"Best" places to retire (assuming you can)

HuskyHawk

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We've been starting to think about this. Our priorities are beachfront, warm, and within an hour of an international airport. Surprisingly, on the entire east coast, only FL meets that requirement (MCO and MIA are the only airports with decent non-stop connections, FLL and TPA are a notch below). Now sure how I feel about living in FL as I haven't spent more than a few days there at a time. Will definitely do a trial run before deciding anything.

Cocoa Beach is the northern boundary of our east coast search area down to Miami. West Coast is Clearwater to Venice. Venice is a bit over an hour from TPA, but if we found the right place, we would deal with it.

If you relaxed that one hour rule, or considered connecting flights, it would open up a lot of places. Almost all those smaller airports in the sunbelt fly to Atlanta, and you can get anywhere from Atlanta. My parents did the drive and stay thing several times from the Beaufort, SC area. Drive to Atlanta, park at a hotel that lets you keep your car there and shuttles you to the airport in the morning and back when you land.
 
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I don't understand the hard and fast "60 minute to major airport" rule. Yes, being close to a major airport is great (having lived my whole adult life at least an hour from LGA, JFK and BDL, close would be nice) but how many times a year do you expect to get on a plane? Even if it's every other month, what's another hour each way once every 8 weeks or so?
 
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SubbaBub

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I don't understand the hard and fast "60 minute to major airport" rule. Yes, being close to a major airport is great (having lived my whole adult life at least an hour from LGA, JFK and BDL, close would be nice) but how many times a year do you expect to get on a plane? Even if it's every other month, what's another hour each way once every 8 weeks or so?

Lifestyle choice. Being able to get away with minimal hassle is how I like to travel and I'd rather a 10 hour trip not become a 14 hour trip. In terms of domicile, I focus on the place and not necessarily what's going on 3, 5, 10 miles away. Zip codes don't really matter to me. There are golf courses and restaurants everywhere and the local 'vibe' and proximity of the nearest farmers market isn't that important.
 

Chin Diesel

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I would suggest any norhterners looking to retire in Florida spend a few weeks in October to November in the desired retirement location. From about mid-May through November temps and humidity are a bitch. I've traveled to enough places throughout the US to know almost everywhere gets uncomfortably hot during the day from Jun-Aug. Florida can be insufferable all the way through most of Autumn/Fall.

If you get closer to Jax on the east coast or go to Panhandle from Panama City to Pensacola you may get some relief, but Central and South Florida can quickly make you wish for the northeast come October and November when it's still blazing hot and humid. Not the end of the world but know what you are getting in to with it.
 

HuskyHawk

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I would suggest any norhterners looking to retire in Florida spend a few weeks in October to November in the desired retirement location. From about mid-May through November temps and humidity are a bitch. I've traveled to enough places throughout the US to know almost everywhere gets uncomfortably hot during the day from Jun-Aug. Florida can be insufferable all the way through most of Autumn/Fall.

If you get closer to Jax on the east coast or go to Panhandle from Panama City to Pensacola you may get some relief, but Central and South Florida can quickly make you wish for the northeast come October and November when it's still blazing hot and humid. Not the end of the world but know what you are getting in to with it.
I think Florida would only work if I did the snowbird thing. Not sure I could take the summer. I've been to Disney in July/August. It's not pleasant, if better than some places like Texas.

I'm increasingly thinking Cape Cod again. One challenge I had was the original plan was to buy a house while working from my current house. Maybe rent it some of the summer. With WFH, I think I can possibly just sell this house, buy there and be done. Talked to my boss about that today and she had no objections. That's a pretty appealing notion for me, and I might even be willing to work longer. The idea of finishing up a summer work day, then walking on the beach sounds pretty good. Still expensive, but if I work a year or two longer than vanishes quickly.
 

huskeynut

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We retired almost five years ago. Three years prior, we started the research and the search to see what our destination would be.

We loved out CT home. We had great views from Newtown, across the river, into Southbury. Many referred to it as the party house. It was a perfect set-up for entertaining. But the cost of living and the tax structure, both property and income, was out of hand.

