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My parents are just beginning the retirement adventure! They have decided that the first thing they want to do is move out of their snowy winter wonderland and move back to the East coast. So, they are looking for a place to call home. They are looking for somewhere with:

1. low cost of living -- they have a huge amount of equity in their current house so they want to settle down in a place where they can afford to buy a reasonably priced home with as much cash as possible.

2. warmth

3. small to medium population

4. somewhat progressive views -- they have spent the last 10 years in Colorado so they dont know if they can go back to the bible belt conservative viewpoint and be happy with that.

5. Although it is optional they would like a town with a higher learning institution because my mother may want to teach part tiime.

Anyone have any personal suggestions?
Shannon
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Greater Charleston, SC
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The very best place to retire, bar none, is within a few miles of your children and grandchildren. I don't care if it's the North Pole. The advantages to all the generations, and the pleasure your parents will derive, far outweighs the negative aspects of less than perfect climate.

They can always go south for a month or two in the winter. The kids and grandkids can even visit them down there between semesters.

Trini
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One of the most important factors in this decision is that both agree that this is want they want to do, no matter how 'appealing' it may be to one party. If not, it will not work.
The friends and family aspect of retirement live should not be relegated to #4 or whatever on a list of 10 criteria.
I do not have any stats to back me up but I witnessed many couples move to our community in central FL (Active adult type) from the winter wonderland states that lasted less than 2 years before moving back 'home', usually because of family issues though I of course was not privy to all of their reasons.
Probably 10-15% of our community (@700 homes) were 'snowbirds' and they for the most part seemed about as happy to leave as they were to get there each year. Of course this way requires more finances than simply relocating, but it would be a good way to 'test the waters'.

arahfool
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I have found it difficult to find places with both a low cost of living and general social views as found in say Colorado Springs or Boulder. Cost of Living is not as simple as you might think to measure. Certainly looking at State Taxes is missleading. One state may fund much of public school from state taxes and another state may fund most of public schools from local property taxes.

Total taxes are lowest in Texas, Tennessee and Alaska as I recall.

There is a magazine named "Where to Retire" 6 issues a year and it has a fair amount of useful information.

Gordon
Atlanta
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1. low cost of living -- they have a huge amount of equity in their current house so they want to settle down in a place where they can afford to buy a reasonably priced home with as much cash as possible.
2. warmth
3. small to medium population


So far you could be talking about any number of places in the South. We're in Knoxville, TN, and we love it (much to our surprise). We get Winter, but usually it consists of about 2 snows, each an inch or two deep, which melt off in a day or two - just enough to say "Winter" and then move along. Many days I can work outside in a T-shirt, even in January and February.

We ended up here as an accident of employment, after stints in Boston, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. I never thought I'd like it, but I do.

Of course it's not, uh, "progressive" by any stretch, but you can find blue people in even the most red of states.

4. somewhat progressive views -- they have spent the last 10 years in Colorado so they dont know if they can go back to the bible belt conservative viewpoint and be happy with that.
5. Although it is optional they would like a town with a higher learning institution because my mother may want to teach part tiime.


Mrs. Goofy and I took our RV through Athens GA which was charming, but a bit too small for my permanent taste. Another city which is a delight is Ashville, NC. Lots of artist communities and culture (museum shows, theater, etc.) I don't know anything about the taxes in either GA or NC, however. Here is Tennessee they're low. Extraordinarily low, really. We pay $1,100 per year in property taxes (we live just over the city line in Knox County) versus our $11,000 in Chicago. Quell difference, eh?
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Consider Austin, Texas, or a suburb. Austin is relatively blue in a sea of red. The weather is mild, except hot and muggy in the summer. That's why god invented air conditioning. Austin is a large city, but places like Round Rock are more like small towns.

cliff
... disclosure: I don't live there. COnsidered it, but I can't wean myself from Southern California weather.
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Consider Austin, Texas, or a suburb.

First thing, be sure that you are not allergic to cedar. Cedar pollen is a tremendous allergen and it is very thick in the Austin area. During about 4 months of the year a large number of people come down with what is called "cedar fever." It's miserable.

