Where Is The Best Place To Retire?

fall color in Colorado
Could we leave all this?

A few years ago, we were in so much debt that the thought of retirement was as far away as Siberia. We drank the Kool Aid, worked really hard to keep up with our payments, and had distant hope that we’d eventually get to quit the work force, maybe by age 65 if we were lucky. Well, the philosophy that society holds as normal is just bunk. There are many ways to retire early. They all involve what some might call sacrifice, but if living below your means, purposeful spending, and doing without all the latest and greatest is sacrifice, then I’m in 100%. Now that we can see retirement on the horizon, I’m wondering, where is the best place to retire?

Our Retirement

When I say retirement, I don’t necessarily mean not working. I will consider us retirement eligible when our rental and passive income can cover our monthly expenses. That should happen in about 5-7 years, depending on how fast we decide to pay off our house. At that point, we’ll probably continue to work, at least until our daughter graduates from high school in another 11 years.

After that, we can choose to stay put or move to a different forever location. With our career choices, I can always do fill in work, and Jim can substitute teach if we want a little extra income boost. We also might want to work in a low paying, but fun job to keep our minds and bodies occupied.

Our retirement ideal might not be yours, but it’s never a bad idea to make plans. I’ve found we do much better if we have a goal in place. Here are some ideas we have about life in retirement. I’d love to hear feedback from anyone who has retired or who has retirement on the horizon.

Staying In Our Current Location


  • Southwest Colorado is pretty sweet. Within a two hour radius, we can be high up in the mountains, out in the desert, or visiting one of three national parks. We live close to, but not actually in one of the pricey resort towns. We can be skiing in Durango or Telluride but back home for dinner. I can’t tell you how many tourists have told me how lucky we are to live here.
  • Summer and fall are usually spectacular. September and October make me never want to live anywhere else.
  • Our house is in a great neighborhood, and we have awesome views of Mesa Verde and the La Plata mountains from our back deck.
  • While we don’t have family in the area, we’ve made many good friends over the last 15 years of living here.
  • Our property taxes, insurance, and basic cost of living is very cheap compared to much of Colorado and many other places in the US.


  • We live in a small town without much diversity as far as culture, entertainment, and shopping.
  • Winter is cold and long.
  • The closest major airport is 4+ hours away.
  • If we have health problems as we get older, the availability of medical care is limited.
  • We could never have my dream of  being able to walk everywhere without using a car very often.


Several times a year, we think really hard about moving to a bigger city. Raising a kid out in the country is the bomb, but we might not be so in love when we’re empty nesters and able to actually have a social life again. I’d love to live by the ocean with warm weather year round, but I’m afraid that would wipe out too much of our retirement income, and we’d have to get real jobs 🙁 I also can’t see us moving to another country. The logistics seem more complicated that I want to deal with. Since we don’t love humidity or long, cold winters there are a few places that appeal to us that would allow our retirement dollars to go a long way.


I imagine winter in Phoenix is as appealing as fall in Colorado. We’d have a few really hot months, but those would be good times to take a vacation. Cost of living is reasonable, and there would be tons of outdoor things to do with all the city amenities nearby. We are spending several days there this Thanksgiving and plan to check out some of the towns in the area.

Las Vegas

I get sick of the Strip in about 2 days, but there are areas around Las Vegas that have good weather, access to recreation, and lots of options for concerts and entertainment. Nevada also has no state income tax.

Grand Junction, CO

Grand Junction is a small city that has most of the amenities we’d be looking for. The airport isn’t huge, but it has many more options than where we live now. The winter is also a bit milder. We’d still be close to skiing, and there is amazing mountain biking in the area. Cost of living there is cheap.

Moab, UT

Delicate Arch in Moab, UT
I could be a park ranger!

OK, Moab is not a city by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s only a two hour drive from Grand Junction. Jim and I both love Moab. I always seem to feel at peace there with all the wide open views and red rock. Winter is mild, and there would be tons of fun retirement jobs in the tourism industry. Can’t you see me as a park ranger or camp host?

Becoming Nomads

This option is perhaps the most appealing but would likely be the most expensive. Maintaining a home and renting somewhere would certainly add to our housing expenses, but I think it would be amazing to travel around the country, staying a month or two in places that strike our fancy.

Spending September in Maine or November in San Francisco would be amazing. Living in one of these places full time does not appeal to me in the least, but wouldn’t it be fun to spend enough time in a place to really live like a local? We might even find a forever home destination we haven’t considered.

We could sell our house before hitting the road and pick a place to land at a later date. We could also try house swapping or care taking to lower expenses. I don’t know how long I’d want to be a nomad, but it’s something that’s pretty high on our list to try.

Financial Independence Offers Choices

The fact that we have all these choices is not lost on me. I know that if we’d kept living the life of monthly payments and mindless spending, our choices would have been broke and stuck. Financial independence offers tons of options for how you’d like to spend the years after leaving the traditional work force. Whether we stay put, move, or become nomands is really not the biggest point of this post. The fact that we get to choose is worth much more than any material thing I can think of.

Are you planning for retirement? Where would you love to live?

