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Best place to retire and cycle in the US?

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Best place to retire and cycle in the US?

Old 07-09-24, 06:38 PM
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Best place to retire and cycle in the US?

Title says it all. Iím 62, living in West Los Angeles-Santa Monica these last 40 years. Recent divorce cut my net worth in half and my current job looks like it could disappear anytime. Iím in very good shape for my age and can easily put in a 50 mile ride. But a financially comfortable retirement in California doesnít look feasible anymoreÖI could manage it, but not as a homeowner in West Los Angeles. However, I can easily afford to buy a home outright and retire comfortably anywhere else in the US (ex-NYC and any other place with ridiculous home prices).

Iíve been looking on Zillow for homes in Indiana (I grew up in Indianapolis and went to college in Bloomington), and also Nashville, Tennessee. Also have heard that Fayetteville-Bentonville, Arkansas is very cycling friendly. Then there are the rail trails, and Iím wondering if buying a home near a good rail trail would be a plus.

Helpful comments and thoughts greatly appreciated!
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Old 07-09-24, 07:05 PM
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If you can afford it, SoCal.
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Old 07-09-24, 07:19 PM
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I think for a biking enthusiast, climate and surroundings is everything. My own thoughts:
- If not employed, you can be housed far enough out of town that housing prices may be reasonable. However, being in the city is nice, to be able to bike everywhere; My car stays parked so much, I need to disconnect the battery to keep it from discharging.
- You may be old enough to qualify for senior housing in a good city, at moderate price.
- I hate hot more than cold. So I put up with less-bike-friendly winters in exchange for generally cooler summers. That used to describle the pacific northwest, although in recent years there has been record heat, but if you get out to bike in the morning, it's not bad. Low humidity too.
- Back when I lived in the snow belt, winter biking was out due to the ice (now, I could used a bike with studded tires). But then, I nordic-tracked in the snow months.
- Is being close to a major airport for travel, important?
- Social scene? I think you might find contacts in both a large city and small town.
- What other things matter? This I like about the coastal northwest: Access to excellent quality fresh produce and wide variety of food, the view of mountains (and skiing) and water (and sailing, there are non-profit community sailing centers were you can sail CHEAP), bike-friendly cities. If you look up Bicycle Quarterly, they are based in the PNW, and I think there are links to recommended rides in the area, quite scenic, both flat and more mountainous.
- Do you need a good bike shop nearby, or are you self-sufficient in ordering parts and your own maintenance?

The areas you mentioned above would be too hot, and these days, too politically "red" for me (funny, in the UK, "red" and "blue" are reversed from the US). But there may be more liberal pockets, possibly Chattanooga, not sure, I read some time back that was an up-and-coming city for lifestyle. But I can't stand heat and humidity.

I think Duluth MN is also highly rated, but you would need to like winters.

After being near the ocean and mountains in the northwest, I can't now imagine being away from them. SF is too expensive, and a lot less green until you get east of Sacramento. LA area would be too hot for me, too expensive, too much concrete, too much cars and air pollution.

You might want to explore the far outskirts of Seattle, and Tacoma, and Olympia WA, further rural if you don't mind that.

Last edited by Duragrouch; 07-09-24 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 07-09-24, 07:23 PM
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How long have you lived in the LA area? You grew up in Indiana but how long has it been since you lived in a place where winter is cold? I grew up in a cold climate but spent most of my adult life in warmer areas and would never consider returning to a colder place to retire.

I wasn't riding when I bought my house in a rural area 30 years ago so I didn't really think about the miles of empty country roads at my doorstep. Once I started riding I understood why so many groups came to this area for their rides and realized how fortunate I was. Now that I'm retired it's perfect. I'm 10 miles outside a relatively small southern city. The larger the city the further out you need to go before the rural roads become empty so you might consider looking at smaller metro areas for better riding potential. Of course small city life might not work for those accustomed to being in larger metro areas.

Last edited by jon c.; 07-09-24 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 07-09-24, 07:35 PM
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And after all these years, I always thought West L.A. and Santa Monica was in SoCal.

The Pacific North West might be an alternative. Oregon or Washington (outside of Seattle proper). A decent climate and not prone to natural disasters other than an occasional volcano erupting. I went to school at U.C. Irvine, lived in the Bay Area, more school in Eugene, OR (which has culture and nice cycling roads) and then the communities outside Seattle.
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Old 07-09-24, 07:37 PM
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Besides your interest in cycling, many more factors go into such a decision -- too many for any random internet poster to give you much good advice. But I will offer a few ideas:

1) I've not yet been there, but many of my friends spend time in Bentonville. That Wal Mart money has apparently built it into quite a nice area. The MTB'ing is stellar, great gravel riding, too...though I don't know much about road riding around there. (But that's probably more because my friends and I don't do much road riding.)
2) If you want affordability, rural USA is where it's at. In many small rural cities, you can buy a nice house for a relative pittance. With that said...
3) It's nice to have some amenities locally, such as a good healthcare system, a few decent restaurants, a good bike shop, and a decent college or university if you are into public lectures/performances/sporting events.

