Yes, that's right. Not the best places in 2020, but the best places ten years from now.
We all know that today the most popular place to retire is Florida. Warm weather. Low taxes. Lots of golf courses. Plenty of beaches. What's not to like? Florida is followed by Arizona, then Texas, then the Carolinas. Retirees are drawn by the low cost of living, the warm weather, the recreational activities.
But things are changing. Florida and the Gulf Coast are pummeled by more and more hurricanes and tropical storms. Arizona has been roasting in 100 degree heat all summer, with Phoenix topping 110 on more than 50 days.
Will retirees really want to move into an area where the flood waters rise, forcing them to evacuate as soon as they arrive? Will they want to bake in the hot sun of the Southwest . . . or, just in case anyone can afford to retire to California, risk the fires and rolling blackouts of the West Coast?
According to most experts, the country is getting hotter. Climate journalist Abraham Lustgarten in an article for ProPublica and the New York Times, says that Buffalo, NY (believe it or not!), "may feel in a few decades like Tempe, Ariz., does today." Meanwhile, Tempe itself will be sweating away in the triple digits.
|Buffalo, NY, street scene|
While some parts of the U. S. bake in the heat, rising sea levels will chew up shorelines along the East and Gulf coasts, swamping many coastal areas and infiltrating underground aquifers. One estimate projects that high water will force some 13 million Americans to move away from the coastline.
Experts predict the recent migration of retirees toward the coasts, and toward warmer weather, will reverse. Now instead of retiring to Florida or Arizona, people will head north. They will seek cooler summers. They will avoid fire-prone regions and shy away from low-lying areas subject to flooding.
So where will people be retiring in 2030? Okay . . . nobody really knows. But here's a good guess.
1. Minnesota. The land of 1000 lakes is already rated high on many retirement lists for its low crime rate and great medical care (think Mayo Clinic). Minnesota residents also enjoy the longest life expectancy of any people in the country. Jesse Keenan, Harvard climate-change professor, seriously suggests Duluth as a promising location. He says the city should brace for a coming real-estate boom as climate migrants move north.
2. Colorado. The state is high and dry, with clear air and access to plenty of recreational activities. There are good medical facilities and a wide array of cultural offerings. According to the Business Insider website Colorado has already become the quarantine location of choice, mostly for people moving from Texas and the West coast.
3. Northern Florida. In 2030 people will still like the sun and warm breezes. Southern Florida will be awash in brackish water, with cities like Miami and Ft. Lauderdale separated from a beachless waterfront by huge concrete walls. But northern Florida is protected from the hurricanes, has more access to drinking water, and has a slightly more temperate climate. Lustgarten thinks Orlando alone may receive more than a quarter million new residents as a result of sea-level displacement, and it's possible that the Atlantic coast north of Cape Canaveral may still be habitable.
4. Coastal Oregon and Washington. According to Lustgarten the migration from California, particularly Southern California, to the Pacific Northwest will only increase as people look for a better economy and more temperate climate. The megalopolis of Seattle will essentially merge with Vancouver to its north.
5. Idaho. Another refuge for West coasters looking for clearer air, cooler temperatures, lower crime rate . . . and its up-and-coming wine country is not threatened by constant fires.
6. Michigan. Lustgarten suggests Michigan has a climate that will only get "more temperate, verdant and inviting." He predicts a renaissance for currently downtrodden Detroit.
7. Wisconsin. Almost as good as Minnesota, with plenty of drinkable water, cooler temperatures and a healthy lifestyle. Madison is home to a top university, while Milwaukee on Lake Michigan offers an underused infrastructure that could be brought back to life.
8. Pennsylvania. The state has the cultural and seasonal advantages of the Northeast, without the high taxes and high cost of living. New Yorkers are already fleeing the city to settle in eastern Pennsylvania . . . close enough to the ocean to visit, but far enough away to avoid the storms and floods. Like football? Penn State hosts Big Ten sports (as does Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota).
9. Vermont. It has the Green mountains and a green lifestyle . . . and according to Lustgarten, will soon have a more temperate climate.
10. Upstate New York. Cities like Rochester and Buffalo could revitalize an already-existing infrastructure, and offer safe, secure neighborhoods overlooking Lake Erie and Lake Ontario -- all with, you guessed it, cooler summers and milder winters.