Investor Alert

Where Should I Retire?

Dec. 30, 2020, 3:56 p.m. EST

We want clean air and a pastoral life — where should we retire on a budget of $40,000 a year?

Watchlist Relevance

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

Silvia Ascarelli

Dear MarketWatch,

My wife and I have resided in Salt Lake City for 38 years. We were drawn to the small-town feel and the many outdoor recreational opportunities available to us.  

But, as the Buddha teaches, nothing stays the same. 

We want to move. Away from the increased population. Away from the congestion. Away from the urban sprawl. Especially, away from the bad air quality. Year after year, the bad air days generally now outnumber the good air days. As we age, we are concerned that the accumulated insults resulting from chronic exposure to micro-particulates, aka pm 2.5, will negatively impact our health.

Also of great concern is climate change. The climate in Salt Lake City has become much hotter, drier and dustier over the previous 10 years.

My ideal is a more pastoral lifestyle.

Certain items are important. We do want access to medical facilities. Ideally, we would like to find a living location that provides overall good air and water quality, opportunities for mild to moderate outdoor recreational activities such as hiking and biking. A water location sounds, in my mind, like too big an ask. But, yes. I really do like to fish. Stream or lake.

I like amateur astronomy and have my own telescope. A dark sky location, or just a plain-old dark night sky, would be really nice. We love to stargaze.

Snow is no big deal to us. However, we do not want to spend six months in snow up to our eyeballs. Our ideal weather would be two to three months of cold, sunny-snowy weather, bracketed by a couple of months of autumn and spring on each side, with a not-too-hot summer (high 80s to low 90s during the day, with cool nights) with relatively low humidity (this is not a deal breaker).

When we sell our house, we will have, hopefully, slightly more than $300,000. Financially, we have a net worth approaching $1 million. We both are recently retired and receive approximately a combined $40,000 a year in Social Security. We both have 401(k) retirement accounts. We have no outstanding debts.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration, 


Dear Willis,

I knew Salt Lake City had winter inversions that trapped cold air (and pollution) under warm air, but I hadn’t realized the air quality had gotten so bad. Yet this report by the American Lung Association lists the Salt Lake City metro as the seventh-worst area for short-term particulate pollution and 11th worst for ozone pollution.

Given your focus on clean air, I’m going to use this list of the cities with the cleanest air as a starting point for your search. Four had zero high ozone or high particle pollution days and are among the 25 cities with the lowest year-round particle levels.: Bangor, Maine; Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont; Urban Honolulu; and Wilmington, N.C. 

They all have a downside. Bangor and Burlington have lots of snow, probably more and for longer than you’d like. Honolulu is expensive. Wilmington is humid. ( Those last two were suggested here. )

You may still want to consider them; after all, finding a retirement spot involves compromises. Spend some time in each place that makes your list living as if you were a resident, not a tourist, to help decide whether you can build a life there. A bad move is an expensive mistake.

I’ve also previously suggested some of the others on the list, such as St. George, Utah , and Grand Junction, Colo. , so I won’t repeat myself. And here’s a caveat: the report doesn’t give data on every county, so some potentially appealing places can’t make the list. 

Page 1 Page 2
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »

Partner Center

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.