When researching retirement options, it doesn’t take long to come across an article that touts the best places to retire, based on taxes, home prices, activities, most sunny, least sunny, or some other criteria. As an example, not so long ago, U.S. News offered the ‘10 Best Places to Retire on $100 a Day.’
I’ve always found the lists somewhat silly for a couple of reasons. First, as just noted, there are literally hundreds of these ‘best’ lists out there based on pretty much any and everything imaginable. Second, everyone’s situation is unique – the factors so personal – no single list can hope to be truly useful to individuals.
The wife and I have two overriding priorities with respect to where we will retire. First, we have to enjoy the climate and environment. With a population of about 45,000 and situated in the high desert of Southeastern Arizona, surrounded by multiple mountain ranges, Sierra Vista meets that requirement.
To our joy, the city has a fairly stable climate with very little humidity. Fall and spring, like most other parts of Arizona, are very dry. Winters are cool to cold with frosts which can occasionally be hard freezes; frost can be expected to stop in mid to late April.
Spring, like fall, spends about half of itself within the frost season. Summer, when the daily high temperatures average about 92 °F, starts off dry, but progressively gets wetter as the monsoon season approaches. The torrential rains in July and August produce almost half the yearly rainfall.
The second requirement is that we will not go into retirement with a mortgage. Staying in our present home, which will be paid off about a year before retirement, makes staying put a pretty easy decision.
In addition to those two primary reasons, the taxes are not onerous, the crime rate is reasonably low, and veteran’s facilities are nearby. There is every reason to stay put and use Arizona as our home base when we travel, a retirement priority.
While retirement has taken on a lot of different meanings lately, for us it means the traditional definition … completely leaving the workforce! After leaving the workforce, in addition to traveling, we plan to stay actively engaged in our community and physically active by working out, hiking, biking, engaging in yoga, and playing golf.
Along with traditional trips to national and international destinations, we plan to enter into short-term leases – 6 to 12 weeks – for apartments or homes in cities that interest us, immersing ourselves in the culture/lifestyle of the location, enjoying new restaurants, museums, local theater, sporting events, etc. offered in the area.
An example of our plan. One year we might take traditional (fly in, rent a car and stay for a week) vacations to Rome and Seattle; as well as lease a home for six weeks in San Diego, enjoying all that the city – and the region – has to offer. At the end of each type of vacation, whether it be three days or three months, we will return to our home base in sunny Arizona.