We are currently in such a place, though will probably have to leave when my wife retires -- which is quite a few years down the road. But we're looking around now...And housing prices just keep going up.
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Old 07-09-24, 07:49 PM
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The triangle area in NC if you can handle the heat.
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Old 07-09-24, 07:50 PM
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Northern Scottsdale, AZ, but not in the summer.
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Old 07-09-24, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by xpacpal1x
Title says it all. Iím 62, living in West Los Angeles-Santa Monica these last 40 years. Recent divorce cut my net worth in half and my current job looks like it could disappear anytime. Iím in very good shape for my age and can easily put in a 50 mile ride. But a financially comfortable retirement in California doesnít look feasible anymoreÖI could manage it, but not as a homeowner in West Los Angeles. However, I can easily afford to buy a home outright and retire comfortably anywhere else in the US (ex-NYC and any other place with ridiculous home prices).

Iíve been looking on Zillow for homes in Indiana (I grew up in Indianapolis and went to college in Bloomington), and also Nashville, Tennessee. Also have heard that Fayetteville-Bentonville, Arkansas is very cycling friendly. Then there are the rail trails, and Iím wondering if buying a home near a good rail trail would be a plus.

Helpful comments and thoughts greatly appreciated!
many of the places being suggested are insanely hot part of the year, and cold and nasty part of the year. how about an affordable part of northern california, say novato or something like that. world class riding at your doorstep, close to whatever ties you still have to LA, and essentially perfect weather.

you can get a decent place for a single guy for <$900k
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Old 07-09-24, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
2) If you want affordability, rural USA is where it's at. In many small rural cities, you can buy a nice house for a relative pittance. With that said...
3) It's nice to have some amenities locally, such as a good healthcare system, a few decent restaurants, a good bike shop, and a decent college or university if you are into public lectures/performances/sporting events.
.
I think these are good points. Were it me, I'd be looking for the "right" bedroom community near at least a mid-sized city. For instance, I live in Fountain Hills, AZ which is on the edge of Phoenix. I wouldn't call it a cycling paradise, but it is pretty good for the Phoenix area. And I'm pretty close to any important service I might want. Excellent hospitals, etc. But I pretty much don't drive unless I leave the town proper. And even then I might bike or ebike to my destination. Nearby Scottsdale is fairly bicycle friendly.

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Old 07-09-24, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by mschwett
you can get a decent place for a single guy for <$900k
This kind of thing always kills me.

As I wrote upthread, we live in a small (11k people) city in rural USA, which we like for a whole range of reasons. Our house is about 3,000 square feet (5 bedrooms, three full baths) with a beautiful yard in a golf course neighborhood. Bought it two years ago for $330k.

I can get on a gravel road without leaving my neighborhood, and from there I can go as far as I like with almost no motor vehicle traffic. Oh, I can ride downtown to our little local brewery taproom...Where everybody knows my name -- because it's literally on one of the beers.
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Old 07-09-24, 08:13 PM
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Missoula, MT, if you donít mind seasons. University town. 45 mile paved trail down to Hamilton. Gravel riding in USFS land very close. Lots of other great road riding not far away. No state sales tax. And only one area code in the state.
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Old 07-09-24, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
This kind of thing always kills me.
How so? I think most of us understand that housing prices will be lower in areas that are attractive for a fewer number of people. A population of 11,000 pretty much screams that a lot of people don't want to live there. Hence, lower housing prices. Smart of you not to say the name of the town. No need to alert others.

The money saving trick is to find a place (as you seem to have done) that is attractive to you, but not to a few hundred thousand others.
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Old 07-09-24, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
And after all these years, I always thought West L.A. and Santa Monica was in SoCal.

The Pacific North West might be an alternative. Oregon or Washington (outside of Seattle proper). A decent climate and not prone to natural disasters other than an occasional volcano erupting. I went to school at U.C. Irvine, lived in the Bay Area, more school in Eugene, OR (which has culture and nice cycling roads) and then the communities outside Seattle.
South of Seattle, yeah there are a ton of houses right in the well-worn vallies from past eruptions and lahar (melted snowcap mixed with mud) flows, you can't miss them on a topo map. Tons of warning sirens, but not enough escape time. You want to stay out of those. Mt Rainier is considered the greatest threat of eruption worldwide. North of Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia I think are all well away from the lahar zone, though not ash fall. (Edit: I think Tacoma is in the lahar zone.)

