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Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 02:44 PM   #1
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Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

As we get nearer retirement (my wife retires in a few weeks and I expect to work about 18 month more until younger son starts college) we are playing with ideas/dreams VS realities. I am originally a city boy (Chicago) and my wife grew up in a somewhat suburban Southern California environment. We live in a nice place, Pasadena CA, we would like to leave the smog and congestion but would like to keep the services, restaurants and entertainment as much as possible. Neither of us has lived in a rural world except for wonderful vacations. My ideal retirement world would be living in a place where I *could* walk to things if I wanted and maybe good public transportation as well. I lived in London for some years and that suited me. I also like Seattle, SF and Portland. But none of these are cheap. I have found a few small towns that I could live in like Nevada City, CA, that are small but progressive (no bullet holes through the deer crossing signs). It seems to me like a good small town near enough a city might be the way to go.

Any city folks decide to take up country life? Are the suburbs to be avoided in any case? All I’m looking for is a small town/urban neighborhood that is safe & affordable where I can walk to things, with public transportation, good services and maybe good weather too? Too much to ask? Access to local kayaking water is a major plus. For a while I was thinking about Madison WI but then remembered winter.
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 02:52 PM   #2
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

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I have found a few small towns...that are small but progressive (no bullet holes through the deer crossing signs).
Progressive? Maybe they're just lousy shots...

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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 03:06 PM   #3
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

I still recommend college towns - especially those with med schools.* I spent 2 yrs away in grad school and the town had about 100,000.* Very affordable, good public transportation, great health care facilities and public parks.* It was actually nice to see some houses that were not designed from some mass produced model.* I didn't have an airport which was a pain at times but I was 1 1/2 - 2 hours from two good sized cities + there was a shuttle service to either one.

Weather was not so good but everything else was great.* Can you find anything within 4 hours of one of the cities you like for an affordable price?
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 03:20 PM   #4
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

No accounting for taste, but we finally acknowledged that we were city people, and that a cheaper semirural life just would not make us quite as happy. We would rather live in or near the city and do a little traveling now and then to get a dose of "the country." The alternative it to live in a nice country setting but drive everywhere including lots of city trips for many of the things we enjoy.

I have no doubt that our decision will cost us. Then again, we have tons of friends within a few miles, tons of great, cheap ethnic restaurants and stores, be at the beach in half an hour, do lots of city stuff, etc. That's just us and I am sure it cuts both ways.

No "right" or "wrong" here, but it was liberating finally acknowleding what we really enjoy, and prepare for it accordingly.

The ones I worry about are the life-long city dwellers who have a romantic notion that suddenly at retirement they want to move to Mayberry. High risk decision, in my view, but hey... each to his/her own.
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 03:40 PM   #5
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

while i appreciate the convenience of urban life for when i really need that odd shaped lightbulb and can find it within 5 minutes of shopping, i really don't need a drug store on every corner, a restaurant in every fifth storefront or a starbucks on every third block.

my concern with going country now is later in life, when i'm in my 70s or 80s if i make it there. might be nice then to be within a reasonable drive to an emergency room. also of concern is if i buy in the country now and enjoy that for a while i might not be able to afford an urban dwelling later. i suppose i can always rent a place.

i really like wildcat's idea of a college town. the med school idea is great. i'd try finding one with a teaching hospital. i've been to shands in gainesville and jackson in miami, both very impressive.
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 04:22 PM   #6
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

I second recommendation for college towns.
How about Athens, GA?
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 04:48 PM   #7
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

I like the city, would prefer to move to Mpls/St. Paul, near most of my good friends. I would like to be near a library, good parks, and have good walking and biking right out the door.

Greg likes a more rural setting or small town. Preferably off the grid.

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Farm living is the life for me
Land spreading out,
so far and wide
Keep Manhattan,
just give me that countryside.

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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 04:53 PM   #8
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

Why are small college towns desirable for a retiree? I don't see it for me. I am not going to go to college. I will have no kids in college. I don't do the things college age people do. Please enlighten me.
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 05:46 PM   #9
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

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Originally Posted by Lazarus
Why are small college towns desirable for a retiree? I don't see it for me. I am not going to* go to college. I will have no kids in college. I don't do the things college age people do. Please enlighten me.
Cheap beer?
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 05:48 PM   #10
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

Probably somewhat more intellectual than your average small town, with more "culture"...

And cheap beer... :P

And college girls...
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 05:49 PM   #11
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazarus
Why are small college towns desirable for a retiree? I don't see it for me. I am not going to go to college. I will have no kids in college. I don't do the things college age people do. Please enlighten me.
Theory: they have most of the amenities of the big city while providing small town life at a modest cost of living.

Reality: all the above, plus thousands of students and all that creates (good and bad); traffic can be waay worse than non-university towns; cost of living rising very fast. In many such towns (I've lived in a few -- Charlottesville, Madison to name a couple), development is already starting to creep into "suburban" areas resembling those of large cities.

I have nothing for or against college towns but like everything else, you gotta take the bad with the good.

Ironically, perhaps, the way we have avoided sprawl is generally to live right in the heart of the city in mature neighborhoods. What you see is what you get for a long time - no room for development.
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 05:55 PM   #12
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazarus
Why are small college towns desirable for a retiree? I don't see it for me. I am not going to* go to college. I will have no kids in college. I don't do the things college age people do. Please enlighten me.
Urban and well educated people in a smaller more manageable environment. Often museums, classes and lectures that can be attended, music etc. If you have kids and you chosse a state school, you can offer relatively cheap college to your kids. Even grade schools and high schools benefit from the higher status residents brought by the university.

