Best Places to Live When You’re Over 50

2014 Update to Best Places to Live, here.

Two years back, I did a little research on the best places to live if you’re starting out – or starting over. I covered various ages and stages. But what if you’re at midlife, 50 or older? What if you’re in full-blown “reinvention” mode?

Let’s face it, many of us are in the “starting over” category, and more than once. We don’t necessarily have buckets of cash at our disposal or a partner ready to share and support our adventures. You could say that starting out at 22 or 25 puts you squarely in the same situation, but there’s a significant difference – life is generally all about you.

And that’s as is it should be – you’re young, strong, flying the nest or finishing college. You may be plenty scared but you’re taking off all the same, about to gain experience and discover what works for you.

And, as the saying goes, “you have your whole life ahead of you.” It’s frightening – and thrilling!

Starting over after age 50 offers its own set of considerations – advantages, yes – and realistically, constraints.

It’s not better or worse, but it’s certainly different. It’s about letting go as much as diving in. It’s more than relocation; it’s the best part of reinvention – rediscovering yourself.

Why Start Over at 50 or 60?

So why are people starting over at 50 or 55 or 60?

  • You might find yourself “free” and somewhat aimless, starting over after a marriage ends. We all know that Gray Divorce is increasingly prevalent, and widowhood may strike at any time.
  • Your kids may have moved on with their lives – and single or partnered – you long for something new, without necessarily crossing a continent or an ocean to see your children, or possibly grandchildren.
  • You may be starting over in a career or job – no longer unusual at midlife. But you will be competing with those younger than yourself, and you want to locate to a market with appropriate opportunities.
  • Whatever the reason for starting over, with your additional wisdom often comes aches and pains, the expense of doctors or medications, the need for a certain climate and also, affordability and accessibility to what you need for physical health.
  • You may be willing to admit that while you’ve always wanted to live on the West Coast or the East Coast – or London or Paris – you have less energy or emotional resilience than you had 25 years earlier. Or even five years earlier!

I’ve been surprised at how often my two-year old research continues to provide some sort of service. Recently, one or two Empty Nesters have popped by to read, so I thought I would update those findings specifically for the 50+ crowd, pull together whatever I could find on the web, and add a few thoughts of my own.

I’m no longer contemplating Empty Nest. I’m there.

Unsettled at Empty Nest

Facing those “starting over” questions is tough at any age and in all sorts of circumstances. If you’re married, you have two individuals to consider – most likely two jobs, two sets of preferences in what you envision as the next chapter, and ideally you also have someone with whom to share the stresses of any relocation.

It’s less frightening to start over when you’re not alone.

But it’s still frightening!

Single at Empty Nest?

It’s another ballgame. Theoretically, you have only yourself to depend on financially, but also only yourself to please when it comes to the future. At least, that’s what we think a few years earlier. Let me say, it doesn’t necessarily work out that way in reality.

In fact, a recent comment on “Starting Out and Starting Over” states:

I’m… struggling to feel comfortable with this next life chapter without my children… I feel so unsettled and torn.

Adding to this Empty Nester’s understandable indecision?

Young adult children spread across the US, and a strong desire to live her own life more fully, having survived a bout of cancer.

Resources on Starting Over After 50

Speaking purely of the women I know, we seem to carry the familial care-taking role with us well beyond our active care-taking years. Ceasing to do so – even provisionally – is a challenge. We find ourselves seeking compromise scenarios in which we gain additional measures of whatever we want for ourselves, without feeling as though we’re straining critical connections to those we love.

We hope to settle on reasonable geographic access to family if at all possible. For them, as well as for us.

So where do we pluck our possible locations from? If we know what the considerations are, how do we choose a place to start over while hedging our bets?

  • AARP provides a nice summary of options on Starting Over After 50. It offers its Top 10 Places to Live on $100/Day including Spokane (WA), San Antonio (TX), Roanoke (VA), and Pittsburgh (PA).

Might I also suggest that if you’re searching for potential partners, you find demographic data on available men or women in your age range? Google, for example, “Best Places for Meeting Single Men Over 50.” You get the idea.

But keep in mind that you should be focusing on this next chapter in your life – not just a year or two. Think big, or at least, “bigger.” Reinvention may be an overused term, but it’s appropriate for millions of us. This Huff Post piece, hot off the online press, mentions an upcoming PBS Special focused on exactly that!

What’s Next?

I may have mused on what’s next for Hillary Clinton not long ago (and had some fun doing it), and we may have to wait a bit to see what’s next for her in 2016. Hillary aside, most of us are not flush with funds and, simply put, a “misstep” made at 50 or 60 provides less recovery time than the same experience at 30 or 40 – financially as well as emotionally.

