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Best places to retire for young active family?
Old 08-25-2013, 06:59 PM   #1
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Best places to retire for young active family?

I hope to be FI in 5-10 years but to continue to do part time work to stay busy and have extra spending money. My ideal place to retire would:

1. have good schools (will have 1 or more young children)
2. have a moderate climate (not much rain, short winters, heat is ok)
3. be close to the mountains (biking distance to mountain bike trails)
4. a bike friendly community (can use bike as main mode of transportation)
5. a decent size city (100,000 people or more)
6. reasonable home prices (median home $300k or less)
7. driving distance to the ocean or lake
8. close to an airport or other cities and state/national parks to venture out

My wife and I LOVE Santa Barbara, CA but that would be a tough place to retire early since real estate is so expensive.

Any recommendations?
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:03 PM   #2
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Check out Fort Collins, Colorado
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:20 PM   #3
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Check out Fort Collins, Colorado
The home of New Belgium Brewing Company! I've driven through CO but only stopped in Boulder, Denver and Fruita. How does Fort Collins compare to Boulder?
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:34 PM   #4
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disclaimer: I live in Golden, co, and work in fort Collins 3 days a week, so I often drive through Boulder on my commute, as well as everyplace else in between, just to keep the drive from being too routine.

Fort Collins is more of a family place than Boulder, IMHO. more laid back, less congested, less hectic. My co-workers mostly live in and around Fort Collins, and they like it there. Actually, I've had a couple co-workers that moved out to fort Collins just to be there (but that happens most places in Colorado anyway). Fort Collins area might be cheaper also, because Boulder has a growth cap that raises real estate prices. In the immediate Denver area, Golden where I live is nice, but for you, probably too close to the urban area.
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:31 PM   #5
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^ Thanks for the info. I don't mind urban, but am not a big fan of traffic and being able to bike to trails/mountains would be ideal. I've heard good things about Golden too (the city was featured in the International Mountain Bike Association video last year). How many months out of the year is there snow on the ground? I'm sure I could get into snowboarding or cross-country skiing but would miss the bike season
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:49 PM   #6
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bank5, you could also look at Longmont for a smaller town that is similar to Ft. Collins. We live in Littleton and it would fit the bill for everything you are looking for. The High Line Canal backs up to my property and I can bike hundreds of miles on connected trails from the Canal access a block from the house.
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:59 PM   #7
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On this Bicycling Magazine list of cities http://www.bicycling.com/news/advoca...itiesnortheast Colorado had #3 (Boulder), #11 (Fort Collins) #14 (Denver) #31 Colorado springs. In 2020, DW and I are retiring to Albuquerque, NM (DW home town), is #20 on the list, but it does not meet your water criteria. Other places on the list might, however.

The snow doesn't stay on the ground very much in the Denver-Fort Collins Area. The bicycle season seems to be about 8 or 9 months a year, as that is when the free b-cycle program runs in Denver. As you know from driving through, it's on the prairie, not in the mountains. Here is an interesting article Tyler Hamilton: how cycling in Boulder changed my life | Travel | The Guardian
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:03 PM   #8
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and I can bike hundreds of miles on connected trails from the Canal access a block from the house.
Here is the Denver-boulder area bicycle map DRCOG - Denver Regional Bicycle Map The farthest north this map goes is Longmont
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Old 08-25-2013, 11:42 PM   #9
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This may be a "long shot" but you might want to checkout Springfield, MO.

They might not be considered "mountains" by some but the Ozark Mountains are about 30 minutes south near Branson. Plenty more in NE Arkansas. I have biked these areas and they are certainly big enough, IMO. Lakes are plentiful such as Table Rock, Taneycomo, Bull Shoals 40 minutes south . Stockton is 30 min north and Lake of the Ozarks is 80 min north. Obviously not oceans, but this nice diversity of lakes all in the same area truly offer everything that you can imagine doing on fresh water.

Now the best part...cost of living is extremely inexpensive. Probably the best value for the money of any place I have experienced. My all brick new home in a gated community on a private golf course was less than half the price of one of our prior nine homes and yet it ranks as one of our favorites. You can spend as little or much as you like but it seems that all price ranges here offer exceptional value.

There are several very good and nationally recognized public schools in the Springfield "suburbs" and of course many private options. Springfield is also home to three universities with MSU being the largest so there is a "university city feel" in some parts of town if you like that. Plus the St. Louis Carinals have a AAA team here which I enjoy. It is also the the healthcare hub in the area offering two very good hospital systems. (Mercy and Cox)

Oh, and the people are nice! No other way to say it. I have lived in very small towns and very large metro areas and there is just something special about Springfield and Branson. Some may think it is a "simple lifestyle" but I think these nice, layed-back folks may be onto something
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:03 AM   #10
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Edit....sorry, Springfield Carinals are AA, (not AAA). Still a good, fun team to see though with many players that head up to St. Louis each year.
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:15 AM   #11
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I think you'll find that your list is pretty aggressive. Places with great schools, outdoor activities and ideal weather tend to be very popular and therefore more expensive. Like Santa Barbara. We love SB as well and are considering the San Diego area b/c it seems to be less expensive (relatively) than SB. You may also want to consider AZ (Scottsdale area, Tucson, etc), although I don't know about schools.
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:53 AM   #12
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There are many fine towns in Arkansas. It is an undiscovered state.
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:20 PM   #13
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Thanks for the replies. Arkansas and Springfield, MO may seem too rural but I'm interested in checking them.

