Top retirement locations obviously do exist, and if you want your obituary to include “a rich life, richly lived” it pays to find such a stimulating lifestyle environment.
The word "retirement" is one of those whose meaning has changed. Of course originally it meant to withdraw (from working) but now it means a period of change and a new beginning.
For most of us, it will also mean less income, but also a more flexible lifestyle. And with retirement comes the chance to move to any number of "top retirement locations" where the cost of living is lower coupled with good weather, ample opportunities to stay physically active, rich cultural and colleges that accept non-credit students.
Across the southern United States - where the weather is better - there are a number of active retirement communities, and everyone of them has residents saying "this must be one of the best places to retire". Which is why 55 plus retirement communities are mushrooming.
Of course you really do not need to relocate all-year-round. Have you ever considered becoming a "snow bird"? or perhaps retiring abroad?
image courtesy www.bestplaces.net
Our No. 1 choice – chosen very selectively from the myriad of locations who describe themselves as top retirement locations – is the municipality of State College in Pennsylvania.
This is a college town, with a population of 42,000 and where the median age, overwhelmingly influenced by Penn State University, was 22 years, according to the 2010 census. Only 11.2% of residents were aged over 44. So it is quite stimulating as an active retirement community.
A brochure for a local housing development advertises "All the Stimulation of College Life without the Exams," and locals can enrol for free in the university's courses -- space permitting – and are welcome at university-sponsored workshops, lectures and other events.
Another advantage of college towns is that sometimes you can finance your retirement with some outside-the-square retirement financial planning with a simple real estate play - like renting a bedroom to a student.
And let me make a suggestion - no matter where you retire to - and college towns can be attractive alternatives if you're looking for an active retirement community.
They can be most appealing to middle-income retirees - you can do what the locals do in summer: buy a small sail boat - small enough to sit on a trailer behind your car during the summer months. This alone will boost your zest for living!
There are other options of course - you should rank your best places to retire. Find and rank them against your own personal preferences.
But do let us know your thoughts on other stimulating and active retirement communities (click here for "Tell Us Your Story"). Readers of this magazine are always keen to learn about other top retirement locations.
The cost of living and access to premier health care is of course important, however high on your list of top retirement locations would also be those where you can be happy and let benign retirement sentiments mellow. readily make friends, where a major airport is not too distant, there are a wide variety of activities, a balance between outdoor recreation and cultural institutions, and good public transportation.
Now the best retirement states - and locations - generally have long, warm summers. But we haven't limited our search to just those regions.
To enjoy your retirement years it's a good idea to focus on an area with breathtaking beauty where the the conveniences of living in suburbia are all available. You'll need access to stimulation, a major hospital, and somewhere not too remote from your family and where it's easy where senior people meet new friends.
Either option would be in stark contrast to moving into a retirement village, but maintaining your zest for living is something you don’t ever want to delegate to some corporate entity.
Of course, you should also consider the benefits of a modern mobile home community.
Use this thought to start a new chapter in your prudential retirement plan - adjacent to the one that evaluates staying at home.
Austin is a substantial city but is still small enough – yet sufficiently diversified at the same time - to be a favorite for all demographics.
Population is 790,400 and it’s high on our list of active retirement communities.
The biggest attraction is possibly the wilderness outdoors, but then there the music and highbrow ballet and orchestras.
The median price of housing is around $250,000.
Halfway up Florida on the Gulf coast, Clearwater is the idyllic beach community that you read about in novels.
Population is around 110,000 and the major cities or Tampa and St. Petersburg are only 25 miles away.
There are active retirement communities in the Rocky Mountains, but our choice there is Fort Collins, with its commitment to 30 miles of separate, paved bike roads.
Population is 144,000 and summer is for the outdoors – hiking, camping, sailing – and ditto for winter – skiing and snowboarding.
Median house prices are around $225,000 and Denver - 75 miles away - is an easy drive.
Oregon’s capital has a cool-summer Mediterranean climate, just 75 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.
Hiking, fishing, camping, biking, boating, vineyards describe the outdoors lifestyle and with a population of 585,000 and five universities, there’s ample youth culture to balance the arts, museums, orchestras and major league sports. What more can you expect from a top retirement location?
The median housing price is around $265,000
Actually, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway never did reach Santa Fe, but that’s not important today as modern transportation ensures that the city ranks highly on the list of desirable and active retirement communities for the 21st century.
Population is 145,000 and the city enjoys 300 days of sunshine as well as nearby winter sports.
Medium house prices are $380,000 so add it to your list of top retirement locations.
Winston-Salem (population 229,600) has a rich history, and is home to a cluster of universities.
It is a member of the Piedmont Triad of cities along the northern tier of North Carolina that includes Greensboro and High Point, acknowledged for their unified mass transit system.
Median house price is an affordable $137,000.
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And it would be remiss of me not to mention a source of extra income - something that you can manage from home, from anywhere that is on your list of top retirement locations. I suggest that you visit Sitesell and explore how to create an online business that you can operate from home, or perhaps look at some options in Work from Home magazine.
And of course, if you want to discuss issues with us in more detail and personally, feel free to contact us via our professional consultancy practice.
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