September 9, 2010

25 Best Places to Retire.

They all seem to be college towns. But where's Madison? I went through the list looking for Madison, and on seeing each new place, I thought: It's kind of like Madison, but Madison's better. Then, thinking for 1 more second, I realized what factor excluded Madison from the list. And it's not cold weather. There are plenty of cold places — including Duluth. It's got to be the taxes.

68 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I'm laughing at Hanover, NH's writeup that just about says: Live somewhere else nearby, but really, Hanover is great.

Those lists crack me up because they're always bitching about the northern cities' cold winters, but never a word about the dreadful summers in, say, Athens GA or Prescott AZ.

traditionalguy said...

They all looked nice, especially Athens, Ga and Williamsburg, Va; except for St Petersburg, Fl which is a terrible place trapped on a peninsula across the Bay from the red neck disaster called Tampa, with no life of its own and a hellish summer climate.

MadisonMan said...

They all looked nice

Of course they look nice. The pictures are supplied by the respective cities' tourism bureaus, or Chambers of Commerce. (I have to ask Ames IA: really? This is the best picture you could find?) The pictures uniformly seem to be from the middle of Spring. No droughts, no ice storms, do snow, no clouds, no waves of heat, no realism.

Pogo said...

Duluth? Ha ha ha. Old people move away from Duluth as fast as they can. Unless they enjoy 6 months of painfully cold winter.

And taxes?
Ann Arbor is at least as bad as Madison. And Michigan is losing population rather quickly, rats fleeing a sinking ship.

Myself, I am planning on retiring in some other country, if I can afford to leave by then. Plus, I'm going to start smoking at 60.

David said...

I assume this is a Journalist's bias about college towns. They tend to be pricier than other mid sized towns. After 40 years of engineering work why the hell would I want to take more classes? (or for that matter do the whole Elderhostel type stuff of lectures and god awful PC goodie two shoes activities).

This whole retirement moving thing baffles me. If not for lower costs, a more congenial climate, closer to grandkids, or a long deferred ranchette then why move from where you live now.

Richard Dolan said...

"They all seem to be college towns." That was a feature, not a bug, in the selection process. the header states: "Your post-work years are a time to improve your golf game, take up a new hobby, or just enjoy a well-deserved break. In these great college towns, you can expand your intellectual horizons too."

The selections are interesting mostly for what the sameness of these "best places to retire" says about the targeted retirees. The 25 towns are all bland-pretty in a predictable, easy way -- everything in cute decorator colors, no less. They're mostly smallish backwaters where everyone you are likely to meet will have a certain sameness (not ethnic so much as mindset); and the attractions are golf (!), tennis (!!), and an occasional college course in basketweaving or whatever to while away the hours (!!!).

Bleh. If that's retirement, I'll keep on working. I don't see any reason to prefer that to Brooklyn.

Rialby said...

I need to get to Boise. I've heard it's beautiful.

TerriW said...

Myself, I am planning on retiring in some other country, if I can afford to leave by then.

Be careful with this -- my husband's parents moved down to a nice expat retirement town in Mexico and had a fair bit of trouble.

That little bit of money you have stashed away that allows you to live well in a foreign land? Yeah, that makes you a target. They were constantly being robbed and burgled, even with high walls and barbed wire around their house.

And that doesn't even count the number of times they got amoebas (!) and or the time they had to call to regretfully inform us that they may have exposed our newborn to typhoid (!!!) while visiting.

And this was a relatively nice, well-established expat community.

So ... look into it quite a bit before you do it. They were back in the States within a few years.

k*thy said...

I don't anticipate leaving Madison or WI upon retirement, unless, of course if the kid settles in the Pacific NW.

c3 said...

Did they actually ask any older people?

Re: Prescott, AZ.

-average high/low temperatures of 86/49 in June, 89/57 in July, 82/49 in August and 82/49 in September. Its at a mile high elevation so much cooler than Phoenix. Lots of ex-Californians there.

