Also, we don't know how much longer we're going to be living here. I assume we're eventually going to move. So does B. But we don't think about it very much because we have no immediate plans, no plans at all, actually. We're in no hurry, in part because B is still working and has no plans to retire, although every once in a while she complains that she's tired of her job, and I wonder if that's a precursor ... but also, our kids are still living around here in New York (one's living right upstairs!), so we are in no hurry to get out of town.
Nevertheless, the subject comes up, usually at the least expected times. Like when we were standing around the kitchen the other day, discussing what we're going to do about our kitchen cabinets. They're decent cabinets, we're trying to redo this kitchen on a budget, and we've been trying to find someone to fix the cabinets rather than replace them. So we're in the middle of our discussion, and I stop to caution, "Remember, though, we don't want to cut too many corners on the cabinets. We've agreed to replace the hinges, but we've got to get something better than those flimsy things we have now, or we'll just have to fix them again in a few years."
"No we won't," retorted B. "We won't be here when they give out next time. We'll be long gone."
That brought me up short, since we hadn't mentioned anything about moving in months. But it also made me laugh. "We can't be long gone," I said, "until we decide on a place to go to."
"Yeah, I know," she said, almost defiantly, as though she knows something I don't.
And thus ended our discussion of relocating in retirement. First we have to get the kitchen done.
But, coincidentally, that very evening I got an email from AARP, touting the top ten most affordable places to retire. So, I had to take a look.
But first let me say, while I have nothing against the AARP, I am not a member of that organization. I consider myself way too young!
Why I keep getting emails from them, I don't know (maybe they know something I don't?), but anyway I might consider joining ... you know, when I get old enough, like maybe in a couple of years when I start Medicare, or the following year when I reach my "full retirement age" of 66. Or maybe when I get around to signing up for long-term-care insurance. You know, when I get old.
|From the U. S. Census Bureau: Median age of population by state. The darker the green the older the residents. The "oldest" state is Maine. Then Vermont, West Virginia, Florida. The "youngest" is Alaska, followed by Utah, then Texas.|
Anyway, I perused the list: Winchester, Va., Portland, Maine. Looks from the map like a lot of old people live in Maine. Gainesville, Ga., Ithaca, NY. Wait! Have you ever been to Ithaca, NY?
It's beautiful in Ithaca in the summer, for three or four months. But the rest of the year the weather will weigh on you until you sink into the depths of depression. It starts snowing in October. It can snow every day for weeks at a time -- never, it seems, enough so you wake up to a beautiful, clear winter wonderland, just enough to keep the sky gray, to make a slushy mess on the roads, and to chill you to the bone all day long. Ithaca might be a great place if you also have a winter home in Florida. But then, it wouldn't be too affordable, would it?
Tulsa, Olka., Cheyenne, Wyo., Harrisburg, Pa. Huh? I just read that the city of Harrisburg went bankrupt!
And that emphasizes, to me, the point that you have to develop local knowledge before you can pick a place to retire. It's not enough to say Florida, or Arizona, or Oregon. You gotta get down to the granular level. I happen to know that, while I wouldn't live in Ithaca, NY, for love or money, there are plenty of nice places along the Hudson Valley of New York where I would happily retire -- New Paltz, for example, where the weather is a little sunnier, the climate a little milder, where there's a campus of the State University of New York and there are plenty of parks, cultural activities, restaurants and medical facilities.
I also happen to know, while you might not want to be in bankrupt Harrisburg, and you wouldn't want to live in depressed Reading, Pa., either, nearby Lancaster does offer a lot of amenities for retired people, including a college campus, a top hospital, several affordable options for independent living, and lots of shopping and restaurants and cultural opportunities.
B has said she wants to move to Doylestown, Pa., some 30+ miles north of Philadelphia. I'm not sure why. We've been there. It's a nice enough place, but I don't see what's so special about it. And it's not as affordable as New Paltz or Lancaster or a hundred other places.
I suggested to B that we take a couple of weekend trips to Philadelphia, and scout out the surrounding area to see if there's a place that "speaks" to us. I know people who've retired to Newark, Del., about 40 miles south of Philadelphia. I think it'd be neat to retire to Cape May, NJ. Mild winters, long spring and fall seasons, and the summer's not too hot. We've been there twice on vacation. But it's kind of expensive, and New Jersey has a reputation for not being particularly nice to retired people. But at least ... I'd get another vacation to Cape May, even if we decided it's not a good place to retire.
I have erased Florida from my mind as the place to live out my golden years. I'd always just assumed I would retire to someplace like Jupiter or Jacksonville, or Naples or Sarasota, ever since the first time I traveled to Florida when I was in college. My parents retired to Florida. I have a sister living in Florida. But over the years as Florida has become more and more crowded, it just seemed to lose its appeal.
And then, B has a "thing" about Florida. She just doesn't like it. It was all I could do to get her to take one Florida vacation a couple of years ago. We spent five days in Naples, in February 2010, and the weather was cold. We only got to the beach one day. That did it for B. Cross Florida off the list.
We are planning a trip to Arizona and Southern California this winter. I doubt we're going to seriously consider retiring there -- too far from home and family. Southern California is too expensive. Arizona is out in the desert -- and I just don't see us as desert people. But, you never know. It's kind of fun "shopping" for a new place to live, where the next town over the horizon might just prove to be the place you've always wanted to live.