Some people make careers out of storm chasing, but chances are they don’t want those storms anywhere near their homes, especially once they retire. With storm severity seemingly increasing every year, choosing where to retire can be as important as choosing when to retire.
Severe weather can occur anywhere, but states like Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada have previously been named among the best for those who want to avoid paying losses for storm-related events.
Nevertheless, some of the most popular places to retire are especially prone to severe and damaging weather events, and if one of those high-risk states is in your retirement plans, you’ll need to consider how the weather will impact your potential retirement expenses.
Here are three unique ways weather can financially impact your retirement plans.
It may lead to higher insurance rates
Your location and the type of weather impacting the area may result in different and sometimes higher insurance rates. You may also be required to purchase certain types of insurance that would not be needed in other locations.
If you choose to move to Florida, for example, you may have to purchase flood insurance due to the higher risk of flooding associated with hurricanes. But remember to budget beyond your house. Florida car insurance rates can be higher for the same reason and help explain the hefty
$3,230 annual charge for full-coverage car insurance. Hurricanes and other strong-wind events can damage cars, making Florida residents a higher risk to insure.
Meanwhile, those who choose to retire in California won’t have to worry about hurricanes, but wildfires and earthquakes will factor into their insurance rates. Many homeowners insurance providers cover the cost of wildfire damage but it may come at a premium as it can increase the cost of your policy by 24%. Adding onto that, similar to those in flood-prone regions, if you want coverage for earthquakes, you will have to purchase it as an add-on to your policy.
It may impact your cost of living
The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics finds that Florida is still the top spot for retirees, followed closely by Maine. These two states are seemingly worlds apart when it comes to environment and lifestyle.
The Sunshine State has a notably lower cost of living for expenses that matter most to retirees (such as housing, utilities and health expenses). Yet Maine is at a major advantage when it comes to weather. Maine may get bitterly cold during the winter, but the state experiences comparatively few natural disasters. Meanwhile, Florida is among the worst — and most expensive — states for natural disaster losses.
When choosing where to retire, look beyond the everyday costs that typically factor into the cost of living. Instead, consider how much it will cost you to recover from a natural disaster or other damaging weather event and whether the city or state you’re moving to is particularly prone to such events. Depending on the average recovery costs, just one major disaster could wipe out the savings you enjoyed from living in a state with a lower cost of living.
It may require you to commit more money to an emergency fund
Let’s say you do choose to retire in a state where natural disasters or other weather events are more common. If so, you should consider committing more of your money to emergency savings for two reasons:
- Damage from natural disasters can be unpredictable. Weather services may be able to predict that a storm is coming, but they cannot always predict where that storm will hit, its severity and exactly how the landscape will look after it’s passed. Having money available on hand can ease the financial burden short term.
- Insurance companies can take weeks or months to pay claims. Waiting for an insurance claim payout can be not only stressful but also financially devastating. You may need to put more costs on credit cards than you’d like or wait to make repairs or clean up the damage, which could be an untenable situation, depending on the type of loss event (such as flooding and subsequent mold remediation).
These are distinctly essential considerations for anyone retiring in states where severe weather is common, but they’re also important more generally. All future and current retirees should create a financial buffer to hedge against unexpected and expensive loss events. That may mean purchasing insurance from providers that cover the losses from severe weather events and carrying more in a savings account should you need to make emergency repairs.
Ultimately, if you’re a bit risk averse, your best option may be to retire in a state that doesn’t experience many natural disasters or damaging weather events. After all, the sunny coastal states will always be there as a nice getaway and vacation spot.
Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman’s focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.
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