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The Worst Places to Retire: Weather and Natural Disasters

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

September 19, 2017 — The triple whammy from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria are causing a lot of people to reconsider where they retire. Some previous best places to retire might end up on the worst places to retire lists instead! But hurricanes are not the only natural disaster that can ruin your retirement – temperature extremes, earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires, and flooding can be devastating too. Now, as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise to the highest levels in the history of the planet, our ice caps melt and sea levels rise, the dangers to where you decide from natural disasters are important considerations. it might be just as critical as cost of living, taxes, culture, climate, proximity of friends and family, and recreational opportunities.

In this article we will first talk about the kinds of weather and natural issues that could be detrimental to your retirement. While phenomena like high humidity are inconvenient, others are deadly serious. Further on in the article we will give some ideas on what you can do to mitigate your risks. This is the second in a series, the first part was “Should Retiring Snowbirds Rent or Buy: Hurricane Irma Offers Lessons“.

Hurricanes. The hurricane belt runs east from Texas along the Gulf Coast, all the way around both coasts of Florida and its interior, and then goes up the Atlantic coast all the way to Maine. As we publish this article there are 2 active major hurricanes: Jose (at one point a Category 5) is dying out in the Atlantic after inflicting catastrophic damage, and Maria is striking the Caribbean with Category 5 force. Hurricane Katrina caused $133.8 in property damage and 1833 Deaths in 2005, the same year that Wilma flooded much of the Florida Keys. Here is a link to NOAA’s site on hurricanes.
In an average season we see 10 named storms of which 6 are hurricanes, and 2.5 of those are Category 3 or higher. So far in 2017 there have been 13 named storms and 7 hurricanes, with 4 of those a Category 3 or higher. But hurricanes are certainly not the only natural disaster that can wreak havoc on your retirement.

Humidity. Many people have a negative reaction to high humidity, while for others it is a non-issue. For the most part, however, it is not life-threatening. Cities along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida and up through the Carolinas are notorious for high humidity.

Temperature extremes. It’s no secret that Alaska, northern New England including New York State, and the northern mid-west can be bone chilling much of the year with their long winters and very short summers. Arizona, southern Texas, and the Gulf Coast are paralyzingly hot during their long summers. Heat is a deadly killer compared to most other disasters – an estimated 10,000 people died in a 1980 heat wave, and 502 died in a 1999 heat wave. The planet is getting warmer, so this problem will only get worse.

Tornadoes. With over 384 people killed, the 2011 Super Outbreak set a record for the worst tornado stretch in U.S. history. Tornadoes are quite common in the Midwest and Southeast U.S., but can and do occur just about anywhere, including as a component of many hurricanes. The so-called “Tornado Alley” stretches in the middle of the country from North Texas to Canada.

Earthquakes plague many parts of the U.S. and Canada. There have been 2 major earthquakes in Mexico this September. Although California and the Northwest are the most common places for earthquakes, they are not unheard of in other parts of the country including the Yellowstone area, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, New York State, and Georgia. Earthquakes not only cause horrible properly damage but can kill as well. Southern California has a 1 on 100 chance of a very serious earthquake in any given year. Uncontrollable fires and extended power outages are an attendant risk of earthquakes.

Floods. Cities and states along the Mississippi have some of our worst flooding problems, along with those regions drained by its tributaries from Minnesota to Louisiana to Tennessee and Pennsylvania. But flash floods can occur almost anywhere, as we have seen in Vermont, Colorado, and elsewhere. As sea levels rise coastal areas in the Southeast such as Charleston and almost all of Florida are increasingly inundated by unusually high tides. Many times the water floods in from underground.

Tsunamis, volcanoes, and mudslides can hit the west coast, including Hawaii.

Wildfires can occur anywhere, but are most common in the west and south. In 2017 much of Florida and Georgia were seriously affected by wildfires propelled by drought.

Very few safe harbors
The truth is that almost every area of the country is exposed to weather problems and natural disasters – there is no truly safe place and very few ideal regions. The New York Times reported 8 Metro areas with the lowest risk in its “Where to Live to Avoid a Natural Disaster“, using data from Sperling’s Best Places. All but one (Grand Junction, Colorado) are in Oregon or Washington State. Unfortunately many of the lowest risk cities have other, less dangerous weather issues like earthquakes or forest fires. Four of the 8 safe harbors, including Seattle, Salem (OR), and Corvallis (OR) are some of the cloudiest and rainiest places in the U.S.

So what can you do
Unless you decide to retire on one of the few places in the world that are totally safe from natural disasters, you have to choose carefully among those that are less safe. Fortunately there are some practical steps you can take to minimize the dangers. We will explore some of those here, and hope that our Members will be able to suggest others.

Move to one of the States with the history of the fewest natural disasters. Those include much of Washington, Oregon, and upstate New York and Michigan, among others.

