Where to Retire? Get Real!

I turn on my computer and learn that, according to Bankrate, Forbes, Bloomberg, and others, that the best places to retire are: S. Dakota, N. Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. But what about Nov. 15 through April 15? It’s Mothers’ Day, and it’s still in the 30s and 40s in most of S, Dakota! I would consider flying over these states, but I would not want to be residing there – would you? Well, some do have great scenery, and you could sit closed up in your house for 5 months looking out the window at the mountains. But let’s face it seniors, is this how you want to spend your remaining time? Not to mention that all those lower tax rates they tout are mostly burned up as fuel for heating your haven for those 5 months. And anyone who saw the great original film Fargo, or it’s late-night TV offshoot (shootoff?) knows what a great experience it must be to look out at the physical and cultural snow desert of the Dakotas; if only one could go outside, slip and slide, and run and hide before someone kills you! And I can’t wait to retire in the state that spawned and supported Dick Cheney. Oh yes, there are good features of these places – Mt. Rushmore, Custer (no place to make your last stand in my view), or the wonderful nightlifes of Rapid City, Sioux City, or Yankton. And Colorado may not be a bad choice – replacing the evening Martini with the evening chocolate covered truffle Maritini, watching the youngsters ski by (I was once in Aspen in early April – still 100 inch base on the mountains).
   But these pundits have missed the boat putting too much criterion weight on Cost of Living (sans fuel), Healthcare Quality (can you get to the doctor or hospital through that blizzard, ice storm?) Crime rate (see comment above re Fargo), and Taxes? Hawaii scores lowest in these advice columns, so, I guess the criterion-makers haven’t yet realized how much awful weather bears on those of us with Arthritis, or other common maladies of aging. Also, are our kids and grandkids likely to visit us as often as they would if we lived near or on a beach, lake (not frozen-over 4 months of the year), or cultural center? How many of us still ski in our 70s and 80s? Or go ice-fishing? Or go snow-shoeing? Or play golf in the snow and rain?
   The truth of the matter is that we seniors need multiple places to retire. Most of us spend the warmer months in some northern or mountainous region to avoid the relentless heat of the southwest, gulf coast, or southeast. And then we snowbird
to Florida, coastal California, the Carribean, New Zealand or Australia, Hawaii, Spain, or somewhere we can avoid the worst of what winter offers us – Elder-hell. See the caravans of RV’s headed South and West – those of us who can’t afford those Forbes-type places…dodging tire shreds on I 95, enduring the traffic jams, paying the tolls. This is the reality of the extent we go to to get decent winter weather. Please! Don’t send us off to die on the ice flows – not just yet! Not the Dakotas! Not Wyoming! Let us migrate seasonally instead.

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