We want to retire to a place with lots of cultural activities, a beach and a great airport. Our budget is $ 4,000- $ 5,500 per month, rent included – so where should we look?

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I am a 51 year old married woman and planning to semi-retire at 62 and fully retire at 65. My husband and I are starting to think of places we would consider retiring to and then many of them over the next 10 years to visit.

Dear Mindy,

Congratulations, give yourself enough time to explore possible retirement destinations. I’m going to start with a giant warning: A lot can change in a decade. To begin with, how many of us would have predicted a decade ago that Boise would be a popular place to live?

I’m not going to try to predict hurricanes and climate change, but you might want to consider that. This is one example of predictions about floods on the coast.

Politics and taxes can also change. But at the moment I would say do not worry about the tax too much, based on what you said. Here’s why:

Start with federal taxes and the fat standard deduction that every adult gets. If you were both 65 now, you would get even more, for a total of $ 32,900 in standard deductions, so more than half of the budget you gave. As far as state taxes are concerned, three-quarters of them do not tax social security checks. Some also give breaks on other retirement income.

You can dig deeper with this SmartAsset retirement tax calculator.

You can also dig deeper into how long your money will last by using New Retirement tools. After all, renting for three-bedroom apartments is generally not cheap in places with good weather, a beach and attractive cultural activities. In some places, the demand for short-term rent has put extra pressure on rents.

Add to that the travel budget, groceries and dining out, health insurance (even at 65 – Medicare is not free!), Car repairs and finally the need to replace that car… money can go awfully fast.

That said, I have found for you three options to consider or to use as a springboard to explore the surrounding area. The MarketWatch “Where can I retire?” tool can give you even more ideas, even more if you are willing to swap the beach for a lake. I hate it to repeat myself so you have all the “Where should I retire?” articles here.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

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This is the most northern of my suggestions, so yes, night temperatures in winter will be colder than you would like. I think you will sleep through most of it. On the other hand, day heights are average in the 50s, so that part is a check.

In summer, average highs will be in the upper 80s and with less humidity than further south. You will on average get a little over 3 inches of rain per month, more in July and August.

Overall, pretty decent weather?

Virginia Beach has about 460,000 people, making it the largest of my three proposals. So it has a lot more to offer than a party getaway.

This is the most youthful of my proposals, with some of the retirees being below the national average. Just over 12% of its residents are veterans, which may not be surprising given the number of military facilities in the wider Hampton Roads area. Most of the region, including Virginia Beach, voted for Joe Biden in 2020, but margins were close enough to qualify as politically mixed by our criteria (55% -45% or stricter).

On the cultural front, start with the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts plus the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Explore the city’s ViBe district.

And of course, you can benefit from opportunities offered at Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University in nearby Norfolk. Once you are 60, you can audit classes for free.

A number of airlines fly out of nearby Norfolk International Airport. Depending on how much more you are willing to drive, consider using airports in Newport News, Richmond and Washington, DC as well.

The rental market is not as transparent as the home market for sale, but you can get a feel for it through the listings on Realtor.com, which is owned by News Corp. like MarketWatch.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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Among all my suggestions, your money will go the furthest here, according to Sperling’s Best Places.

Although Myrtle Beach and its 36,000 inhabitants are more than 300 miles south of Virginia Beach, it is only slightly warmer in winter. You will still have to deal with the average lows in the 30s (this time upper 30s) in January. Summer temperatures are similar, but then there is more rain than in Virginia Beach. So there is that trade-off.

Coastal Carolina University, a half-hour drive inland in Conway, offers seniors the opportunity to take free classes. It also has an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, whose classes are aimed more at retirees than those looking for job skills. (We also added Osher Institutes as an option in the retirement tool; looking for university classes for those 50+ under “culture and the arts”.) Given how classes have become remote at so many of the OLLIs across the country, why not sign up now for one in and start making connections with this (or another) community?

For concerts, start with the Carolina Opry Theater and, in North Myrtle Beach, the Alabama Theater.

Politically, it is a red county in a red state. Another compromise given your preference for liberal tendency.

You can fly the Myrtle Beach International Airport travel bug, which claims to have the lowest average air fares in South Carolina.

You can get an idea of ​​the rental market here. And if Myrtle Beach feels too much like a tourist playground, look in other towns along the 60-mile Grand Beach, such as Murrell’s Inlet, a town of just under 10,000, a third of whom are 65 and older. (Realtor.com ranked it as the best and most affordable beach town for retirement in 2020.)

A Blue Carolina alternative: Wilmington, NC, a more expensive option than Myrtle Beach (but cheaper than Virginia Beach), has been suggested here.

Fort Myers, Florida

Courtesy of the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau

I think you will look at Florida given its sunshine and the absence of state income taxes. To give you a Gulf Coast option, I settled in Fort Myers, home to 86,000 people. About 760,000 people live across Lee County, so explore which communities feel best for you.

Fort Myers is the only one of my three proposals that is a majority minority, with Hispanics / Latinos and Black / African Americans each making up nearly a quarter of the population, according to the Census Bureau. (Lee County as a whole is less diverse.)

While 22% of those living in Fort Myers are 65 and older – the highest among my three proposals – the number jumps to 29% for the whole of Lee County.

For your cultural solution, start with the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, which offers traveling Broadway performances as well as concerts and more on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State College. You can find more theater at Florida Repertory Theater.

At Florida Gulf Coast University, those 60 and older can take undergraduate classes for free.

Across the beaches, be sure to explore the 3,500 acres of Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, perhaps with a guided walk to search for otters, alligators and birds.

Of course, Florida also means spring training for baseball; the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins train in Fort Myers. After all, day highs are average in the 70s in the dead of winter.

Also visit in the summer. Average highs were 90 in August, but that’s the humidity to watch out for. Summer rain is also the heaviest of the three proposals.

Southwest Florida International Airport is your nearest travel destination; flights include one uninterrupted flight to Europe. Or you can use airports in Fort Lauderdale (2 hours away) and Miami (2 hours).

The Fort Myers area is high on The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com Emerging Housing Markets Index for winter 2022. Sperling’s says your money will not go as far as in Myrtle Beach, but will buy you more than in Virginia Beach. Here’s a look at the rental market, again using offers on Realtor.com.

Readers, what communities should Mindy and her husband explore before retirement? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.

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