Ted - lived in Austin for 20 years, still have relatives there.
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They have decided that the first thing they want to do is move out of their snowy winter wonderland and move back to the East coast. So, they are looking for a place to call home.

Have them try the surveys at:
http://www.findyourspot.com/default.asp
AND
http://bestplaces.net/fybp/
They're not overly comprehensive on different cities, but may toss some unexpected options into the mix. It influenced my in-laws to end up retiring to a different locations than they had been planning. And I'm looking at a different part of the same state to which I was planning on relocating.


If they narrow down to a few places, some interesting comparison data can be found at:
http://houseandhome.msn.com/PickAPlace/CompareCities.aspx
AND
http://bestplaces.net/city/ccompare.aspx

Also an interesting table on the effect of different taxes by state (I was awestruck to see that it's as expensive to live in a no sales tax state as OR as it is to live in Los Angeles):
http://tinyurl.com/28wg5
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They are looking for somewhere with:

1. low cost of living -- they have a huge amount of equity in their current house so they want to settle down in a place where they can afford to buy a reasonably priced home with as much cash as possible.

2. warmth

3. small to medium population

4. somewhat progressive views -- they have spent the last 10 years in Colorado so they dont know if they can go back to the bible belt conservative viewpoint and be happy with that.

5. Although it is optional they would like a town with a higher learning institution because my mother may want to teach part tiime.

Anyone have any personal suggestions?


Does it have to be in the US? If not, they could take a look at New Zealand, say anywhere within an hours drive of Auckland if they want to be close to a medium size city. Anywhere on the North Island will likely be warm enough for them.

In the US, if they don't mind clouds in winter they could check out Eugene, Oregon. If they do mind clouds they could always drive down to Arizona in January and spend a month there.

Personally, I'm hoping for six months on the Oregon coast and six months on the Coromandel Peninsula in NZ, but that's a ways off.

-synchronicity
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Personally, I'm hoping for six months on the Oregon coast and six months on the Coromandel Peninsula in NZ, but that's a ways off.

-synchronicity

Good plan. I hope you are well-heeled. We visited the Oregon Coast in October. Shocked, I was, Yes, shocked, at the price of real estate. $350,000 for a two bedroom dump that smelled of mildew. This was in Cannon Beach, Oregon's "Carmel". But further south it's still very dear. Lincoln city, Depoe Bay, surprisingly expensive.

cliff
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Good plan. I hope you are well-heeled. We visited the Oregon Coast in October. Shocked, I was, Yes, shocked, at the price of real estate. $350,000 for a two bedroom dump that smelled of mildew. This was in Cannon Beach, Oregon's "Carmel".

Yeah, the Oregon Coast has become awfully expensive. In spring of '85 when my freshman year roommate and I and two girls biked to the coast from college, we just stayed at an inexpensive hotel in Cannon Beach (I think it was Cannon Beach, not Seaside, I can't recall if we went north or south from US26). It was sleepy coastal towns then, just beginning to get people moving up from California.

Ah well, I'm starting to feel old. Went back to Lake Oswego just a few years ago, my god it's become built up. Scary.

-synchronicity
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Mrs. Goofy and I took our RV through Athens GA which was charming, but a bit too small for my permanent taste. Another city which is a delight is Ashville, NC. Lots of artist communities and culture (museum shows, theater, etc.) I don't know anything about the taxes in either GA or NC, however.

You should give Blowing Rock a shot on your next RV trip to NC. Taxes is NC are across the board: income tax, sales tax, property tax. Everything considered, the total tax burden puts NC around the middle of the pack for the nation as a whole.
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You should give Blowing Rock a shot on your next RV trip to NC

Actually Mrs. Goofy was there at some spa or another last June (July? I forget); she treated herself to a weekend for her 50th birthday. I stayed home. (No, she didn't go on her birthday weekend; I wasn't that much of a cad.)

She said it was terrific, but the road there was not one I would enjoy driving the RV on. Too winding and hilly, she said. I don't mind getting off the interstates, but we have a big ole bus, and I like roads that aren't too narrow or hilly.
 
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