Showcase Listing

Life at Heritage Shores is full of amenities, activities and social opportunities. When you live here, each day can be as active or laid ...

Showcase Listing

Cadence at Lansdowne is a brand new 55+ active adult community offering a vibrant lifestyle in Lansdowne, Virginia. It's where you can ha...

Showcase Listing

Wendell Falls is a new, all-ages community located just minutes from downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, and features an eclectic, walkable...

Showcase Listing

Welcome to Cresswind Charlotte!  This nature-rich refuge of inviting streetscapes, manicured landscaping and miles of walking trails...

Showcase Listing

Fairfield Glade, a stunning master-planned community, is perched high atop the Cumberland Plateau, and offers serene mountain beauty as i...

Showcase Listing

Cresswind Charleston is Charleston-area's BEST active adult lifestyle community. Cresswind inspires active adults to live life to the ful...


Will Stereotypes Keep You from Discovering Your Best Place to Retire?

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States
Downtown Sarasota

Updated March, 2020 (originally published February, 2014) — All of us have our biases. And, even with the best of intentions, we probably hold our share of stereotypes too. Not just about the rest of humanity, but also food, cars, brands of soda and beer, sports teams, movie stars, and yes – places to retire too. Just as being close-minded about people gets in the way of appreciating them as individuals, dismissing places out of hand could get in the way of finding your retirement town.

Biases and Stereotypes about Places
Let’s first discuss the various types of biases that we have heard people bring up at Topretirements. For each one we will name at least one city or town that breaks the stereotype. At the end of the article we have provided links to the 2 part series we did on “Under-rated Places to Retire” from 2010.

There is often, of course, something to the preconceived notions we hold about places. Our point here is to caution that if you lump everywhere in a given region or state together, you might miss out on some appealing retirement possibilities. So, we urge you to do 2 things:
1. Keep an open mind
2. Visit places yourself to make up your mind based on your own experiences, not someone else’s.

Some Common Biases – and a Response
It rains all the time in Oregon and Washington. Yes, it is extremely wet in coastal and western Oregon and Washington (we love the Oregon T-shirt advertising WD-40 as Oregon sun tanning lotion!) But as you travel eastward the rain coming off the Pacific tapers off, and in fact these states becomes deserts in their eastern regions. Sequim, Washington, is even an exception to that “rule”. Located in the west on the Olympic Peninsula, it gets about as much rain as Los Angeles. Bend, Oregon, which sits on the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountains, is much drier and hotter than the rest of the state. This great outdoor town averages a foot or less of precipitation per year.

I won’t move anywhere there is high humidity. If you are a person who hates high humidity (and there are lots of you!), this is a real problem, and we won’t try to talk you out of it. Our point is that if other aspects of a location are attractive to you, consider visiting it yourself before you cast judgement. For example you will probably find that any place on the east coast of the U.S. is very humid in the summer. But, if you can live close enough to the water, there will be cooling ocean breezes. Maybe you can get away in the hottest part of the year, when the humidity and temperature numbers tend to cross. Or perhaps your lifestyle means you will be spending the worst part of the day in air conditioning anyway.

Another thought is that there might be worse afflictions than humidity. For example all across the U.S. this winter many people have had terrible, sometimes life changing injuries from falls on ice. Others died from shoveling snow.

Holden Beach, which is in the southernmost part of North Carolina, is a good example of a place that has high humidity but is still tolerable. While its humidity is above the U.S. average, it can still be very pleasant here even in summer, thanks to its ocean breezes.

Florida is all the same from top to bottom. And it is full of sinkholes. You probably know people who dismiss Florida out of hand – it’s all the same… too many old people in “God’s waiting room”… chock full of sinkholes. If you have visited different parts of the state and that is your conclusion, great. But if you haven’t explored beyond a visit or two, you might be surprised. Jacksonville is a major city with a different climate than the southern part of the state. Interior cities like Lakeland, which has the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world, provides a different experience. The Keys are something else again.


And Sarasota and Boca Raton are culturally interesting, diverse place to retire.

Yes there are sinkholes, but it is not like the whole state is about to be swallowed up by them.

A state with no income tax is the perfect solution. The majority of today’s retirees won’t have to worry too much about paying income tax. That’s because they won’t make enough from Social Security and their meager savings to pay more than a small amount of taxes. On the other hand, they might have to pay high property taxes, which is certainly the case in most states in the northeast and midwest. Even in Texas, which has no income tax, you might be unpleasantly surprised – compared to neighboring states it has very high property taxes. States like North Carolina have taken steps to make themselves more attractive to retirees by providing generous income tax exemptions, including on Social Security income, while property taxes are below the national average.

I won’t go near a place with a high crime rate. Crime statistics are a lot like property values – they are extremely local. Crime rates are typically reported city-wide. Cities typically have higher crime rates because there are areas of poverty and transition. Most retirees enjoy the downtown center but never enter many areas where crime rates bring up the average. Then there is the type of crime to consider – murders, rapes, and assaults are one thing, burglaries and thefts are another. Our earlier example of Holden Beach, NC is an example where the crime rates aren’t particularly meaningful. This small, wealthy community has an average age of 62. Yet in one recent year the crime rate was astronomical (4 times the national average) because of an unusual increase in burglaries (with very little violent crime).

