Saturday, August 27, 2016

Best Places to Retire ... 2016

     When my parents retired 30 years ago, they went to Florida like many of their friends. Florida was the most popular retirement destination, by far, back in the 1980s. Now in 2016, Florida is still the number one relocation destination for retirees. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

     And yet, while Florida is still number one, many Baby Boomers are electing to retire to the Carolinas, and of course a lot more people live on the West Coast, and so they are retiring to Arizona or Oregon or Washington.

     Then there are always a few outliers. I know two people who recently retired to Maine -- although one of them has a brother who lives in Fort Myers, and so he goes down to Florida to visit him for about six weeks in the winter.

Florida sunrise
     Of course, what many best-places-to-retire articles don't tell you is that most people actually retire in place. They don't go anywhere. They simply stay in their same house, in their same neighborhood, with their same friends and activities. Or else they downsize to smaller quarters, but still within a few miles of where they used to live -- again, with the same friends and same activities and familiar surroundings.

     So if the lists don't change that much, why am I writing this post? Because B and I are in the midst of relocating, and I am obsessed with the issue.

     We have sold our four-bedroom house and moved into a one bedroom condo for the time being. For the next year we will be traveling around looking for our retirement paradise. We have planned three trips so far, bringing us into the middle of November. And yet always, in the back of our minds, we have the notion that we may ultimately decide to settle right back where we came from -- in smaller quarters, perhaps only a few miles away from where we started out in New York.

Philadelphia hotel
     With all that as prelude, I ran across an infographic called Best Cities for a Happy and Happening Retirement on the Personal Income website, credited to Kiplinger. The recommended cities include a few in Florida, as well as several other cities in the Sunbelt. The list also cites Seattle, WA and Billings, MT . . .  and Philadelphia, PA. I've never seen Philadelphia mentioned as a top retirement destination before . . . although B and I have considered the area, mostly because she has some family living in nearby New Jersey and some other family living in Lancaster County, west of Philadelphia.

     Another Personal Income post takes us overseas to The World's Best Places to Retire in 2016. Among the recommendations are Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic, Chile and Russia. Well, one of my grandmothers emigrated from the area now known as the Czech Republic (when it was under the Hapsburgs), and I can tell you, I'm not going back to Brno. And as for Russia? I don't think so.

     But I admit, I am less adventuresome than many people. In fact, a lot of Americans retire abroad, and there are plenty of sources, including writer and blogger Kathleen Peddicord, who cover all the issues involved in retiring overseas.

      The Forbes website also puts out an annual list. This year's The Best Places to Retire in 2016 features a map that also color-codes the states for their appeal to retirees. The list does not include Billings, or any other place in Montana. But it does mention Fargo, ND, for those who don't mind cold winters. It does not include a place in Maine, or any other destination in the Northeast . . . except, inexplicably, Pittsburgh, PA. Now, I myself don't know anything about Pittsburgh. But B went to college there for her freshman year, before she transferred to NYU. She tells me it's cold and rainy in Pittsburgh for most of the year, and about as far away as you can get from any other place you might ever want to go to.

     So Pittsburgh is crossed off the list, at least for us.

Phoenix overlook
     The Forbes list also includes Cape Coral, FL. I've been to Cape Coral . . . and I much prefer Naples. It includes Bluffton, SC, a cute little town between Savannah, GA and Hilton Head, SC. But I'd rather go to Charleston, a bigger, more sophisticated city where we have some friends and family.

     Meanwhile, one of my sisters lives on Phoenix, and she's always trying to get us to move out there. But we are inveterate East Coasters . . . besides our kids live on the East Coast, strung out between Brooklyn and South Carolina, and we want to be within shouting distance of them.

     And so, to echo the old saying . . . the beat goes on.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

We retired from Washington, DC to Charleston/ Summerville, SC. Love it! Inexpensive, many lifestyle and home choices. Great activities, restaurants, golf courses. The 4-6 week colder weather we head to our friends in Florida, St Augustine, Ocala, Del Ray, Naples, Sarasota. Our friends who own in Florida tell us don't buy! Just come down for a visit, stay for a week or so, then visit others. Don't come between Thanksgiving and New Years because that time is reserved for kids and g'kids. Go home when it is warmer.
Would love for you and B to stay with us- ample room in a patio home. Ours is similar to a gated community-- but no gates! Several younger families live here but very quiet. Love to have you here. But with ALL of your choices we would chose this area and home again.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the note right after this one re: Charleston. We took the same trip you described earlier. Went to Wilmington, NC. NO. Went to Myrtle Beach, NO. Many nice and affordable communities, but when YOU want to be in MB so does everyone else, and their kids and stuff. And you have to ALWAYS return to hwy 17 and TRAFFIC! Florida is the same. When you want to be in FL so does everyone else. Hwys are insane, restaurants crowded and noisy, golf courses and times are tough, Beaufort SC and Hilton Head are extremely crowded but lovely.
You're a rich Yankee- look at Kiawah Island, SC. Perfect! Homes begin at $1M. No crowds, ample golf courses, quiet restaurants, white, sandy beaches etc. if only........g

