It used to be that climate was the biggest factor when choosing a place for your retirement.

Not anymore.

Nowadays, there are more important factors in the minds of future retirees, such as affordable housing and low cost of living. But for many these days, fitting into the social and political landscape may be even more important. You don’t want to buy a house only to find out that you detest your neighbors because their worldview is lightyears from your own.

Experts also say you should seek out places with populations of over 10,000. Less populated areas may have inferior amenities and services.

Decent public transportation and hospitals are necessities for many older Americans.

Another important consideration is ample parks and recreational opportunities. Live near sites rich in history with lots of historical monuments, buildings, and museums, and your brain stays sharp even in old age.

Your retirement shortlist should also have places on it with low crime rates and close to markets and shopping centers.

College towns are becoming meccas for retirees. One reason for this is that they often have excellent public transportation and walkable neighborhoods loaded with interesting shops. And they provide you with a rich educational culture, full of intellectual stimulation.

State capitals have many of the same amenities, and for this reason, they are also becoming incredibly popular retirement destinations.

You also need to think about taxes. There are seven states that don’t impose income taxes on their citizenry. Another 20 offer big tax breaks on retirement income.

But remember that sales taxes and property taxes can take a big bite out of your income.

For example, Florida doesn’t have an income tax, but it’s property and sales taxes are high. In the end, your focus should be on life planning, and not on tax planning. Where you want to spend your days is a much better question, because lower taxes aren’t the only thing you need to be happy.

Start your search years before you retire, and then visit the places you’re interested in.

Once you’ve made your decision, spend at least a couple of weeks in each place. And visit in different seasons so you can see each choice at its meteorological worst. Get out into the different neighborhoods to experience their life and vibrancy for yourself.

Meet with realtors to get schooled on home prices.

And really dig into online resources.

There’s so much information there. For example, you can go to the local Chamber of Commerce website and get a relocation pack containing information about local neighborhoods, attractions, and educational opportunities. If you need weather data, go to the National Climatic Data Center.

There are sites that list the areas that have the best hospitals in the country, the best libraries, and even the best nudist resorts.

If you do your research, you’ll be more likely to find a retirement destination you’ll be happy with.