There is no culture in Arkansas or the deep south. Take the northwest corner of Arkansas as an example. Thanks to the amazing new art museum, the Crystal Bridges Museum of Modern Art, built by Sam Walton’s daughter Alice, Bentonville and the surrounding are exploding with culture. You will also find plenty of culture in Macon, GA, and Bartlesville, Oklahoma among other towns.

I will never live in an active community. Active communities have many drawbacks for some people. They have rules, expenses, and frequently, a sameness. But many of them also have the flip side to each of these objections. The rules are made by the people who live there, so most have a good reason behind them. Home Owner Associations usually provide a variety of services like lawn care, exterior maintenance, security, and insurance that add great value. But they also go further than that. Big communities like On Top of the World and Valencia Cove provide tremendous recreational resources and infrastructure like clubhouses/rec centers. Ones like Fearrington Village offer a platform that lets total strangers make dozens of friends in just a short term.

Active communities certainly aren’t for everyone. But they might offer more than you might have you considered. Our point – investigate before you dismiss.

All of California is way too expensive. Certainly the coastal areas of southern California are among the most expensive markets in the country. But that doesn’t mean that everywhere in the state (or other states with coastlines) is expensive. Inland and northern areas like Indio are closer to the U.S. average. Even Riverside and Long Beach, both near the coast, are somewhat reasonable real estate markets. As a retiree you probably won’t pay much of any income tax, and the state has a Homestead law to keep your property taxes in check.

The Florida Keys are full of huge bugs and snakes. When you go on a house tour in Key West and the lower keys your guide will probably point out as a curiosity that the homes don’t have screens. With almost no standing water and plenty of little bug-eating geckos, there just aren’t enough insects to discourage outdoor living. (Some very efficient mosquito control and spraying helps too). As for snakes, there are some here, but are rarely sighted. Burmese Pythons, an invasive species, have become an increasing problem in and near the Everglades, however. There are plenty of bugs, snakes, and alligators throughout the rest of Florida, but people tend to have few encounters of a dangerous kind.

Key West

Comments? Obviously there are serious things to consider when choosing a place to retire. Water shortages, rising ocean levels, and climate change are real drawbacks in certain areas, at least in the long term. Have we missed any biases you can think of? What are the factors that would keep you from considering a town as a place to retire? Have you ever changed your mind about a place after you visited it yourself? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below.

For further reading:
Most Under-rated Places to Retire
Beyond Asheville: More Under-Rated Places to Retire

Posted by Admin on February 17th, 2014


  1. You missed one of my favorites: Hurricanes make a coastal location impossible for us! The odds of a hurricane landing squarely in any one place on the coast are remote. Plus, with resources like the Weather Channel, your person is safe if not your home in the event of a big storm. You don’t have to live on the beach — who can afford it — to enjoy the beach from 10 minutes away (and outside the flood zone that drives up insurance rates). Some locations — Savannah comes to mind — have only been hurricane-affected a couple of times in the last century. Oh, yes, the inland Carolinas have suffered landslides and, the other day, an earthquake (4.2 magnitude) just outside Aiken, SC. In short, if you like the coast, don’t stay away because of hurricanes.

    by Larry — February 18, 2014

  2. Very interesting subject. The reason we stereotype certain areas is,to some extent, because they are true! Just as no new home is going to have all of our “must haves” States are like that too. Florida has a bad reputation for being humid and it definitely is. I have lived here over 40 years and when I tell people about Florida, humidity is not the first thing that comes to mind. In general, you cannot beat the weather here. Just look at the US Map, where would you rather be this crazy winter!? There are so many good things about Florida that I’ve never focused on the negative knowing that it is not perfect anywhere. Besides in the heat of the summer, we are seldom outside as we travel in air conditioned cars to our air conditioned homes to air conditioned restaurants that are so cold I have to wear a sweater! And Larry is absolutely correct about Hurricanes. Even if they hit Florida, they may not hit your area. And, they give you plenty of warning. We have easy to use accordion hurricane shutters and we have had no major problems. We can only hope when we are making our retirement decisions that there will be more to like than dislike in our new States. That is how I will probably make my retirement decision.

    by Margie — February 18, 2014

  3. There’s nothing like seeing a place in person to help either confirm or dispel stereotypes. My DH and I recently spent a week in Las Vegas, somewhere we’d never been (and had never desired to see), staying with friends who in the housing crash bought a small second home there (their first home is in Ithaca, NY, where we also live). We were very pleasantly surprised at the incredibly reasonable cost of living there — if our friends were to move there for year-round residence, they would easily save $10-15K on property taxes (less than 20% of what they are here), income taxes (none), cheaper gas and groceries, incredible senior centers and Ys and discounts for Nevada residents at museums, Vegas shows, etc. My husband was especially impressed at the lack of snowblower, lawnmower, and rake, since they have a small walled back patio with only xeriscape. We were pleasantly surprised at the close access of incredible Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, and mountains up to 13,000 feet. We even found ‘the strip’ interesting, although that would not be our chief interest — but many restaurants and shows there are actually quite reasonable, esp. with state resident discounts. In other words, we are actually mulling around now the idea of relocating once I am able to retire (DH already is) — in maybe 3-6 years from now. Of course, there are problems with water there. But getting out and about and actually SEEING places, preferably with people already residents so that you can explore grocery stores, senior centers, etc., is essential before one relocates. I never would have even contemplated this type of destination (due to its stereotypes of gambling, etc) if I hadn’t been there. I’d love to hear from anyone else who has retired to/in Las Vegas and surroundings (or anywhere in Nevada, frankly). Thanks.

