You’ve worked hard and you’ve finally achieved the goal of retirement. Good for you! At this point, you may be considering moving someplace that is a better fit for your new lifestyle. A place where you can have a home that is the right size for you. A home where you can age in place. As scary as it may seem, moving from your old home doesn’t mean you have to give up all the things you hold dear. In fact, you may discover that moving was the best thing you ever did. So when researching new places, keep in mind the following:

Activities

Take a look at the recreational programs. Are they a good fit for your lifestyle? Ideally you would want to be someplace that offers a wide variety of activities, from physical (golf, Zumba, tennis, dances, swimming, etc.) to more relaxing (book club, social gatherings, bridge, educational seminars, etc.) That way, you have several options to stay engaged and enjoy life with a varied set of like-minded people.

Neighbors

Note the demographic of the neighborhood. Are they mostly young, old, or mix of the two? It’s important to find out, as you don’t want to be one the only 50 year-old in a community full of those in their 80s. Also, if a resort-like community is appealing, determine if the homeowners are mostly full-time or part-time residents. It’s much easier to make new friends if your neighbors are actually present.

Location

Choose a location that fits well with your goals. For example, if you wish to travel, ensure that you are close to a major airport. If you want to have access to sporting, musical and other cultural opportunities, look for places that are in close proximity to a large city or college towns. Consider geography as well. Do you prefer to live on flat land, rolling hills or mountainous terrain? This will make a difference when you want to go for a bike ride or a stroll. And if you happen to take a tumble, then how close is the nearest hospital? Fast access to excellent health care should be an important factor in your search.

Weather

There are those that love hot weather and those that prefer colder climates. As we age, we are more prone to a chill, so warmer regions may be ideal. In addition, a warmer place will have a lower propensity for snow and ice, making it easier for you to get around. Better yet, no snow means no shoveling!

Family-friendly

Will your extended family feel welcome in your new neighborhood? If visits from your kids and grandkids are important, live in a place that they would love just as much as you do. Check the amenities for things like playgrounds, bonfire pits, bocce ball, a pool and more. Also take a look at the social calendars to see if they include kid-friendly events and other activities that you and your whole family can enjoy together.

Standard of living

You’ve saved a bunch of money for retirement, which is fantastic. But now that you are on a fixed income, you’ll want to stretch those dollars. Places that have a high-cost of living will quickly blow your budget, so look for a place that offers your ideal living conditions at a lower price point. Go for a state that is tax-friendly to retirees. To compare -- as amazing as California is, Georgia is better at providing the most bang for your buck.

Visit

Are the places you love online just as dreamy in real life? There’s only one way to find out. Take the time to visit each of the communities you have on your short list. Spend a day or two there to really comprehend what life would be like. Most places offer a “Discovery”-type package that provides that opportunity.

Now that you’re retiring, reward yourself with a new place that lets you enjoy life more, not less! Use your newfound time to capitalize on your good health, expand your horizons and explore new interests, all while maintaining your independence. You’ll be glad you did.