I am pursuing my final career – and I am quite comfortable working a 40-hour schedule for the first time in my life. I take my time and pick my clients carefully.
I get to take a day off here and there for golf, and I travel around the western states every couple of months. Over the past two years I have been keeping an eye out for the perfect spot to retire in the Western US.
I now live in a small community near the Bay Area in Northern California. I’ve lived here for 20+ years, and it has been great. The Bay Area is vibrant, has a good climate, and is home to some of the most creative people on the planet. But it certainly isn’t paradise.
It is an expensive place to live. The highways are congested. The boarders of the US are out of control and that has hit California hard. The government is dysfunctional, and we pay a premium for that. While we have good weather, it is great half the year and somewhat over-rated the other half. My business has changed over the past five years. I can do about 80% - 90% of it from anywhere. That’s the beauty of information and communication technology.
Let me share with you what I have found as I looked for better working/ retirement locations in the western US.
- Portland, Oregon area; especially Southern Washington
- Prescott, Arizona
- Northern Baja, Mexico
- Hilo, the big island of Hawaii
- Boise, Idaho
Southern Washington: I recently visited a friend who built his dream house on a few acres in Southern Washington, about 30 minutes from Portland. His 2,500 square foot house cost about the same as a ¼ acre lot in the Bay Area. He is within easy drive of a good airport and Oregon has no sales tax. He can explore the Cascades and reach ocean or skiing in a few hours. Yep – it rains a lot, but not as much as Seattle.
Prescott, Arizona: This gem is home to 30,000 people, who enjoy mountain vistas and a temperate, sunny, four-season climate thanks to its mile-high elevation. If you aren’t real fussy, you can find a nice house for $350k. If you are a little fussy or want some land, expect to pay $500k or better. Prescott is an old, established town with historic buildings and strong family culture. It’s true that absentee Californians have snapped up a good bit of the real estate up. But they have been are running around most of the west buying spare homes and putting them in the “bank” for future use
Northern Baja, Mexico: Don’t write this one off too fast, especially if you are in So Cal. and want a second home near the beach. It is not as crazy as it sounds You can live near the beach in Rosarito and get an absolutely great ocean view or ocean front house for a fraction of the price of a house located two hours north in San Diego county. South of the Border property even has financing available from this side of the border.
Hilo Area on the Big Island: One of the best deals in the United States has been discovered and land prices are climbing rapidly, but guess what? Land in Hilo is still inexpensive. If you are looking for a slow pace, it doesn’t get any slower than Hilo. This area is absolutely beautiful yet not a prime location for vacation resorts and condos. Condos on Kauai, Maui, and the other side of the big island run $500 - $750k, yet a Hilo acre lot can be purchased for $40 to $75k, and houses for $150k. If you want some privacy, like to garden, and have dreamed of building a hideaway on an tropical island, there is still time to do it in the USA. It rains almost daily in Hilo but showers are short and the 75 to 80 degrees temperatures makes the showers and lush green growth a real delight.
Boise is rated as the second best city to do business in the US by Forbes Magazine. It has a population of about 400,000, and median house prices around $165,000. Boise is an excellent gateway to the natural beauty of the Northern Rockies. For those of you not quite ready to hang it up, but looking for an interesting, affordable small city environment, Boise deserves your serious consideration.
By John Thomas