This blog is a direct transcript from the video below. This comes in 3 versions: You are able to watch the video, read the blog for your convenience or listen to the audio experience (which is linked under the video below).
When it comes to retirement, Michigan never seems to be a part of the conversation. Everyone wants to venture off to Florida, Montana or California. Maybe the mitten state just doesn’t get the attention it deserves? Well, let me breakdown 4 important factors to justify why you should choose Michigan as your retirement destination.
When you think of Michigan, what comes to mind? Is it the Great Lakes? The four seasons we have in the matter of a week? Or is it our strong feelings toward our sports teams?
Whatever your thoughts may be, before you jump to the conclusion that you just want to lay on the beach all day in extremely warm weather year around, there are a few factors you should be considering before you start packing your bathing suit and umbrella for the Florida beaches. Let’s jump right into this list.
The Cost of Living
Most retirees tend to have a fixed amount of income, so it’s crucial to understand and budget how much your lifestyle is going to cost, and location is a very important factor in determining just that. I know San Francisco or Honolulu sounds like a lovely place to be, but how could you possibly enjoy all it’s features when housing prices are astronomical, leaving you with the bare minimum of funds each month for everything else?
Retirement is to be enjoyed, not lived check to check. You better make sure that 401K has a few extra commas in it if you’re drawn to those areas with a higher cost of living.
Lucky for you, Michigan has very affordable housing. The median home price based on numerous sources is about $175,000. The median home price in the U.S is said to be roughly $320,000. On a 100 point scale, 100 being the average cost of living in the United States, Michigan ranks below average at 89.
As a retiree, the goal is not to have a mortgage so you can allocate those funds toward things that bring you joy such as vacations, healthcare, a decked out RV or daily Starbucks vanilla lattes. Moving to a state that has affordable housing is beneficial, as it increases your ability to pay for the home in cash without worrying about getting a mortgage.
Along with cost of living are taxes. Michigan is one of the states that doesn’t tax social security retirement benefits or estate and inheritance tax, it also has a large deduction on all other types of retirement income. Withdrawals are partially taxed and wages are taxed at normal rates. Michigan does have slightly higher property taxes, The sales tax is below average and the state offers a homestead exemption to provide relief for eligible taxpayers.
Access To Care & Senior Living
As a retiree, the last thing you’d want to think about is a hospital visit, but understand that it’s very important to not only have a hospital nearby just in case, it’s also important to have a top rated hospital available, because any “what if” situation has a higher likeliness of being resolved by the higher ranked doctors.
After taking a look at Statista’s research for the world’s best hospitals in 2021. The University of Michigan Hospitals were ranked #8 out of 334 hospitals in the nation. Whether you like it or not, healthcare is a crucial factor to retirement, and if you have a condition that needs more attention, having U of M hospital in close proximity definitely should take a weight off your shoulders.
Another plus to having a highly ranked health system on your side, is having the ability to get quality referrals for caregivers, assisted living or long-term care services.
Lifestyle & Amenities
More importantly, what is your new retired lifestyle going to look like? Are you going on weekly fishing excursions to one of the many lakes in Michigan? Tee-ing off at one of the 650 golf courses?
Skiing down one of the 40+ ski hills, or are you putting your feet in the sand of the largest freshwater coastlines in the United states? Michigan is known for its endless options, and as any retired person would tell you, adding variety to your calendar is the key to mental and physical health.
In Michigan, you can enjoy small-town living in places like Copper Harbor along the shores of Lake Superior or Urban living in cities such as East Grand Rapids, Birmingham or Brighton. Michigan can most definitely be catered toward your wants and needs. There is also abundant access to restaurants, fitness centers, libraries, shopping malls, entertainment centers, and universities for you to continue with your education.
For older residents, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund has been taking major leaps to establish standards for improving the quality of life for older residents. If you’re currently a Michigander and you’re considering making the move down to Florida like most Michigan retirees do, consider staying local to your friends and family, as it is very important to have a local support system. Believe me when I say this, I worked at an assisted living and long-term care facility for 5 years, and I have seen the negative impact of a long distance and under established support system. Even if you aren’t in a elderly care facility, the same logic applies. Loneliness has a very negative impact on physical and emotional health, so having friends and family in close proximity to visit every so often is something that makes retirement much easier on yourself.
Before I move on to number 4, I want to tell you a little story of what a resident at the retirement facility I worked at told me. This story has paved the way to this list I created for your consideration. I was a manager of this retirement facility, and one of my main goals was to make sure the residents were happy.
I saw too many times that families would dump them off there and never visit again, so I wanted to be the void they were missing. I had a great relationship with most of the residents, but one of them enjoyed giving me life advice to ensure I wouldn’t make the same mistakes or regrets he did. One particular day, he was talking to me about retirement. He told me his best decision was to retire in Michigan despite the countless number of retirees that fled the state when they became of age.
He told me that Michigan was a place where he could live below his means, have his family visit a few times a week, and have enough additional funds to go on numerous vacations while having the luxury of being 35 minutes away from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport that is known to be one of the largest in the country, while being a major transportation hub for Delta airlines.
Since the senior living in Michigan was below the nation’s average of $4,000 a month, he visited all the places he dreamed of going, and when his bucket list was all checked off, he settled down at the facility while his family continued to visit him every week. I tell you this story not to pursue you from your decision, but to give you a little insight into a real-life decision that was made.
The previous three points don’t mean anything if number 4 isn’t considered. Since your budget heavily dictates your options, cost is most certainly an important consideration. When choosing a location it’s important to see the prosperity of the area, crime and the economic data. Michigan is known to have a higher crime rate, but it tends to be more consolidated than it is to be more sporadic.
Visiting websites like crimemapping.com or ADT.com will give you a live look at what crime is happening in your searched location. Some of the safest townships in Michigan for reference are Spring Arbor Township, Grosse Lle Township, Oakland Township, Hamburg Township, and Thetford Township. It’s recommended to consult with a real estate professional like myself to get a better idea of what areas fit your wants and needs. Some factors to consider: walkability, public transportation, home prices, population density, and amenity proximity.
As far as economic growth, Michigan has a gross domestic product or GDP of 2.3%. Most economists would agree that the ideal rate is between 2 and 3%. It’s said that a rate above that is not sustainable without negative side effects and the growth would be too fast and potentially create a bubble that would burst during a recession.
It’s good to keep the economy of the area at which you plan to retire in mind because the commitment and sacrifice you made to begin this new chapter of life would be devastated if the local economy were to fall apart before your eyes.
As you begin to consider your options, create a list or roadmap of your perfect retirement life. Understand that these 4 factors that I mentioned should be front and center to your decision, whether you choose to retire in Michigan or not. As I mentioned, there are countless options, so don’t feel like a decision needs to be made overnight.
Andrew McManamon is a Michigan REALTOR® with Signature Sotheby’s International Realty and provides real estate services to Buyers, Sellers and Investors throughout SE Michigan including Livingston County, Oakland County, Washtenaw County, Genesee County & beyond. Andrew has become one of the rising stars of Michigan real estate agents. Prior to his real estate career Andrew was responsible for managing a senior living facility in Brighton, Michigan as a dining supervisor and an activities assistant. Andrew’s passion to help people is unlike any other, and he continues to strive to be best resource he can be. Andrew graduated from Cleary University in Howell, Michigan with a double major and currently resides in White Lake, Michigan.