Our internet search led to our in-person search. We looked at properties in Florida and Tennessee. We were really liking the Nashville area until it snowed. That did it for the wife. We were not moving to any place that snowed. For her it's freezing out when the temps go below 75.

Our Florida search to us to St. Augustine first. As mentioned by others, it's a lot more than a tourist attraction. Some great housing options. We learned that outdoor living is just as important in Florida as indoor. We saw house that had outdoor living spaces with fireplaces, wired for TV, cable and internet. We also looked in Leesburg, Clermont and Kissimmee and Orlando. We did look at a lot of 55+ communities.

It took 2 years to sell our CT home. Housing market crash plus living in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown made for a long haul.

Bottom line, we purchased a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath in a 55+ community in central Florida. For us, it was the right move. There are presently about 5,000 homes in the community. Two large amenities centers with pools, exercise rooms and meeting rooms. There are a total of 14 pools in the community. Two 18 hole golf courses and 3 restaurants. 250+ plus clubs operate year round. And I could go on. If you're bored in our community its your own fault. As to the weather, we love it. Contrary to popular belief, the humidity in July, September and part of October is not as intense as one would have in CT during July and August.

The life style is totally different. Very laid back and relaxed. Not as many family own restaurants as up north but we have found some really good ones. We have 2 sets of friends that have moved into our community, in part, due to our recommendation. They love it. And there is no state income tax in Florida.

My wife reaches computers in the community. Her courses are always full and yes, she gets paid. Plus she has a church job, choir director and organist, just down the road. I work with CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). We do traffic control for big events and parades. We did two COVID pods that vaccinated over 2,700 residents. I also play in two community bands, one a 16 piece jazz band and the other a 9 piece backup band for 5 vocalists. Between the two, I play in around 12 performances a year.

Do your research. Know what you want and what you don't want. Know what you can and cannot afford. Enjoy the journey.
 
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I think Florida would only work if I did the snowbird thing. Not sure I could take the summer. I've been to Disney in July/August. It's not pleasant, if better than some places like Texas.

I'm increasingly thinking Cape Cod again. One challenge I had was the original plan was to buy a house while working from my current house. Maybe rent it some of the summer. With WFH, I think I can possibly just sell this house, buy there and be done. Talked to my boss about that today and she had no objections. That's a pretty appealing notion for me, and I might even be willing to work longer. The idea of finishing up a summer work day, then walking on the beach sounds pretty good. Still expensive, but if I work a year or two longer than vanishes quickly.
We're five years into semi-retirement in Florida -- Vero Beach, to be exact. I did the summer-at-Disney thing for years, so I know what you're talking about. And I'm not going to tell you it's not uncomfortable here in September and October. But standing the August sun at Disney is way worse than going about your normal retiree business in the fall, especially at the coast. And April and May (by which time most snowbirds have left) are arguably the best months of the year, weather-wise. We chose the Treasure Coast because it's the farthest place north where you can comfortably swim in the ocean year-round.

Huskynut is right: St. Augustine is a terrific place. Too far north for us, but a wonderful town with loads to do. I really love visiting there and for much of theb year, envy the residents.

If you're looking at the coast (and even if you're looking inland) think about hurricanes. You probably won't have to evacuate unless you live on a barrier island or in a mobile home or flood zone, but you have to look at your potential homes with storms in mind. Check the federal flood maps (out of date but still instructive) and don't go near locations that are subject to flooding in a Cat 4 or 5 storm. You just should not underestimate the damage a storm can do if your house is in a place that could get flooded or wind damage.
 
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We've been starting to think about this. Our priorities are beachfront, warm, and within an hour of an international airport. Surprisingly, on the entire east coast, only FL meets that requirement (MCO and MIA are the only airports with decent non-stop connections, FLL and TPA are a notch below). Now sure how I feel about living in FL as I haven't spent more than a few days there at a time. Will definitely do a trial run before deciding anything.

