January 14, 2014 — People who can retire in 2 places have some wonderful choices. They have plenty of great warm wintertime towns in Arizona and Florida to choose from. And for the summertime portion of the year there is almost and endless list of interesting retirement towns. But the situation that most people face – not having enough resources to manage two separate homes, or not wanting to manage the complications of that dual living style – is more difficult. This 2 part series will profile 10 great places to retire year round, along with the reasons why. Here is the link to Part 1.
More than just the Goldilocks approach
An obvious place to start making a list of great year round places to retire is to use the Goldilocks approach to climate – find places that are not too hot, not too cold – just right. Several of our choices reflect that philosophy. But going beyond climate we would like to consider other attractions that make for great year round living. For example: places to retire that are great for their year round culture, recreation, work or volunteering opportunities, diversity, charm, excitement. Our aim for this list is to recognize that people have different tastes, and that there are multiple reasons why a person might find a particular community a great place to retire year round. Another goal in this article is to identify great places for retirement that are less noticed, so our members can expand their field of possible choices.
1. Cold climate. How about a place to retire that has a cold climate, yet where each of the 4 seasons offer such a unique experience that the folks who live there just can’t wait for the next season to arrive? Our best bet for this would be a mountain state in the American West like Colorado, New Mexico, or Utah. But people in the east might say the same for Vermont or New Hampshire.
Taos, New Mexico offers skiing and winter sports that are top notch. Spring and fall are real seasons as opposed to a confusing transition, and summers in Taos have a pleasant temperature thanks to the elevation here. Taos and nearby Santa Fe offer plenty of cultural activities – many famous artists have lived here including Georgia O’Keefe.
2. Warm Climate. There is warm, and then there is hot and humid. For this category we looked for a town that is in a southern latitude so the winters are going to pleasant enough for activities like golf or biking, yet not a inferno in summer that confines activities to an air-conditioned room. Coastal California certainly comes to mind for a climate like that, where the ocean tends to shave the edge off winter and summer temps.
Long Beach, California.Sure there are more charming and beautiful cities in Southern California than Long Beach (La Jolla and Santa Monica come to mind), but we chose Long Beach because its cost of housing is almost reasonable compared to the rest of the area. The beaches go on forever, and there are nice neighborhoods and things to do. Plus it has a high ratings for walkability and bicycling.
3. Year Round Climate East. Here we are thinking Carolinas, with the northern and western stretches the coolest, temperature-wise, and the southern and eastern portions the warmest. Northern Georgia and southern Tennessee might also provide contenders. Asheville NC, the #1 most popular place to retire at Topretirements.com, comes to mind and certainly fits the bill.
Franklin, Tennessee is an affluent town conveniently situated near Nashville. There is a historic downtown since it was one of the more affluent towns in the south prior to the Civil War. It also has a strong economic base. There are 4 seasons, but the extremes are mild.
4. Year Round Climate West. The western part of the U.S. offers tremendous climatic diversity. As mentioned, southern California never gets too cold. The northern mountain states like Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming get really cold. Many parts from northern California to Vancouver have glorious summers, falls, and springs – but also feature wet and dreary winters. Hawaii is just about perfect year round, but we don’t know too many mainlanders who are willing to move that far away from family, friends, and familiarity.
Yakima, Washington, nicknamed the “Palm Springs of the Northwest” thanks to its milder and drier climate, is famous for its apple growing (think Harry & David). Other attractions: the price of real estate is down right reasonable, there are many festivals, and there are 2 colleges in town.
5. International. There are so many great places to retire internationally it is a bit absurd to try to pick just one. But narrowing it down with an emphasis on finding a comfortable year round climate, there are many places in Spain, South Africa, New Zealand, and South America that would do nicely. Lots of people love retirement in Thailand and Panama, but it’s just too darn hot there for our year round tastes. Then there is the matter of can you get permission to live there year-round. Without a relative, it is difficult for Americans and Canadians to gain a permanent visa in most of the European Union. People from the U.S. will struggle to do the same in New Zealand. A few countries will give you a permanent visa if you bring enough money into the country, but usually that is a lot of money (see our country retirement guides).
Kynsna, South Africa is a great place for year round retirement in the international category. It is beautiful beach town on the so-called Garden Route that is popular with expats.
Next Time – Part 2.
Below we’ve listed categories 6 – 10 of our “Best Places for Year Round Retirement”. We will fill in our picks for those categories next week. In the meantime we are hoping that Topretirements members will offer their ideas on contenders for these categories. Please share your thoughts in the COMMENTS section below.
6. Year Round Excitement. A place to retire that is bustling with year round excitement, whether it is cultural, commercial, social, or just plain busy.
7. Charming. A place where charm and beauty are on display year round.
8. Work and Volunteering. Best place to retire where the opportunities for staying busy with work and volunteering are amazing.
9. Recreation that Never Stops. Retirement town with 4 seasons worth of outdoor and/or indoor activity.
10. A Diverse Place to Live. Some folks want to live amidst like-minded/looking people, others believe that when it comes to people, variety is the spice of life.
Comments. Please share your thoughts below about our 1st 5 year round choices, your ideas on your favorite places to retire for categories for 6 through 10, and don’t hesitate to add or modify any of our categories, which were meant to start our thinking process.