December 4, 2022

I am a 54-year-old woman who wants to retire in the next 10 years, but want to move to her future retirement location during the next two years. I love dry summer weather, hiking, biking, water sports, being outdoors year round. I don’t like cold, snowy winters, unless I’m driving there to ski!

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I like to be fairly close (within a few hours) to arts and culture, but on a daily basis I want to be closer to the trails and lakes. I don’t want to be too secluded but don’t want to be packed into a subdivision.

My monthly retirement budget would be around $3,500-$4,000. I will also have money from the sale of my house.

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Any suggestions?

Thank you,


Dear Alice,

Moving to your retirement location before you actually retire sounds like a dream, especially if, as I hope, you’ll be able to telecommute for your current job.

No snow, no summer rain – or too much moisture? If you’re willing to make a little compromise, you’ll want to look into western North Carolina (an option here) and eastern Tennessee (no state income tax), although this is pretty much the rule in the eastern half of the US.

Otherwise let’s go west.

You’ll find some of our most awe-inspiring national parks there and so much public land to play with. You don’t want to be in the fence, so go beyond the city limits in the suggestions below. Equally, given the range of neighborhoods you’ll find, don’t assume that a more urban setting means you’ll be packed into a subdivision. (One reader calls Albuquerque a “delightful, quirky hidden gem.”)

Don’t worry about finding trails wherever you go. National Trails System Top most 193,000 (mainly hiking) milesand the nonprofit organization Rails to Trails says America has Over 24,000 Miles of Rail-Trails Which appeals to cyclists as well as pedestrians.

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Here are three options to get started. As always, make sure the retirement budget is realistic and spend some time getting to know an area during all seasons before committing. A bad move is a costly mistake.

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Elephant Arch in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area Wilderness, part of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve outside St. George, Utah.


St. George, Utah

This fast-growing city of about 90,000 people puts you on the edge of 60,000 acres in the state’s southwest corner Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and an hour from Zion National Park. If you’re looking for a city less than a quarter the size, take a half hour east for the storm. Just walk southwest for over 2 hours and you’ll be in Las Vegas. It is a two and a half hour drive from the northern shore of the Grand Canyon.

you know there great hiking in this area, but you will find Near lakes (wells, reservoirs)And this 14-Mile Virgin River Trail Cut through the city for an easy bike ride. You can hit the slopes in 90 minutes Brian Head Resort,

The climate is hot like Vegas, with the average summer high above 100, but you won’t have rain or snow. If you cross the state line in Nevada, you will not pay state income tax. Talk to a tax professional if state taxes are a concern.

Much smaller Moab, Utah, was another attractive option, given that it is outside Arches National Park and not too far from Canyonlands National Park. Accommodation costs are similar to St George’s but there is a bit more snow. Grand Junction, Colo., will be your big city.

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Can I retire? Not before knowing the answer to this big question

You can see which of the two houses are in the market now set george And moabUsing, which, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp.

Redding, California

This is where California’s Central Valley enters the Cascade foothills and is home to 92,000 people. (A similar number live elsewhere in Shasta County.)

It’s essentially surrounded by national forests — lots of outdoor life — except for the destined south, where I-5 will take you to Sacramento in about two and a half hours. Shasta Lake, the state’s largest reservoir, is your water playground, 10 miles to the north. the city claims 225 miles of trail within a 15-mile radius, Orbitz called Redding “California’s best kept secret,

It doesn’t rain in the summer (and there’s essentially no snow in the winter), but the region receives a lot of rain in the winter. Skiing, however, is nearby, including within. Lassen Volcano National Park,

A pair of cross-country skis in Lassen Volcano National Park. Courtesy Redding Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The average high in July is 101 degrees; Average winter stays above the lowest freezing point.

you can get the feeling Here’s what your money will buy you in terms of housing,

While California has a reputation for high taxes, note that it does not tax Social Security income.

Outside Mount Vernon, Wash., there are fields of yellow daffodils.


Mount Vernon, Washington

If all of this sounds too hot for the outdoor life you want to do in the summer, head to I-5 to . continue till Mount Vernon, the county seat of Skagit County and home to 36,000 people. You’ll be on the edge of the Cascade Mountains, less than 30 minutes from Anacortes and a ferry to San Juan Island, an hour from Seattle and 90 minutes from Vancouver, BC. North Cascades National Park is to the east. you can reach Mount Baker Ski Area In less than two hours.

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For the cyclist in you, you’ll be just minutes away adventure cycling Not far from the cross-country Northern Tier and Washington Park route and its Pacific Coast route. Drive (or bike) 10 miles to Cedro-Woolly, and you can jump on 22.5 Mile Cascade Trail,

A lone cyclist pedals along the Washington Park route.

Alex Strickland / Adventure Cycling

Because this is northwest Washington, average summer highs will only reach the mid-70s. You will get over an inch of rain in July. Winters are approaching cold. While you’ll probably get an inch of snow a month, you’ll get rain (though less than Redding.)

Mount Vernon is a more affordable housing market than Anacortes, and there are other towns to check out in Skagit County or even Whatcom County to the north. Here’s What’s For Sale Now at Mount Vernon,

An added bonus: There’s no state income tax here.

Reader, where do you think Alice should retire?

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