Cocoa Beach is the northern boundary of our east coast search area down to Miami. West Coast is Clearwater to Venice. Venice is a bit over an hour from TPA, but if we found the right place, we would deal with it.
Consider Vero Beach. South of the Space Coast, relatively low-rise and uncrowded. Sort of "old Florida." Good restaurants, fine beaches, prices are not sky-high yet (except on the water) and people are nice. It's also the northernmost area where you can comfortably swim in the ocean year-round, unless you're a masochist or a polar bear. We've been in Vero for three years now and like the pace of life, the availability of beaches, and a decent selection of stores and restaurants. Do not come here if you have pressing or complex medical problems, as the hospitals are well below the standards just about everyone in CT is used to.
 
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I would consider moving into a condo or a 55+ community. This forces you to interact with others if you are inclined to inertia. My parents did the snowbird thing at a condo on the beach. They rented in the same building where good friends bought. They were plenty active and had a great time. No way my Dad plays that much golf living in a house. OTOH, in-laws just moved to inland Florida. They bought a stand-alone house and they are miserable, complaining that they haven't met any new friends. I'm surprised because they are churchgoers now surrounded by like-minded people. I'm just bringing this up as a potential consideration.

My parents stayed on Hutchinson Island, just a bit south of Vero. The place was all bluehairs. Across the waterway is Jensen Beach which seems like a cool place to live near the water. Stuart and Ft. Pierce are close and they both have nice concert halls.
 

HuskyHawk

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I would consider moving into a condo or a 55+ community. This forces you to interact with others if you are inclined to inertia. My parents did the snowbird thing at a condo on the beach. They rented in the same building where good friends bought. They were plenty active and had a great time. No way my Dad plays that much golf living in a house. OTOH, in-laws just moved to inland Florida. They bought a stand-alone house and they are miserable, complaining that they haven't met any new friends. I'm surprised because they are churchgoers now surrounded by like-minded people. I'm just bringing this up as a potential consideration.

My parents stayed on Hutchinson Island, just a bit south of Vero. The place was all bluehairs. Across the waterway is Jensen Beach which seems like a cool place to live near the water. Stuart and Ft. Pierce are close and they both have nice concert halls.

My parents did really well in a golf/retirement community. It's not limited to 55+, but that is most of who is there. All single family homes, but the golf courses, club, tennis, croquet, and other community events made it easy to meet people and make friends. I can certainly see real benefits to those communities, especially for people moving away from family and friends. If we stay local and go to Cape Cod, I'm not worried about it. If we go south, then yes, I'd look for some kind of organized community for the reasons you noted. Moving to a random suburb doesn't see wise.
 

Chin Diesel

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Another option some may want to try is the RV lifestyle.
Doing this does require the health and desire to drive a motorhome or trailer/5th wheel.

Advantage is you are mobile. You can go to a warmer area for a winter or two and if you don't like it, you can try another location.

There are several parts of the country in the southeast and southwest where cities basically spring up in November and shut down in March.

I know a few who do this and the friends they have made over the years are long and lasting.
 

SubbaBub

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Consider Vero Beach. South of the Space Coast, relatively low-rise and uncrowded. Sort of "old Florida." Good restaurants, fine beaches, prices are not sky-high yet (except on the water) and people are nice. It's also the northernmost area where you can comfortably swim in the ocean year-round, unless you're a masochist or a polar bear. We've been in Vero for three years now and like the pace of life, the availability of beaches, and a decent selection of stores and restaurants. Do not come here if you have pressing or complex medical problems, as the hospitals are well below the standards just about everyone in CT is used to.
I've heard good things about the Vero Beach area. We will likely end up checking it out. Oceanfront is probably #1 for us. If we fall in love with a particular domicile / community everything else can be managed. I would expect our journey to be similar to huskynut's. Check out a wide range places and see what feels right.
 
