By Catey Hill, MarketWatch
My wife and I are 58. She will retire at 62 and I at 67. Our annual retirement income at 67 will be approximately $95,000 from Social Security, pensions and investments. We would like to find an affordable, friendly place to rent during the winter months, that is warm and as close as possible to the ocean in the good ‘ole United States of America.
We plan to pay off our home in the Midwest in about six years. Grateful for no other debt. Ideally, the location would also be near stores, in restaurants and walkable. It cannot be on the West Coast. In the coming years, we’d like to visit locations to “test the waters.” Can you help with some recommendations for the future snowbirds?
I get a number of letters from aspiring snowbirds, and frankly, escaping the cold months sounds like a plan to me (I write this as I’m bundled up in a sweater in chilly New York City and dreaming of a palm tree and umbrella drink).
Of course, there are things to consider like taxes ( here’s a piece from Money on how snowbirds can avoid “a blizzard of taxes” ), home security, winterizing your home and more ( this guide is a good start ).
That said, snowbirding is a compelling option. Here are three spots in walkable, pretty affordable beach towns.
St. Augustine, Florida
This city of about 15,000 residents is nestled along the county’s 42 miles of pristine beaches and boasts tons of history. “You can’t walk very far in St. Augustine without being reminded that it is the oldest European-established city in the U.S.—one that houses more than 60 historic sites and attractions, including a town square that dates to 1573. The city is still very much alive, however. Pedestrian-only St. George Street, lined with bistros, boutiques and bars, bustles all day and well into the night, with live music coming from practically every other open door,” writes Kiplinger’s of the town, which it calls a “smart” place to retire.
And Travel & Leisure, which named it one of the seven best places to visit in Florida , notes that: “It’s a walkable town, imbued with intrigue; whispers of the past swirl through every cobblestoned alley.” Kiplinger’s adds that St. Augustine has “everything from golf to belly dancing for retirees” as well as “plenty of cultural activities, affordable luxury living, and first-class health care.”
To be sure, there are cheaper cities to live in Florida — the cost of living in St. Augustine is slightly above average for the U.S. — but this city has so many perks to recommend it, and with your income you can likely make this work: The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $800 and the median two-bedroom is under $1,000 , according to Sperlings (though you may pay more in the heart of things) — not to mention that Florida is one of the most tax-friendly states in the country for retirees, Kiplinger’s notes. ( Here’s a piece on how snowbirds can be taxed as Florida residents .)