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I think you'll find that your list is pretty aggressive. Places with great schools, outdoor activities and ideal weather tend to be very popular and therefore more expensive. Like Santa Barbara. We love SB as well and are considering the San Diego area b/c it seems to be less expensive (relatively) than SB. You may also want to consider AZ (Scottsdale area, Tucson, etc), although I don't know about schools.
I think my list is pretty much impossible to satisfy completely but was more interested in getting some ideas. It's like the saying when picking out bikes -- There are three things to aim for -- low weight, low cost, and durability -- "pick 2".
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:47 PM   #14
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On the east coast, there are towns in Georgia that meet your criteria. Check out Athens, Ga. We are heading up to Blue Ridge, Ga next week. Hiking, biking, white water rafting, zip lining, rent a boat on the lake. Fun with the kids!
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:11 PM   #15
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1. have good schools (will have 1 or more young children) - check
2. have a moderate climate (not much rain, short winters, heat is ok) ... maybe not... It drizzles a lot. Not a lot of snow, though.
3. be close to the mountains (biking distance to mountain bike trails) - check.
4. a bike friendly community (can use bike as main mode of transportation) - some awesome green space trails cut through the city... and lots of bicycles on the road so cars have been "trained".
5. a decent size city (100,000 people or more) - check.
6. reasonable home prices (median home $300k or less) - Haven't checked lately, I lived there 20 years ago.
7. driving distance to the ocean or lake - on the Puget Sound and Lake Padden and Lake Whatcom offer lake opportunities.
8. close to an airport or other cities and state/national parks to venture out. Has an airport plus is close enough to Seatac.
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:22 PM   #16
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Outside magazine seemed to like Chattanooga and Nashville TN for it's readers. I don't know much about either, but FWIW Chattanooga, Tennessee | Best Place to Live | Best Towns | OutsideOnline.com
and The Best River Towns in America: Nashville, Tennessee | Best Towns | OutsideOnline.com
Best of luck...
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:44 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
I hope to be FI in 5-10 years but to continue to do part time work to stay busy and have extra spending money. My ideal place to retire would:

1. have good schools (will have 1 or more young children)
2. have a moderate climate (not much rain, short winters, heat is ok)
3. be close to the mountains (biking distance to mountain bike trails)
4. a bike friendly community (can use bike as main mode of transportation)
5. a decent size city (100,000 people or more)
6. reasonable home prices (median home $300k or less)
7. driving distance to the ocean or lake
8. close to an airport or other cities and state/national parks to venture out

My wife and I LOVE Santa Barbara, CA but that would be a tough place to retire early since real estate is so expensive.

Any recommendations?
Portland, Oregon meets most of your requirements. Columbia River for water activities, mountains an hour to the east and ocean a little more than that to the west. Lots of bikers in the city.

Housing is higher than average but not terrible.
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:58 PM   #18
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I live in Park County, Colorado, and 2nd the recommendation for anywhere on the front range. I'm in Pine Junction which is slightly further up the hill SW of Denver and I like it remote and quiet with a great view. The Colorado trail runs through this area but there is no real town to speak of. Fort Collins is an excellent choice, so is Loveland, Boulder, Golden, Colorado Springs. Where I live we have the benefit of really low property taxes and only 2.9% sales tax. Helps to keep expenses down in retirement so you can spend more money on mountain biking accessories ;-)
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:59 PM   #19
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Bank5,

My Arkansas suggestions are Fayetteville, or the Rogers/Bentonville area. All are under 100,000 but there is much to do...especially in Fayetteville. DH and I spent a couple days in that area last month, looking at apartments and wandering around. I attended college there in the 70's, but it is much larger now. (Imagine that?) Quirky, yet cosmopolitan (by Arkansas standards, of course), quite vibrant. DH always wanted to retire back to MA or ME, but he says he is willing to try out the Fayetteville area. It's where our hippies live -(The ones who don't live off the land).

One of my favorite towns is Mountain Home, AR. I think I would like to retire there, but it is too rural for DH, and probably for you guys.

Northern AR definitely has hills, water and beauty.

Keep us posted. I love reading about decisions folks are making about where to retire since DH and I are still trying to find a place that makes us both sing.
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:29 PM   #20
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