HONOLULU - When you retire, where do you see yourself living? Can you afford to live in Hawaii? Do you want to follow your kids or grandkids to the mainland?

Retired banker Davis Hawkins, age 72, is enjoying life on Oahu. This is exactly where he wants to be. "Hawaii was our first choice, having our early years of marriage here and so many summers visiting," says Hawkins.

From 1970 to 1973, he and his new bride, Gail, spent their first three years of marriage in Hawaii when he worked for the Army, but the Hawkins also lived around the world: California, Connecticut, New York, and then 14 years in Asia, in Japan, Korea, and Singapore. Well before it was time to wind down his career, Hawkins started researching his options.

Hawkins details, "I divided the county into six retirement zones based on sunshine, water, access to a city. Hawaii was our first choice, but it was the most expensive. We didn't know if we'd be able to swing it."

They decided they could do it, if they saved for it. That's why Hawkins is able to enjoy his time in the house; he planned for 15 years to be here.

That's just what AARP Hawaii encourages everyone to do. Communications director Craig Gima urges, "It's important to plan early. It's important to save money."

The answers will vary from person to person, but the big factors he says people often consider include weather and a liveable city. "You want to exercise. You want to stay mobile as long as possible," he says, pointing out how warm weather, public transportation and lots of walking paths are attractive for many seniors who want to stay mobile. 

Being near family and friends is important to many. "If you retire and you're by yourself that's bad for your health. If you sit, stay at home, and don't socialize, you're not going to live as long as someone with a sense of purpose," adds Gima.

Easy access to medical care and transportation is also key. If you already have a home in the city you plan to retire in, is it ready for you to "age in place"? All things to think about, hopefully years ahead of time.

"At AARP, we believe people should choose the life the want to lead as they age. Part of that is financial planning," Gima sums.

Former banker Hawkins has a small tip about compound interest that can yield big gains the sooner you start. "Just putting a little bit away and adding to that over the years," Hawkins encourages.

Saving now - so you can spend retirement where and how you want. 

Here's a link to the AARP Retirement Calculator: