We love warm weather, lots of outdoor activities, little traffic. We also want a mid-sized town close to the beach. Where should we retire?

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We are retired and currently live in North Georgia. We’re looking to get around 30-40 minutes from the beach, preferably near family in Southern Virginia or the Tampa area.

We love hot weather, little traffic, and lots of outdoor activities and social groups. We also prefer to live in or near a mid-sized city with lots to do. We prefer a place that is not too conservative and religious. We can tolerate humidity but don’t like it.

We are not in debt, we have a few million, with a housing budget of $ 850,000 to $ 1 million. We’re not just looking for a 55+ community. We don’t have children, but we don’t want old people.

Ideas?

Melinda

Dear Mélinda,

How’s that for a drastic suggestion: spend six months near family in Tampa (pick the least humid six months and qualify as a state resident, thus paying no state income tax) and then see the world? Spend a month or more in one place, live like a local, then treat your friends to your adventures during your six months in Florida?

Or maybe use that housing budget to buy two homes, one near each family member so you don’t have to pick your favorites? Just be sure to tell everyone about how often you want to see them (and how often you expect them to drive to you). I’m a fan of the test, so consider renting near each of them for a few months to determine if that’s really what you want.

Testing a community during its less attractive time, and not just visiting it as a tourist, is a smart strategy no matter where you look.

Read: Before you move to a new retirement city, check out the local Walmart – and 5 other hard-learned lessons

Can I also suggest that you spend more time thinking about how important the beach is to you? Are you looking to gaze at the water or feel the sand between your toes? Could a lake also work?

If you want to go to the beach frequently and don’t like traffic, consider getting as close to the water as your housing budget allows.

Whatever you do, congratulations on having a budget that gives you a lot of flexibility. I have three suggestions to get you started. I don’t like to repeat myself, so please check out the others “Where Should I Retire?” Columns here.

Dunedin, Florida

Dunedin is the spring training center for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Getty Images

This city of 37,000 residents has a waterfront as well as easy access to all the hustle and bustle of Clearwater (just south), St. Petersburg and Tampa. He enjoys bragging about his Scottish touches, including his own version of the Highland Games, and is often on lists of the best places to retire.

You can keep busy with art classes at the Dunedin Fine Art Center, watch the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training, and explore sections of the ever-expanding cobblestone Pinellas Trail that runs through Dunedin to St. Pete. or Tarpon Springs.

Choose your location carefully if you want to be around people of all ages; the Census Bureau reports that nearly a third of Dunedin residents are 65 or older. If you want somewhere younger, try St. Pete, where less than 20% are seniors. Upscale neighborhoods include Snell Isle, Old Northeast, and Coquina Key.

Don’t ignore these other caveats. The Tampa-St. The Pete-Clearwater metro area is home to over 3 million people, so you can’t escape the traffic. And of course, there’s Florida humidity in the summer with average summer peaks in the upper 80s. Make sure you’re good with it before you commit.

On the other hand, the average winter maximums are in the upper 60s.

The median list price for a home in Dunedin was $ 399,900 in August, according to Realtor.com, which, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp. Here is what is currently on the housing market. You can filter the properties in your price range and for certain features.

Chesterfield County, Virginia

Pocahontas State Park, just 20 miles from downtown Richmond, covers nearly 8,000 acres.

Courtesy of Richmond Region Tourism

If you want to be near the beach and live in Virginia, you really have to look in the Hampton Roads / Tidewater area. Think Williamsburg (avoid touristy areas) and South Hampton Roads, for example. Just be prepared for the traffic, considering that almost 1.8 million people live in this area and there is traffic on the beaches all summer. Again, if the beach is that big, consider getting as close to it as possible.

I’ll stick with your idea of ​​Virginia, but suggest an option near a lake instead in an area smaller than the Virginia Beach or Tampa metropolitan areas and where traffic is an afterthought.

Look outside of Richmond, the state capital, at lakeside developments near Chesterfield County’s Swift Creek Reservoir, places like Brandermill and Woodlake (neither are part of a city). If you want really upscale, check out Chesdin Lake at the southern end of the county. This one may take all of your housing budget, but in general, you can live very well in this metropolitan area of ​​1.3 million people for much less.

If you want more of the outdoors, Pocahontas State Park, the largest state park with lakes, hiking opportunities, and mountain biking trails, sits in between these two areas.

Whichever lake you choose, you would be close to Richmond, home to around 230,000 people, and all of its cultural offerings – theater, ballet, symphony, festivals, varsity sports and more.

If the city’s activities outweigh the water fun, consider moving to Richmond or neighboring Henrico County. The Richmond Fan Quarter merges into the Museum Quarter; here you’ll find a combination of college town atmosphere (the Commonwealth of Virginia is located here), cultural attractions, and plenty of dining options. Church Hill, on the east side of town, is a more historic area and closer to the James River and the City of Richmond Canal that runs parallel to it.

East of Richmond is the Virginia Capital Trail, which stretches 52 miles to Jamestown.

And when you want to enjoy the ocean, Virginia Beach is about a two hour drive. You can go there for the day or rent a house for longer.

You’ll get snow, more than if you were in South Hampton Roads or Williamsburg, but it usually doesn’t last long. Average winter peaks are in the upper 40s, rather than the 50s closer to the beach. Average summer highs are in the upper 80s.

The median list price of homes in Chesterfield County was $ 360,000 in August, according to Realtor.com, slightly more than in Tampa. Here is what is currently on the market.

Morehead City, North Carolina

One of Morehead City’s historic homes

Courtesy Crystal Coast Tourism Authority

With 10,000 residents, Morehead City, the largest of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast beach towns, also known as the Southern Outer Banks, is smaller than you described. But listen to me.

Thanks to the beach, you may find more amenities than you expect in a county of just 70,000 people. The population swells with second home owners and visitors, so you’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars (albeit few big box stores) as well as an aquarium and a maritime museum.

There is golf and fishing, of course, but also wreck diving which allows you to explore the boats and submarines submerged in the ocean.

The local hospital is in Morehead City; Carteret Health Care is the first establishment in North Carolina to be part of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, which gives it privileged access to the expertise of the Mayo Clinic.

There’s no question that beaches are the reason to consider Carteret County, where about a quarter of the population is 65 or older. If not Morehead City, you might be looking at Emerald Isle, a seaside town with golf carts on the streets, or historic Beaufort (not to be confused with a town in South Carolina with the same name but a pronunciation different – North Carolina is Bow-fort).

Wilmington is 2 hours and Raleigh almost 3 hours. Once the highway was transformed into a highway, Raleigh could be reached in 2 hours.

Winter peaks are in the mid-1950s and mid-summer peaks are in the upper 80s.

The median list price of homes in Morehead City is $ 359,500, and Carteret County boasts of having the lowest county property tax rate in the state. Here is what is currently on the market in Morehead City.

Curious about Beaufort, South Carolina? Read about it here.

Readers, where should Melinda and her husband retire? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.

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