Where Should I Retire?

Oct. 22, 2022, 4:32 p.m. EDT

Our retirement budget is $38,000 a year so we can’t afford to stay in California—where should we move?

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By Silvia Ascarelli

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The eclecticness starts with the annual sculpture tour , when dozens of original pieces in a range of styles are installed mostly downtown. Some become permanent installations, while others are replaced every year. Eau Claire aims to surpass Sioux Falls, S.D., to have the largest sculpture tour in the nation. 

Sculpture not your thing? Then check out more than 20 permanent murals across the city. See what’s on at the new performing arts center, the Pablo Center at the Confluence .

Go on the cheese curd crawl . (Hey, it’s Wisconsin.) Pair that with the breweries; the county has an above-average number, despite only having 105,000 people. And this is a place that thinks ginormous pumpkins (think 2,000-pounders) deserve their own festival

The indie music scene starts with local celeb Justin Vernon and his Bon Iver band. 

And then there’s the university; the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has more than 9,000 students. 

I mentioned healthcare as a consideration for where you put down roots. Not only does Eau Claire County have an above-average number of primary care doctors per capita but it has an outpost of the Mayo Clinic. The main Mayo Clinic is about 75 miles away (the wider Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area is about a 90-minute drive.). 

The cost of living here is about 11% below the national average. Bus tickets cost seniors and the disabled 85 cents.

Summers here will be on the cooler side, with average highs in the low 80s. But winter will be cold, with average highs in the 20s. And you’ll get close to 4 feet of snow a year.

Here’s a sense of the rental market . The median list price of homes for sale in June 2022 was $295,900, according to Realtor.com, which calls it a buyer’s market. Here’s what’s on the market now .

Kansas City

Perhaps you’re more interested in a bigger city. Nearly 650,000 people live in Kansas City, Mo., and smaller Kansas City, Kansas, across the Kansas and Missouri rivers; 1.7 million are in the broader metro area. Yet for all that city, the cost of living is about 7% below the national average, and you may not owe any state income tax on the Missouri side.

You’ll find the sort of art museums and performing arts options that you’d expect in a metro this size, including First Friday art crawls in the arts district . But you’ll also find some unique museums: for jazz , baseball’s Negro Leagues , World War I and bank robber Jesse James .

Don’t forget pro sports: baseball, football and soccer.

You can’t talk about Kansas City without getting into barbecue (its style involves a sweeter, thicker sauce), but its restaurant scene also has some James Beard nominees .

Oh, and Kansas City loves fountains. It even has a special day — Greater Kansas City Fountain Day — when the 48 publicly operated ones are turned on after the winter. More than 150 other fountains are registered with the city, and Kansas City likes to claim it has more fountains than any city aside from Rome .

Another surprise: Kansas City isn’t flat as a pancake. This video gives you a sense of what you’ll find. Explore some of the dozens of miles of paved trails in the area accessible to someone with a disability. Look here for other outdoor adventure possibilities.

Transit? RideKC buses are free through 2023 . The downtown streetcar is also free. The local airport’s expansion also should be completed in 2023.

Healthcare here begins with the University of Kansas Hospital (the No. 1 hospital in Kansas, according to U.S. News & World Report ) and St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City (U.S. News ranks it second in Missouri).

The weather here will be a touch cooler than Owensboro, with average summer highs in the upper 80s and average winter highs around 40. You’ll likely get just over a foot of snow each winter.

You can see what’s for rent in Kansas City, Mo., here and on the Kansas side here . Or the suburbs might appeal. The median list price for homes on the market in Kansas City, Mo., was $249,900 in June 2022. Here’s what’s on the market now . The Kansas side is slightly cheaper

Not quite right? What about Tulsa, suggested here ?

Readers, where should Derinda and her husband retire? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.

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