01/18/2012 04:09 pm ET

The Phases Of Retirement

Everyone loves to read "The Best/Worst Places to Retire," but the choice of where to live in your non-working years is about more than just financial analysis and weather, isn't it?

Like most aspects of your financial life, the earlier you start thinking about it, the better. I remember asking former clients Bill and Barbara about this topic when they were in their late 50s and still working full time. Bill was an engineer, and Barbara was a school teacher. They had planned to work 7-10 more years, but Bill came armed with a spreadsheet that compiled tax and cost-of-living data, with a dash of climate stats sprinkled on top. He had the perfect place: Celebration, Fla. Barbara chortled and said, "I hope you have a nice time there. I'll see you for a couple of weeks in March!"