities, according to the new survey.

In their annual survey, WalletHub analyzed 150 of the most populated cities in the U.S., comparing 40 metrics, ranging from crime to the cost of in-home services. Orlando also topped the ranking in 2016.

Orlando is most widely known as the home to Walt Disney World, but there are so many other things that make it a great place to settle down. First, the cost of living is relatively low. In August, data from Expatistan showed that the average monthly rent for a 900-square-foot apartment in a middle-income neighborhood was $1,202, compared to the national average of $1,532 a month. Tenants in the same-sized home can expect to pay $168 a month in utilities, which is slightly below the national average of $170. 

A standard meal (with beverage) in Orlando is $13, public transportation costs $67 a month and two movie tickets will run you $23. When it comes to weather, the average temperature is 73.4 degrees, which means you can say goodbye to shoveling snow.

Overall, here are the top 10 cities for retirement:

  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. Tampa, Fla.
  3. Miami, Fla.
  4. Scottsdale, Ariz.
  5. Atlanta, Ga.
  6. Salt Lake City, Utah
  7. Honolulu, Hawaii
  8. Denver, Colo.
  9. Austin, Tex.
  10. Las Vegas, Nev.

On the flip side Newark, N.J. was named the worst city for retirees.

Winners and losers for seniors

Everyone wants something different when it comes to retirement. If you’re looking for community, Scottsdale, Ariz. has the highest population of seniors over the age of 65, followed by Cape Coral, Fla. and Hialeah, Fla. On the other hand, Fontana, Calif. and Irving, Texas have the lowest population of senior citizens.

Early retirement is an attractive notion, but it’s not the reality for most people. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, one in four workers say they have less than $1,000 saved for retirement, and about half of respondents said they had less than $25,000. WalletHub reports that four out of 10 workers plan to work until age 70, five years longer than the expected retirement age of 65.

Staying active is important part of retirement.

Working into your 70s is less than ideal, but it is easier to accomplish in certain cities. Plano, Texas has the highest percentage of people working over the age of 65, followed by Anchorage, Alaska and Grand Prairie, Texas. Seniors will have a more difficult time finding work in Detroit, Mich., which employs fewer workers over the age of 65 than any other city in America.

For those craving some action, Los Angeles is the place to go. The home to Hollywood has the most recreation and senior centers per capita (The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks operates 29.), making it a great city to stay healthy and active in your golden years. Chicago came in second (but it’s so cold there!), followed by Philadelphia. There isn’t much for senior citizens to do in Madison, Wis., which has the fewest senior centers per capita in the U.S.

What you need to consider

Most experts suggest stowing away enough money as early as you can: you should save enough to provide yourself with an annual income equal to 80% of what you earned while working.  This will vary by person, but it’s a good goal to have in the back of your mind.

If you’re running low on retirement funds, it’s essential to start cutting back. Downsize to a smaller home or apartment, take advantage of senior discounts, and make a strict budget that you can stick to.

As you get closer to retirement, Mariette O’Malley, CPA, CFP® said it’s also beneficial to practice living like you’re retired before you actually do it.  “They should try to live on the budgeted amount, and spend their vacation time as if it was a mini-retirement session,” she said.

O’Malley even suggests spending time in a potential retirement destination to test how far you can stretch your money. If you’re struggling, you can redirect your efforts and choose a city that better fits your needs and budget.

“A ‘dress rehearsal’ for retirement can save a lot of heartache down the road,” said O’Malley.

Brittany is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. 

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