The bottom line? When you’re 50 years old and starting over, knowing where to turn, much less where to begin, involves a complex set of decisions.

When you’re considering how far and wide to cast your net for potential relocation, I would certainly factor in your:

  • Propensity for risk and your ability to be flexible
  • Financial situation (not just now, but 5 years out, 10 years out, etc. – run the numbers!)
  • Comfort with travel (if children and grandchildren will be far away)
  • Need to make friends quickly; how sociable you are
  • Romantic interests (looking to date?)
  • Career / profession – whether newly starting or taking it on the road
  • Health / medical needs – not just today, but in 5 or more years’ time
  • Ability to change your mind – financially and logistically
  • Possibilities of a trial period in the proposed location if possible
  • Ability to view the new location and life as one where you can see yourself older (10+ years? 20 years?)

Gather Suggestions and Input

Suggestions for how to gather data of your own – that is tailored to you?

Do you belong to any Facebook groups in which members live in the areas you’re considering? Can you ask for input?

Perhaps you have friends or relatives you can stay with for a few weeks, as a sort of trial period without making a major move.

Have you asked your children how they feel about you’re relocating? Have you factored in travel logistics and expenses, or the extent to which you will tolerate living at a distance from family?

Are there others you can tap for their counsel?

Do you know what you’re good at? What interests you? Where can you pursue what you’d like to learn or try your hand at?

Using myself as an example, both my sons are in college. One will be in the Northeast for another few years and the other, in a matter of months, could be almost anywhere including either coast or Europe.

As to how I make my living, theoretically, a writer or consultant can work remotely anywhere I have reliable Internet. Then again, there’s the issue of proximity to service providers I’ve known for years, existing relationships (and all their complexities), not to mention the comfort of what is familiar – especially important (in my opinion) when you’re single and female.

Yes, I’ve made some assumptions in that statement. They apply to me; they may not apply to you. And I might also say that Paris is familiar!

Starting Over After 50 and Single

The woman who commented recently has specific questions. She is ahead of the game because she knows generally what she’s looking for, and she’s soliciting input and feedback. She’s in her 50s, and it sounds like she’s single.

She writes:

I want a friendly town and smart. Spiritual but authentic. A place with a lot to do but not a lot of neighborhood noise at night. No humidity. No cold. I’m thinking of Silver Lake, CA or Santa Monica.

These aren’t places I’m familiar with.

Any readers who are? Any real world input to provide? Any alternative suggestions?

I could say the same myself; while I’ve lived in Paris and loved it, I’m not sure I want to be an ocean away from my sons at this time. I’m not 100% convinced I could remake my life overseas, though that doesn’t mean I’ve dispensed with that idea; like this reader, I find myself feeling unsettled and torn.

  • So for now, do we have input on Silver Lake and Santa Monica?
  • Other suggestions for locations that are warm, friendly, authentic, and things to do?
  • And if you have some, any details on the social life and the cost of living?
  • Have you relocated at 50+ or are you considering doing so?
  • What are you learning from that experience?
  • Who else is dreaming of Paris or some other far-off locale, at least for a few weeks to soak up all it has to offer?
  • How are you managing to balance being realistic with a desire for something new?


Images, BigStockPhoto.

Image of Paris Rooftops, Yours Truly.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I subscribe to Intentional Communities, don’t often check the many emails I get but at first was interested. You can find lots of information about living communes/communities of like minded people all around the US and abroad. Very organized! Not too sure I’m going to go that route. I feel I’d give a lot of my independence away. However, I think it would be great to have an immediate social network.

    Regarding Ashland, OR. I’ve thought about moving back to my home state, growing up there, living close enough to the ocean to make a day trip, makes me kind of homesick. Ashland is a liberal/conservative town. Lots of small businesses, outdoorsy, beautiful country. Not much diversity though. Oregon is pretty much a one color state imo. Medford is the largest town about 30 miles from Ashland. Very hot temps in the summer in Medford, not as bad in Ashland. I could have skewed memories since I haven’t been to those places in over 30 years. You can count on Ashland as being more expensive than typical communities to live in. If you want to live in a tent or mobile home near the area, I’m sure you’ll find your place.
    Erin recently posted…Wandering Through the Forest (With Heather)My Profile

  2. says

    There are few ways to deal with the empty nest depression and most of them include – do what you want! My parents had such a hard time after me and my brother moved out and the first year they were really depressed. Especially my mother… Now they are fine.. they moved to a nice village in the countryside and they are doing great! They started to travel and I feel much better for them now! :)

  3. Lyndi C says

    Addressing the question of Santa Monica and/or Silver Lake, I can offer some insight. Both are grood places to live, as the weather is great, they’re close to anything related to the arts, education, entertainment and social groups of all types. Santa Monica places you at the ocean, Silver Lake puts you inward, closer to the mountains and Pasadena (home of the Norton Simon museum and Rose Parade) and a bit warmer in the summer. As a native SoCal gal, at 62 I’m looking to leave the State… or at least the area. The population is extremely crowded, its expensive and I really believe it will continue to get worse. Cultural diversity is also interesting and while it provides the opportunity to spend time in many world experiences it can sometimes feel forced. My best advice is… its a great place to visit, but if you’re looking to get away from the noise, this isn’t it. :-) It’s big city all the way.

