May 5, 2021 — For baby boomers, nothing was more exciting than getting our first driver’s license. The freedom that lay ahead. Just as exciting, maybe even more, was the prospect of getting your first car. So we would like to hear about your first wheels – whether your parents gave you a brand new car (so jealous), or if you saved your part-time job earnings and bought a used jalopy. Please use the comments section to describe your first chariot to freedom. We will try to add your pictures (one of your own, we can’t accept other photos for copyright reasons) to the gallery at the end of the article. Send the photo.
As for your editor, my first was a 1962 Renault Dauphine, bought in partnership with my 14 year old brother, funded with our house painting money ($350). Unfortunately for Mike, he never got to drive it legally because it died due to me hitting a curb and its own (serious) mechanical failings. He does like to tell the story of younger brother abuse though. My second was a 1965 Dodge Dart (Slant 6!) that was a wonderful reliable car (sold it to Mike later and he got better use of it). Then as I entered the Army, a 1 year old MGB – maybe my favorite car of all time (and the least reliable).
May 4, 2021 – Back in the day St. Petersburg was considered one of the best places to retire for people from the Midwest and Northeast. Tourists also flocked to this amazing city on Tampa Bay, about half way down Florida’s West Coast. Some retirees settled here permanently, others spent the winter months in one of the many classic downtown hotels that are still present (but in different form). After the 1970’s the city faded into a retirement backwater, supplanted by trendier destinations like Fort Myers, Naples, and affordable towns in Central Florida. Blight and poverty took over in many parts of the city, leaving some big downtown buildings as unused relics. Fast forward to today, when St. Pete is not only a very hot destination for retirement, but people of all ages are moving here. The population is 265,381, with 18.6% of the population 65 and over (about 2% points higher than the U.S. overall).
On a recent visit to the fair city we were very impressed with St. Petersburg’s revival. It is not hard to see reasons for the resurgence. The city’s location could not be better – a manageable city sitting on peninsula surrounded by the gigantic Tampa Bay. Broad streets host gracious buildings. Along the edges, nothing obscures the views of the Bay. Very few towns in the world can match the number of its parks and amount of open space along the Bay. Nicknamed the “Sunshine City”, it logs an average 361 days of sunshine per year. On a recent late April evening the streets and parks were filled with people of all ages and types. The human diversity on display was refreshing. There were straight and gay pairs, mixed race couples, baby boomers, and millennials. The sidewalks were full of people out for a stroll along the boulevards and parks, having dinner in an outdoor restaurant by the Bay, or enjoying an ice cream. Soon even more will be coming to enjoy St. Pete’s enviable cultural scene, which, as Covid ebbs, is on the verge of opening up. Retirees live in high rises, neighborhoods, or surrounding communities. There is a big variety of living choices.
April 27, 2021 — Nomadlandscored a hat trick at the the 2021 academy awards. It won Best Picture. Chloe zhao won for Best Director.And Frances McDormand won for Best Actress. The film is one of the best portrayals of one niche of retirement life we have seen (see reviews of other retirement films at end). It is based on the book of the same name by Jessica Bruder, a journalist who traveled all over the country to document the van-life experience.
Fern, played by McDormand, is a van-dwelling woman who leaves her hometown after her husband dies and the sole industry closes down. Houseless, she travels around the United States, living in her old van that she has lovingly customized. Lonely and depressed, she finds temporary work at a giant Amazon fulfillment center. There she makes friends and ends up getting talked into visiting Quartzite, a convention for those living the RV and van lifestyle. There she meets Bob Wells, the organizer of Quartzite. Wells, vanlife guru and creator of cheaprvliving.com plays a fictionalized version of himself. He has a YouTube channel that is extremely successful.
April 22, 2021 – Which Carolina, North or South, is the best place to retire? We get asked that question a lot. To help you make the most informed decision on that topic we have revised our Dueling Carolinas: North vs. South Carolina as a Retirement Restination feature, which is possible the most popular article ever posted on this site. We have updated tax comparisons, cost of living, 65+ population, etc., as well as adding a new section on how each Carolina voted in the 2020 election.
Since originally posted in 2010 it has generated over 660 Comments, and they keep coming in. Reading them is like taking an intensive course on what is like to live in dozens of places in these two great states for retirement. Check it out!
