Why Your Best Place to Retire Might be… 2 Places

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

April 18, 2011 — Like most of our members you are probably working very hard on finding your best place to retire. Deciding whether your retirement destination will be where you live now, in the same community, or far away – there are so many possibilities it is hard to make a decision. This article is dedicated to another idea – that your best place to retire might be 2 places.

On the Plus Side – Avoiding Compromises
Perhaps the best reason to consider retiring in 2 places is that this solution can help you avoid compromises. Lets say you hate

cold winters and/or hot summers. That’s easy, keeping a home up north while adding a place in southern Florida, Hawaii, Mexico, or California will let you avoid both. In our view, if you can swing it (more about that later), that’s better than a compromise solution like moving to North Carolina full time where the winters are still chilly and the summers pretty darn hot.

Another compromise that can be avoided by having 2 homes is having to settle for one kind of community. Moving away permanently from where you live now would mean saying goodbye to most of your friends and ties to the community. Renting a low cost home in Florida during the winter, however, might allow you to come back every summer and not lose contact. Or, you might want the activities of an active adult community, but don’t necessarily want to be in that in kind of environment all year long. Perhaps you would like to add more of an urban environment as a change from the suburbs or small town where you have spent most of your life. Two (or even more places) can help you enjoy a wide and enriching array of lifestyles. Most of the retirees we know of report that living in 2 different places adds a great deal to their lives – new friends, experiences, and a break from the routine.

Different Strategies
There are no rules about the different places you can live in, or the lifestyle you have to choose. Your choice could be as simple as participating in a home exchange program like homeexchange.com, which lets you swap homes with people around the globe. Many people find these invigorating – whether once a year or multiple times. You might own a home in one state (the one you live in now, or a new one), and rent in another. A big advantage of renting, particularly in this down market, is that you have no strings attached. One winter you sample Hawaii, the next year Arizona. Over at Eons.com there was a pretty interesting discussion about living in 2 places recently.

Coping with the Cost
So many retirees are worried about retiring at all, let alone living in 2 different places. Yet creativity can come to your rescue. You can start by selling your big house in the suburbs and downsize to increase your available retirement savings and reduce your costs. Rent instead of own. You could reverse the seasons and rent for a fraction of in-season rates (while renting your opposite home out at high-season rates). If you travel to the right place you might be able to get seasonal employment to help cover your costs. You can be creative in many other ways. We know a surprisingly large number of retirees (particularly former military) who winter down south or summer out west in a large RV. Others live on a boat for part of the year The turtle lifestyle can be inexpensive and fun too.

Spending a season in an international country can be another way to stretch your budget. Numerous communities in Mexico and South America offer a very low cost of living as well as a safe setting for expatriates.

On the Down Side
In most cases living in 2 places will add considerably to both your cost of living and the hassle factor. The 2 home lifestyle is definitely not for everybody. This is particularly true on the cost side if you own 2 homes – there is no escaping dual costs for insurance, utilities, taxes, and maintenance (although they can be mitigated by renting one or both out when you are not there). The hassle factor is not insignificant either. Twice a year (or more), you’ll have to close down one place, pack up, and move to another. That involves many chores, and once in the new spot, you will inevitably find that something you really need is 1000 miles away. As your editor’s dear wife says, “You are always missing one place when you are in the other.”

Another factor is the interruption to daily life. If you are an active volunteer with a key role to play in an organization, that will be very hard to maintain if you are away for months at a time. Likewise it is hard to get involved in a new community if your presence is not continuous. This drawback, if not addressed, can make you feel rootless.

Bottom line
Almost all the people we know who have retired to 2 or more places are very happy about that lifestyle. They relish the variety and stimulation it adds to their life from new friends and experiences. The cost can be a significant, but not insurmountable hurdle. And, particularly for snowbirds, there is no greater joy than reading about a whopping snowstorm instead of being there shoveling out the driveway.

For further reference:
Snowbird’s Leaving for the Winter Checklist
How to Find an Affordable Retirement
Budget Strapped Parks Trade Retirees Work for Rent
How to Retire in Style and on a Budget

What do you think? Please share your perspective and experiences about this topic. Have you tried it and loved it – or not so much? What makes a good pair of places to retire? Let us know!