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That's exactly the right thing to do. We took "research" trips for three or four years, and still didn't get it exactly right the first time. We settled in a 55+ community and did not like it., for a lot of reasons that are somewhat uniquely ours. For many people, that lifestyle is perfect. We now live in a single-family house with a large yard about a mile and a half from the beach, far enough out of the way to generally avoid the worst storm winds. I'm sure you already know this, but oceanfront will cost you a bunch. Do not rule out riverfront, and by "river," I mean the Indian River Lagoon, which runs along the coast parallel to the ocean, between the mainland and Hutchinson Island (which the locals in these parts call Orchid Island). There are some gorgeous developments being built near the lagoon as well.
If it matters, in Vero, you're 90-100 minutes from Orlando Airport. Our own airport has flights to Newark, for whatever reason, and is starting seasonal flights to Portland, ME and Asheville, NC. I cannot imagine why, but it does.
And at the risk of being repetitious (which I know I am), do not underestimate the importance of medical care. If you have chronic, pressing or severe medical conditions and want to live in Florida, live closer to major cities like Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa, where serious medical professionals work. It has been our experience that the smaller Florida communities, like ours, attract doctors in the sunset of their careers who tend to mail in their work.
 
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I like living in two places...Florida and Western North Carolina....changes of cues.....
 
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And at the risk of being repetitious (which I know I am), do not underestimate the importance of medical care. If you have chronic, pressing or severe medical conditions and want to live in Florida, live closer to major cities like Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa, where serious medical professionals work. It has been our experience that the smaller Florida communities, like ours, attract doctors in the sunset of their careers who tend to mail in their work.
FWIW, I had an older in-law who lived in Pt. St. Lucie that had all sorts of things go wrong his last few years and his care seemed pretty good to me. He was treated locally.
 

Adesmar123

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FWIW, I had an older in-law who lived in Pt. St. Lucie that had all sorts of things go wrong his last few years and his care seemed pretty good to me. He was treated locally.
I think everyone has pretty much identified a map for going forward.

Try to identify whats important to you. We liked things like dog surfing competition, walking out on the beach and seeing rocket launches 8 miles away, a downtown commercial area with a major shopping area 6 miles away, many many environmental activities, and of course Ron Jon's.
 

Chin Diesel

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I think everyone has pretty much identified a map for going forward.

Try to identify whats important to you. We liked things like dog surfing competition, walking out on the beach and seeing rocket launches 8 miles away, a downtown commercial area with a major shopping area 6 miles away, many many environmental activities, and of course Ron Jon's.

If you live on the Atlantic near the "Space Coast" those shuttle/rocket launches are neat. You live there enough and see enough and you can almost become numb to it. And then you realize people travel from all over the world to see what you can see monthly (and soon to be much more frequent).
 

Adesmar123

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If you live on the Atlantic near the "Space Coast" those shuttle/rocket launches are neat. You live there enough and see enough and you can almost become numb to it. And then you realize people travel from all over the world to see what you can see monthly (and soon to be much more frequent).

If you live on the Atlantic near the "Space Coast" those shuttle/rocket launches are neat. You live there enough and see enough and you can almost become numb to it. And then you realize people travel from all over the world to see what you can see monthly (and soon to be much more frequent).
We also loved seeing a retired space shuttle at the KSC among other things.
 
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FWIW, I had an older in-law who lived in Pt. St. Lucie that had all sorts of things go wrong his last few years and his care seemed pretty good to me. He was treated locally.

You're probably fine anywhere along the east coast.
 

Chin Diesel

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Another bonus of east coast of Florida is all the cruise ships going in and out of there. If you are in to it, they always run specials for locals as departure dates near and they aren't full. Plus, you can fly or boat over to the Bahamas.
 

storrsroars

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Another bonus of east coast of Florida is all the cruise ships going in and out of there. If you are in to it, they always run specials for locals as departure dates near and they aren't full.
For many of us, that actually qualifies as a reason to not move there.

 

HuskyHawk

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Another bonus of east coast of Florida is all the cruise ships going in and out of there. If you are in to it, they always run specials for locals as departure dates near and they aren't full. Plus, you can fly or boat over to the Bahamas.

Now that mention of the Bahamas is good salesmanship. I love boats. Wife hates boats. [sigh] Proximity to Key West is also appealing.
Has anybody heard anything good or bad about the new Margaritaville themed retirement communities? I went by one on the way to the Savannah airport. I had heard of them, but don't know much. This one is, of course, not actually on Hilton Head. Latitude Margaritaville - Hilton Head | New Homes for Sale in South Carolina | 55+ Community I have to confess that as a Parrothead I like the overall vibe. If I did the snowbird thing, I could see enjoying this.
 
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