Mac n' Janet said...

We retired from California to Richmond Hill a small town just south of Savannah, Georgia. We've been here 13 years now and can't imagine living anywhere else. Tax wise Georgia is a good state to retire to. The state gives us a break on our state taxes and our county reduces our property taxes. It's a hot humid summer, but the rest of the year is good. Savannah is the same size as Charleston, but it feels smaller and we wanted small town feel when we retired.
We had considered Florida, but there are just too many people there, the roads are always clogged.
My husband is retired military and we have 2 bases here that we can use, that was a big consideration for us.
We knew we couldn't deal with a really bad winter and winter is moderate here. Lots of tourists, but not too many.
Looking forward to where you end up.

Tabor said...

I have to be within a few hours of my kids...that drives everything for me.

Terra Hangen said...

My husband and I retired in place. Our adult children are here which is a big plus. The temperate climate allows us to be outdoors all year; he rides his bicycle and I walk. We sometimes think about moving to a smaller newer place (less maintenance) but moving is so much work!

Tom Sightings said...

Anon., Hah, I wish this Yankee was rich enuf to even step foot on Kiawah Island! And Tabor, I wish our kids lived close enuf. to one another so we could be within a few hours of all of them. As it is, we'll have to make a Sophie's choice. Terra, about moving? You said it!

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Very fascinating, but we will live near a child when we retire. This means Virginia, or Denver Colorado or San Diego. Of course there's talk from each of those kids about moving somewhere to retire, especially if they live in water stressed areas. Granddaughter Joy just landed a job in Connecticut, but she wants to eventually join the Peace Corps, and travel to Tanzania, so we shall see.

Stephen Hayes said...

As you probably know I live in Oregon, but I don't think all that many retirees move here because of high property taxes and cost of living. I do know several people who have moved away after first being lured here by our lack of sales taxes, but it still costs a lot to live here.

Wisewebwoman said...

My dream (now) would be to live here 11 months of the year with a month (February) away in the dry sun. That would serve to give me something to look forward to and talk to myself about. Trying to do it this year. Thinking Dominican Republic, renting a house.
XO
WWW

priscilla said...

I think living near my kids is ideal. What else is there in life besides loving families?

Carole said...

We've thought about this a lot. And changed our thinking a lot! In the end, I think we will stay where we are and continue to head south during the 3 winter months. We rent in FL, so it is not a permanent destination; we could change our minds. I do not like the idea of owning two properties. The rest of the year we'll likely stay in central NY. All of our friends and most of our family are fairly close by, and that is a big draw. I'm not a social butterfly, so I think it would be hard to re-establish ourselves, making new friends in a new community.

Good luck in your search. It will be interesting to hear about the process, as well as the final destination.

Madeline Kasian said...

We are from Philadelphia/New Jersey (exorbitant property tax!!!) and landed in Phoenix Valley of the Sun 33 years ago,for work.Now,retired,we're staying right here.We've built up a network of friends,activities, I have a church I love, and I v now have time to volunteer at the Botanical Garden and go to all the other museums on their free days. WE tried moving just 2 hours away in our first year of retirement and landed right back HOME. Phoenix is hot for 3 months but the rest of the year is pure bliss.The hot months, we drive to San Diego, we go to movies,we take it easy. Property taxes are so low, we can stay in our own home for retirement (though we did downsize.) Retiring in place, and traveling to whatever extent fits the budget and temperment works really well for us.I would not move cross country! I have family and friends here I can't give up!

Barbara said...

I live relatively close to all my family - if you consider an hour drive across town close. I think it is nice to have the flexibility to see them when it is best for all. However, I would remind you of one thing. People move. One of my children moved out of town and before I could decide if I would really move near them - they moved back. My daughter and her boyfriend live here but with his type of specialized employment, I wouldn't be surprised if he had to relocate. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that doesn't happen. At any rate, even though I would base my move on my kids, I'm not sure it is always the smartest thing to do with young professionals. Just the other side of the coin to think about.

retirementreflections said...

