Shall we stay or shall we go?

Deciding on the Best Place to Live in our New Age!

My wife and I are not your typical native-born Alabamians. My wife is descended from first-generation Italian immigrants who migrated here from NOLA port of entry to work in the Birmingham steel industry, which was the major employer here until the mid 80’s or so. My parents were native-born New Orleans who migrated here via Memphis when my Dad took a position at the oldest travel agency in the south.

Tim Anson - Park view of downtownDowntown Birmingham from Railroad Park (Photo by Tim Anson)

I have found that these sorts of backgrounds are fairly typical of Birmingham folks, at least in the areas of town we grew up in, as Birmingham was founded after the civil war as a rapidly growing iron-producing town by industrialists from the North. I don’t say this to disparage the rest of Alabama, which is made of good and productive folks of many backgrounds, but only to point of that Birmingham has been a really great place to live and raise our daughter. Huntsville, founded on the space race and a high tech hub, is unique for similar reasons. Fast growing, soon to be the largest city in the state, it another great place to live. Mobile, founded in 1702, is also a great city and is home to the first Mardi Gras celebration in the US, (a point disputed by those in NOLA, of course).


Rickwood Field, Birmingham Alabama (oldest minor league ball park in the US)

Since we made the decision to downsize from our current home, one of the biggest decisions we have to make is where to live? This presents us with an opportunity to explore other options. Do we stay in our hometown near Birmingham, Alabama or move somewhere where it might be less expensive to live, or more beautiful, or better climate, (or all of the above)? Like any decision, it requires a pro versus con analysis. What can I gain versus what I give up?

Some factors we choose to consider:

  • How does the cost of living, including median home prices, compared to the current area?
  • Taxes (income, sales tax rates, and property)
  • Access to, and cost of Medical care
  • Social connections (community involvement, current friends, and activities)
  • How close are the kids and other family members?

How you rank these items is, of course highly subjective and depends on your personal situation. You may also have other factors you want to consider not listed. While we are not poor, we are also not extremely wealthy, so for us, financial considerations are high on the list. Also, being close to current friends and family is also important, as we would rather spend our travel budget on having new experiences rather than having to travel on the holidays. Having family nearby, of course, also provides a ready-made support system as we get older.

For financial considerations, I have found that Kiplinger, a leading financial advice company, ranked all states based on these factors important to retirees, excluding climate or other more personal preferences. You can see how your state ranks below:

Worst States to Retire in

Best States to Retire In

In this survey, (no surprise to me),  Alabama is ranked as the sixth best state to retire in for financial items, ahead of Florida, which leads in some surveys. That suggests it might be to our financial benefit to stay in Alabama, although we might consider living in another part of the state. Had the results been far different, we might lean more toward leaving Alabama.

Living abroad in places like South or Central America, with much lower costs of living are another great way to stretch those retirement dollars, but we have already decided that is not for us. However, the idea of living in different cities for months at a time by selling everything and moving around for several years still attracts me!

city village italy town
Photo by Skitterphoto on

But, I think we will probably decide to stay in Alabama, as we have some world class medical facilities here, our daughter lives here and we have many friends and other relatives here. I would like to explore possibly moving near Mobile, but not sure Angela is up to that. We shall see.  If my daughter moves away, we might reconsider this decision.

Stay tuned for more posts like this as we explore the next phase of our lives. If you have some ideas on this topic or something else you would like me to explore about retirement and positive aging, please let me know!

One comment

  1. My wife asked me to clarify that her grandparents didn’t actually work in the steel mills. One owned a pasta factory that was later sold to Ronco, and the other was a shoemaker. However, everyone who was here at the turn of the last century and through up until the ’70s was dependent fundamentally on our foundational industry, so while they did not do the dirty jobs, they provided services and products to those who did.

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