Last edited by Duragrouch; 07-09-24 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 07-09-24, 08:49 PM
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Come on home to Bloomington, but buy in a bedroom community like Ellesttville or somewhere south of town to keep housing costs down. Southeast Bloomington has blossomed into a mega cost housing area 1m plus, but Bedford is still very affordable. Smiles, MH
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Old 07-09-24, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
... we live in a small (11k people) city in rural USA, which we like for a whole range of reasons. Our house is about 3,000 square feet (5 bedrooms, three full baths) with a beautiful yard in a golf course neighborhood. Bought it two years ago for $330k.

I can get on a gravel road without leaving my neighborhood, and from there I can go as far as I like with almost no motor vehicle traffic. Oh, I can ride downtown to our little local brewery taproom...Where everybody knows my name -- because it's literally on one of the beers.
I got to come visit you and this local brewery with my gravel bike. Are there hotels within riding distance of this local brewery in this small city in rural USA? Are MAMILs welcome to drink beers there?
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Old 07-09-24, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by wheelreason
The triangle area in NC if you can handle the heat.
The heat in the Triangle isn't too bad (well, except for now), and you have beautiful springs and falls, and you can cycle through the winter - it seldom gets below freezing during the day. Fairly active cycling in the Chapel Hill/Durham area, rolling terrain, benign low-trafficked country roads not far out of CH, not many truck arseholes. The only thing the area lacks are decent climbs - you have to travel a few hours west for proper climbing. Property in/near town is expensive, but I suspect not SoCal-expensive

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Old 07-09-24, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
I got to come visit you and this local brewery with my gravel bike. Are there hotels within riding distance of this local brewery in this small city in rural USA? Are MAMILs welcome to drink beers there?
MAMILs drink there regularly.
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Old 07-09-24, 09:11 PM
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Try thinking outside the box. How about Portugal or Spain? Cost-of-living is half of what it would be in the US, cost of housing is way lower and the quality of riding is unmatched. With the money saved, you could fly home anywhere in the US a few times a year.
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Old 07-09-24, 09:41 PM
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I take it for granted, but Columbia, MO is a college town and has neighborhoods along much of the MKT Trail. The MKT trail is a converted spur that starts downtown and runs just over 8 miles out to join the 237 mile Katy Trail, a state park and rail trail that spans the state. Some here have referred to the Katy as the gold standard of rail trails. And housing is certainly more affordable than SoCal. Might be worth checking out. OTOH, it does get hot and it does get at least somewhat cold.

More than a person would want to know about Missouri climate:

https://climate.missouri.edu/climate.php


(not sure why that doesnít work as a link but URL is correct)

Otto

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Old 07-09-24, 09:54 PM
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Wondering about Maryland. Taxes above average, but eastern shore Salisbury/Berlin if you like flat or western Md Hagerstown if you like variety. Just not around DC/B'more. Frederick used to be reasonable, but got sucked into DC.

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Old 07-09-24, 09:59 PM
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Totally off the wall answer here, but Pueblo Colorado.

Dirt cheap cost of living.
Great gravel riding.
Great year round riding, if you wake up early enough in the summer.
Big assed climbs. Or dead flat roads, really your call depending on which way you leave town.
A small but increasingly active local cycling community.
A hospital big enough to take care of most things, and able to transfer you to nearby bigger cities (Colo Springs or Denver) if needed. You arenít getting any younger.
Decent spring, winter, fall mellow mountain biking.
An entire range on 13 and 14k peaks an hour from town.

The guys at the two shops are great people.

With CA money, youíd have no issue there. Itís a dumpy and dusty steel community but it really does grow on you.

Youll have enough money to find a place in Pueblo West or Beulah if youíd like. Further from the city but not far.

Itís never anyoneís first choice. I left. Sometimes I wonder if I should have.
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Old 07-09-24, 10:13 PM
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Five years to the day - 7/09/19 - my divorce finalized. Same 62-yr old SoCal situation as you, with the 50% split.
My house outside L.A. sold for roughly $1.8M, meaning I could afford about half, just like you.
Too many friends and family in Socal, so it made me look eastward: Altadena, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, San Dimas, etc.
Plus, great year-round weather enables year-round riding. Best place to live and ride.
Housing prices skyrocketed since then. Hopefully you can make it work.
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Old 07-09-24, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by rosefarts
Totally off the wall answer here, but Pueblo Colorado.
Plus free catalogs and publications. (still applies, but not as advertised as in past I think)
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Old 07-10-24, 03:57 AM
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It depends on how you tolerate/enjoy various weather. It can be great to have some winter weather if you fill it in with some snowshoeing, xc skiing, etc, but some ahte the cold. OTOH, some hate the heat. In any case remember there are other things besides cycling. I'd suggest finding an area with a wealth of activities.
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