Posted by John Brady on April 18th, 2011


  1. […] by on April 20, 2011 Amplify’d from http://www.topretirements.com […]

    by Why Your Best Place to Retire Might be… 2 Places — April 20, 2011

  2. 1. “Almost all the people we know who have retired to 2 or more places are very happy about that lifestyle.” Well, yes, they would be. If they weren’t happy with choosing two(+) places, they would have only one.
    2. I live in West Palm Beach, Florida and Burlington, Vermont. I miss neither Florida in the summer (hurricanes, tornadoes, heart and humidity) nor Vermont in the winter (snow, freezing, ice). The weather in winter Florida is warm and dry – much like Vermont in the summer.
    3. To offset expenses, establish Florida residency (driver’s license, voter registration card, passport, IRS tax filing address). Spending six months + a day helps. Florida is a low-expense state: no income tax, farmer’s markets with dirt-cheap, fresh produce (tomatoes, grapes, pears, apples @ .99/lb), no heating and very little A/C required, extensive senior services and discounts.

    by oldnassau — April 20, 2011

  3. you should talk about the park models in AZ(and other places) 29-50k plus 5k a year give u a large RV sized place to live and that is cheap…new or used all in big community with lots of activities. they are all over phoenix AZ i wish their were more in LV area and every where else

    by greg rudowsky — April 20, 2011

  4. For anyone with health related issues, don’t underestimate the potential problems with coordinating medical care between locations. You’re going to need to have doctors in both locations in case of need. You’ll also have to be sure your doctors are willing and able to facilitate the transfer of information between locations. Not impossible, but a primary consideration when looking into multiple retirement locations.

    by mickey — April 20, 2011

  5. Even though my forum post has turned up some intriguing “middle of the road” climates, I am also still considering this approach, so thanks for the good info, both pros and cons (certainly “con” things that never would have occurred to me). One suggestion has me puzzled though:

    “You could reverse the seasons and rent for a fraction of in-season rates (while renting your opposite home out at high-season rates)”

    Wouldn’t that completely defeat the purpose of the 2 place retirement?

    Greg’s comment about the Park Models sounds like it needs some research too ! As does the turtle life !

    by scottp — April 20, 2011

  6. People who live in location for only several months out of a year might find it harder to cultivate as much social support as those who are full-timers in a location. It can take a little more time to get back into the social swing of things when you’ve been gone for six months.

    Jan Cullinane, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)

    by Jan Cullinane — April 20, 2011

  7. Forbes and Pew rate Wisconsin as one of the 9 states in fiscal peril. We are planning on moving to Texas for 6 months and 1 day because they have no state income tax. Texas is also fiscally sound. Forbes says that Florida, California, Ill. Arizona, etc. are in fiscal peril. So, I am worried that taxes in those states will go up. I think for sure they will go up in Wisc. so we are ready to get out of dodge. We are just entering retirement so busy researching all this.

    by Susan Foster — April 20, 2011

  8. Is there a website or blog where people discuss avoiding taxes?

    by Susan — April 21, 2011

  9. We became full-time RVers with our address of record in FL..now we go with the wind and can enjoy all 49 states for as little or as lengthy a time as we choose….when they build a bridge to Hawaii, we’ll travel there as well.

    by Beverly — April 21, 2011

  10. States with low or now income tax sound wonderful but, rest assured, they make it up with other taxes and fees. There are no income taxes in Tennessee but the city of Chattnooga is busily “incorporating” surrounding towns so it can enlarge its property tax base. We will soon have to pay both county and city. Sales tax is high – 9-1/2% and they tax groceries too. There is a website that compares state taxes. Try this:
    It takes a lot of homework but the perfect place is where you are happy!!

    by Holly — April 21, 2011

  11. […] A limitation of this survey is that articles published earlier in the year had a head start on ones that came later.   When we looked at the top 50 stories of the year we were pleased to see many articles get high readership – so please don’t take the Top 10 list as the definitive one. You can use the News Categories on the side of this page to scan for articles that might make your retirement quest easier. That way you won’t miss practical features like “Our Best and Worst Tips for the Newly Retired“, “Why Moving to Florida Might be a Good Move – And How to Do It“, or “Why Your Best Place to Retire Might Be 2 Places“. […]

    by » Top 10 Retirement Articles for 2011 Topretirements — December 26, 2011

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