By Catey Hill, MarketWatch
My wife and I live in San Diego and find the cost of living too high. Our ideal retirement place would be a moderate-cost-of-living small or midsize city with shopping and so on. We also want a moderate climate, and lower danger of natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. Another requirement would be to stay in the U.S.
After we sell our home, our net worth would be approximately $1 million. My yearly Social Security income is $18,000. Within two years my wife will receive her Social Security of $7,000 a year.
Dear Fleeing San Diego,
Congrats on the nest egg. That plus your Social Security will likely be enough for you to live somewhere great in America that meets most of your criteria. In fact, I have a few spots in mind for you to consider from different parts of the country. While they might not all be perfect fits — note that I point out their downsides, like summer humidity or higher crime — they should meet most of your needs and lead to a fun, good-weather retirement. And we’re opening up the comments section below so readers can make their own suggestions to you, too. Good luck on your retirement adventure!
Wondering where to spend your golden years? Email Catey Hill at email@example.com with your wish list, and she’ll recommend spots for you. Letters may be edited for clarity and length. Look for MarketWatch reader suggestions in the comments.
This college town — home to the selective, private Wake Forest University — “blends the past and the present nicely, creating a pleasant and low-key place,” Fodors writes — with U.S. News noting that, though it is “traditionally Southern in its friendliness, it has an international feel.” And Where to Retire magazine recently highlighted the city, writing that though Winston-Salem is overshadowed by popular spots like Asheville, it “has caught the attention of many folks looking for a vibrant, affordable New South city with a climate that involves minimal snow shoveling and 100-degree days.”
Indeed, in many ways Winston-Salem, which has a population of roughly 240,000, offers the best of both worlds: a small-town, know-your-neighbors feel with plenty of shopping, recreation such as golf, arts, restaurants and more. On the shopping front, you can find everything from a large mall ( Hanes Mall has about 200 stores) to local boutiques, antique shops and galleries in spots like the Downtown Arts District .
Speaking of the arts, this town delivers, with Southern Living writing that it has a “thriving arts community.” It is home to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, art museums, a symphony, a film festival and more. On the dining front, “you’ll find restaurants serving everything from traditional North Carolina barbecue to Indian curries and Greek pastries,” U.S. News reports. And Annette Fuller, the editor of Where to Retire magazine, adds that good hospitals are a further attractive feature.
Winston-Salem comes with a cost of living that is below average for the U.S., with median homes prices coming in at under $150,000. However, Winston-Salem does have downsides, getting more rain than the U.S. average, and the area has been hit with tornadoes in the past ( here is your risk of natural disasters ).
By the numbers: Winston-Salem
Median home price: $136,500
Average January low/July high: 28°F/88°F
Source: Sperling’s Best Places