    by Paula — February 18, 2014

  4. I agree with everyone (wow might be the very first time!) My mom was a snowbird for many years in West Palm Beach. I visited her a few times and HATED it. I wrote off Florida because of it. However, my sister convinced me to check out the west coast. So far, I’ve been to Sarasota and Siesta Key and absolutely loved it. I will be checking out other places including St. Augustine, Gainesville, Flagler Beach, etc. since I have 4 years before I need to make a move.
    To Paula: My nephew got married in Vegas which was the reason I went having never any desire to go. To my surprise and delight, I loved it there. It’s not on my list of possibilities since it is too far from NY (where I live and my family lives as well). However, I can certainly understand anyone considering it. Best of luck to you.

    by Stacey — February 18, 2014

  5. Indio is in the Cochella Valley and is desert. Indio is located past Palm Springs and Palm Desert and is more affordable. Long Beach is located on the coast south of Los Angeles and is expensive. Riverside is located inland not near the coast and is more affordable.

    by Bubbajog — February 19, 2014

  6. At one time I considered LasVegas area for retirement but after talking to a couple that did retire there, I changed my mind…….they could not wait to move away after about 2 years. Their decision was based on just about everything and after talking to them I crossed it off my list permanently. They researched and traveled extensively before deciding on LV……and were very excited about their move….and then BOOM…….they really really disliked it……the only reason they waited 2years was because they had a house to sell……..they returned and settled in VA which they love…..they were originally from Wisconsin …… no matter what you do …’s a coin toss!!! Sometimes u just get lucky……….

    by Sandra — February 19, 2014

  7. Sandra, can you be more specific about WHY your friends “really really disliked” Las Vegas? I know the topography and climate is a drastic change from Wisconsin, and sometimes we just like to gravitate to what we grew up with or have experienced for a long time (e.g., trees, grass, etc). Thanks for expounding more with details about their dislike of Las Vegas!

    by Paula — February 19, 2014

  8. My husband and I said we’d never want to live in a 55+ community (and explored several other areas, including AR & TN)…until we visited friends in SC at a Del Webb. It’s like summer camp for adults – yes, there are dues/fees/HOA to contend with, but those are what provide the vast array of activities, so it’s a trade-off. We are just about 16 mos. from retiring & have since made several trips to Sun City – and love it more each time. We are looking forward to house-hunting & moving down there…in spite of the winter they’ve had, in spite of the earthquake, etc. No place will ever be perfect!

    by Penny — February 19, 2014

  9. Penny, which Del Webb did you visit in South Carolina? We never thought we’d be interested in a 55+ community, but are now finding that it might work for us after all.

    by Peg — February 19, 2014

  10. Everyone’s post has a nugget of truth in it. You have to analyze what you do and do not enjoy. I love gardening and LV would not be the place for me. Plus my ex lives there! As far as hurricanes, they may not strike a particular place but anywhere along the coast is going to have higher flood and storm insurance costs. But weather of some kind is everywhere. One message to everyone. A week’s visit is a vacation which generally is fun. If you’re serious about a place, take the time to spend at least a month. When you have to grocery shop, drive in the traffic, meet the locals, etc. you’ll get a much better feel for life there and how you will fit in.

    by cherie — February 19, 2014

  11. Good discussion and comments, Live in VA and I want to retire where I can wear t-shirts, shorts and sandals all year. Mid to Southern Fl is where I am looking. Visited Palm Beach area many times but only in the summer months (wife is a teacher) and heat during the day can be oppressive. Early a.m. and evenings are great. I want to live in an active adult community and in a newer home. There are hundreds of choices fitting those wants in Fl which is why I am making it my first choice once we start visiting places this summer.

    by Bob — February 19, 2014

  12. Good comments. We’re going to be investigating the west Fla coast. Difficult finding a decent 3 month winter rental though. πŸ˜‰ Yes, we know it get’s hot and humid in the summer, but it get’s hot and humid in the north east in the summer too. (Upstate NY here) And there’s no shoveling in the winter. πŸ˜‰

    We thought about retiring in the mid west but would miss green things. πŸ˜‰ And I truly think Vegas, et al is heading for serious water issues.

    As active as this is I wonder why the forum is so “dead”?

    by 03bluecoupe — February 19, 2014

  13. I lived in Las Vegas many years ago as a child. It was nothing like it is now. The one thing that hasn’t changed is you have to drive three hours to get to anywhere else if you’re not an outdoor person. My mom hated that. Also you’d better like a lot of heat. I live on Jeju Island, South Korea now and I can tell you the one thing I do not want is humidity!! I love the outdoors and you just can’t do anything outside when it’s hot and humid. I would move to Oregon in a heartbeat but my husband is an avid golfer and he just won’t agree to it. When he retires from teaching internationally we won’t go back to California because of the high housing costs and taxes. Property taxes aren’t bad but the rest make up for it.

    by Kathy — February 19, 2014

  14. Paula, I lived in Las Vegas 5 years and loved it. Homes are very affordable and no state income tax. Much cheaper to live there. I also enjoyed Red Rocks, Mt Charleston and surrounding towns. It is quite hot in summer but the low humidity does make it more bearable. And the rest if the year is fabulous. Many deals to Las Vegas residents, and of course casinos have deals for everyone. I’m not a gambler but you can see some great shows and have fine meals at the casinos. I say go for it!