Check out building codes and how your home was built. Building codes vary by state and city. Typically the newer your home the more advanced techniques it has incorporated in it – like roofs that are tied down, extra bracing in the framing, attachment to the foundation, etc. When your home was built is significant, as is the reputation of the builder (as it very hard for a lay person to assess how it was actually constructed).

Use safer building materials and techniques. There are a number of things you can do to make your home stronger and more resistant to danger. If you live in an area with wildfires, choose concrete roofing tiles and siding. Get hurricane resistant windows or storm shutters – if a window is blown out by debris or wind your house can literally blow up in a hurricane. When buying a new home it is a lot easier to specify these things before it is finished, but retrofitting is always possible too.

Move to an area with strict development rules. The State of Florida is among many jurisdictions that have eased restrictions on developers in recent years, e.g.; allowing them to build in more dangerous areas, fill in wetlands, and cover natural surfaces with impervious materials. The unexpectedly high flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey is a good example of what happens when authorities allow unchecked development. When considering an area to move to, explore how weak development controls, which can lead to flooding and other problems, might lead to problems there.

Stay away from coastal and other areas prone to flooding. FEMA has maps that rate the flooding risk just about everywhere in the country. Stay away from problem areas – even if it hasn’t flooded there yet!

Get high! High above the ground, that is. Even if the building code specifies a certain height for new construction, we are now seeing 100 year storms and even 500 year storms. The standard used to be 12′ above sea level, now it is higher. Go high if building a home from scratch. When buying an existing home, its height above potential flood levels is one of the most important things of all to consider.

Check out the area’s history of natural disasters. Fault lines, flooding, forest fires – these are all big problems. It is like marrying a partner with a history – be careful, some things can’t be changed!

What is your evacuation plan? Florida and The Florida Keys are a good example of places with that carry evacuation risks. The State has had mandatory evacuations, and when they happen, limited roads mean monumental traffic jams, fuel shortages, and the inability to get back home to work on damage. The pace of recovery is slow because it is so hard to bring in relief. If the area is hard to evacuate from, think twice about moving there.

The Bottom Line
It is easy to fall in love a place and decide to retire there. But before you make that choice, consider what natural disaster risks it might harbor. If there are risks, is there anything you can do to mitigate them.

For further reference:
What Hurricane Irma Can Teach Us About the Renting vs. Buying Question in Retirement
Farmer’s Almanac Worst Weather Cities

What do you think? Use the Comments section below to tell us about your weather and natural disaster concerns. Do you have a plan for how you can mitigate the risk of a natural disaster where you decide to retire.

Posted by Admin on September 19th, 2017


  1. Great information. The one thing I wish you would of include are the web site to research the items mentioned.

    Editor’s comment. Thanks Ron. There are some links in the article where you can find out more, and we just added some more per your suggestion. Look for text in blue. If you have other links to add please let us know.

    by Ron F — September 20, 2017

  2. Do you have info on areas outside the USA that would be safer?

    by Vicki — September 20, 2017

  3. Do not overlook forest fires. California has had many last year and not all in remote areas. Significant losses in property and pets, not to overlook the cost of control and containment.

    by Edward St John — September 20, 2017

  4. Volcanoes eruptions are a possible natural disaster in Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, and Alaska. Mt. St. Helens erupted in the 1980s, killed some people, and sent ash into eastern Washington and around the globe. Mt. Baker steams now and then. All those mountains in the PacNW have potential to wake up and start talking. The point is, when a evacuation is called, evacuate.

    Once I choose a place to live, it’s important to be prepared for the natural disasters in my area, and then live my life not worrying about what might happen. Insurance, emergency supplies and bag, emergency radio, escape routes (more than one), and all those things I know to do are important, particularly as I age. Knowing my neighbors, being connected to community, and having meeting up spots will help to ease the worry and stress that comes with the very natural occurences of natural disaster. I have no control over natural or manmade disasters (including fracking in OK), so once I’m prepared, I’ll keep informed and then not worry about it. Being prepped will give me peace of mind if I need to escape.

    by Elaine Cubbins — September 20, 2017

  5. Excellent, insightful article. Thank you!
    You are so right in so many ways — it boils down to the least of the evils. For us, that means being closer to family and part of a community that offers a wealth of stimulating activities with people our age.

    by Ed LaFreniere — September 20, 2017

  6. Yep these are very tough decisions to make.. I love Miami weather and everything about the water. The real estate market will get hit in the short term, but if we are hit hard within a couple of years, real estate will dive

    The thing is the coastal states have the lowest taxes, like FL and TX, and NC. Move inland and out of the flood prone areas in those states seem like a decent compromise.

    by joe pa — September 20, 2017

  7. Also consider sink holes,landslides, closeness to Nuclear Power plants, and toxic waste sites. Also add the potential for looting and being attacked after any disaster.

    by Drew — September 20, 2017

  8. It’s good to see some attention given to the role natural disasters can play, particularly in regions that have more of them. Regardless of one’s politics – another important consideration for some of us – the West Coast is a comparatively good area, as natural disasters go, while Texas and Florida are among the worst. I should know; I currently live in Houston, Texas, and absolutely cannot recommend it for retirees.

