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Where Should I Retire?: Where should I retire? MarketWatch’s updated tool can help you find your dream spot and warn you of climate risks

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This year’s hurricanes, wildfires and droughts are putting climate risk on the map for retirees more clearly than ever.

So MarketWatch has updated its popular “Where Should I Retire” tool to let users exclude up to six categories of natural disasters: flooding, drought, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires.

The county-by-county assessment comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Risk Index

A word of caution: selecting no hurricanes, for example, doesn’t mean that a county will never experience one. MarketWatch is filtering out those counties with either a “relatively high” and “very high” risk; FEMA also assigns “relatively moderate,” “relatively low” and “very low” categories.

As always, the tool delivers 10 suggestions based on the criteria most important for you, from population size and housing costs to beach or mountain community to snow and humidity — and much more. MarketWatch built this because we believe that often the places recommended as the “best” for people to retire aren’t necessarily the best place for you. 

You can read about previous upgrades here.

More new features

In this round, we’ve also added counties that include at least one bicycle-friendly community. This comes courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists, which awards the designation. MarketWatch includes only those communities that have earned the silver category or higher. The full list is here.

Golf lovers can now screen for counties with at least five courses to play. That covers about one in five U.S. counties.

And we’ve consolidated “very low” and “low” humidity into one category.

Once again the options don’t include crime data. Crime can vary considerably within a large city or across a county, so the data wouldn’t offer much insight. And that assumes there is national data. Unfortunately, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report is voluntary and inconsistent (no New York metro area in the 2019 report, for example). 

MarketWatch will continue to revisit the topic, particularly after the FBI launches its new crime reporting system.

What do MarketWatch readers seek in their dream retirement location? The politics options added in April have quickly become among the favorites. Also topping the list are summer highs averaging in the 80s, a low overall tax burden and a mixed political climate, followed by an above-average share of college grads, a below-average cost of living and a solidly Democratic political climate. 

The most popular choice for where to live is “anywhere,” suggesting that many readers are prepared to be surprised, given their own criteria. That’s followed by Florida, North Carolina, California, South Carolina and Texas.

Read: MarketWatch’s “Where Should I Retire” column

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