Of course if none of this appeals, then it just doesn't apply to you.

Ha
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 06:00 PM   #13
 
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
I like the city, would prefer to move to Mpls/St. Paul, near most of my good friends. I would like to be near a library, good parks, and have good walking and biking right out the door.

Greg likes a more rural setting or small town. Preferably off the grid.

You are one of the only folks I know where the Minneapolis area would be moving to a warmer climate!
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 06:07 PM   #14
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

I think it really depends on which college town you're talking about. They're not all the same. I live outside of one with a population of 80k and that includes the students. It's an amazing place in the summer when the population drops to 39k, and that's when I like it best. :

We have amazing art, music, theatre, and sports brought to us courtesy of such a large university. We're also tops for hiking, camping, and fly fishing. This winter was pretty mild. Even when school is in session, the traffic is laughable. We mutter about it from time to time, but "rush hour" only lasts 10 minutes or so from 5-5:10pm. I just wait 10 minutes to leave work and I get home at the same time as if I left at 5.

But I still can't figure out the Olive Garden. No matter how many folks are in town, the wait os over an hour and the place can be half empty. Hmm...
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 06:13 PM   #15
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

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Ironically, perhaps, the way we have avoided sprawl is generally to live right in the heart of the city in mature neighborhoods. What you see is what you get for a long time - no room for development.
Good post. How do you avoid having lower class and sometimes poorly behaved people redistributed into the apartment buildings in your area via Section 8, etc?

I like cities a lot; but I see our cities on the way to increasing social polarization. In South America, for example, almost anyone who can afford it lives in a gated and guarded community. Not hard to imagine that here IMO. Though it may take a while for people to catch on to the new reality.

I stopped briefly this morning at Crossroads Mall in Bellevue. Couple cops had 2 'bangers on the floor being cuffed, and backup cop cars were streaming in from all directions. Bellevue was not this way a little while ago, but it is becoming so, at least East Bellevue. But small 60s houses still cost $400, 000+. Do the buyers realize that this is a dynamic situation?

In a tony downtown Seattle neighborhood called Belltown, the people living in $1Mil+ apartments must not realize that the nightlife on the streets might not be attractive to risk averse millionaires.* They had better leave their secure parking and apartments by car, and head out to the 'burbs for entertainment.

Or maybe they are like someone on another thread, who prefers to do his drinking alone.


Ha

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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 06:20 PM   #16
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

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No accounting for taste, but we finally acknowledged that we were city people
Same here. Luckily both my wife and I feel the same. We live on Capitol Hill in DC and love the ability to walk to restaurants, walk downtown to a movie, etc. We have a weekend place on the Potomac where most of our neighbors are retirees but we both figure that is the disposable place if we need extra money. It is a great place to relax -- for a while - but we would go stir crazy if we had to saty. We have talked about college towns for all of the reasons people mentioned above, but where we are now meets all the same criteria and the mortgage is paid. I can't recommend it to anyone else since the real estate prices skyrocketed in the last 5 years.

Don
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 06:23 PM   #17
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 07:12 PM   #18
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

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Originally Posted by HaHa
Good post. How do you avoid having lower class and sometimes poorly behaved people redistributed into the apartment buildings in your area via Section 8, etc?
We buy expensive houses (at least by smaller town or exurban standards - maybe similar to upscale suburban prices). We look for mostly well-kept landscaping (first thing to go). My wife has great intuition (she's a realtor). We don't try to get too much into "up and coming" or "gentrifying" neighborhoods. We like 'em already there and stable for years. Love sidewalks, big oak trees (yes we have 'em in Tampa), walking, chatting with neighbors.

Ain't the cheapest way to go, really, but I am not so sure it is that much more expensive. The housing prices hold very well, travel and commute time are minimal, and we can easily be entertained without resorting to planned outings - just head to a funky downtown restaurant or bar for an hour or two whenever the urge hits. Everything is within 10 minutes.

Works for us.
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 09:39 PM   #19
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

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Why are small college towns desirable for a retiree? I don't see it for me. I am not going to go to college. I will have no kids in college. I don't do the things college age people do. Please enlighten me.
Well, I will add my thoughts in addition to the other posts. First, this thread is all about different strokes for different folks. For me, I would prefer to be in a vibrant environment minus all the chaos that comes with many big cities. Obviously, the performing arts comes at a fraction of the cost. Sure, it won't be as good as the big city venue but it is certainly cheaper. Actually contrary to some posts, I could find a lot of locally owned businesses and ethnic restaurants in all of the college towns I have visited, some of which had a lot of history in the community. My experiences and friendships just seemed so much more real and personal than what I would have found in an urban area. Maybe fewer distractions can be a good thing from time to time.
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?
Old 04-17-2006, 09:59 PM   #20
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Re: Urban/Suburban/Rural Retirement?

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a restaurant in every fifth storefront or a starbucks on every third block.
We didn't have no stinkin Starbucks. We still had a very good, locally owned coffee shop where you could enjoy a good cup of joe. You didn't have to worry about reading through some menu with "frippy frappy vanilla mocha expresso with whip cream" $6.00 junk on it and you could enjoy with a person from every walk of life. IMHO it's not a good coffee shop if it only seems to serve middle-upper class people. Gotta have local weirdos
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