    In the past, I lived in Sacramento, and loved it by comparison. The weather in Sacramento, while not favored by most Californians because of the summer heat, was nonetheless far better than here in Houston, where the combination of heat and humidity for five months of the year make it stifling. However, like many retirees, I cannot afford California, which has a well-known housing affordability crisis. (I’d live near the Big Sur area if I could.) I considered Washington and Oregon, particularly the latter, and strongly considered each of the major Willamette Valley cities. However, the lack of sunny days was a big negative, as was the fact that it’s become rather expensive to live in many cities in the two states. I really wanted to live on the Oregon coast, but I then learned about the Cascadia Subduction Zone offshore – part of the Ring of Fire surrounding the Pacific – and decided that I didn’t want to risk the possibility of a major earthquake (8.8-9.2) offshore that would produce a calamitous tsunami capable of devastating the coastal areas of the state, while the earthquake badly damages the infrastructure as far east as the Willamette Valley. And I’m not being a nervous Nellie; the earthquake is overdue, and it will likely be larger than anything produced by the San Andreas Fault. And it’s a question of when, not if. (Look it up on the internet; the New Yorker had a terrific story about it that was quite frightening.)

    The Southwest is too hot and getting hotter, the Southeast is too humid and conservative, and the Great Interior too extreme regarding winter temps. I kept looking in the West, and Boise began to look promising, despite the conservative politics. However, with climate change producing higher summer temperatures and more droughts across large swaths of the West, wildfires, and the smoke they produce, will become more commonplace. So, I’m undecided at the moment. I agree with the author of the article above – there are few ideal regions in the country where one is free of natural disasters and at least occasional extreme weather. I wish my fellow retirees the best of luck in finding the right place. If they do, I hope they share it with the rest of us!

    by Gene Lockard — September 20, 2017

  9. I live in Connecticut and feel very safe as I am in a low crime area and low natural disaster area out in the countryside. My dream is to retire near the beach but High FEMA flood insurance rates and global warming and expensive real estate have me reconsidering my beach dreams. For safety’s sake I am better off staying in Connecticut rather than moving to San Diego to follow my California dream retirement. California is full of forest fires, drought, and earthquake and high crime areas. In Connecticut I have only been without power for a total of about two weeks due to 3 hurricanes in the past 25 years. Safety from natural disasters is a real concern as we grow older but I have no emergency plan only strong faith that I will be okay.

    by Jasmine — September 20, 2017

  10. I enjoyed the article on being cautious about where you select to retire…due to my WWII Dad passing away, I learned that FEMA created a new flood plain, I believe in 2007 for my home county…when Nashville severely flooded a few years ago, my home area received about 75% of the amount of rain that Music City received…the water got no where close to my Dad’s house…I am retired now and never saw flood waters get anywhere close to my Dad’s home in 67 years…we are being advised to get an elevation survey completed to remove it from the flood plain area…FEMA does many great things for the public, especially in time of a disaster…I would suggest that FEMA team, who no doubt believe it was the right decision, stepped over their boundaries, creating additional costs for homeowners that are not justified. Regardless, accepting ‘government’ mandates may need to be questioned.

    by James Fitzgerald — September 20, 2017

  11. It’s hard to imagine Oregon and Washington being listed as “safe” from natural disasters. Scientists have stated that it is only a matter of time before this region also experiences a major earthquake, quite possibly accompanied by a tsunami. Also, the volcanos in the region are not going to stay dormant forever. Remember Mt. St. Helens?

    by Gary — September 20, 2017

  12. Thank you for this article. The information and insightfulness is very helpful and will become useful.
    Many of us retirees are indeed putting all our eggs in one basket as to where to live. Some of us don’t have the financial resources to live in multiple places, thus, making this decision that much more important; therefore, sometimes causing paralysis from over analysis. I’ll need to determine what poisons are best, what risks are more tolerable.

    Somehow it seems I was more happy in my twenties when I didn’t have any money, children or responsibilities.
    Being spontaneous, carefree and naive always let serendipity rule. Yup, retirement here I come.

    by Alan E — September 20, 2017

  13. I have lived in several places, including Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona. I loved both for different reasons, but I had hoped to retire in Arizona. I live in a safe town approximately 40 miles west of Philadelphia. I am a native of Pennsylvania and consider the climate here to be ideal. Natural disasters are not a concern, but there is very little to do unless you take regional rail into the city or drive west into Amish country. Pennsylvania is not a retirement Mecca by any means, but after watching the devastation caused by Harvey, Irma and Maria, I will probably stay put. I considered Colorado Springs with its clean air and beautiful scenery, but don’t be fooled by skin-deep beauty. There is plenty of crime there, so you must choose your neighborhood with that in mind. Colorado is also a “young” state, with an average age in the mid-30s. My decision of where to retire is also dependent on quality of healthcare and the Greater Philadelphia area has it all. I would love to retire to a more year round temperate climate, but if climate change continues, I may already live in the best location possible. Good luck to all!