As someone who has cared for a lot of older folks a key issue is "Do you have any family nearby?" (Unfortunately not every retiree is an "active retiree")

Bruce Hayden said...

Of the ones I have spent any time in, I don't know if I would call them college towns. I really didn't know that Prescott had a college until fairly recently - my cousin there went up to Flagstaff for her graduate degree. Tucson is well beyond the U of A now. But the other part of this is that there are colleges everywhere these days, and, at least in Arizona, I don't see a metro area there without some sort of college (if you throw all of Phoenix together, and assign them ASU).

As for heat, Prescott is not that bad for AZ. It is a mile high - 100 feet higher than Denver, and if it weren't for how far south it is, it wouldn't be that hot. It isn't like Phoenix or Las Vegas which are also very low. And, for the terminally hip, it is right across Mingus Mountain from Sonoma (I spent the summer of 1970 doing tower work on that mountain).

Bruce Hayden said...

I need to get to Boise. I've heard it's beautiful.

More because it is in Idaho than for any other reason. It is close to a lot of nice stuff, but Boise itself doesn't turn me on that much. Was through there Saturday on my way to Spokane and Montana.

Bruce Hayden said...

Duluth? People here are complaining about Prescott and Tuscon for being too hot. Old people like hot weather. Ever hear of Sun City? It is a suburb of Phoenix, and is therefore at least 10 degrees hotter in the summer than Prescott (which actually gets snow, just not nearly as much as Flagstaff).

Of course, I don't see why anyone in their right mind would want to live in Minn for retirement - yet I have a bunch of friends who live there now and are starting to retire - there.

traditionalguy said...

David...I hear your question. The need to create social events with others maybe the reason people relocate after retirement. The children and grandchildren locale is often preferred.The Elder Hostel concept works really quite well for short trips. If we over 60s folks were to stop using our minds to solve puzzels of life, then our brains wither like any unused muscle. As to climate, the northern Ga to southern Va area has the advantage of mild winters without unbearable summers. Both ice and snow and prolonged heat over 90F stress the older folks hearts and circulatory systems. Remember the story that Life Begins...the day the kids have left home and the dog dies.

SteveR said...

I live in southern New Mexico and there are lots of retirees here. Many go back north in the summer but come back in the fall/wmter/early spring. Obviously not everyone can afford to do that but northern Michigan in January?

Even when its hot (not Phoenix hot) here, the mornings and evenings are pleasnat enough but when the high is 35 degrees its cold all the time.

Pogo said...

"So ... look into it quite a bit before you do it. They were back in the States within a few years."

Figures. Either the State will crush you, or barbarians will. Quite a choice.

I hear Soylent Green is people, so that's always an option.

traditionalguy said...

No mention of Hawaii. The foolishness of the idea that the children will come that far to visit you, even in paradise, has become clear to all who tried that.

Paul Zrimsek said...

More because it is in Idaho than for any other reason. It is close to a lot of nice stuff, but Boise itself doesn't turn me on that much.

A common pattern in the mountain West. Albuquerque is what you get when you take Oklahoma City, prop up one end of it, and stick a mountain range next to it.

Nobody wants to retire to Hawaii now because everyone thinks it's part of Kenya.

Bill said...

Really? Wisconsin's taxes are worse than Michigan? California? Massachusetts?

ndspinelli said...

Maybe Madison wasn't picked because the list makers read local newspapers and saw daily accounts of, "Man arrested for 9th DWI." How good of a city can it be if you're more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than virtually anywhere else in the world?

Skyler said...

Why in the world would a retired person put education at such a high level of where to retire to? I'm sure some would like to study, but honestly, the percentage that want to go to school must be very small.

Seems like the education lobbies are buying off more influence.

Kurt said...