    by Ginger — February 20, 2014

  15. Vegas is a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t wanna live there. Red Rock, Sunrise hotair balloon ride in Sedona, Hoover, etc are great but there’s zero green. I’d go nuts. (short trip) Also, with Lake Mead continually loosing large quantities of water and mother nature not replenishing it; even with the best recycling system available, Vegas is headed for serious trouble with water. I’d be very leery of relocating there permanently even if trees suddenly sprouted everywhere. πŸ˜‰

    by 03bluecoupe — February 20, 2014

  16. So many people talking about high humidity being a problem. Low humidity can be just as unbearable. We moved from California to Nevada (Reno area). After only a few months, we were ready to move again. Humidity levels are around 16% most of the time. Our skin looked like the cracked, dry desert that surrounded us. Gallons of lotions was a must. The ultra dry air also leads to nose bleeds and there’s no real cure. Static shock was another big problem. I couldn’t use or wear anything that wasn’t 100% cotton. Even then, we were constantly getting “zapped”. At home, in the grocery store, everywhere. Trust me, it gets really annoying after awhile. When family & friends came to visit, they experienced the same problems. No one want to come, and when they did, they didn’t stay long.

    It’s important to note that born-and-bred locals didn’t seem to have these problems. Neither did some of the transplants/retires we talked to. So I guess it’s a matter of acclamation. Either your body adjusts to it or it doesn’t. We had been taking trips to Reno for 30 years before retiring there, but only a few days at a time. It wasn’t until we spent a few months there that we realized the problems that a low humidity climate can cause.

    We lost over $50k of our hard-earned retirement dollars when we sold our NV house, but we had to get out of the desert.

    Bottom Line: The best advise I’ve seen on this forum (that I wish I’d followed)is to rent for a year before buying. We learned our lesson the hard way.

    by Jody — February 20, 2014

  17. Its interesting to read about the 55+ communities and FL. We have been looking several times and found that most are too restricted, esp pet limitations. We don’t have a vicious breed, not would we ever consider any, but some larger breeds, esp mixes are not vicious and can be well behaved.
    Another issue are the horrendous lot rents in some places. Some HOA is find and a must to run the place, but why pay $500 + a month and pay for an overpriced home? It doesn’t make any sense.
    So we will keep on looking, somewhere along the coast, hoping to find something that doesn’t leave us house poor.

    by Godsgirl — February 20, 2014

  18. Paula……the main complaint was the “cabin fever” they had because of the heat and the very high electric bills to cool down the house 24/7. Then it went on to grocery prices….very high. Entertainment….had to drive quite a distance to do anything unless all you wanted to do was gamble. Shows were way too expensive. Restaurants were so, so……depending where you wanted to eat but the better restaurants were pricey….especially if you wanted to have a couple of drinks with the meal. One of the main things that they did not like was the water shortage. There was a ban on water almost the whole time they lived there….and it was enforced with quite a steep fine if caught washing car, etc. At first I think they enjoyed the neighborhood they chose, then that seemed to change …more families moved in to the area surrounding their 55+ community and it seems like a lot of kids were running thru and around the area. Changes you don’t expect and cannot foresee. I agree with everyone who states that one should rent and really, really have at least a month or more when choosing a retirement home to settle in….and unfortunately, even then, no one knows what the future will bring. Nothing stays the same.

    by Sandra — February 20, 2014

  19. We just got back from a week in Las Vegas looking around (once again) to decide if retirement here would work. We left thinking not. I included a look at Lake Las Vegas in nearby Henderson and found a desert within a desert. Everything is shut down. It is not a destination. I bet People are losing money there. Vegas has heavy traffic congestion and the freeway drive to California is always a tangle if you want to get out of the desert fo visit the ocean. There are some good deals on housing as LV has not recovered from the bust but because of this, many neighborhoods have deteriated some. Local prices are higher now for eating out, it seems the “good deals” have dried up along with the water.

    by John H — February 20, 2014

  20. Penny, are you considering Sun City Carolina Lakes or Del Webb Charleston? We’re torn between the two. Which do you like and why?

    by Sue Vinick — February 20, 2014

  21. We have considered (and still considering) retiring to the Vegas area. We have researched and researched. We have known a number of people who have retired there and none have regretted it…all have loved it and still do. We have been there so often, we feel at home. We know our way around the city and suburbs. We still may do it. Our first concern is to sell this house and then decide to buy or rent. Renting at our age (mid-seventies) is probably to way to go.

    by Granny Jo — February 20, 2014

  22. I will echo Sue: very interested in hearing about Sun City Carolina Lakes and Del Webb Charleston. Are there any other 55+ communities of interest near Charlotte? I’m traveling there in 2 weeks to check out Sun City Carolina Lakes and look around Charlotte for potential retirement. I had looked at Tega Cay, until I discovered it’s 5 miles from a nuclear plant. (Of course, that means Sun City and Charlotte itself are neighbors to the same plant so I’m not sure it really makes a difference.)

    by Sharon — February 21, 2014

  23. Following retirement I moved from IL to Las Vegas, bought a home there at the height of the housing boom. Stayed for seven years and moved back to IL recently to be back near family. While there is much to like about living in Las Vegas there is also much not to like. Do a search for an online article titled 10 Worst Things About Living in Las Vegas. While there is, in my opinion, some exaggeration in some of the points made in the article there is also a great deal of truth. The article was written in 2010 and things have improved with the housing market (I still lost a great deal of money when selling my home) but overall the housing market still ranks as one of the worst in the country. My biggest concerns were crime, crazy drivers, the economy, and the health care. On the plus side were the outdoor activities with the deserts, mountains, parks, Lake Mead, golf courses, and no snow! And always things to do on the Strip. While this winter has me wishing I was back in Vegas I’m thinking that FL is worth considering.