If considering places outside of the US, why not consider Canada? According to Money Sense Magazine (June 2016), the top places in Canada to retire include: Moncton, NB, Quebec City, QC, Stratford, ON, Burlington, ON, Cochrane, AB, Victoria, BC and Kelowna, BC. I would also include Qualicum Beach, BC, and Parksville, BC.
Although I do agree with the comments that say retiring not too far away from family is an important consideration.
Good luck in your decision making!
www.retirementreflections.com

Still the Lucky Few said...

I can understand you wanting to be near your children, but if you should ever consider the west coast, I would recommend Seattle, just across the pond from us, in Victoria. Simply paradise!

Juhli said...

No surprise for me that the Forbes map shows we are heading to one of the worst places to retire - California. However we have firmly decided that being near our sons and other family is the most important thing for us and we can adjust exactly where in the area we live and the size of our living quarters to make it work. Good luck deciding what is best for you.

Janette said...

First--- BaHAAHA! Retiring in Saudi Arabia? First you need a permit to get a visa to get in the country. Unless you are Muslim or working for the government, you cannot even apply. Second, my idea of a great retirement does not include wearing an abaya, not being able to drive and living in 130 degree heat for several months out of the year (it is a dry heat). Last you actually need a visa to LEAVE!

Saying that, Delaware is it for us. We love the country life and the cost of living is SO much less. We don't worry that the schools are not great- we do not have school children. We drive to DC in 90 minutes and Philly in 50. Most important it is an hour to our daughter's family. If they stay we will, eventually, move to a condo in her area.
We will end up with a second house near Seattle- in fifteen years when our son retires. We figure we will live half a year on each coast.
Have fun looking for a new local. My only bit of advice is to live in the city of at least one of your joint children. Getting old stinks, but it is a softer land if your family can pop by and say hello without much effort.
Happy hunting!

MaryAnn said...

We would like to downsize our small town California beach home but it is hard to give up the location. We have our friends and routines after all the years we have lived here and love the weather. Our daughter lives in Phoenix and we go often to visit them to see them and be a part of our grandsons life. But I can see that we would have to build a life of our own if we moved there because they are busy. I am not sure we would see them much more than we do now and as the grandson gets older there will be less time for us. I do agree that if you have children it is better for them and for you to live close when you are old. It is a conundrum.

Tom Sightings said...

Those who are able to live near their kids are the lucky ones, imho.
Carole -- We don't want to own two places, either, but I've been told it costs just as much to rent in FL for three months as it does to own a place for the entire year, plus you get the equity. So that's a tough one.
Madeline -- You've done what my sister did, move to a retirement destination while still working, and then just staying there after you retire. Good move ... if you can swing it.
As for me, Seattle? Too rainy. Canada? Too cold. Saudi Arabia? Let's not go there!

Laura Lee Carter said...

Tom:
I don't envy your current position, the one we were in just three years ago. It's a tough position to be in! Follow your heart and your intuition and try to have some faith that it will all work out perfect somehow. Try to let go of the part of your mind that wants to control everything. Relax and enjoy the journey.

Jono said...

Due to choices I made long ago, marriage and moving to the North Woods, I may never know complete retirement. However, I can still fantasize about it. There are a few places in Europe I would consider.

gigihawaii said...

I have lived in Hawaii, California, Thailand, Germany and New York. Now, I am ensconced in Hawaii again and will live here until I die. I prefer Hawaii to any other place I have already lived. Nice weather and nice people. Family is here, too.

Barbara said...

Like you, I'm an East Coaster for sure. Philadelphia has been my favorite city since the first time I set foot there but, in the end, we opted for Cape May, NJ. We have a son in Philly and one in Baltimore so family is close. We are about equidistance from Philly and NYC so seeing a show or just taking a weekend getaway is not a big deal. The climate is pretty nice here. We get a bit of an extended fall season and try to take a Feb. vacation some place warm. We considered renting in Charleston for a month in Feb. but haven't done it yet. The 'season' can be crowded here but, it helps us enjoy the offseason even more.
b

DJan said...

Since we didn't have any children to want to be close to, we left Colorado and moved to the West Coast. I would never live in Seattle, with all the traffic, but I love Bellingham, close to both Seattle and Vancouver, BC. You do have to make peace with the rain in winter, but otherwise it's quite wonderful. I look forward to seeing what you end up doing. :-)

Anonymous said...

