I am 68 with $1.2 million in savings. I’d like to retire somewhere warm, no snow and near the beach. In January I’d like to be able to have a cup of coffee on my patio and not freeze my butt off. I don’t mind a jacket, but no winter coat, no boots, no scarves. Daytime highs in January should be in the 60s, nighttime lows in the 40s or 50s (50s is better).
My house budget is $350,000 or less.
What are some options?
Given those winter temperature requirements, you need to focus on the Atlantic coast from Georgia south and on the Gulf of Mexico. But you may still need to compromise on just how close your dream spot is to the beach, especially when people are looking for more fun work from home options and housing markets are hot.
You also may want to consider what else is important to you. Do you prefer a small town? One with lots of restaurants and cultural amenities? Does walkability matter? Are you looking for other outdoor activities? What about health care? That might help narrow down your choices.
Another question: how much space do you need? If you’re going small, an area that otherwise looks off-limits may be doable.
I figure you know about hurricane risks, but don’t underestimate the summer humidity in this part of the country. So be sure to visit then as well as during the winter before you commit. While there, test out your plans on how to build your social network.
As always, a place may sound good from the data, but only you know whether it’s the right fit.
Here are three suggestions to get you started:
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
This town of 28,000 on the Atlantic coast is 25 miles south of Daytona Beach, has a vibrant downtown with many independent restaurants, and is an endpoint of the 47.6-mile East Central Regional Rail Trail that can get you to Titusville or onto the Spring-to-Spring trail in the center of the state. Its Atlantic Center for the Arts can nurture your creative side. Or you can learn to surf; Surfer magazine has called this one of the top surf towns in the country.
More than a third of its residents are 65 or older.
Average January highs are 69 degrees, and average overnight lows are 50. In July, you’d have average highs of 89 degrees.
The median listing price for townhomes and condos fit your price point, according to Realtor.com (which, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp.) An affordable single-family home will be a harder find.
Here’s what’s for sale now.
Gulf Breeze, Florida
For an option along the white sandy beaches of the Gulf side, consider this fast-growing community of 7,000 sandwiched on a peninsula between Pensacola and Pensacola Beach. Next to it is a section of Gulf Islands National Seashore, which extends 215 square miles in Florida and Mississippi.
Average highs in the winter are in the low 60s; lows, however, will be in the 40s. In the summer, the average high is around 90.
You will find plenty of other retirees. Nearly 21% of the residents here are 65 and older, and nearly 17% of nearby Pensacola’s 53,000 residents are, too.
You’ll also find housing that fits your budget too. Here’s what’s on the market now.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Keep going along the Gulf and you’ll eventually reach Corpus Christi, what U.S. News & World Report calls “the Florida of Texas,” only cheaper.
This is a big-city option: more than 325,000 people with a below-average share of people 65 and older. But that’s not the only way it’s different from my other two suggestions. Given that it’s Texas, there’s rodeo here.
You’ll find the windsurfers and kayakers that you’ll see in Florida, of course. Corpus also claims it’s the fishing capital of Texas, should that appeal.
For beach living, start with the section of town on Padre Island just off the John F. Kennedy Memorial Causeway, between Mustang Island State Park and Padre Island National Seashore. Do explore quaint Port Aransas as well, though it may be more difficult to find a home given your budget.
A bit further away on Aransas Bay is Rockport, one of the towns Realtor singled out as an affordable beach town for retirement. More than 10,000 people live here, and more than a quarter of them are 65 and older.
The weather checks out: January lows average in the upper 40s; highs are in the 60s. Come July, average highs will be around 90; overnight lows will average nearly 80.
Readers, where should Leon retire? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.