I'd echo most of the comments already made, and add that I can't help wonder if one of the criteria was to downgrade the sorts of places that normally appear on these lists. For instance, number one on the list is Durham, but perhaps this was chosen to exclude Chapel Hill, which has been a popular location with retirees since it started advertising in the New Yorker 25 or 30 years ago. The last time I visited that region of North Carolina (which was admittedly more than a few years ago), Chapel Hill was a much nicer town than Durham--and I doubt that has changed. (Of course, that is probably also reflected in higher real estate prices, too.)

With regard to Hanover, I thought the winters there got a little tiresome when I was in my teens and early twenties; although it is a lovely area with much to do, I can't imagine anyone who's not used to the winters there wanting to retire to Hanover--or most of the northern locations mentioned here.

Finally, where Boise is concerned, I've heard people say that Reno and Boise are very similar except that Reno has casinos. Furthermore, Reno is less than an hour from Lake Tahoe, and San Francisco is only four hours away. (Boise's location is much less convenient.) On the other hand, Nevada is one of the states hardest hit by the recession, which is certainly not good, but on the other hand, housing costs are now incredibly low and probably poised to fall further.

k*thy said...

Yeah, ndspinelli, it's not unique to Madison. It's a statewide problem

David said...

This wasn't a bias towards college towns--it's an article expressly about college towns. You know that going in.

I live in one of these places (Beaufort) and have visited a bunch. Seems to me that Madison is reasonably competitive with many on income taxes. It's the real estate taxes in Wisconsin that are killer.

I do wonder how easy it is to take classes at (say) Amherst and Smith, if you live in Northampton. Certainly it would be quite expensive.

The classes at South Carolina-Beaufort are virtually free, especially if you are over 65. Though USCB is not Amherst or Smith, either, in terms of course offerings.

David said...

Mad Man: "never a word about the dreadful summers in, say, Athens GA or Prescott AZ."

Or Beaufort, where I live. I spent the first two summers in Beaufort. I found the heat really difficult. My age and having lived all my life in the snow belt made it hard to adjust.

So now I get my fortunate butt to Wisconsin for the summer.

(You are wrong about Prescott, which sits at an altitude of 5400 feet. Average August high = 85, average August low = 57. I know Prescott because my son went to Prescott College for one year. It's one of those "interesting" schools.)

DaveW said...

Beaufort? Lol.

Beaufort is a USMC base. It wouldn't exist without the Marine Corps. It is a miserable place, filled with swamp gas and gnats. And if you drive around you can find a voodoo doctor for your ills. Perfect for old folks.

I spent 2 years in Beaufort as a Marine. It's fine for a military base, but a retirement location? You must be joking.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

What constitutes a "best place" for some people is not at all attractive for others. These types of articles are ridiculous.

Jake said...

Ann, how do you think all of the bike paths that you and Meade enjoy around Madison get paid for? Yeah, taxes.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Madison would move to the top of the list if Wisconsin ended State funded pensions and lifetime healthcare benefits for public sector employees.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, how do you think all of the bike paths that you and Meade enjoy around Madison get paid for? Yeah, taxes."

You mean fees? We pay $20 a year each for a trail pass. And $25 per car for a state park pass.

AJ Lynch said...

With the internets, does an old coot really need to be near a university town to get more education?

Kirk Parker said...

No lack of taxes in Duluth, either.

Me, I'm going to retire right here in Puget Sound country. When you already live in the best place in the world, why leave?


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Oh, wait. Did I mention it rains here? A lot? And not your tropical "cloud up and downpour and then leave and it's sunny again" type rain, either. This is on the verge of the temperate coastal rain forest zone, where it's drizzly and gray for months at a time.

You wouldn't want to move here; trust me on this. Try Phoenix or Palm Springs. Or I hear St. Petersburg is really nice...

Jake said...

Ann,

There is no fee for using Madison's bike paths.

good try though.

Jake said...

Bushman wrote

"Madison would move to the top of the list if Wisconsin ended State funded pensions and lifetime healthcare benefits for public sector employees."

Are you talking about Ann's $158,000.00 no show job?

Jake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rick said...