    by Tom — February 21, 2014

  24. Penny: we have been to SC several times and visited Carolina lakes…loved it. Our daughter lives right near there and although we are curently retired and living At the beach, we are keeping it in mind for the future. Love , love, love the area…so much to do. Very busy, active area. So if your not a goer type maybe it’s not for you. The Charlotte area is a very fun vibe. Lots of culture and things to do “outside the Golf Cart”… We are looking forward to settling there in two or three years. Closer to family and really love the area.

    by Sunlovingirl — February 21, 2014

  25. Another stereotype: “There’s no place like home.”

    I can see from all the interesting and enlightening comments on this site that many of you don’t subscribe to that one!

    by Jan Cullinane — February 22, 2014

  26. Jody you are so right about renting a year first before buying. At least you can relocate to another area without losing a boat load of money. The other positive side is renting could turn into a better option. We moved to the west coast of Florida lived there for a year then moved to the east coast. We were very lucky we never bought on the east coast, we ended up moving to Texas a few years later. I hope our experience with renting vs buying can help anyone thinking of relocating to another state.

    by Skip — February 22, 2014

  27. We have selected Pensacola FL as our retirement location. I am moderately concerned about the Hurricane threat, although it has been over 10 years since the last major one hit that area. However, it has everything else we want and my wife says that “hurricanes are exciting” (we shall see). Anyway, where ever you go there is natural disaster potential. We have been through the ’89 earthquake in San Francisco, numerous tornados and blizzards in the Midwest, ice storms in Dallas and North Carolina. It was almost comical. Whenever we made another move, our kids would ask which natural disaster it would be this time. It’s always something, but you can’t live your life on the basis of possibilities and maybes. Do what feels right and deal with whatever life throws your way. That’s my attitude.

    by Don Schmidt — February 22, 2014

  28. Does anyone have opinion about Vero Beach Florida?

    by Al — February 22, 2014

  29. Jan, re:no place like home…I really do not have a home. I was born and raised in NJ. But have spent the last 30 years relocationg for jobs. So for some “home” is not an option. Plus if home is really just family, we are a very mobile society.

    by Elaine — February 22, 2014

  30. All so very true, Elaine! Which is why the saying is a stereotype (def: conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image)

    by Jan Cullinane — February 23, 2014

  31. No worry.. Be happy…find a place that you love..somewhere you have been, and have said, ” I want to live here someday”. I’m sure you all have said that sometime in your lives. Go for it! Time is tickin’ If you keep it simple, you can always change your mind and move back to your roots! But why not enjoy a little bit of fun time while you can. πŸ™‚

    by Sunlovingal — February 23, 2014

  32. We are both 66 and have been retired for 11 years now, We stayed in the home we had built 22 years ago with the intent to retire here. This is rural, central NC, not far from Chapel Hill thereby mostly escaping that higher cost of living but having the culture and medical care common in the RTP (Research Triangle Park) high tech region. We don’t find the hiqher humidity to be a problem, but have found in our travels that the low humidity common in most southwestern areas is a problem for us. One nice (but not mandatory) thing is that family and friends are mostly within a 3-4 hour drive as is the huge variety of coastal to mountain scenic and recreation opportunities that are found in NC.

    With this as a starting place, we have chosen to travel and vacation mostly in the US. (We also had travelled quite a bit in Europe, some in Central America and in the US with our careers before retiring,) Much of our travel has been of the “survey” type — some cruises and (since retiring) two long 5-week road trips around the Western US. (We figure we can do all of the “east of the Mississippi” travel whenever we want and have already done a lot of that in our 45 years together anyway.)

    Now we are beginning a new phase — we plan to go to places of interest for longer periods — like a month or more. That will give us the chance to better know places we might still consider moving to (not that we have any real INTENT to move). But as others say, things change. We are older now and less able than even 10 years ago, let alone when we built this house. For example, we have never really considered a “retirement community” but now we have a month-long reservation to rent in one near Sedona AZ. Cold weather is not an option, but we will also rent in the mountains 2 hours west of Denver. We just know now that it is extremely difficult to predict where we want to be in 5 or 10 years. (But consider this — Asheville NC is a very real possibility.) We think these two longer stays in the southwestern states will likely settle THAT option — while still having a great vacation.

