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Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Where to Live on 10/11/2011 12:00:39 MDT Print View

Hi All - In another 24 months, I will be retiring at age 62. An active hiker and backpacker, cross-country skier, and newbie mountain-biker, I've been stuck in southeast Michigan for my entire life and I am looking forward to leaving this area for an area somewhere where I don't have to drive 8-12 hours to get to good backpacking areas.

So my question is this: If you had the choice of moving anywhere in the U.S. to be close to backpacking areas (all other things being equal), where would you move to? I'm looking at Montana, Wyoming, maybe Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington state. But I can't decide. I know some of you live out west; what are the things you like best about your areas? I'm not that concerned with being close to large cities; I just want to be nearer to the backcountry. Mountains are a definite requirement, as well as summers that aren't humid. Michigan humidity drives me crazy!

Thanks much!

Kathy Handyside

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Where to Live on 10/11/2011 12:04:58 MDT Print View

As I hope to retire in about 3 years, give or take, I've thought about this a lot.

If I can, I'd like to move to mid-to-northern CA. The backpacking is great, the area is gorgeous, all that. But my main motivation at this point is the very active BPL group there. They're a wonderful bunch and they get out often, so moving there would give me an established group of great folks to backpack with. That's hard to beat. FWIW.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Where to Live on 10/11/2011 12:30:45 MDT Print View

Are you hoping to move to an area with a closer drive to the mountains or in the mountains themselves?

Leadville, CO it's the highest incorporated town in the US but the winters can be cold, then again you're from the upper mid-west so that shouldn't scare you off.

Edited by cobberman on 10/11/2011 12:32:04 MDT.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Re: Where to Live on 10/11/2011 12:32:04 MDT Print View

Thought about this quite a bit and kind of prefer the term "home-base". So if you are retired, free time and transportation options may come into play:

I prefer the 4 corners states (NM, UT, AZ, or CO) for year-round backpacking (mountains + deserts) plus the relatively high altitude means no worries about acclimating vs living at sea level. One can always visit the coastal area ... or vice versa.

There is a fire season mid-summer though, but sometimes in the coastal regions too. It's a draw on that.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Where to Live on 10/11/2011 12:48:52 MDT Print View

There are other important things to look at besides mountains and places to backpack (although that was #1 with me, too). You probably don't need these at the time you retire (although I needed them for almost a year when I was 60 due to vision issues requiring multiple surgeries), but you will eventually. Unless you want to pack up and move again when you're already getting decrepit, you definitely need to factor them in for your retirement home.

Availability of medical care.

Availability of public transportation, to get to said medical care, grocery shopping, social life, cultural events, and/or church. Eventually we all have to give up driving, some sooner than later. As mentioned, I got an early taste of that with my detached retina requiring multiple surgeries. I had a rapidly advancing cataract in the other eye (which they didn't want to remove until the retina was stabilized), so my car sat in my garage for almost a year.

Closeness to friends and family. This can be important when, for example, you have to have even minor outpatient surgery and need someone to stay with you around the clock for the first day or two. It costs a lot of money to hire someone for this, if you can even find anyone to hire.

Taxes. Some of us would like to keep what we've saved up! California has the highest income and sales tax rates in the country. Oregon (where I live) has income tax but no sales tax. Washington has a high sales tax but no income tax. Washington has (or at least used to have) property tax exemption for seniors.

I originally was going to move to the east (dry) side of the Cascades in Washington, but ended up staying in Oregon just east of Portland. I'm really close to the Columbia River Gorge for year-around hiking and, of course to the Cascades. This area has reasonably good public transit available and I can reach high quality medical care. There are two supermarkets within 1/2 mile. I can take public transit to downtown Portland for cultural events. One of my children lives 3 1/2 hours away and two more live about 13 hours away.

I would really have loved to go back to Wyoming, where I grew up--preferably Pinedale or Dubois. It's a really wild place (which I love), and the people there are wonderful. However, the winters last 9-10 months of the year and are frightful. After 37 years of living with relatively mild winters, there's no way I could stand that. Medical care is also a problem; for more than routine care you end up in Denver or Salt Lake City, a long drive away. Public transport of any sort is pretty much non-existent--there is not enough population to support it. The only way I could live there would be to have family close enough for everyday support, and that won't happen.