    by Joanne — September 20, 2017

  14. Sequim-dungeness area of western wa is maybe a better choice in Washington.
    Driest, sunniest weather in western wa. Maybe 1/3 the amount of rain as Seattle. Also a bit sunnier.
    Semi coastal that is part of the area in along the only northern coast of the us – strait of Juan de Fuca.
    While there is some homes at sea level. A lot of the area is significantly above sea level (town of sequim 185 feet above sea level but not exactly on the coast. Much of the area is in 50-100 ft bluffs above strait
    Reasonably safe (avoid misleading stats), not overly expensive but rising rapidlly
    Enormous retirement community – most of the area
    Not many high paying jobs so poverty is extensive outside retirement community
    Much Warmer than most Midwest and northern states in winter especially considering how far north
    Beautiful scenic you ocean AND mountains (Olympic national park) less than 1 hour drive away
    Relatively conservative but very environmental people
    Sparsely populated (very remote because ferry needed to get to Seattle in 2-3 hours only 60 miles way

    by Neil — September 20, 2017

  15. Alternately. Port Townsend wa -30 miles east of sequim similar characteristics EXCEPT extremely liberal (maybe far left)
    One of 3 historic seaports in us
    Very scenic – many historical buildings in town!
    Much of the city is above on bluffs facing Puget Sound and admiralty inlet ( entrance to puget sound)

    Biggest drawback VERY expensive compare to sequim dungeness area with a lot of anti growth laws. No big box stores anywhere close ( sequim or silver dale closest)
    Generally very weathy retirement area. Lots of older “hippies”

    by Neil — September 20, 2017

  16. Neil is correct re Port Townsend and Squim…..the former is much more sophisticated, and the latter closes down at 6.00 pm! Also, Squim is very low, not rich in good restaurants, beauty salons or theatre. And yes, Washington is anticipating an enormous earthquake. I was in Seattle for the last one, and managed to pull my masseuse into the door way. It always feels as if the tremors last for ever! It’s a beautiful state, and when the sun shines, it is truly God’s country….,,but it comes with a price. And, I repeat, the best medical care is in Seattle, though superb eye care can be had in Silverdale.

    by Jay kastel — September 21, 2017

  17. I retired to the Phoenix Az area, and love it. We have so many people moving here from all over, especially California and a lot of people from Florida…want the sunshine, but not the humidity and hurricanes, earthquakes, and sink holes. It’s very friendly tax wise and real estate taxes are low…yes the summers are very hot, but it’s much better than living in the cold, snow, and hot humidity that I grew up with in the South, and Florida. The weather from the summer is now starting to cool down and the next 8 months will be glorious! No place is perfect, that’s for sure!

    by Loralea — September 21, 2017

  18. Remember when the water comes up through the ground your flood insurance will not cover the damage as it’s considered groundwater.
    I’m within 8 years of retirement and have been thinking about where I may live. I currently live on Long Island, NY which is far to expensive to stay. Additionally there is an absence of apartment rentals that I as a single person would prefer. Most of my family talks about the Carolinas, but the heat turns me off (as do the politics). Right now I’m thinking of Delaware for retirement. Never more than 30 minutes from the ocean, still close to NYC (4 hour drive, less by train) and also near Philadelphia, Baltimore and DC. No sales tax, no state income tax on social security and, depending on your age, an exclusion amount of your pension is tax-free as well. I want a place with four seasons. Winters will be a bit milder there than on Long Island. Besides, as long as I’m not working, a foot of snow looks pretty from inside the house!
    I’ve visited Delaware a few times, mostly the Dover and Smyrna areas. I hope to visit more over the next few years so I’m able to make an educated choice down the road. As I age, I’m sure I’ll have to move closer to my family, but as no one has retired yet, I’ll see where they land before exploring my second retirement location.

    by Ann Marie — September 21, 2017

  19. My wife and I were laughing at the concept of any location on the west coast being safe from natural disasters. The earthquake/volcano/tsunami concerns have been more than adequately covered in comments here. We’ve all seen the annual danger from forest fire in those western areas, and, especially for northwestern coastal areas, I would add concern for SADS (depression) due the the high level of cloudiness.

    I was surprised that there is no mention of water concerns related to rain and snow melt issues. Look at the very common concern in the large dam reservoirs and issues related to fracking and reduced underground reserves under/around the Colorado Plateau, all of which might impact any part of the southwest from Colorado to So. Cal.

    We also find ourselves with a bit of wonder over the fear of hurricanes very commonly expressed in these blogs. Hurricanes should be a legitimate fear for any Gulf or SE coastal area — that includes coastal plains, not just the beach. But once you move more inland, while still a legitimate “concern”, for the most part inland hurricanes are simply severe storms. Here in central NC, since 1989, we have only been truly affected by three hurricanes and the impacts of thunderstorms, snow and ice storms are much more common. We live with them all and have had very little actual damage along with a few power outages. Frankly, like most of the country, we fear the rare tornado more.

