I would love to find a liberal minded area to retire at $ 3,000 a month, including rent. Hiking, cycling and gardening are in the foreground.
They seem wide open to where in the country to retire, making it easy to find an affordable and interesting place. My first thought is the underrated college towns in the Midwest. They're usually the bruise you're looking for, but far cheaper than those on the coasts. Of course you will have colder winters than in the south.
As I've written many times, I'm a fan of college cities because they tend to beat their size for amenities. Whichever part of the country you are thinking of, start your search there. A tip: the rental calendar in college cities can be tied to the academic year, as students look in the spring and sign a lease for the fall.
But they're not your only option.
MarketWatch's Where Should I Retire? Tool can help you narrow down your list (aside from policies, which may vary between municipalities within a metropolitan area). I asked for a median rent of less than $ 850 to give you extra comfort, a city with public transport (if you need it), a below average cost of living – and a big university if possible. Then I started doing research and being a bit flexible. (I ended up with colleges that aren't the big research institutes that the MarketWatch tool uses.) You may want to add more criteria.
You can garden almost anywhere, although only what you can grow is different from what you are used to. All three of my proposals have master gardening programs that need volunteers.
You will also find a bike club just about anywhere to ride (and make new friends) with. You may want to refine your shortlist by comparing it to the bike-friendly communities of the League of American Bicyclists. All three of my suggestions are bronze communities by this group's metrics.
Before deciding where to go, please spend time there and pretend you've already moved rather than just going on vacation. Moving is expensive; a bad move is an expensive mistake. And whichever you choose, give yourself a financial cushion.
With that said, here are some suggestions to get you started.
The Brandywine Falls Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
The MarketWatch retirement tool suggested the Cleveland metropolitan area. I choose Oberlin, a town of 8,300 in the southwest part of that area, 40 minutes from Cleveland, and home to a 3,000-student humanities college and a prestigious music conservatory. There is no shortage of free concerts by talented musicians during classes.
The city is politically blue, although Lorain County is red as a whole. The city doesn't have a bus system, but the college runs a shopping shuttle service on Saturday afternoons that anyone can use.
Lorian County's North Coast Inland Trail section, which is just over 30 km long, passes through Oberlin. Once completed, the cycling and running route will run more than 160 kilometers from Toledo to Lorain. You are also within 25 miles of the near-completed Ohio-to-Erie Trail booked in Cincinnati and Cleveland.
You can also spend plenty of time exploring Cuyahoga Valley National Park, approximately 45 minutes away, including hiking its 200 km of hiking trails and paddling along the Cuyahoga River.
And if you're looking for the convenience of a big city, head to Cleveland.
There is no avoiding snowy winters here. But the average daily highs in winter are above freezing. The average summer highs are in the lower 80s.
This is what the rental market looks like when you use listings on Realtor.com (which, like MarketWatch, are owned by News Corp). You can also check Craigslist and other sources.
If Oberlin doesn't like it, I've previously suggested other affordable college towns in the Midwest, like Columbia, Missouri; Bloomington, Ind. ‘And Iowa City, Iowa.
Read: MarketWatch's Help Me Retire columns for the financial side of retirement decisions
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Organ Mountains Desert Peak National Monument outside of Las Cruces, N.M.
Courtesy Visit Las Cruces
If the Midwest is not for you, what about the Southwest?
Albuquerque and its suburbs have been suggested many times by MarketWatch, and this area could be a good fit. Or think of Las Cruces, less than a fifth the size of Albuquerque with about 100,000 residents and a lower cost of living.
Yes, it can get hot – average summer highs in the mid-1990s – but the desert climate means some of that is made up for by low humidity. The winter highs averages in the upper 50s or lower 60s. The tourist office says the city gets 320 days of sunshine annually.
The city's urban path system is 24 miles long and growing. You have plenty of hiking options too, particularly the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument, but with fewer people on the trails than around Albuquerque or the more expensive Santa Fe. The White Sands National Park is half an hour away.
This is where New Mexico State University is located with its 14,000 students. Dona Ana County turned blue in 2020; his congressional district, which includes more conservative areas to the east, did not.
Life here would take you to the green Chileland. While Hatch, 40 minutes away, is known for its chilli festival, there are plenty of growers in Las Cruces. You can taste yourselves on the Green Chile Trail "Walk of Flame", sometimes with pecans, the other great agricultural product of the region. Or just visit the twice-weekly farmers' market, considered one of the best in the southwest.
This is what the rental market looks like in Las Cruces and throughout Dona Ana County, including with listings on Realtor.com
The Shelby Farms Greenline in Memphis.
courtesy Memphis Tourism
Here is a big city option between Oberlin and Las Cruces that is still affordable. You may know Memphis for its barbecue and music. You may not know that the cost of living here is 20% below the national average, as the local Chamber of Commerce likes to brag.
You may need to add more to the rental budget compared to my other options. Start your apartment hunt in Midtown, one of the most diverse and inclusive areas of the city. The big university – the University of Memphis, formerly called Memphis State – is further east.
True, you won't have the hills of northern Ohio or the mountains near Las Cruces. But you'd have Shelby Farms Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country and more than five times the size of New York's Central Park. You can get there via the Shelby Farms Greenline, a trail that runs 16.65 miles from Midtown through the park to the Cordova community. Those looking for steeper trails may prefer the 8 mile Chickasaw Bluffs Trail near Millington. And of course you can always explore the urban terrain on foot.
You can walk or bike the 70 mile Big River Trail on the levees of the Mississippi River on the Arkansas side. reach it by crossing the Mississippi on your own on the spectacular Big River Crossing.
Shelby County chooses blue, as opposed to Knox County, home of Knoxville and the University of Tennessee.
Memphis gets much warmer than Ohio; Winter highs average in the low 50s, while summer highs average in the low 90s and with more humidity.
Here's a look at the rental market, again with Realtor.com
Reader, where should Ken retire? Leave your suggestions in the comment section.
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