While traditionally, retirees have sought retirement destinations primarily in warm climates, that trend may be on the way out, says a recent National Public Radio report. Instead, today’s baby boomer retirees favor retirement communities in “unconventional” destinations over the snowbird traits of their parents, the report shows.
The results: people are going well beyond the southeastern and southwestern United States to age in place.
The idea of people who uproot and move when they retire conjures up images of warm, sunny Florida or Arizona. But some of the older members of the baby boom generation (the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964) are looking elsewhere, and a number of towns in cooler climates from Maine to Washington have become popular retirement destinations.
Camden is frequently cited in lists of best places for retirees. Others that have merited mention include Asheville, N.C.; Ruidoso, N.M.; Durango, Colo.; the San Juan Islands in Washington’s Puget Sound; St. George, Utah; Medford, Ore.; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Kalispell, Mont.; and towns along lakes Superior and Michigan in northern Michigan.
“Boomers and retirees these days are considering a much wider range of destinations for retirement, often choosing states that don’t commonly come to mind, such as Maine and Montana,” said Mary Lu Abbott, editor of Where to Retire magazine. “Yes, the Sun Belt remains popular, but many people prefer a four-season climate and enjoy the changing of seasons. They seek towns that are safe and have active, appealing downtowns and good hospitals nearby, and increasingly they’re looking for places with a lower cost of living and lower overall tax rate.”
With baby boomers now reaching retirement age, they’re looking for places that are walkable with good restaurants, volunteer opportunities and perhaps college courses they might be able to take, said David Savageau, author of “Retirement Places Rated,” now in its seventh printing. They’re also looking for places with familiarity, where they’ve visited on vacation or perhaps spent summers as a child.
For many retirees nowadays, the idea of a “golf kind of idle recreation” retirement associated with Florida isn’t appealing, he said.
“That’s the old view of retirement,” Savageau said. “And it’s kind of dying out, the desert Southwest and South Florida. That was for our parents; for us it might be somewhere closer to home, a college town, a ski resort or a historical area that gets some kind of tourism in season.”
Willingness to retire to a colder locale like Maine or another New England state isn’t universal, though, as some of those locations may have high housing costs along with long, cold, and snowy winters, says NPR. Most retirees are looking for accessibility, too, when it comes to healthcare, socialization, and activities.
Written by Alyssa Gerace