Investor Alert

Where Should I Retire?

Sept. 24, 2022, 6:01 p.m. EDT

I want year-round outdoor living — dry summers and no snow — on $4,000 a month. Where should I retire?

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By Silvia Ascarelli

Dear MarketWatch,  

I’m a single 54-year-old female looking to retire in the next 10 years, but looking to move to my future retirement spot during the next two years. I love dry summer weather, hiking, biking, water sports, year-round outdoor living. I don’t like cold, snowy winters, unless I’m driving there to ski!

I like to be close enough (within a couple of hours) to art and culture, but on a daily basis I’d like close access to trails and lakes. I don’t want to be too secluded but also don’t want to be packed into a subdivision. 

My monthly retirement budget will be around $3,500-$4,000. I’ll also have money from the sale of my house.

Any recommendations? 



Dear Alice,

Moving to your retirement spot well in advance of actually retiring sounds like a dream, especially if, as I hope, you’ll be able to telecommute to your current job.

No snow, no summer rains — or even much humidity? That pretty much rules out the eastern half of the U.S., though you might want to look in western North Carolina ( here’s one option) and eastern Tennessee (no state income taxes) if you’re willing to compromise a bit. 

Otherwise, let’s head out west..

You’ll find some of our most awe-inspiring national parks there and so much public land to play in. You don’t want to be fenced in, so push beyond city limits in the suggestions below. Equally, given the range of neighborhoods you’ll find, don’t assume that a more urban setting means you’ll be packed into a subdivision. (One reader calls Albuquerque a “delightful, quirky hidden gem.” )

Don’t worry about finding trails wherever you move. The National Trails System tops 193,000 (primarily hiking) miles , and the nonprofit organization Rails to Trails says America has more than 24,000 miles of rail-trails that appeal to cyclists as well as walkers.

Here are three options to get you started. As always, make sure the retirement budget is realistic and spend some time getting to know an area during all seasons before you commit. A bad move is an expensive mistake. 

Read: There is more to picking a place to retire than low taxes — avoid these 5 expensive mistakes

Also: 4 questions to answer before you make any big changes to your life in retirement

St. George, Utah

This fast-growing city of nearly 90,000 people in the southwestern corner of the state puts you on the edge of the  60,000-acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and an hour from Zion National Park. Go a half-hour east to Hurricane if you’re looking for a town less than a quarter its size. Head southwest for just over 2 hours and you’ll be in Las Vegas. It’s 2½ hours to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

You know there’s great hiking in this area . But you’ll find lakes (well, reservoirs) nearby , and the 14-mile Virgin River Trail cuts through the city for an easy bike ride. You can hit the slopes in 90 minutes at Brian Head Resort .The climate is Vegas-like hot, with average summer highs topping 100, but you won’t have rain or snow. If you do cross the state line into Nevada, you won’t be paying state income taxes. Talk to a tax professional if state taxes are a concern.

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