    So there is really no place that is totally “safe”. Our conclusion tends more to avoid living on the west coast (not just the coastline), avoid Tornado Alley, avoid low-lying coastal areas (up to even 50 feet), avoid any areas prone to flooding (even in the NC mountains, my wife’s home county was swept by flash flooding up to 15 feet several times in the past 50 years). Consider a home 50 feet above local rivers and lakes and avoid slopes prone to washout with heavy rain. “Concern” and attention are the most important consideration. Even areas of high potential high impact, you can at least somewhat reduce the potential for by understanding the potential and building/preparing to withstand the “storm”. While we have had little hurricane impact, we have had to deal with week-long power outages due to the weather every few years. So a $1000 generator has helped reduce any impacts. That includes total loss of refrigerator/freezer contents which can be even more costly than the generator. It also eliminates the inconvenience and cost of moving to a hotel due to total lack of power and consequent heat/ac, water outage. Our last big loss due to power outage was in 1996 with the brush by hurricane Fran, and the ice storm in the following winter. Since then, a generator has protected from the larger power impacts. Those in areas of greater impact may want to consider a more expensive generator setup (which could cost $15-20000).

    by Rich Beaudry — September 21, 2017

  20.–full of information about what is going on that people are not being made aware of until they start experiencing the disasters.

    The best book I have seen so far for guidance on the matter of relocation to survivable areas is Strategic Relocation, 3rd ed. by Joel Skousen.

    by Khem — September 21, 2017

  21. Jasmine, I too live in CT and find where I live the most boring place. If there is a festival or event I want to attend it is always over an hour to 2 or more hours to get there one way. Traffic is outrageous and it makes it into a terrible journey. I live in Litchfield county and it is basically country and wide open spaces. Very pretty, low crime which is increasing but still very nice. Considering all the hurricanes in FL and other places, CT seems like a good place to live. However, the taxes are terrible and people and corporations are leaving in droves. For sale signs everywhere! I would leave but have no idea where to move! Still investigating!

    by louise — September 21, 2017

  22. Sorry Rich, but I have lived in upstate NY, coastal Fla, San Diego CA and Portland OR. We don’t plan on living anywhere else except the Pacidic NW….have never experienced any fires or earthquakes or flooding or tsunamis or volcanic eruptions. The worst weather I experienced was the blizzard of 76 in Buffalo and almost died trying to get home through the 6 foot drifts of snow. I also didn’t experience SADS while living in NY or Oregon. We plan on retiring to the inland southern areas of Oregon…..there’s no perfect place and much better on your retirement budget. The best climate is Sandiego but can’t afford to live here so you have to do what you have to do to to have a less stressful retirement. Most of my life I have lived close to the ocean with wonderful weather so if I have to live with less sunshine in my latter years that’s ok…

    by mary11 — September 22, 2017

  23. Hello Louise,
    I live in the northeast corner of Connecticut and I live in the most boring town in the country! I just drove 50 miles round trip for lunch buffet. In Connecticut we have to drive long distances to go anywhere but fortunately I enjoy driving. Connecticut has very high property taxes and the state budget is in bad shape so definitely need to move to a lower tax state. But I feel safe here and the Connecticut summer has been so beautiful but too much snow for me in the winter. We always snowbird to warmer places in the winter as all that snow is too much for me. I would definitely miss the four seasons if we move to San Diego. Definitely need to continue my search for my Utopian retirement destination. I am still looking!

    by Jasmine — September 23, 2017

  24. Actually Sandiego does have 4 seasons….just no snow. It does get down in the 40s during the winter and you don’t have to deal with high humidity in the summer. Utility bills are very low too.

    by mary11 — September 24, 2017

  25. The California coastline has a heavenly climate from Santa Cruz on down to San Diego, And yes, we do have four seasons, they’re just nuanced.

    by JCarol — September 24, 2017

  26. Hello Jasmine, well, you have one up on me! I despise driving these days with too many distracted drivers and no one seems to obey rules of the roads like stopping for a red light! When I was 16 years old, I would have driven from CT to CA without a care in the world. Now, to go downtown a few miles away, seems I take my life in my hands just to pick up a few groceries. Tailgaters, people swerving into my lane, people not using signal lights, cars running red lights, people swerving all over while texting! Had to laugh at you living in the most boring town in the country…we must be tied on that one! We don’t have very good public transportation either. The public transportation is the HART bus and it stops a million times so to go to ‘the big city’ it takes an hour or more to get there. About a 18 mile trip.