April 21, 2021. In most parts of the country a staple of conversation these days is the crazy increase in home prices. A big reason for that, according to Realtor.com, is a shortage of places to buy. The supply of homes for sale in the U.S. during March was down 52% from a year earlier. Another factor is continued interest low rates. The March national median listing price of a home was $370,000, up a whopping 15.6% compared to last year. The typical home spent 54 days on the market this March, which is six days less than last year. Anecdotally, almost everyone we know in Florida who has sold their home this winter sold it in just a few days, often the same day it went on the market!
April 20, 2021 — Our mission here at Topretirements is to find great places to retire, so we are always on the lookout for undiscovered gems. Today we are going to spill the beans about some undiscovered retirement towns that you might not have heard about before. See end of article for more ideas for underappreciated places to retire.
By definition, most of these places are small.
Boca Grande, Florida. This small, upscale and beautiful residential community is located on Gasparilla Island between Fort Myers and Sarasota. It is home to many retirees and seasonal residents with an average age of 66. The Boca Grande Pass is the deepest natural pass in Florida, and is considered to be the world’s best tarpon fishing spot. That makes the small town not only a tourist destination, but a haven for fishermen. The seven mile island also offers white sand beaches and a quaint downtown and restaurants, but you won’t find any high rises, traffic lights, grocery stores, or gas stations.
April 1, 2021 — Almost every week we get a request from a visitor or Member: “How do I find something or other on Topretirements?” Like many sites, Topretirements is a big one with a lot of different kinds of information. Even if you have visited here many times it can be tricky to track something down. This short article will provide an orientation and quick guide to help you get to what you want, quickly.
The best clue to finding what you want to know is to ask, “What kind of information is it I want”:
About a City. There are 2 main ways to find one of our over 1,200 City reviews (and it will differ somewhat depending if you are on a computer vs. a phone or Ipad). On a computer use the orange pulldown menu at top right to select a State. On a phone, use the 3 horizontal lines to open up this and other choices. Then scroll down the page until you see the City you want, then click on it. A second way to find them is to click on the “Best Places” link at the top of all pages. When you get there use the pulldown to select State, or click on the State you want on the map.
You can also add your Comments about a City or Community by going to the bottom of a Review and looking for “What People Are Saying About (name of city)”. See example below:
About a 55+ or Active Adult Community. To find one of our over 4,500 community reviews use the same two methods as above. But when you get to the Directory page listing all of the cities in that State, you will see a list of all communities in or around that city.
April 12, 2021 — Today we are fortunate to have an interview with Jim, a retired vice president and trust officer at a large Pennsylvania bank, who spent his entire career administering estates of all kinds and sizes. We think you will find his real life examples of what to do – and what not to do – in estate planning very useful.
The tips, advice, and experience that Jim brings to this important topic is critical, since inevitably, everyone needs an estate plan. Jim believes that only about 50-75% of people of retirement age have an estate plan of some kind. Most of those folks have wills, while a much smaller percentage have trusts. As he pointed out early on in our interview, even if you think you don’t have an estate plan, you actually do. That is because in the event of no will or trust, the government has rules about how your assets will be divided after your death. The problem is that it probably won’t be distributed the way you wanted it to be done.
April 5, 2021 – Naturally enough, most people concentrate their focus on their own Social Security retirement benefits. If they are careful, they compare the advantages of taking it early (as soon as age 62), waiting to Full Retirement Age (FRA, which is 67 for those born 1960 or later), or hanging in to get the maximum benefit at age 70. While it is great to know your own situation, most people overlook the importance of the benefits that might apply to their spouses. For some couples, particularly where one member earns much more than the other and Social Security will be the major source of income in old age, a bad decision can be disastrous down the road. This article will lay out the issues involved, so people can decide the best strategy for maximizing their Social Security spousal benefits.
There are two different scenarios to consider: spousal benefits while you are both alive, and survivor benefits when you depart this world. Let us take them one at a time.
March 31, 2021 — For every person who loves the idea of an active adult or 55+ community , there is probably another who loathes them. For those who do not want to live in an active community, there are several common criticisms. A big knock comes from people who don’t want to live with a bunch of old folks. Other slams are that they are boring, cliquish, difficult for singles, and expensive. In this article we will explore a group of a developments suitable for those 55+ that break the mold, and that take bold measures to provide retirement choices that are innovative and attractive.
At the risk of omitting dozens of other really innovative ones, here is our list of great places to retire that think out of the box. We promise to add more in the Comments section of this Blog as we come across them.
What makes these active communities so great?
Here are some of the attributes and types that make these retirement communities so innovative and desirable.