Investor Alert

Where Should I Retire?

Aug. 6, 2022, 11:31 a.m. EDT

We want culture, dining and wilderness in areas with homes for $300,000 – so where should we retire?

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By Silvia Ascarelli

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As you may know, Washington state doesn’t tax income. The flip side is that Tacoma’s sales tax (state, county and city combined) is just above 10%.

While the median home price here is above your price target, Tacoma’s size means there’s quite a range of properties on the market. Or go beyond city limits and look across Pierce County to get some added space between neighbors.

Here’s what’s on the market in Tacoma now using listings on Realtor.com (which like MarketWatch is owned by News Corp.).

Not quite right? An option at the other end of the state – but with snow – is the Spokane area, suggested here . If you’re intrigued by tax arbitrage, Vancouver, Wash., suggested here , lets you pay no state income tax and easily shop across the river in Oregon, where there is no sales tax.

Oak Ridge, Tennessee

This option puts you on the other side of the country and in a city of 31,000 people some 25 miles west of Knoxville. That should give you a bit more space between neighbors while a city with 190,000 people within a short drive will give you the culture and the range of dining options – including a restaurant run by a James Beard winner .

Oak Ridge was part of the Manhattan Project during World War II, when 100,000 people descended on an area that didn’t show up on maps. It still likes the “secret city” moniker.

You’ll like that the area on average gets only about 10 inches of snow each winter. But – and there is always a compromise – it does get 51 inches of rain, well above the 30” or so that the contiguous U.S. averages and more than places with rainy reputations like Tacoma or Portland, Ore. 

July highs average in the upper 80s; in the winter, daytime highs average in the mid-40s, but average lows are below freezing.

For your outdoor fix, start with Loan Mountain State Forest west of Oak Ridge. Melton Lake Park , with 173 miles of shoreline, is on the city’s eastern edge.

The Chamber of Commerce boasts that the cost of living here is 8% below the national average . Tennessee has no income tax, but the flip side is a hefty 9.75% sales tax.

The median list price for a home was $284,900 in April 2022, according to Realtor, so within your budget. Here’s what’s on the market now .

Montrose, Colorado

This option on the western slopes of Colorado gives you stunning scenery. Start with Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park just outside town. Then there’s the San Juan Mountains to the south, Curecanti National Recreation Area to the east and then several national forests.

This is the smallest of my three options: Montrose has about 20,000 people, and about as many others live across the rest of the 2,200-square-mile county. So you can find space between the neighbors if you want it. You’ll also find many other retirees; 25% of the city is 65 or older. The trade-off is you may need to head to Grand Junction an hour away (and suggested here ) for some of your cultural and dining options.

Montrose scores more than 300 days of sunshine. You’ll get only modest amounts of snow – about 20 inches a year – and almost no rain. Winters will be on the chillier side, with average highs in the upper 30s. Summer highs average in the upper 80s.

I’ll be honest – Montrose could be a budget stretch for you, depending on how much space you want. Home prices have jumped since the pandemic, though this city is still considered affordable by Colorado standards. Here’s what’s on the market now , according to Realtor.com.

Readers, where should Frank and his wife retire? Please leave suggestions in the comments section so all can see.

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