    • Julie says

      I live near Bethesda, MD.
      I grew up here and I want to leave so badly.
      It’s incredibly expensive and the traffic is horrendous.
      I want to live somewhere that winters are not too harsh and summers lower in humidity.
      I would love to be near water (lakes rather than ocean) and a true community feel.
      Cool shops, good eating places, a bit funky but not too far out.
      I would love to find other women who would like to live together as I feel living alone is way too lonely.
      Any suggestions?

      • Linda says

        Julie- I am looking for similar qualities in a town but would like to live near a major airport (hour or two) so I can visit family in other states.

        I would be interested in speaking with you and Frances about this offline.

        Tks

      • Julie says

        I’m in Falls Church, Virginia and feel the same way, Julie. Looking seriously at Portland Oregon. It reminds me of Arlington, only less traffic.
        (Another) Julie

  4. Linda says

    Hi, just wanted to chime in with the rest of you ladies and I am so glad this site is out there for the over 50 crowd. My situation currently without getting long and winded is I am currently staying with my daughter in Albany, GA because I was living in Reno, NV for the last 3 years I am originally from upstate NY. I was renting a townhouse with a male friend for the last 4 months, while visiting family in NY he decided to move out. I was not on the lease. Prior to flying out to NY I lost my job and I was getting homesick been out West for 3 years to turn my life around I am 54 and divorced with two grown children. So my belongings are in storage out there and I am planning my next move. I know I have to come back to the East but looking for a place about 3 hours from my daughter and granddaughter does anyone know of any good areas to live in and get my life rebuilt. I don’t have any pets or crazy ex’s in my life :) lol Thanks for all your input.

    • D. A. Wolf says

      Are you also looking for another job, Linda? Will you choose where to go based on that, or do you have the flexibility to move somewhere and then find work?

      • Linda says

        Yes I’m looking for another job, my current plans are I am flying back to Nevada to get my belongings and have a garage sale and get rid of things I don’t need or want. Then drive
        across country to stay with my daughter and granddaughter, she is in GA. I don’t like the high humidity and lack of things to do and low pay scale so I was thinking of staying a year and moving to a place more of my liking and affordability.

        Like many woman here looking for a peaceful town but live outside a major city so you have
        things to do, variety of choices and more employment opportunities. Some have talked about
        moving into together and I am giving this some serious consideration as well.

  5. says

    Like so many, I think about living somewhere else, somewhere not totally dependent on the ever-necessary car and away from our long, cold New England winters. More urban than my very rural life, offering museums, concerts, cafes , instead of gardens and long walks out my door into the woods. Good public transit, perhaps a university nearby. Not too big, not wildly expensive.

    My heart says southern France, my head says … are there places here in the eastern US?

    Then my heart jumps back in, with …. but my friends, colleagues, community are all right here with me.
    Suze recently posted…Friday photos: marshesMy Profile

    • D. A. Wolf says

      You know Suze, you’re describing where I used to live in the Boston area. I left there many years ago to take a job but also because I just couldn’t take the long winters any longer. It does seem that many of us would like the same qualities in terms of where we would live. Why is it so difficult to find?

      • says

        Yes, the winters … the older I get, the harder I find them. I’m in Massachusetts, but on the west end of the state, near the NY border, at about 1600 feet in the Berkshires. I tell you the altitude because it means colder than average.

        Thinking out loud now, always dangerous in the printed word. Maybe part of the difficulty, for me at least, in figuring out where to live, what to do, with however many years I have left is related to being aware of how very lucky I am, how rich in friends and community my life is … and not wanting to lose the wonderful, good things about it.

        But still… sigh.
        Suze recently posted…Friday photos: marshesMy Profile

  6. Barbara says

    Julie, Linda and Frances,

    I am looking for the same things you girls are! I would love to connect offline with you guys as I am ready to move! I live in Albuquerque, NM. Though our weather is nice, I so miss living near a lake.

    This is one of the worst places to live if you are single in your 50’s. No sense of community, poor heathcare options, housing… I am selling my home… Now I just need to decide where to move!! If you wish to connect please contact D. A. Leave a comment here and she will provide my email offline. I hope I hear from you!

