A friend in Vermont who had put up with a bit too much cold and snow last night was speculating where she could move to that wasn’t so brutal in the winter months. That got me thinking again about a recurring topic of discussion here in Port Willett — where do we want to retire to?
It’s not going to be Los Angeles. Too crowded, too expensive. We have decades of history here as well as tons of friends and things that we like to do, but we can come and visit every now and then to see them and do that.
It’s probably not going to be California, although we’re not ruling that out. It would be nice to get a major change of pace and lifestyle when the time comes, and California is a big place with lots of different options so far as urban density, climate, altitude, and attitudes go. It won’t be in the desert (sorry, Palm Springs!) or in a big city (sorry, San Francisco, although I could be persuaded to talk about San Diego, a wonderful little city) but that still leaves many, many options.
Looking at it from the other direction, what do we want in our own personal little Nirvana?
I don’t want a small, small town (too little privacy) or a big city (too expensive, too crowded). On the other hand, I want to be somewhat near a big city (an hour or two away) so that we can get to a major airport. I intend to travel! (And take LOTS of pictures, but you knew that, right?)
We like sports and live entertainment and restaurants and so on, so to that end I think that a college town would be great. Someplace where we can start rooting for the local team, see an occasional game in any of a dozen different sports. Somewhere we can still get live concerts from some major artists and acts, plus some nice guest lectures.
Environmentally, the Deep South is probably out. The Long-Suffering Wife isn’t real fond of heat or humidity. While I would love to see snow again every now and then, I wouldn’t necessarily be thrilled with the winters in Minnesota or New England again. (But for you, Vermont, I would make an exception!) On the other hand, it would be nice to actually have four seasons, a pretty fall, a bit of snow in the winter, a nice green spring, and so on.
I would like to be somewhere fairly central to as many of our activity centers as we can. We like going to baseball games, we like going to science fiction conventions, so someplace where there are a lot of major league cities and large SF cons within a six to eight hour drive would be nice.
Put it all together and you end up somewhere in either the mid-Atlantic states or the lower Midwest. Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas.
The Long-Suffering Wife has an affinity for the Hokie Birds of Virginia Tech, and Blacksburg meets a lot of the criteria set out above. On a trip to Virginia for other purposes, we took a couple of days and drove up there. It’s lovely, probably on the early “short list.”
But there’s a lot of time to look around before any decisions have to be made. I’m not even sixty yet, and I don’t think that I get to retire until about a week after I’m dead, so there’s no need to rush to judgement.
Maybe some future side trips can be arranged to “scout out” some other possible locals. I’ve been to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, for example. It’s lovely, if a bit small and flat. I like mountains and hills, but it would be a great place to fly my own plane regularly. Columbus, Ohio probably is close, although it’s a bit on the big side. Burlington, Vermont is a wonderful place, but a bit cold.
Lexington? Louisville? Cincinnati? Indianapolis? Kansas City? Or at least, some college town an hour or so away? Lawrence? Knoxville? Chattanooga? Richmond?
I don’t know if Nirvana is out there, but there are a lot of places to look at that by default must be better than Los Angeles!