‘Work and a few vacations each year is all we’ve done for the past 34 years’ — This couple has $2.6 million and no idea where to retire

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Dear Marketwatch,

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My wife and I will soon be 59 years old and plan to retire in mid-2021 (we will both be 59). We currently live in Houston, but would like to move to somewhere with nicer views, more moderate weather and less traffic. We can both tolerate heat better than cold. The climate may not be so bad in retirement because we won’t need to drive cars out of the snow to go to work every day.

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Both of us have worked continuously for more than 35 years; My wife has maxed out Social Security contributions for about 28 years and I have maxed out for 31. We’ll have about $46,000 in pension income as well as access to retiree medical insurance. We have investable assets of approximately $2.6 million, no debt and a home worth approximately $480,000. We expect to spend about $600,000 on a home wherever we go.

We love nature, but are also close to a variety of sit-down restaurants and unique establishments. Our original plan was to go to Cascais, Portugal. The main thing for us is that it has nice views, good weather and is walkable. But the current virus situation has forced us to reconsider moving out of the US, where we will be “outsiders” for a long time.

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We are not “dreaming” of any specific location or activities; We are very flexible in those areas. The main factor is the enjoyment of our retirement years.

We know this isn’t much direction for you to suggest, but I hope you can point out ideas we hadn’t considered here in the US work and every year some holidays we have for the past 34 years.

Regards,

L&K

Dear L&K,

Congratulations on your diligent savings, compounded by the power of time, that you are approaching a well-funded retirement. As you’re discovering, saving is only one part of the retirement process, no matter the size of your retirement nest egg.

When that last day of work comes, take a deep breath and… do nothing. Allow yourself to settle into your new reality before you pack up. Listen to yourself as you explore new priorities and what will bring you joy in retirement. Don’t assume it will be easy because you’ve been working pretty much nonstop for more than three decades.

Start with writing down anything you think you want to do, including things you never had time for in the Houston area. You may also want to consider a retirement coach.

Remember, conflict is normal.

This first year of early retirement has been one of the hardest years of my life

Then go to Portugal. (I think we’ll travel independently by then.) Rent Cascais — a city of 200,000 just 20 miles from Lisbon – for three months and see how it really is. Horrible? Yes. But I guess you won’t be outside long enough, that you will quickly find other migrants like you. tap into resources like Americans in Portugal And this Local listings on Meetup, Find a group on Facebook and start making contacts, perhaps even before you arrive to make the process of settling down.

Cascais, Portugal

istockphoto

And if you realize quickly that Cascais is a great place to vacation, but it’s not your year-round dream destination, that’s okay. At least you’re not left wondering “what if”.

Then explore some other part of Europe instead of changing your ticket to get home early. After all, you have that travel budget.

Read about the prospect of another Portugal retirement: Hot springs, no traffic, and universal health care in January—the best retirement escape you’ve never heard of

Here’s One Person’s Experience of Living in Portugal

If you decide to retire in the US, you have a lot of options, as you know. This country is beautiful, and your hard work in saving and investing opens up options that others cannot. The Businesshala “Where Should I Retire” tool can help you create a long shortlist. Why not travel across the country and stay in those cities for a few weeks at a time? If you like one then stay longer, if you don’t then move on quickly. Think about whether that’s too small – or too big.

The search can also help you better define “the joys of our retirement.”

As you see, consider whether you need a bigger home or whether going smaller is worth it if it lets you live in a more scenic location (Hawaii, suggested here).

I’ll start you off with these three suggestions:

You can always walk the Broken Top Trail instead of walking it.

Pete Alport/Visit Bend

Bend, Oregon

Gorgeous view with both mountains and water. Plenty of hiking and cycling. A foodie scene featuring fine food (and.) A chef with three James Beard nominations) and a Culinary Institute with its own restaurant for lots of craft beer (claims Bend The Largest Ale Trail in the Western US, with 22 breweries). A vibrant city. The sunniest place in Oregon.

The website Liveability states that this city of 100,000 in Central Oregon “Offers easy access to all the outdoor adventures you could ask for,

Bizarre Fact: There is a dormant volcano in the city called pilot butte Which offers spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains. but don’t miss Newberry National Volcanic Monument 20 minutes outside the city Hot spring in Paulina Lake a little further away. and the 66-mile . take some time out for Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway,

Average summer highs are in the 80s, and humidity is low.

You won’t find much walkable space; Walkscore to Bend”walker’s paradise” and gives it 91 marks out of 100.

Is this the place for you?

You’ll find snow—about 7 inches to 8 inches on average—in both December and January. But even so, average daytime highs are in the low 40s, and there isn’t much rain.

Unlike many people, you have a housing budget for Bend. (yes it is more expensive than portland, according to Spurling’s Best Places.)

here is what houses are on the market now Using listings from Realtor.com (which, like Businesshala, is owned by News Corp.)

The Grand Canyon is just 80 miles from Flagstaff.

AFP via Getty Images

Flagstaff, Arizona

Here is a quiet hill town where housing costs, while well above the national average Bend. cheaper than, Habitat includes Flagstaff Its latest ranking of the 100 best small and medium-sized cities to live in, citing “impressive quality of life” and “many arts and entertainment options”. Its 75,000 residents value entertainment and being outdoors. with and seven national park sites Within 80 miles, why not?

Among them, the Grand Canyon is the farthest, but is just outside the city. Walnut Valley National Monument, Drive south, toward pricier Sedona, and Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive,

Yes, there are four seasons, and I’ll admit that according to the local tourism office, I was concerned about the amount of snow—an average of 108 inches in downtown Flagstaff. Oh! Locals say that while you can get a big snowstorm, it’s not like a hurricane that hits the Midwest or East Coast. Here, at 7,000 feet, it will be followed by sunshine and high temperatures around 50, so the snow won’t last long. (Some new homes also have heated driveways, so you don’t have to shovel—or you can pay someone to do it.)

Of course, you can use a pending blizzard to spend a little over 2 hours in the Phoenix area. and the skiers will move on Arizona Snowbowl 15 miles up the road.

Still, it’s a reason to spend some time experiencing Flagstaff in winter before making a decision.

Otherwise, the weather remains pleasant from April to October. July highest average 82 degrees. No humidity after Houston—a respite.

Unlike much of Arizona, Flagstaff is not dominated by retirees, even snowbirds. The Census Bureau says only 8.3% of the population is 65 or older, which is half the national rate. Chalk some of that up to Northern Arizona University and its more than 20,000 students. As I’ve written before, I’m a fan of college towns because of the sports and cultural events they offer residents of all ages.

You have the ability to walk here. Interstate 40 and railroad tracks cut through the city, so you may want to stay near downtown if you want to walk to local restaurants. On the other hand, you probably won’t drive more than 10 minutes to get anywhere in the city. For a more casual walk, enjoy the 56-mile Flagstaff Urban Trail System (FUTS),

Curious? what’s on the market here, again using the listing on Realtor.com.

Jennifer Chase / Courtesy Visit Annapolis

Annapolis, Maryland

Your interest in Cascais has got me thinking of a place on the water, but your aversion to Houston-style humidity has me shunning Southern beach towns. Go too far north, and winters rule them (unless you want to turn winter into prime travel time). I’m also thinking of a place where there is enough to work year round, so very rural or seasonal…

,

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