    I too am looking for Utopia. Weather wise I have always heard San Diego has wonderful weather but the traffic is horrendous. A friend of mine lived there many years ago and said it took forever just to drive a few miles.

    by louise — September 24, 2017

  27. “Nuanced” is a great way to describe the CA coastal climate. But anyone wanting more drama needs only to go inland a few miles. I used to live in Carmel Valley, CA. In the summer it might be foggy and in the 60s in Carmel; the fog went only 6 miles inland. In Carmel Valley Village it would be in the 80s with bright sun and could get up towards 100. True, there weren’t dramatic leaf color changes but it was fun to look for and see the subtle signs of season change. Laney

    by Laney Humphrey — September 24, 2017

  28. It is good to hear that San Diego has four nuanced seasons as I am used to dramatic seasonal changes in Connecticut. Out here in the countryside we have no public transportation, no sidewalks, no garbage pickup, and no street lighting. I often wonder why I am paying $4,800 a year in property taxes for my 2,000 square foot house plus car taxes for virtually no services in my small town. Need to move to a low tax state in retirement for sure. Connecticut is a nice, safe state to raise a family but taxes are way too high and winters bring too much snow.

    by Jasmine — September 26, 2017

  29. Jasmine, ha, ha, had to laugh at your description of where you live. Do we live in the same twin CT towns? I live about 3 1/2 miles from ‘downtown’ and we have no sidewalks either on the outskirts of town. I live on a State Road but it has no street lights. We have garbage pick up but we pay for it and it is not included in town taxes. We have a well too so if the pump gets hit by lightening (and it has) we have to pay for a new one. There is public water about 1 mile away but they haven’t bothered to put in more lines in 40 years. My house and car tax are about the same as yours too. I also agree that CT, where I live, is safe for the most part. I take no chances and doors/windows are always locked, cars locked and I am always careful of my surroundings. My town is in the process of ‘looking into’ building sidewalks. We have a hodge podge sidewalk system. Seems new construction (businesses) are required to put them in but old businesses are not required to put any in. Several people have been killed trying to cross 4 lanes of traffic. Funny how places like NYC have had sidewalks forever and to us in the ‘country’ it seems like an oddity!

    by louise — September 27, 2017

  30. Country living is wonderful but once “city” amenities arrive, it’s no longer “country.” If you like CTs safety, why not think about moving into town where you can enjoy sidewalks, garbage pickup and water? There’s a town here in Oregon, where, so I’m told, a local developer wanted to build lots of houses. He persuaded the residents that if they voted to incorporate, sidewalks, city water, street lighting and all sorts of other niceties would be theirs. What he didn’t explain was that they would have to pay for them. When the populace realized that they would have to pay for all those city trimmings not only on their streets but on all the streets he planned to lay out, they voted to unincorporate!
    I used to love living in the country but as I’ve aged, I’ve realized that I need a different lifestyle. Based on what I’ve learned, how about not throwing Connecticut out with the bathwater so to say, but look around for a town that offers the amenities you dream of. Laney

    by Laney Humphrey — September 27, 2017

  31. Laney, good idea on living downtown but not the town I live in. All the downtown builds are OLD. Like over 100 years old.The only accommodations are above restaurants/bars, shops/stores. These buildings have no amenities like elevators and would cost a lot to heat due to being old and not insulated properly. Probably have to climb two flights of stairs to drag groceries up. Parking is almost non existent for these dwellers. Maybe there are some towns that have more modern buildings. I have dogs so it wouldn’t work for me. I am staying put till the right thing comes along. House is paid off, new roof, new siding, new deck, new heating system.

    by louise — September 27, 2017

  32. We retired to Florida 1-1/2 years ago after our last cold midwest winter! Although at first I wanted to live by the beach, my husband convinced me to live about 30 minutes inland. We are NOT in a flood or evacuation zone, and recently Hurricane Irma (our first) left us with no damage except about 12 hours without power (for which we prepared). We built a new house with the latest hurricane-resistant features. If you find a state or area you like, do your homework to make sure you are not putting yourself at any more risk than needed. We love where we are – an easy drive to beaches, good shopping and restaurants, loads of community amenities, and at lower risk for hurricane damage.

    by Jean — September 27, 2017

  33. Jean, where are you located? 30 min inland, no flood zone, good shopping and health and easy drive to the beach sounds pretty good. thanks.

    by Carol Dugan — September 29, 2017

  34. We live near Clearwater, Florida in a flood evacuation zone, but up on the 5th floor. Hurricane Irma actually was inland about 30 miles east from the gulf coast and moved through the center of the Florida on its way north. We had minimal rain, no damage, and no flooding. Yet we lacked electricity for four days. Mostly that was due to the many trees which fell on utility lines. Duke Energy is responsible for tree removal and power line maintenance. Check out the history of the utility where you are moving. The other companies in the area did much better.

    by Lynn — September 30, 2017

  35. This comment from Bubbajog was moved here from a different Blog article:

    I have lived most of my 68 years in the Los Angeles metro area. I experienced the Sylmar earthquake in 1971 and the Northridge quake in 1994. One never forgets the power of that ground movement. I have seen so many brush fires that it just seems like a normal happening. With so much disaster potential, people do not leave. People keep moving to California in droves, causing a real overpopulation situation. However, if people are looking for safety from natural disasters, the Great Lakes region ( Ohio, Michigan, Illinois ) is suppose to be pretty safe from natural disasters.