    Suggestions on locations, anyone??

    Barbara

    • says

      Hi Barbara and others–I’d like to hear what you have to say about this. Please let me know how to communicate off-line with everyone. I’m so ready to make a change but unsure about moving to a new place where I know no-one. Timing may be an issue for me as I have a house I’m paying on and don’t really know if I should try to sell right now. I didn’t know there were so many women in the same sort of situation as me. This is a great site. Thanks! Erin

      • Erin says

        Hey Erin, my name Erin also! I decided to take a chance. House getting listed on 15th, open house on 20th. Have no clue where I will end up! After a long drawn out divorce, 3 kids graduated/moved off to college & Army, I’m stuck on 5 acres with 2 houses… Too much work for me alone. Selling a lot of things, storing some, then I’m gonna take my dog & explore for a while. Have to wait & see how quickly it sells.

        • Erin says

          Erin–That sounds like a lot even for two people to manage. Good luck on selling your property fast. I’ve been there, done that twice in the past 10 years, and it’s not easy, that’s for sure. Erin

      • D. A. Wolf says

        Holy House Hunt, Batman! Perhaps the Erin’s, Lindas, and Barbara should friend me on Facebook and we’ll see if we can get acquainted a little there sometime soon. So many of us are looking to restart in many ways at this stage…

      • Liz In Mass says

        Erin, Linda, Barbara,
        Add me in, I would love to chat about this as there is so much to consider when we have so many choices and time is so precious. Liz

  7. Liz In Mass says

    I feel right at home with all of you on this blog. I am an empty nester, no pets, plants, sold my home, my 2 children in college but I am not “old” I feel so energetic. I am starting my own business after leaving my 20 year profession. I am considering a place close enough and desirable enough that my parents, children and friends will visit as I develop my virtual based business. So here it goes….I never thought being an avid skier and mountain climber I would pick this place (especially with the old person reputation)
    FLORIDA (not screaming just hoping for it to stand out so you can comment).

    I would welcome the opportunity to connect with those who are interested in doing so.

  8. Brenda says

    I would also like to connect on Facebook……I lived in Atlanta Area for 35 years~ moved to Nashville Area to help with My Elderly Parents. No Plans to stay here long term….. looking more toward the Carolinas to be centrally located for Kids/ Grandkids!! All of a sudden in My Life….. I feel lonely and unsettled even though I stay busy every day!! Life is just so different now in the empty nesting stages just wanting to figure out who I am at the age of 57 and still full of life!!!!

    • Linda says

      Hi Brenda, in order for me to reach out to you please contact D. A. and she can give me your e-mail address and we can go from there. I too am interested in the Carolina’s.

      • Tacy says

        In the same boat as all of you!!! would love to be included in the emails/face book communications.
        All 5 of my children are all independent, house is sold, divorce final. Looking to settle in warmer climates and begin a new journey.
        Please all be in touch!

        Tacy

  9. Kathy says

    Erin, Linda, Tacy, Barbara, and Liz,
    I would love to chat with all of you! My daughter is in her third year of college and I am looking forward to starting my next chapter! Not sure how this works but would love to chat with all of you! There was a reason I found this site!

  10. Teri says

    Hello Ladies,
    I’m 50 and like the rest of you, I am preparing to ‘make a change’ and find a new place to call home. I live in San Diego County, CA and I know that I will not be able to retire here. It’s just way too expensive and getting worse every day. Yes, it’s beautiful here, but trying to survive is another thing. I’m doing okay now with a full time job in IT and will hopefully be able to find something at my age. I won’t leave my current job until I find something. The biggest thing… finding a place that feels good.

    Like you everyone here, I love country but want to be within an hour of city for entertainment and medical care. I have 2 grown sons and 2 grandsons. None that I get to see very often so relocating away from them won’t be much of a change. I can always visit. :)

    Have any of you here researched Idaho, Wyoming or Montana? I’m kinda looking at places in the quadrant of ID, WY, CO and UT… and possibly northern NV. I’m just starting my searches but thought I’d check to see if any of you have checked those states out.

    Would like to connect with you all as well, if anything to get input of your choices and things you found out.

    Thank lots, Teri

    • Kathy says

      Hi Teri-
      All of the areas you mentioned, I have considered myself! My daughter is still in college but I am starting to “gear up” for the empty nest phase. I I have been down South quite a bit but it is too hot in the summer for me! I am a teacher so I have some time to travel during the summer. I would like to head out West this summer and explore some possibilities. I am from Indiana. I would like an area where the winter months are not so extreme. I am also looking for an area where it allows for an active life style (ie biking, hiking, kayaking).

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