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Where Do You Want to Retire in Style? Pick Your Flavor

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April 15, 2012

Think lecture halls not bingo halls. Real estate pros help with a short list of U.S. retirement landing places trending over the next five years.

If we're lucky enough to live longer than Grammy and Gramps, shouldn’t we jam those bonus years with security and stimulation? When it comes to where you live—and more importantly—where you’re comfortable, choices are vast. Of course, popularity can spoil a best-kept secret with too many like-minded adventurers and higher housing prices. But, popularity often packs tons of amenities and opportunities. For boomers and retirees, we spotlight five lifestyle picks whose popularity is on the rise since the 2008 Great Recession.

1. INTELLECTUAL Nothing wrong with hanging around 20-somethings no matter your age. In college towns across the land, you’ll be dazzled by easy public transportation, diverse housing stock, retail and dining options, sports teams, concerts, and liberal-arts courses—features that handily fit not only the needs of co-eds but retirees, too, according to research from Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center.

2. TIGHTWAD A compliment. Truly. Stretching retirement dollars is genius. Affordable is one thing. Affordable, and appealing, another. AARP The Magazine crunched the numbers on 350 cities. The top 5: Winchester, Virginia; Portland, Maine; Gainesville, Georgia; Wenatchee, Washington; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Common features: moderate real-estate prices and taxes; lower cost of living; access to recreation and the arts.

Destination in Sight

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3. COSMOPOLITAN Your golden years under the bright lights? Why not. According to Forbes.com, there are plenty of ways to make this choice a reality. The trick? Downsize living quarters then leverage convenience. If New York, Chicago, or Miami aren’t in your comfort zone, consider Washington, D.C. It takes a few knocks for higher crime and cost of living, but still delivers with a less-volatile local economy than other metro areas, access to medical services, and culture by the pound.

4. SERENITY SEEKER For some, it’s the “what,” not the “where.” Imagine searching a vast housing inventory using a single word—waterfall. “Retirement relocation is about what you’re going to do, not where you’re going to go,” said Dan Duffy, CEO at the rural and coastal real-estate network United Country. Duffy says “idyllic lifestyle-seekers” are seeking a fresh start and a tangible investment—land. Rental income, cash crops, fishing rights, eco-tourism, organic- vegetable stands—potential earnings all from a rural retirement. What’s hot? The Carolinas, Virginia, Texas, and a California migration to Colorado, Montana, and Idaho.

Just for Fun...

THINKING ABOUT A NEW ZIP CODE?
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5. ADVENTURER Rugged living even with modern conveniences takes a certain breed of retiree. But adventure can come on a flat bike path, too. Madison, Wisconsin, and Boulder, Colorado, combine university life, scenic views, and miles of bike trails, said Forbes.com.

AND, OUR HONORABLE MENTION

+1. SUN WORSHIPPER Overbuilding in some markets—including Atlanta, Phoenix, and Las Vegas—turned these once-booming markets upside down and turned off retirees. As housing slowly recovers, deal hunters could drive demand, including in spots some had considered out of reach.

“Although retirees in Florida, inland California, and the Southwest see high foreclosure rates and lost equity, price declines since the height of the housing bubble have drawn house hunters from across the country,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia.com. “Boomers who had planned to retire to cheaper climes in the South during the boom years can once again buy in Florida.”

Of course, you may opt to move near children and grandchildren, no matter the climate or cost. Or, you may enjoy the very spot you live in now through a retirees’ lens.