    by Jane at Topretirements — September 15, 2018

  36. There are weather/geological issues just about anywhere you live in the U.S. The upper Great Lakes area can have beautiful summer days, but there is usually a big tradeoff for the winter, which often produces harsh and heavy lake-effect snow. Although not thought of as tornado alley, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan can have serious tornadoes. One of the worst in the country occurred at Xenia, Ohio, a few decades ago. Mother Nature has created very few true paradises. But by the same token, if you can clearly know, tolerate and deal with the weather vagaries of a certain place, it could be just fine for you. As I’ve said before, it could be right where you are living now. Generally, when you’re retired and not working, you’re not required to go out into any bad local weather unless you want to,

    by Clyde — September 16, 2018

  37. I am newly retired this year, and moved from the Charlotte area to a suburb of Cleveland for retirement (yeah, I know that’s unusual and my cost of living will be about $400 more a month). In the years approaching retirement, I researched states and believed I had chosen either Hilton Head 55+ or Myrtle Beach communities. I surprised myself by suddenly choosing a suburb of Cleveland to be near family, and because of numerous amenties, health care, etc. This week I received texts from people back in SC/NC asking me if I was happy that I hadn’t gone with the Carolinas. Some of them have had minor damage. I also continue to follow my old neighborhood’s Facebook page, and have seen reports of power outages, water damage, flood warnings etc over the last few days. However, my Cleveland neighbors told me that my roof was replaced a few years ago after a horrible hail storm. One of my kids has to buy flood insurance here, and a lot of houses have sump pumps due to water problems from storms. Of course, I am also anticipating brutal winters. I have added an extra gas fireplace to my new home already, added a more efficient furnace, and am getting ready to be housebound for months if necessary. That’s ok…I have a lot of books to get caught up with during retirement LOL. If I had a dog though, I’d be wondering whether I could train it to use a toilet during the winter so I wouldn’t have to walk it in the cold. My Iong-winded point is that I agree with Clyde that every destination has its own problems.

    by Kate — September 17, 2018

  38. Kate go ahead and adopt a puppy or a senior. Weepads or diapers. Solves the “outside” problem

    by Tomi — September 18, 2018

  39. So….now we have 2 choices of where to move to. Very sunny Sun City CA or gloomy and rainy Eugene OR. One place for 4 months of the yr with 90 to 100 degree temperatures and the other with 9 months of gloomy and drizzly weather, but live close to the family I need help….and would appreciate your input because we will be moving in a few months…….

    by Mary11 — September 19, 2018

  40. I have lived in CA and currently am in Salem, OR, about an hour and 15 minutes north of Eugene. If I could afford it, I’d move back to SoCal. Eugene has access to mountains (hour) or beach (2 hours or so), a college (they are rabid about the football team), a river running through it with a lot of parks alongside, and not much else. There are scads of wineries and small craft breweries, but no art galleries. The college has programs, but the big shows go to Portland (about 2-1/2 hours north). The hotel websites, under ‘things to do in Eugene’, list the mountains, beach, and wineries. Eugene, like Portland, is aggressively progressively liberal, and will call you names and shame you if you do not fall in with their ideas. The scenery is beautiful but I’d rather live where people are more accepting of differences. It’s been 20 years since I’ve lived in SoCal, so I don’t know how that has changed–when I left, there was so much fluctuation in population that no one kind of political thought could take deep hold. Best wishes with whichever way you choose.

    by Andrea — September 19, 2018

  41. We moved a comment from Terri concerning getting a dog in retirement while living in a cold climate to a different Blog:
    Are Pets and Retirement a Good Mix ?

    by Jane at Topretirements — September 19, 2018

  42. Andrea, My hometown is Salem Oregon.

    by Tomi — September 19, 2018

  43. Andrea, thanks for the input. We did live in Portland for 8 years in the 90s, so I know how the weather is, just not sure if we want to go back to that. We are politically liberal in thought, so that’s fine with us. I guess moving out of state is a lot more work and because the cost of living between these both choices are pretty much the same it makes it difficult. You see if we move out of California we will lose our medical, dental and vision benefits since we are not on Medicare yet. So, we just keep going back and forth and we need to decide soon where we want to live….very stressful!!!

    by Mary11 — September 19, 2018

  44. Mary11 – I would prioritize the issues you listed. I’ve only briefly visited OR and recently northern CA on short vacation trips. So I had to look up where Sun City was located – to see southern CA. How critical is it to be near family? Loosing your medical benefits at this time sounds like a big decision to loose. You are very familiar with the weather situations in both states having lived there. What and how much undesirable weather are you willing to tolerate in these later years? Basically how many months are you willing to be unhappy with certain weather conditions.

