January 28, 2014 — Here in part 2 of this series we profile the winners of 5 more categories of great places to retire year round, along with the reasons why they are good choices. You can read about the 5 towns and categories we identified in Part 1, along with over 29 comments and suggestions from Topretirements members on the topic. The link to Part 2 is at the bottom.
Note that selecting a “winner” in each category is a highly subjective process – we could have picked many nice towns in each category. The point of this exercise is to help start your thinking. To that end have tried to provide background information on why we selected the winners in each category, hoping that you can use that guidance to expand not only the field of cities you might consider for retirement, but also the kind of town that might best fit you.
5 more categories of great year round towns for retirement (The towns in 1-5 were in Part 1)
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. Almost any city could qualify for this category on the basis of the cultural, commercial, and shopping possibilities. Any college town would be a good choice as well.
Austin, Texas is our pick in this category mainly because as a big college town it is a very happening place to live. The music and cultural scene is very strong and the presence of young people gives it tremendous energy. Plus it’s easy to live here year round and not feel the need to get out for part of the year.
7. Charming. A place where charm and beauty are on display year round. Obviously many small towns could easily qualify in this category, particularly college or historic towns. Places on the water or in the mountains are predictable pleasers as well.
Fairhope, Alabama has been on our radar as a great year round place to retire for a long time. Originally settled as a Utopian community, this pleasant community with its beautiful gardens is situated along Mobile Bay. The folks who live here are as interesting as the local scenery, which isn’t bad either.
8. Work and Volunteering. Best place to retire where the opportunities for staying busy with work and volunteering are amazing. Forbes Magazine ran an article a while back which concluded that volunteering tends to be the strongest in the midwest, although almost any place has good volunteering opportunities if you look hard enough.
We chose Tulsa, Oklahoma as an example of a great year-round place to retire where the volunteering opportunities are robust. Some 33% of local residents say they are regular volunteers. It also is a terrific cultural center with reasonable year round weather.
9. Recreation that Never Stops. A retirement town with 4 seasons worth of outdoor and/or indoor activity. Towns and cities in the mountains or near the beach are obvious contenders, but many people are looking for towns that have built large community centers with pools and other facilities, have extensive park systems, or are convenient to great outdoor recreation like lakes or state parks.
Albuquerque, New Mexico has so much going for it as our winner in the recreation category, great year round place to retire. Located in the mountains, in fact it has the Sandia Peak Tramway, the longest aerial passenger tramway in the world, which ascends to the Sandia Mountains from the city. The weather is nice year round so there is no excuse not to get out and enjoy the scenery. The University of New Mexico is here, as is a long list of cultural amenities.
10. A Diverse Place to Live. Some folks want to live amidst like-minded/looking people, while others believe that when it comes to people, variety is the spice of life. Cities are almost inherently diverse, whereas small towns can be insular, reflecting their geography and history. Places which attract people from all over the country and world tend to be very diverse. College towns are normally the same way, with the added benefit of young people. Here again in this category, dozens of places could have been selected, even with the “year round” filter applied.
Atlanta, Georgia is our pick in this category. It is a college town, of course (Georgia Tech, Emory, and Morehouse among others), it has a strong base, and there are plenty of young people. But it is also located in Georgia, a fairly conservative state, so people of all political persuasions should be able to find some like-minded conservation (and not so like-minded too!). Racially blacks have the greatest share of the population, followed by whites and hispanics. It has a history of different races and people living together.
Comments. Please share your thoughts below about these year round choices for retirement living, along with your ideas for other places you think should have made the list.