I want year-round outdoor living — dry summers and no snow — on $4,000 a

I’m a single 54-year-old female looking to retire in the next 10 years, but looking to move to my future retirement spot during the next two years. I love dry summer weather, hiking, biking, water sports, year-round outdoor living. I don’t like cold, snowy winters, unless I’m driving there to ski!

I like to be close enough (within a couple of hours) to art and culture, but on a daily basis I’d like close access to trails and lakes. I don’t want to be too secluded but also don’t want to be packed into a subdivision. 

My monthly retirement budget will be around $3,500-$4,000. I’ll also have money from the sale of my house.

Any recommendations? 



Dear Alice,

Moving to your retirement spot well in advance of actually retiring sounds like a dream, especially if, as I hope, you’ll be able to telecommute to your current job.

No snow, no summer rains — or even much humidity? That pretty much rules out the eastern half of the U.S., though you might want to look in western North Carolina (here’s one option) and eastern Tennessee (no state income taxes) if you’re willing to compromise a bit. 

Otherwise, let’s head out west..

You’ll find some of our most awe-inspiring national parks there and so much public land to play in. You don’t want to be fenced in, so push beyond city limits in the suggestions below. Equally, given the range of neighborhoods you’ll find, don’t assume that a more urban setting means you’ll be packed into a subdivision. (One reader calls Albuquerque a “delightful, quirky hidden gem.”)

Don’t worry about finding trails wherever you move. The National Trails System tops 193,000 (primarily hiking) miles, and the nonprofit organization Rails to Trails says America has more than 24,000 miles of rail-trails that appeal to cyclists as well as walkers.

Here are three options to get you started. As always, make sure the retirement budget is realistic and spend some time getting to know an area during all seasons before you commit. A bad move is an expensive mistake. 

Read: There is more to picking a place to retire than low taxes — avoid these 5 expensive mistakes

Also: 4 questions to answer before you make any big changes to your life in retirement

Elephant Arch in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area Wilderness, part of Red Cliffs Desert Reserve outside St. George, Utah.


St. George, Utah

This fast-growing city of nearly 90,000 people in the southwestern corner of the state puts you on the edge of the  60,000-acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and an hour from Zion…

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