What even is retirement anymore? As people live longer (and lead healthier lives), the traditional concept of leaving work to minimal expenses and a quiet life and spend time with grandkids is becoming increasingly obsolete.
Whether due to high medical costs and inflation or the funds needed to cover one’s desire to travel, many are working longer both through side jobs and full-time work — numbers from the Labor Department found that 1.5 million Americans who retired between 2020 and 2022 later reentered the labor market.
A further study from financial adviser Edward Jones found that 59% of Americans close to retirement age in 2022 delayed plans to do so.
Some, in turn, are seeing retirement not as a time to not work at all but the ability to pursue more interesting projects or a business.
This Is Where You Should (And Shouldn’t) Retire
With cost of living varying greatly across the country, where one chooses to retire can make a huge difference in whether those savings will last or one will have to take on a side job just a few years later.
By looking at median housing prices alongside things like the number of people over the age of 55 and the presence of senior amenities, real estate listings site Realtor.com identified Michigan’s Traverse City as the number one place in the country for retirees — the resort town was also on the same list of fast-growing retirement communities in 2021.
Over the past 12 months, the average median listing price for a single-family home was $390,000 while the lakeside lifestyle gives people of older age a vacation feel and plenty of activities for living actively.
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“House hunters who want to get into that snowbird life — or don’t mind the cold — can find great homes that are well-priced, including this wheelchair-accessible three-bedroom manufactured home asking for $234,000 or this downtown three-bedroom bungalow with a great front porch for $399,900,” the report reads.
Next on the list were Portland, Maine and Salisbury, Maryland. While their median list prices are more expensive at a respective $469,000 and $430,000, both cities sit on the ocean and offer the kind of sit-by-the-water-and-write-a-brilliant-book feel that many dream about during the working years.
Looking Away From Florida Opens Up Possibilities
That combination of picturesque (which, to many, means by the water) and affordable is a resounding theme in most such lists.
The only town in Florida to make the list was Port St. Lucie — between Miami and Orlando, the 195,000-person town sits at the foot of Treasure Coast and Savannas Preserve State Park. It is significantly less expensive than some of the more popular retiree hotspots. The median listing price over the last 12 years was $377,000.
While places like South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach and Illinois’ Bloomington beat out Port St. Lucie when it comes to affordability, that “retirement means Florida” mindset is a hard one to break for many.
Fear of cold weather may, as a result, be causing some to miss out on places that let one trade in for a cheaper house and make that money stretch farther.
“For some, living in a sunny location with great weather — like Florida, California, or Arizona — is [still] a must-have,” George Ratiu, Realtor.com’s manager of senior economic research, said in a statement.