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  1. Interestingly, my husband subscribes to a magazine “Where to Retire” yet we have chosen to retire where we’ve always lived. We have considered moving closer to our son, or to a no state income tax state but as long as my mother is alive, we will stay put. On the dreaming end of the spectrum, if our son would re-locate to Alaska, I’d move there in a New York minute. The summers are like being in paradise, great scenery, great wildlife and lots of things to do. But they do have those pesky long winters….. 😉

  2. Grand Junction and Moab both sound like perfect retirement places for you guys, Kim! I’m guessing that we’d stay here in MN, but definitely have a vaca/winter home somewhere like NC, TN or KY. If I could get out of Polar Vortex Hell for Jan and Feb each year, I’d be happy to stay here. 🙂

  3. Those all sound like great options. I like your idea of a nomadic lifestyle. Seems like you could take advantage of the best of every area and just leave before the bad comes in (winter, high home prices, etc). We’ve been concentrating our homestead search on Vermont, but, who knows, it could change! Colorado is really appealing…

    1. I had a 91 year old patient yesterday who is visiting or could be moving here permanently to live with his son. He has lived his whole life in Maine or New Hampshire. I was asking him all about the differences between New England and Colorado. He waxed nostalgic about fall and how beautiful it was then he also said how nice Colorado was. I don’t think you could go wrong either way with what you’re looking for. I will say you’d have to be pretty hearty to live 90 winters in Maine, though. I think it gets lots colder than here!

  4. NV has no income tax but you wouldn’t be working so isn’t it better to be in a state with no sales tax or the lowest property tax possible?
    You could keep the house once it is paid for and easily rent it during winter if you want, like to skiiers, then go somewhere for 3-6 months a year, like Mexico, or Thailand, to get some sun and still have a place to come back to. In Guatemala that is pretty frequent so the rental market has options for winter rentals with western standards. Those countries are cheap so it shouldn’t be much more expensive than living at home.

    1. We would have to pay income tax on Jim’s pension and any withdrawals from 401k type accounts. You don’t pay tax on the contributions but you do have to pay it on withdrawals in most states. We were not smart about planning for the future when we selected our neighborhood. Our HOA does not allow renting, so we’d either have to sell or find a way to go around the rules. Who knows, though, they might change in the next decade. I hope so. I’d have to learn some Spanish to winter in Guatemala. Do you include lessons with your vacation rentals?

      1. I could try to get the SPanish girl who lives in the village on board to give lessons, because I think she would be the only one qualified and she speaks a bit of English. There is a Spanish school 7 miles away which is where I send people usually, they take 20 hours a week so that is every morning and then they relax in the afternoon. The school also offers volunteering in the afternoon if you want to fill the whole day.

  5. Our plan is to travel. I don’t mean keep flying to places every week or month. I mean go and live somewhere for a year (maybe two) and then go somewhere else. We still have a long way to go before we can accomplish that, but at least we’re working towards it.

    1. Having the goal is a huge component to retirement planning. I don’t know how long I could stay nomadic, but I bet it could be much longer than I might imagine.

  6. LOVE your idea of being nomads. Maybe for like a year or two. Keep you home as a rental (you’re landlords anyway!) and then use Airnb or a similar site to rent houses in each destination. I always thought I did not really want to retire but that sounds awesome!

    1. I think we could work when it suited us. There are lots of jobs I think I’d like to do, but probably wouldn’t support my financial goals at the moment. When we have our basic expenses covered by other means, we can afford to do those. I meet retirees all the time who work for the national parks or for campgrounds. We met a lady this summer who lives very close to us but spends summers in Yellowstone as a seasonal employee. I think that would be very fun. On vacation, you really don’t get a sense of how locals live. I’d like to do that.

  7. We don’t know where we are going to retire; however, we do know that we plan to rent and travel more than worry about where we call home base. It is amazing for us, though, to see how much cheaper it is to live in other places and we are excited about taking advantage of those savings once we are in a place to move, which will be when my son graduates high school.

    1. We also plan to stay where we are until after our daughter graduates from high school. I know parents take their kids on the road, but I want her to have the experience of participating in school activities and be part of a community.

  8. We talk about this all the time. Retire at a cabin in the mountains or the beach house in San Diego. We go back and forth all the time and then laugh because we know we will do neither. It is so outside of who we are and what we do. I imagine we’ll stay where we are because this is where my wife’s friends are at and that matters a lot. Plus when we retire we plan on having lots of money which instead of using it for a second home we’ll use it to travel and spend a month or two at a cabin or at the beach. Why be confined to one spot when we can still have our home and then travel wherever we want. That is the plan for now, we’ll see what happens, but it’s fun to think about the future when you know money isn’t going to rule your life and decisions.

    1. It is fun to think about the future. We might totally change our minds too and that’s OK. It’s all about the options.

  9. First, I have to say that I love that it was only a few years ago you were hip-deep in debt and retirement seemed like a fuzzy possibility and now – you’re thinking about how you want to live your retirement. Debt can be conquered! 🙂 We will likely stay where we are because it is home to us, but we could possibly downsize. We plan to travel significantly and may do some house swapping. It’s one of the great things about living in LA and within walking distance to the beach – people want to come to you. That might be an option for you while you live your nomad lifestyle. You’re so close to Telluride, I bet you could easily find people in warm locations or places you’d like to visit who would swap with you for weeks/months too. Right now our plan is to continue working until the girls leave for college too. We both enjoy our work so we might as well continue earning and saving money while we can.

    1. I used to think our town would not be a popular vacation destination with Durango and Telluride nearby, but I think AirBnb and VRBO have really changed the way families look for lodging. I know a few people who rent out their homes for tourists, and it works pretty well. We are not really right on top of anything too special, but we’re close to lots of special things and would be a good home base to explore the area. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway. We will look at it harder in the future. We aren’t allowed to have renters in our neighborhood, but I’m not sure about a VRBO type thing. I don’t think anyone has ever brought it before the HOA.

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