    by JoannL — September 20, 2018

  45. Mary 11,

    It seems the choice may be made for you. Health and dental benefits are nothing to sneeze at and if you have these then you very lucky. These can take a huge bite out of ones budget.. I am thinking you can use these benefits anywhere in California, so perhaps you can find a place in CA where the climate suits you for a reasonable cost of living. I know that in spite of what is written that not ALL of the state of CA is super expensive. Sun City sounds like a good option. Sunshine and warmth overall is far better than gloom, doom, rain and cold. I know you said you need help due to your health, but can you get the help you need also in CA? Family is not always that reliable after a while as they have their own lives and problems too.

    by Jennifer — September 20, 2018

  46. We moved a couple of comments from JoannL and Steve who brought up good points about living near family to a different Blog : Is Retiring Near Your Family a Good-or Not So Great-Idea ?

    by Jane at Topretirements — September 20, 2018

  47. We moved Mary11’s last comment to a different Blog since she mentions moving back to be closer to family:
    Is Retiring Near Your Family a Good-or Not So Great-Idea:

    by Jane at Topretirements — September 21, 2018

  48. Mary, I moved to the Portland area to be near family. Hasn’t worked out the way I hoped. I love them all dearly but my son & grandson live inconveniently across town so I don’t see them very often. My sister now has physical problems so I’ve become her assistant caregiver. She was never able to be my adventure companion & now can’t be any kind of emotional support for me. And then there’s the weather! It’s not like it was when you lived here in the ’90s! Summers are hotter (& still no AC), winters are colder and wetter. And then there’s the traffic!!! It is horrendous. True grid-lock on 5 and 205. True all the way down to Salem and Albany. I’d say, stay in CA as long as you can, especially as long as you need health benefits. Plane fares for visiting family are cheap.

    by Laney Humphrey — September 22, 2018

  49. Laney, Thank You for enlightening me on how Portland has changed. All my friends have been telling me the same especially concerning the traffic. I didn’t realize how much the weather had changed though. I was doing more detailed research and now it looks like we will be staying in Cali because of our benefits. I figured out with staying here I actually do save $100-150 per month. Plus with the savings we can visit my husband’s parents in Oregon twice a year. I wanted to be closer to family but this is probably the best option in the long run for us. I guess dealing for a few months of warmer weather is better than dealing with the traffic, rain and colder weather of Oregon. We were caregivers for my mom and sister for the past 7 years and now looking forward to enjoying our future new home and travels wherever that takes us. Good luck to you…..

    by Mary11 — September 23, 2018

  50. You’re welcome, Mary! I think you’ve made the right decision. When you come up to visit, your Portland experience may be quite different from mine. If so, you can always move up here. In the meantime, enjoy your CA life.

    by Laney Humphrey — September 24, 2018

  51. Laney,
    I agree with your advise to Mary11. My brother lives in Portland, and the weather has changed. The summer was relentless for them this year. They have a large loghome which helped to insulate, but 100 degree days were hard even with ceiling fans. The roads are congested from Nike, etc. He plans to retire at his beach home in Lincoln City, Oregon.

    by Jennifer — September 25, 2018

  52. The old saying, “the past is no predictor of the future,” is right once again. The internal migrations and population shifts we’re seeing in the US are happening while those in charge of planning for infrastructure are looking to the past for insight as to what to do. In other words, people are moving to appealing places faster than city planners can accomodate them. In my opinion, articles about places where climate change will have the least effect, don’t help the places named! The Pacific Northwest ranks as very desirable. Gads, we don’t need another reason for people to want to move here! We can’t cope with those already pouring in, attracted by good job opportunities, good vibes, good food, good just about everything else. But pretty soon no one will be able to move because of the congestion. Then we’ll be sitting ducks when The Big One shakes, unprepared and unable to get away. As Dave Stamey, in my mind, the best solo western singer today, says, “someone needs to go back home cus the West ain’t gonna hold us all.”

    by Laney Humphrey — September 26, 2018

  53. Well everyone….it looks like the decision has been made and it seems that we will be moving to Sun city , CA. It’s 50 miles from where we currently live. The move will be so much easier on our pets, saving lots of money on total cost of moving , and will only be 1 hr away from Palm springs, LA , and the ocean!! Plus the community offers you 40 clubs that you can join and your own shopping center that you can go with your golf cart. So now I won’t have to get rid of all of my furniture and keep the car for a few years longer. Also, I won’t be missing my California sunshine and looking forward to our yearly visits to Oregon!!

    by Mary11 — September 27, 2018

  54. The MidAtlantic States away from the coast are fairly disaster free, but in the last few years the storms in both winter and summer seem to be increasing.
    Hoping to find a place with sunny days, somewhat bearable temperatures and disaster free. Thinking about Boise ID and am hoping the rain and winter snow have alleviated the drought conditions somewhat out west.

    by Staci — March 13, 2019

  55. For disaster free area, try the western slope of Colorado. Grand Junction, CO.

    by Bonnie — March 14, 2019

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