I don't necessarily recommend where I live, but when I factored everything in I decided to stay put where I already was. Your mileage definitely will vary!

The suggestion of trying several areas before settling down is a good one!

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/11/2011 13:24:39 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Where to Live on 10/11/2011 13:16:46 MDT Print View

It's rainy and cloudy (and miserable and dreary?) a lot in western Oregon and Washington - I like it but it bothers some people. Maybe East of the cascades is better, but there it's colder. Like Bend or Wenatche.

California has more of a problem of not enough tax revenue for the services even though they have high tax rate. Oregon and Washington are a little better.

Southwest has warmer winters but gets hot in the summer.

Western Oregon or Washington during the summer and Arizona in the winter?

Live in a small house for half the year and spend the rest of the time living in a number of other areas?

Spend a year in several places before settling on somewhere?

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
where to live on 10/11/2011 13:29:07 MDT Print View

Perhaps consider Lake Tahoe. There's terrific nordic and backcountry skiing, excellent mountain biking, and you're right there in the sierras ready to go backpacking. Also, it's not humid and the weather is better (imho) than the pacific northwest--and I grew up there! Of course, you could live in one of the communities lower down on the western slope--even Sacramento--and still be within quick striking distance of your dreams.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Where to Live on 10/11/2011 13:29:39 MDT Print View

I am too young to ponder the good life (!) but I'll say this:
We live in the foothills, in a rural bedroom community on the edge of civilization. I have good medical care nearby and easy shopping, etc and can be in the city or bigger towns as needed easily. We are on major transit as well.
But by being where we are I can be to Rainier in no time at all.
By living at 500 feet elevation we get milder winters, have the safety net of people but can enjoy nature quickly enough :-)

It is something to ponder though - in many ways it is a good thing.

Russ Porter

Locale: Anchorage
Re: Where to Live on 10/11/2011 13:50:32 MDT Print View

I have lived in Washington, Arizona, Wyoming and Alaska. They all have pros and cons.
I now live in Alaska and the only other states I would consider living in are Wyoming and Montana. There are just a lot of people in Colorado.
Have you considered Alaska? Anchorage has a climate similar to Michigan. The cross country sking is amazing! I ski to work in the winter. The hiking is amazing. (the winters are long though)
For Wyoming I would look at Sheridan or Buffalo if you are intrested in a little more mild climate than say Dubois, Pinedale, or Lander. Jackson Hole is amazing but really expensive. Another option is Laramie Wyoming. It's cold but it has skiing and great mountain biking very near! Good luck finding a place. Where ever you choose the west is great.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Re: Where to Live on 10/11/2011 14:42:50 MDT Print View

Kathy, I'd think very carefully about what hikinggranny said. I'm 68 and live in a lovely but isolated part of Mass; if I move it'll be to be closer to my sons and other relatives. Also, some towns are more social than others and have more cultural/entertainment venues and this just makes life better when you're not on the trail.

Some of the most important, that hg mentioned, IMHO:
"Closeness to friends and family."
"Availability of public transportation" Real public transportation is great (subways, buses), but some places have cheap/free van services for elderly that will do. This is especially important if you won't have family to drive you around. Living within a short walk of shopping and services can help a lot.
"Availability of medical care." Excellent medical care is a must eventually. Having relatives nearby can make a huge difference in the care you actually receive; they can prevent lapses in medical care by serving as your advocate.

I'd add:
You have to like the community you live in, not just the surrounding mountains.
It's a good idea to plan your home to be easier to live in when you're older.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Where to Live on 10/11/2011 15:36:42 MDT Print View

I grew up in Laramie, WY and would NEVER go back. The wind never stops blowing, and it's a 35 mile drive to the mountains. Not much fun when the wind is whipping your vehicle from side to side on the road and you can hardly see where you're going in the ground blizzard.

The only places I have lived in that I liked less were Niles, MI and Moses Lake, WA.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Where to Live on 10/11/2011 16:24:00 MDT Print View

+1 what Doug Said!