Sign spotted in State College....Ann Arbor is a slut.

MadisonMan said...

There is no fee for using Madison's bike paths.

The Capital City Trail does charge a fee. I'm not certain that any part of that trail is in Madison, however. It must come awfully close down by the sewage plant.

AJ Lynch said...

Jake don't be such a dick.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Jake, I was making no statement about Althouse. I don't believe she has a "no show" job. My problem is with the unsustainable benefits that Wisconsin pays their employees.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Ann, how do you think all of the bike paths that you and Meade enjoy around Madison get paid for? Yeah, taxes.

This sort of statement was invariably called a "gasper" in Tom Wolfe's old essays.

Jake said...

Why is it that I get called a "dick" for complaining about Ann's "Never Ending Vacation" and "The Free Loadin' Larry Meade" getting free health care from my hard earned tax dollars? (A couple of Dylan references there for you.)

I call it being fiscally conservative.

Jake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lance said...

Best place to retire is near the grandkids.

roesch-voltaire said...

I could live in Asheville, but Tucson is only for the winter, and Ames, Iowa-- get real. For me, I will retire in Madison, and travel as often as I can afford.

c3 said...

steve;
live in southern New Mexico and there are lots of retirees here.

Once lived in southern NM. I thought at that time the ideal winter/summer option was summer here (or here)

and winter here

AJ Lynch said...

Jake - it's fair to be against defined-benefit pensions for govt employees when they are mathematically unsustainable. I am with you there.

But when you use the issue to batter or belittle or single out one individual [i.e Althouse], then you are being a dick.

lgv said...

College towns are the worst place to retire or even live, if they are small.

1) Real Estate prices are higher compared to surrounding areas

2) A significant portion of the population never gets older, while you do. Sure, the names and faces are different, but one continually gets older relative to the average age of the town.

I interned with a company in State College, PA. Listening to the old timers talk about back when blah, blah, blah was quarterbacking. It was sad. BTW, the oldtimers were in their late 20's.

AJ Lynch said...

LGV:

That was funny. Thanks for the laughs to end the day!

Sixty Grit said...

Move to Durham - it's called the City of Medicine because you will receive a sucking chest wound just walking around and Duke can treat you - they have had lots of practice. Even the chief of police was shot at the other day. There was a gun battle downtown the other morning at a local booze house which resulted in 10 casualties. Murder and rape, prostitution and open air drug markets rule in Durham, but at least the police are corrupt and the black mayor has gotten fat an rich by means best left to the imagination.

If you are white and wish to be disenfranchised, treated like a second class citizen, deal with rampant thuggery and mayhem, like living in a war zone, think that the sound of a thug emptying a 20 shot magazine is better than birds chirping, think communists are too right wing, know in your heart that astrology is good science, love Gaia, hate western civilization, admire women who wear burkas, think muslims are swell, don't mind home invasions, like bars on your doors and windows, and otherwise are less intelligent than hdhouse, Durham is the place for you.

Remember, Le-a is pronounced "Le Dash A" because the dash don't be silent.

WV: tumench - tu mench walked into a bar...

Kurt said...

LGV: Your comments remind me very much of some of the lines from the great movie Breaking Away, which was set in another midwestern college town that, like Madison, doesn't appear on this list.

hombre said...

Tucson is hot, hot, hot and will soon be part of Mexico (de facto).

Austin is hot, hot, butt ugly and requires a car for everything unless you are rich and can afford to live downtown.

Ashland is gorgeous and fun and is being run into the ground by a council of dimwitted, lefty, hippie wannabees, who have to hire a shrink to help them get along with each other. It is becoming a mecca for homeless dopers and brazen black-tailed deer.

I have lived in all three and know whereof I speak.

Kurt said...

Sixty Grit: Your comments about Durham only reinforce my impressions of the city from my last visits to the area many years ago. It doesn't sound like it has changed much.

Sixty Grit said...

There is an interesting riff on this on the AOL page. I like the picture AOL used. I like it a lot.