    I hope this post will help others in their approach to retirement options. Truly stereotypes are best when debunked personally.

    by Rich — February 25, 2014

  33. Rich,
    thanks for the commentary. My wife and I are continuously caught in the debate between ourelves whether to buy or rent. I think we’ve decided to go the rental route the first year or so we can really understand what it’s like to live in a 55+ community. This will also give us the opportunity to try differen states as well since we would not be tied to one location. We have visited 4 different communites in Floride and the one thing that always seems so difficult to sort out are the “extra fees” you have to pay once you have purchased a property. Fees alone can make or break a decision where to stay.

    by David — February 26, 2014

  34. Good points, David. Those “extra” fees could spoil a good retirement.

    When I was young, FL to me was plastic-fantastic-city — not a good thought. Again, age changes perspective. Now I find many areas attractive from St. Augustine through the “highlands” of central FL and down through the Keys. Plenty of options to consider.

    by Rich — February 26, 2014

  35. I strongly agree with the many recommendations on this site to rent in a retirement community, not buy, but all the sites I have contacted want you to buy a home and the manufactured communities show 20 year old models. I am open to a new manufactured home, but think they depreciate quicker than other homes. The “active adult communities” sound great. Anyone know of rental communities? Not just apartment houses, but planned communities? And, oh, yes – I want to be near a lake! Decided I cannot afford the ocean. Thanks!

    by Moving South — February 27, 2014

  36. Moving South
    Google condo or home rentals in the community where you are interested and thee will be tons of options to rent with December to April as peak season and most expensive. If you’re a golfer make sure you understand if the fees include golf privleges and what the associated costs will be. We rented for a week last October in The Villages and loved it!. We want to be farther south though and closer to the water.

    Our criteria is pretty simple: 55+ community, multiple golf courses, golf cart as 2nd/3rd car, indoor lap pool.

    we are “virtual shopping” now and zeroing in on King’s Point in Sun City Center and we also like Pelican Preserve.

    Anyone have any experience or knowledge of King’s Point or Pelican Preserve? Or perhaps other recommendations based on our criteria???

    our criteria is fairly simple: multiple golf courses, golf cart as second car, indoor and outdoor pool for swiming.


    by David — February 27, 2014

  37. Moving South, the 1000 sq feet condo I’m renting is 8 miles from the Gulf and can be bought for $35,000. I stayed in the central part of Florida last year near Lakeland, Most all the lakes are private. The way I look at a new manufactured home that it will probably be my last home and who cares if it depreciates. Almost all active adult communities have rentals with a minimum 3 month stay.

    by Mike in Bradenton — February 27, 2014

  38. Mike, how do you like the Bradenton are? Any comments?


    by Robert — February 28, 2014

  39. We visited Pelican Preserve and it was very nice. The only thing I am concerned about is the fact that is it relatively small compared to some of the Sun City’s and since a lot of people who live in these communities in Florida are snowbirds, we wonder if it will feel like a ghost town in the Summer months. Also if there are less residents, if something needs to be done in the community it has to be spread among a fewer number of people. So HOA fees and assessments could rise. If you are in a complex with 7000 homes and something needs to be done a smaller amount from each resident may be needed. Some people think I “overthink” things, but when you are making a big decision, you really need to.

    by Margie — February 28, 2014

  40. We built a home and moved into Pelican Preserve in November 2012. We looked at Sun City and many other 55+ communities from Tampa south to Naples. None were as nice as Pelican Preserve. Total buildout at Pelican will be about 2500 homes. Currently it is a bit above 50% buildout. We much prefer a smaller community and because we are fulltime, we love the summers when the snowbird residents are gone. It is so peaceful here and you really get to know the fulltime residents better in the “off season”. I do not agree on the assessments relating to larger vs smaller. The more residents, the more upkeep and demand for bigger and better facilities/activities. We have several very active volunteer groups who monitor the community relating to all aspects of the facilities, fees, etc. It may not be for everyone but we made the right decision and we have yet to find anyone who lives here who thinks they made the wrong decision. That says a lot about a community.

    by toni olsen — February 28, 2014

  41. Robert, I like Anna Maria Island and the beaches. When I arrived in December it took me 20 minutes for the 8 mile drive to the island now it takes me an hour or more. Traffic this time of the year, Jan to March will probably be bad anywhere in Florida. Plenty of Museums and other attractions in the Bradenton area, Sarasota is only 15 minutes away. Try to use small bills when paying in cash, been shorted at least twice in change paying with large bills.

    by Mike in Bradenton — February 28, 2014

  42. There are a number of options to check into for rentals. If you have a specific community in mind, working with the “company” is one option. If you are still scoping out an area, local realtors can help. Another option that we have found really helpful and kind of fun to just browse is VRBO or Home Away (basically the same organization). VRBO is Vacation Rentals By Owner. We’ve found two places to stay and MANY other options in a wide variety of retirement communities all over the country as well as just single homes, condos and apartments. These are private and you could stay for a few nights or a week, but typically monthly rentals are available and generally cost MUCH less on a nightly basis. In some states, renting monthly avoids the “hotel” taxes that make shorter stays so expensive.

    While these places don’t normally provide hotel services (though some do), often you get association privileges like the pool or golfing. You may have to cook your own meals or eat out (which you would have to do anyway), but the cost can easily be half or less than a comparable luxury hotel and may be less than a standard rental lease. There are also a wide variety price levels, so don’t be put off if the first places you look are $5000 a month — keep looking. And often the pet fee for the entire stay is less that a day or two at some hotels — or there may not be a pet fee at all!

