By Silvia Ascarelli
I’m a single, 50-year-old bicultural gay man considering an early semi-retirement due to ageism in my profession. I have $3.5 million in taxable investments (including the appreciation of my home) that I’d like to stretch as far as possible. Can you recommend a few U.S. cities that offer a robust medical infrastructure, vibrant cultural activities, warmer climates (no snow, and no humidity), an LGBTQ+-friendly environment and moderate-left demographics?
When I own a home, Airbnb might be an option for side income. And it would be nice to have a place that’s tax-friendly for retirees.
A place with welcoming, community-minded and educated locals would be great. I want to feel safe in a new home.
I’m sorry you feel you’re being pushed out of your job. At least you’ve saved well, and that will give you options and, I hope, reduce your stress. I’d still encourage you to consider hanging on, though, while you explore your options.
Given your wish list, you are headed for a major city or its suburbs unless you are OK with some compromises. It would be really easy to tick off a few big, expensive cities — such as San Diego and Denver — but I want to give you a broader range of possibilities.
I also hate to repeat myself, so if you’re interested in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve already spotlighted Eugene , Corvallis , Salem and the Portland suburb of Vancouver, Wash ., among others. Just be prepared for rainy winters instead of summer humidity and, these days, the risk of smoke from wildfires.
You can read about three more LBGTQ-friendly suggestions here . You may also want to consider cheaper college towns with less-than-perfect weather. You’ll be retired; you don’t have to go anywhere when it’s snowing, for example. The MarketWatch “Where Should I Retire” tool can help you identify counties that might be a good fit.
As you know, workplace upheavals because of COVID have unleashed bidding wars in some housing markets, so it’s good that you’re willing to rent first. Still, given your desire to both eventually buy a new home and to stretch out your funds, please take the time to map out your likely spending, including on healthcare before Medicare, and come up with an annual budget as well as a limit for your eventual house purchase.
Be conservative; there are always unexpected costs, and the stock market may not cooperate with your dreams.
Taxes will look different in retirement, given that your sources of income are different, and of course tax laws change. You can use this tax calculator from SmartAsset to get a sense of how it might look in different states; you still may want to consult a tax professional.
Here are three possibilities to get you started.
For LBGTQ+-friendly, I turned to the Human Rights Campaign and its Municipal Equality Index . The HRC, a major gay-rights advocacy group, looks at factors like whether the city has nondiscrimination laws for housing, a human-rights commission and an LGBTQ liaison in the mayor’s office, as well as whether it provides services to or supports LGBTQ elders.
Tucson is one of three Arizona cities it rates that has a perfect score (Phoenix and Tempe also scored 100). Tucson, home to the University of Arizona, is slightly cooler — and cheaper — than Phoenix. It’s also smaller: about 540,000 people (and just over 1 million in Pima County), compared with Phoenix’s 1.65 million residents (and nearly 4.5 million in Maricopa County).
Finally, it also rated highly when I turned to MarketWatch’s “Where Should I Retire” tool.
You can read more about Tucson and its cultural attributes here .
While Tucson has some of the state’s best hospitals, according to U.S. News & World Report’s rankings, there are more in the Phoenix area, including a Mayo Clinic, about two hours away from Tucson.
A tradeoff if you move to the Southwest is that, while humidity is low, it’s still hot. The average July high in Tucson is 100 degrees, and it seems to be getting hotter . Plus there’s the risk of a water shortage in the coming years.