William said...

I see nothing character building about NYC winters, but other than that I have no big complaints....Sometimes I look at real estate porn. I could sell my apt here and live in real luxury in Florida. Did you know that there are homes in America that have built in washer dryer combos and even spare bedrooms. Opulence beyond all imagining...Well inertia has been the guiding principle of my life, and I'll probably remain here. I wonder about the rationale behind retirement moves. Maybe it's not the wish for a more temperate climate. Perhaps people do not wish to totter in places where they once swaggered.

kentuckyliz said...

Ames IA? You have got to be kidding me.

Boise is Des Moines with a backdrop.

I like it...because I like Des Moines and mountains.

I wanted to spend my young retirement in Oak Ridge TN but that was because it's rowing heaven, and now I'm so arthritic and can barely walk...didn't row this year. So I dunno.

If I stay gimpy, I want to retire wherever my sister is because she is a great caretaker to nurse me through my long decline.

Big Mike said...

A number of these college towns have teaching hospitals associated with the local university. Access to good medical care is pretty important to retirees!

I was surprised not to see Charlottesville, VA, on the list.

DADvocate said...

I was floored to see Lexington, KY on the list. I go there regularly for sports and shopping.

It is not an attractive town. Traffic is horrible. The worst I've ever seen in a town it's size. Not much cultural stuff. It is cool that UK allows 65s and over to sit in on classes. But, I'd take a lot of other unmentioned cities over Lexington any day.

SteveOrr said...

Tuition is growing at an exponential rate. Dumb teenagers are taking out loans they can never pay back. The responsible students will eventually be forced to bail out their dumb peers.

Meanwhile, the retiree parents attend college for free.

Adult education is great & all. Learning should never end, I'm down. But shouldn't college be for young people?

DADvocate said...

But shouldn't college be for young people?

Give me a break!! Get over your closed mindedness. My mother didn't start college until her mid-forties when my youngest sister started grade school.

My mother was an honor student, earned her M.S. with a double major in Art History and Asian Studies as well as becoming fluent in Chinese.

I can hardly believe someone said something as stupid as what you just wrote.

DADvocate said...

Oh, she graduated with her M.A. (actually) at the age of 60.

SBVOR said...

A pair of so-called "journalists" imagine their ideal places to retire and they "all seem to be college towns [er, sorry -- Leftist indoctrination camps]"?

Tell me again what is surprising about this?

Fred4Pres said...

Madison lost out to Duluth?

That is low.

Fred4Pres said...

Well at least you did not lose to Newark or Detroit.

SBVOR said...

Want to retire outside the USA?

Think Costa Rica (Pacific side).

Revenant said...

Durham is #1? Seriously?

I've been there. It is ok, I guess, but no nicer than dozens of other small southern towns I've been through.

Joe said...

No mention of Hawaii. The foolishness of the idea that the children will come that far to visit you....

Feature.

Tucson is very hot in the summer, but it's fairly cold in the winter (high 30s); it's nice about two months out of the year. At least Phoenix has very nice winters.

I'm baffled by your characterization of college town. To me, a college town is a town that was "made" by the college. Most the places on the list existed already. Colleges were created there BECAUSE of the population, not IN SPITE of it. Prescott and Tucson being rather extreme examples.

Another way to put it; without the college what would happen to the town? Close USC and would Los Angeles notice? Close Cornell and Ithica would wither and die.

Joe said...

Oh and Austin Texas isn't just very hot in the summer, it's unbelievably humid.

And Prescott, AZ has great summers (but I did live several years in Phoenix and Tucson.) One labor day weekend, I drove from Arkansas to Phoenix. The difference was astonishing--no matter how bad Phoenix heat was it was still better than Arkansas heat + humidity. We drove through Prescott--it was heavenly, but no work there so kept on driving.

kentuckyliz said...

In KY, senior citizens can scoop up leftover seats in classes for free. No young person is going without.