    If you try VRBO, be sure to check out the many reviews and review sites for the property including Trip Advisor. It can be worthwhile to reserve early — looking out for June in March is very limiting. Looking out for June in the previous October is typically wide open.
    Take the time to explore and you can find some really good deals.

    by Rich — February 28, 2014

  43. Thanks for all the kind suggestions. I may not have been clear that I am looking for a permanent year around rental, not a vacation or short term rental.

    by Moving South — March 1, 2014

  44. Mike in Bradenton, could you tell us more about the condo you are renting? Its something that sounds very intriguing. Thanks

    by Godsgirl — March 2, 2014

  45. John says
    I’m from 90 miles north of NYC. I’m thinking of just buying a small mobile in Venice Florida that needs work and fixing it up.No HOA or fees.Spend $25,000 or less.I can run down in the winter and summer to enjoy some good fishing. If we find we like it there as a permanent home we can sell it and our house up north and upgrade. Whatta ya think?

    by pigeondude — March 3, 2014

  46. Godsgirl, i love you name. How did you come by it?

    by ella — March 3, 2014

  47. To Ella = Your Gods Girl too.

    by Robert — March 4, 2014

  48. ella, I just consider myself such and mistakenly chose a user name instead of my first name when signing up.
    Indeed, Robert, we all are His children.
    I am Anne, btw.
    pigeondude/John, buying something at a good price, fixing it up and living in a low HOA community was our original intent. We hadn’t even narrowed it down to more than near the coast somewhere in FL, but thus far haven’t come up with anything. A few MHs were in the lower price range, but every single one of them happened to be near the water (we have a large pond free of charge here at our primary home) or next to the golf course, thus increasing the already horrendous lot rent. We found that communities with medium lot rent usually offer mediocre amenities.
    Resident owned communities seem to have strict one pet policies and refuse our 2 little dogs outright, so we haven’t come up with anything that meets our criteria. Please do let us know if you find something. It might be worth checking into.
    We love the feel and safety of 55+ communities and enjoy being surrounded by people our own age instead of having to deal with the younger, although mostly very nice, generation.

    by Godsgirl — March 4, 2014

  49. Godsgirl,
    The unit I rented is almost a 1,000 sq feet with a lanai and only one bedroom. From the lanai is a pond, gardens and trees. There is a pool, I only been there twice. Lot of the beds in homes I looked at have 2 double beds together with one large bed spread that are usually furnished with the unit if you rent or buy.
    The unit I’m in hasn’t had to many updates since it was built in the early 80’s. I had to buy a microwave and some pots and pans. Glad I brought my bedroom TV. There are 2 parks within the same walls. Desoto Villas doesn’t allow pets and no washing machines in the condos but OK in the villas. Woodpark allows animals and washing machines.
    I’m paying $1,400 a month, I think it’s about $400 a month to much.

    by Mike in Bradenton — March 4, 2014

  50. to TONI – u built a home in Pelican Preserve – is that the one in Ft Meyers Fl? depending on the price u paid I am curious as to how much taxes you are paying after your homested exemption (if that is your primary res)- if that is something u wish to share. tks, Robert

    by Robert — March 5, 2014

  51. thank you Mike

    by Godsgirl — March 5, 2014

  52. To Robert – Yes, this is Pelican Preserve in fort Myers, FL. We do have homestead exemption and paid $5,270.35 on our 2,286 sq. ft. home for 2013. The amount can be a bit misleading as in Lee County you paid for your solid waste pick-up on your tax bill ($228.96 per year)and the CDD fees ($737.14 per year)so actual taxes were $4,304.25. Hope this helps. If you have any other questions about PP, please let me know.

    by Toni — March 5, 2014

  53. Toni – tks but u have more $$$ than me. Could not nor want to afford paying that much tax on a homer! Just the two of us and no matter where we may wind up it will be in a DOWNSIZED home. When visitors come I will put them up in a nice motel for a week. Much cheaper in the Long Run.

    Send money. If inclined to do so let me know and I will give you the address where to send it.

    tks, robert

    by Robert — March 6, 2014

  54. We have our beautiful Modular home for sale in Carlisle, Pa. Want to move South. I read this site all the time and must admit that I am totally confused. Have narrowed it down to either NE Tn, East SC & Florida.

    However since I am so confused I just wanted to say that of all the things that I have lost in this world – “I miss my mind the most”

    If this gets around I might not be able to purchase anything.

    by Robert — March 6, 2014

  55. I also feel confused about this process, Robert. Instead of it being a great and positive time, I’m totally stressed out about my retirement in the next 4 years.

    One thing that I find very confusing and stressful is high pressure real estate professionals. I have been visiting 55+ communities and went to a Where to Retire in the South conferences where developers presented their communities. I feel like I’m buying a used car or dealing with bait and switch tactics. Forget looking at model homes, since everything in them is an extra. Do you like that front door? $2,500. Want a handle on the door? Hardware is another $250 or more. Want to go to Lowes and buy the same door for $1,500? We’ll give you a $100 credit for not installing the door ourselves. Not to mention lots of personal questions, which makes me wonder if the next buyer might be offered the same door for $2000. I can tell I’ve been researched, since I have spotted credit searches, people looking at my LinkedIn profile and salesmen have mentioned my profession. Buy today and get a discount – prices are about to go up! The best locations are about to be sold to someone else! My email is full of high pressure follow-ups from developers and their salesmen trying to be my best friend.

    Funny…when I was younger, I would have enjoyed the bargaining and would not have been intimidated by high pressure tactics. Now I hate it. I know I should be able to shrug it off, but it just adds a layer of stress to my retirement home hunting.

    by Sharon — March 9, 2014

  56. Sharon – if u have 4 more years b4 ur retirement why get stressed out about it now. I blv in planning ahead but 4 years is little to much in my opinion.

    How about for now “one day at a time”. We dont even know what tomorrow will bring much less 4 years from now.

    Easy Gal – it aint worth it.