Often times these "Best-fill in the blank Lists" are just self aggradizing depending on who or whom is doing the ranking. They can be entertaining but I hope nobody takes them serious.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! I read every article that comes out with the best place to retire and sometimes they just make me laugh. When they list cities like Fargo, ND or xyz anywhere, they usually use some kind of criteria that doesn't matter that much to most of us. for me, warm weather is critical in the winter. I didn't do snow when I was young and won't now. And I know that you are thinking that renting for month is a LOT more expensive than staying there for 3 months but it ALL depends on the exact location and a lot of other issues. We rent for a month at the beach the only way it would be cheaper to own would be to buy a cheap condo a long way from the beach. Expensive properties rent for a lot more AND of course cost more to buy. Cheap properties rent for cheaper, and yes, you can buy them cheaper too--but make sure that is where you really want to be. Renting you can always change your mind. Buying--not so easy. Just my 2 cents worth today. ~Kathy

Mr J said...

Love your blog and all the comments...a few things to consider:these are wonderful "problems"to have. Sounds like we all have our health, some financial security, and are adventurous. The search for the "right" place to retire is exciting, and if not ideal, nothing to prevent us from continuing the search. Retirement is not about our "final" destination, but the exciting journey on the way. Enjoy the ride.

Rian said...

DH and I also "retired in place". It's been 7 years for him and 5 for me. Our boys and their families are here. Our daughter is a few hours away in the Hill Country. We've talked about possibly moving to that area at some point, but not now. We're on the outskirts of Dallas and although traffic can be a problem, we seldom have to cope with it. Right now where we are is too convenient and comfortable to change. I'd love to be by the water, but that would never suit DH. So I can be content to visit. Would love to retire to Maine... but probably would never survive their winters.

olynjyn said...

PA is a great state for not taxing your Social Security or pension income...Lancaster has a great country club and if you don't mind sharing the back roads with Amish buggies, it is lovely scenery. You don't need to be a millionaire to live in Lancaster county, although there are some. The best reason of all...being able to get shoe fly pie anytime you feel hungry for some.

Rita said...

I've been to Brno.

Anonymous said...

Portland and Seattle are uber expensive..You can live in the burbs and take public transportation easier in Seattle but it is not inexpensive to live in the city..One can visit all the places for foodies and farm fresh markets in Seattle easily Portland it is becoming increasingly dangerous..They don't care about the homeless much in Portland Oregon at all..The taxes on homes are outtasight in Portland in Seattle one cannot buy a home easily their burbs yes but you have to live far far out..we live on the border of Oregon and get the riff raff from Portland the crime has come to our sweet town, rents are ridiculous here now and people are homeless and hungry..We wanted to get to Seattle in june of 1978 and if we could we would have lived in a nice burb and our home would have been paid off many years, but commuting constantly in seattle would have been harsh babysitting care would have cost about $150 a week for a small tiny doll, I stayed home here in our town and when my only was 6 I could work, jobs were in Portland you pay nearly 9 percent income tax for nothing, I decided to work in Washington state for a lot less and see our only child it all worked out..but we love Seattle still..It all has to do with many rich who come from other states that have driven up home prices, jobs are abundant in seattle but not so much in Portland..

Anonymous said...

Surely there are others like me who are not married and do not have kids? Or am I the only one?

I would like to do an early retirement in 3 years time. I live in the high tax state of Connecticut. If I had a partner, I could see myself moving to the Lancaster area of PA, but more likely now, I think it's a 50/50 shot that I'll either "age in place" or downsize into a nearby condo in the same town. Right now I have a small house with a big yard, and there are the stairs to consider.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are considering where to retire. Where we live now is too expensive (California Bayarea). He wants to move to Seattle/Bellingham WA area. I am not so sure. We have no kids, but I have siblings-3 who have all moved where my parents' retired, near Yosemite National park. I bring this up because no one has mentioned about moving near people you grew up with. It is idea I have to consider.

Vince said...

As someone who has lived in Pittsburgh his whole life but has traveled the world for years on business, I intend to stay put. Winter's are bad for about 2 months, the spring tends to be a bit rainy but the rest of the year the weather is nice, without the really high temps and humidity you see in the south and southwest of the most part. Cost of living is low, property is very affordable and they don't tax SS. We also have great medical centers here, not to mention the sports teams we all love.