There are plenty of places to backpack in Nor Cal both Summer and Winter. With many fellow BPL members every where. I origanally grew up in So Cal and miss my friends but do not miss So Cal at all. I am here for good!

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"Where to Live" on 10/11/2011 16:31:01 MDT Print View

Look at Nevada. Easy access to California's amenities, without the expense.....

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Where to Live on 10/11/2011 16:39:02 MDT Print View

I lived for 10 years in Eugene, Oregon. Before that New York, Tokyo. Afterwards, Boston, and several places in Japan. Even after all these years I miss Oregon terribly. The landscape is achingly beautiful. The people who live there love the land and tend to take very good care of it, including some very progressive attitudes toward the preservation of the land (I'm not sure how much it's changed since 1986). There is a strong sense of community involvement. People are easygoing and very friendly. You have a wild and untouched ocean to the west, the Coastal Range, the Emerald Valley, the Cascades to the East, then the desert. The things you might need as you get older, the services, that Mary D mentioned, tend to be well taken care of. I love that cities tend to be a manageable size. If I would consider returning to the States that is probably where I'd like to end up.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: "Where to Live" on 10/11/2011 16:43:30 MDT Print View

Reno, NV is a decent place to live if you need a larger size town. Tahoe is less than an hour away with the Desolation Wilderness just a bit further. Hospitals are good and a fairly large airport for you to go visit family or for them to visit here. Skiing is plentiful and there's less people driving West for snow than from the CA side of things which is nice. There are smaller communities west along I-80 or SW of Tahoe which offer more of a mountain feel but lack other amenities. I would prefer other cities when I near retirement in about 40 years. :( Namely some of the smaller communities along the Sangre de Cristo Range in CO.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Don't sleep on the East! on 10/11/2011 18:10:12 MDT Print View

If you aren't completely sold on the West yet, you should consider eastern TN or western NC. I live within an hours drive of nearly 3 million acres of mountains, streams, and wildlife. Very low cost of living. Real estate values are reasonable. Very mild summers & winters. No state income tax.

P.S.- If definitely going for the West,one word: Montana.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 10/11/2011 18:12:17 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: "Where to Live" on 10/11/2011 18:18:48 MDT Print View

California is the answer. You have oceans, deserts, mountains, beautiful cities like San Francisco. I would take a week off and see some of Northern California. Paradise!

Edited by kennyhel77 on 10/11/2011 18:34:20 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: "Where to Live" on 10/11/2011 18:22:38 MDT Print View

I retired to Asheville, NC. It was between here and Bozeman though.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: "Where to Live" on 10/11/2011 18:35:58 MDT Print View

Chris, and NC is quite beautiful too. Amazingly green with beautiful beaches

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Crested Butte, CO on 10/11/2011 18:51:21 MDT Print View

I don't live there but I think you're looking for Crested Butte, CO. All of the mountain areas of Colorado are nice but Crested Butte is known for being a very friendly town with great mountain biking, an excellent Nordic center, wonderful hiking and backpacking (southern access to the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness and really close to West Elk Wilderness and Raggeds Wilderness and a short drive to MANY other Wilderness areas), and a dry climate. Oh and some alpine skiing, too. One of the great things about CO, the sun shines a LOT. It's rare to have long bouts of rain. It rains for a bit and then the sun comes out. Yes, there is a lot of snow in the winter but that's a good thing. And for day hiking we have these things called 14'ers that seem to be very popular. And the 10th Mountain Hut system is awesome for backcountry skiing. River rafting, music festivals like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, hot air ballooning, etc. Oh, and the CT and the CDT. It's not too bad here. Just don't tell any of the natives I was the one who told you.

If you decide to live in a city, Denver has quick access to the things you are looking for during the week. Weekend traffic is another matter although if you avoid I-70 it's not too bad. But for a retiree, why deal with weekend traffic anyway?

And if you do move to Colorado, check out the Colorado Mountain Club. It will be a great place to meet people who love the outdoors. Especially if you are retired as they always have something going on during the week as well as on the weekends. Very nice people even if they don't allow dogs on their trips. :)

Edited by rlnunix on 10/11/2011 19:09:54 MDT.