    Be well, robert

    by Robert — March 10, 2014

  57. 4 years sounds like a long time, but I have the opportunity to downsize early. My last kids are launching, and it’s time to get out of the big family house.

    by Sharon — March 10, 2014

  58. Robert, you are not the only one confused. Just interviewed my fourth real estate agent and feel I found someone I can work with to sell my home in Connecticut. Now I have to decide where to move to and live dirt cheap. Not interested in 55+ communities too many rules and regulations. May be between central and Northern Florida or somewhere in SC.

    by MarkG — March 10, 2014

  59. Morning Bloggers..keep up the good work..alot good info..just have a question about Delaware..every 55 plus community we visited least six locations..each one told us when community completed (last home built and sold) the entire complex would be street maintained by local question is ..
    What becomes the responsibility of the HOA as these roads and street will be governed by municipality…ie..they would decide street parking rules/plowing,,overnight parking in streets responsibilities etc etc and most important the streets would then be used for public traffic as necessary…and repairs,,etc etc…HOW WILL THAT EFFECT THE RESIDENTS AND/HOA FEES ETC…sure would like some feedback

    by Robbie — March 11, 2014

  60. Sharon, downsizing is def a great idea. We did so about 5 years ago. Never regretted it and saved a bundle of $$$. I am amazed at the “seasoned citizens” = Oops – “Seniors” that I come across who want to buy these large homes at unblvble high prices and for what? To impress their neighbors? For guest that may or may not come? We raised 3 children in a 1200 sq ft rancher w 1 bath a million years ago. It was fine then and even better so now – especially since we are on a limited budget. Small house – small bills – just a fact. Of course upon my demise I am promised a Mansion in my Fathers house!!

    by robert — March 11, 2014

  61. And an exquisite home it will be, too, Robert! Much better than extra $$$ can buy at this place and time.

    by ella — March 11, 2014

  62. Sharon, you might want to consider either a mobile home, or a park model home (smaller mobile home). I have a big house in NY, which I am renting out, and I purchased a park model home in Tucson, AZ. But they have them all over; Florida is loaded with them. A park model home is usually only 400-500 sq. feet. But really, why do you need more? Mine is 1 bedroom, living room, kitchen, bath. Sometimes they have 2 bedrooms. They often have added on decks, or screened porches. And they are cheap…30K? Bigger mobile homes are available all over from 40s and up. Why put your money into real estate? It isn’t a good investment…we have seen that with the housing crash. And you don’t have to worry so much about the shysters if you are not spending a lot of money.

    Just a thought! And hey, I don’t think 4 years out is too early. I started then, too. But don’t stress about it, make it fun. Best of luck.

    by Ginger — March 11, 2014

  63. When my husband and I started looking in Florida for a retirement area and home I was very definite that I did not want to live in a 55+ community, never would live in a “trailer” and didn’t want the east coast because of hurricanes. (I grew up on the west coast). And after much research and loads of visitations, I have bought in a 55+ community, purchased a double wide mobile home on a golf course, and am 5 miles from the beach! I truly have to laugh at myself for ever saying NEVER. I am so happy my husband patiently let me see for myself that I was basing all my focus due to stereotypes I bought into at first. I can’t wait until we get to live there full-time (he hasn’t retired yet). We love the community, the area, the home, everything! I realized too that I didn’t need a great big home with a private pool to keep up and maintain. We have plenty of room for ourselves and a room for guests as well. We won’t be in a subdivision where younger working age neighbors are headed off to work each day leaving us somewhat isolated. We can join in our community activites as we wish, or not. Unlike myself at first, keep an open mind to all possibilities and you’ll find what YOU truly want!

    by Karen — March 11, 2014

  64. Sharon, you and I are in the same boat. 4 years is not a long time to plan. Selling, downsizing, locating all takes time. My husband and I visited Arizona (July) and Texas (September) last year and visited many 55+ communities. He’s retired, I am not. By starting early, it kept us from jumping at the first home/community we saw. We came home, took a deep breath, filed everything away and resumed our daily lives while keeping up with the homes for sale, etc. in the communities we visited. This year we’re chilling. Reading articles, blogs, etc. to get a better feel (I didn’t know AZ has something called Valley Fever – my husband has asthma!) and deciding what are we going to sell/donate as we slowly begin the process of downsizing. All of it won’t be done in one year, but over the next 3. We’re also doing a little traveling since we’re unsure what our budget will allow once I’ve retired. Next year we will visit both locations in the winter when we plan to really lock in on communities and start digging into HOA rules and regulations, fees, changes over the past 2-3 years, etc. That will be late 2015 or early 2016 – 3 years gone by. With activities with family and friends it will be 2017 before I know it, and I will have to start working with my employer 6 months to a year before retirement to plan. I have to admit, I panic sometime. I’d rather panic now than later because I took a blasΓ© attitude to this new chapter in my life. There’s no do over!

    by Valerie — March 11, 2014

  65. Karen and Valerie: Thanks so much for the support. I’m also doing some visits to areas and am doing a lot of research. I just visited Carolina Lakes outside Charlotte, and was dismayed at the traffic. I’m also slowly revising my feelings about what I need as I see model homes. When I started looking, I thought I would need a much larger home and was considering a house instead of a condo. At this point, I’m pretty sure I want a condo or unit in a complex that does the yardwork. I have revised my thoughts about the size that I need. My wants vs. wishes list has been changing too. This is really a process of self-discovery, and can’t be rushed.

    by Sharon — March 12, 2014

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment