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Where Should I Retire?

Oct. 25, 2021, 7:44 p.m. EDT

We want to live in a medium-sized city close to the beach but without much traffic. Where should we retire?

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By Silvia Ascarelli

Hi MarketWatch,

We are retired and currently live in North Georgia. We are looking to move within about 30 to 40 minutes of the beach, preferably near family in southern Virginia or the Tampa area. 

We like warm weather, not a lot of traffic, and lots of outdoor activities and social groups. We also prefer to live in or near a medium-sized city with plenty to do. We prefer someplace not too conservative and religious. We can tolerate humidity but don’t love it. 

We are debt-free, have a few million, with a housing budget of $850,000 to $1 million. We’re not really looking for just a 55+ community. We don’t have children but don’t want just seniors around. 

Any ideas?


Dear Melinda,

How is this for a radical suggestion: spend six months near family in Tampa (pick the least-humid six months and qualify as a state resident, thereby paying no state income tax) and then see the world? Spend a month or more in one spot, live like a local, and then regale your friends with your adventures during your six-month stints in Florida?

Or perhaps use that housing budget to buy two homes, one near each family member so you don’t have to pick favorites? Just be sure to talk to everyone about how often you want to see them (and how often you expect them to drive to you). I’m a fan of the test run, so consider renting near each of them for a few months to determine whether that’s what you really want.

Testing out a community during its least-appealing time, not just visiting as a tourist, is a smart strategy no matter where you are looking.

Read: Before you move to a new town in retirement, check the local Walmart – and 5 other hard-learned lessons

Can I also suggest you spend more time thinking about how important the beach is to you? Are you looking to gaze out on the water or actually feel the sand between your toes? Could a lake work as well?

If you want to go to the beach frequently and dislike traffic, consider getting yourself as close to the water as your housing budget allows.

Whatever you do, congratulations on having a budget that gives you a lot of flexibility. I’ve got three suggestions to get you started. I don’t like to repeat myself, so please check other “Where Should I Retire?” columns here .

Dunedin, Florida

This city of 37,000 has waterfront as well as easy access to all the bustle of Clearwater (just to the south), St. Petersburg and Tampa. It likes to boast of its Scottish touches, including its own version of the Highland Games , and often lands a spot on lists of best places to retire .

You can keep yourself busy with art classes at the Dunedin Fine Art Center , watching the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training and exploring sections of the still-expanding 50-mile paved Pinellas Trail that goes through Dunedin to either St. Pete or Tarpon Springs.

Pick your spot carefully if you want to be around people of all ages; the Census Bureau says nearly a third of Dunedin’s residents are 65 or older. If you want someplace younger, try St. Pete, where less than 20% are seniors. Upscale neighborhoods include Snell Isle, Old Northeast and Coquina Key.

Don’t overlook these other caveats. The Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater metro area is home to more than 3 million people, so you can’t escape traffic. And of course there is Florida’s humidity in the summer along with average summer highs in the upper 80s. Make sure you’re good with that before committing.

On the other hand, average winter highs are in the upper 60s.

The median list price for a home in Dunedin was $399,900 in August, according to Realtor.com, which like MarketWatch is owned by News Corp. Here’s what’s on the housing market now . You can filter for properties in your price range and for some features.

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