We would like to retire to a lake, but not to a small town, as we both love the symphony and the amenities a city has to offer (Costco and good healthcare). We also want to be an hour from a good size airport as we like to travel.
We are both from the southwest and the humidity does not bother us. But we’re not big fans of snow. Four seasons is fine as long as there is not much snow and the sun rises regularly. We hate winter investments.
We would like a fun lake house for us, but also to attract children and grandchildren to come and see us. We have no idea where each of their families will land and we don’t want to chase them all over the country, hence the nearby airport. Gainesville, Georgia, is beautiful and fits the bill, but we know there are other places we have yet to discover. We now explore Bella Vista, Arkansas, and Corpus Christi, Texas.
The budget for our retirement home would not exceed $ 450,000.
Make no mistake that we will be on the lake forever. It will be 10 years of go-go, 10 years of slow-go and 10 years of go-go. The lake house will be for the early years. Then we will sell it and probably rent it.
Any suggestions on where to retire?
No wonder the best lakefront homes are expensive at the best of times. Lake communities in general have been sued during COVID; prices have jumped and bidding wars have become commonplace, even if the house is not directly in the water.
You have some great ideas (although Bella Vista is virtually snow-free). I suggest a few more. MarketWatch’s “Where to Retire” tool can give you more.
A word of caution – choose the place because you like it, not because you want children and grandchildren to visit, and you need the space to accommodate them. They may have other ideas on how to use the limited vacation time and even long weekends can be difficult during the school year. And don’t forget the demands of the other grandparents!
At the very least, talk to your adult children first. And recognize that you are the most likely to have time to travel.
Another option: rent a house and a big boat on the lake once a year and get everyone together that way.
I’ve offered lake suggestions in previous articles (this one focuses on Texas, for example, while this couple also highlighted cultural offerings). I don’t like to repeat myself, so here are some other ideas:
Lake Wylie, South Carolina
Lake Wylie has about 12,000 inhabitants, so it may seem small, but you should see it as a suburb of Charlotte and all the amenities of the big cities you might expect in a city of nearly 900,000. Downtown Charlotte is about 20 miles away and crosses the state line, with a Costco along the way. Charlotte Carolinas Medical Center is the third best hospital in North Carolina, according to the US News & World Report. And Charlotte Airport is a hub for American Airlines.
If you want music but no traffic in the big cities, Lake Wylie is also at a similar distance to Rock Hill, South Carolina and its symphony.
The city meets your weather criteria, as it only has a trail of average snow and winter highs around 50. Summer highs are close to 90.
This is what’s on the market right now, using Realtor.com listings (which, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp.)
If Lake Wylie isn’t quite right, but the Charlotte area is attractive, consider the Lake Norman area, suggested here. If you want other South Carolina options, consider Clemson (suggested here) Columbia (suggested here) and near Murray Lake or near Greenville, suggested here.
This city of 200,000 people is called Rocket City because of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and its space history. The Livability.com website placed it at the forefront of its top cities for STEM workers in 2018.
What matters most to you is that it houses Alabama’s longest-running professional orchestra (among many cultural offerings) and Huntsville Hospital, which ranks second in the state, according to US News. The cost of living is about 11% below the national average. And there is a Costco in town.
Huntsville has its own airport. You can also drive two hours to Birmingham, Nashville and Chattanooga airports; Atlanta Airport (a Delta Airlines hub) is 3 and a half hours away.
The summer highs here are around the 90s, while the winter highs are averages in the lower 50s. You may get a couple of inches of snow each year.
Although you’ll find homes near the water in and around Huntsville, if you’re willing to drive a little further, you should look around Lake Guntersville (created by a dam on the Tennessee River). There is no symphony, but you will find free concerts organized by the local arts council.
That’s what’s on the market now in Huntsville and around the lake, again with Realtor.com.
This 400,000-person Art Deco city on the Arkansas River is my wildcard selection. I know, Oklahoma isn’t the first place to think of a lake house, but when Livability.com included Tulsa on its list of the 100 best places to live in 2019, it described it as “an affordable product under the radar city that houses a historic center and an incredible art scene that rivals cities twice their size. “
In a city of this size, the symphony (and much more, at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center), Costco, and the airport are data. The Bob Dylan Center (opened in 2022) has yet to arrive, a museum backed by a rich venue that will feature more than 100,000 items created and owned by the singer, right next to the Woody Guthrie Center, in honor of a folk singer from Oklahoma. The philanthropic billionaire himself is the engine of the city’s last $ 465 million park, Gathering Place.
The cost of living is more than 11% below the national average.
As for the lake house, start your search with Keystone Lake west of the city limits.
Tulsa has more snow than the other options, averaging about 6 inches a year. But it has more sunny days than the U.S. average. Temperatures are high averages in the upper 40s and 50 lows during the winter and mid-90s in the summer. I’m glad you’re okay with the heat and humidity.
This is what is now on the market in Tulsa and throughout Tulsa County.
Where should Alec and his wife retire? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.
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