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Retiring where the jobs are

With more people planning to work in their retirement years, choosing where to live increasingly means checking out the local job market. A new AARP job site can help.

By Anne Fisher, senior writer
Last Updated: September 22, 2008: 10:50 AM EDT

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NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Rich Ortiz, 60, has spent the past 30 years training and certifying technicians, including the team at Rocketdyne that developed the space shuttle. He now teaches 26 different technical certification courses at aerospace and defense giant Pratt & Whitney in Los Angeles.

Ortiz won't be an Angeleno for much longer, though. In about two years, he plans to retire and move to Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Really? Why Oak Ridge? "My wife Priscilla and I sat down and made a list of everything we really wanted in retirement - a temperate climate, good health care facilities, low property taxes, not too much crowding or traffic," explained Ortiz. "And, since I'd like to keep working, I looked at local employers who might be able to use my technical training skills."

One possibility he's eyeing: Global engineering and construction company Bechtel runs a facility in Oak Ridge where technicians are trained to refurbish nuclear power plants.

Time was when most people chose a retirement location based on sun and fun, good fishing or great golf courses. Not anymore. A totally laid-back retirement is fast becoming a thing of the past. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employees aged 50 or over now make up 28% of the U.S. workforce and that, by 2016, that proportion will rise to 33.5%, or more than one in three.

According to a recent AARP survey, 8 out of 10 baby boomers want to keep working after they "retire," some because they expect to need the income or medical benefits, but many others because they aren't yet ready to feel they've been put out to pasture. "I really want to stay active and challenged," said Ortiz. "I've seen plenty of former colleagues retire and die shortly afterward, and I think that's because they had nothing compelling going on in their lives."

So let's say you're trying to plan your golden years, you've picked out a couple of places where you might like to live, and you're wondering about job opportunities there. Most towns' Chambers of Commerce are only too happy to send you an information packet describing local employers, and a subscription to the local paper will let you keep an eye on help-wanted ads in the area.

But now, thanks to a collaboration between AARP and a huge employment Web site for the over-50 crowd called RetirementJobs.com, there's a quicker and easier way: Go to www.aarp.org/money/work and enter the name or zip code of the town you're considering, plus a keyword describing what kind of work you're after ("sales" or "accounting," for example), and you'll get a listing of current job openings posted by local employers - many of them familiar national brand names like Staples (SPLS, Fortune 500) and Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) - that welcome older, experienced workers.

And that's not all. The AARP site offers a wealth of other information and support for anyone planning to launch a second career in retirement. Check out The Water Cooler, an online discussion group about career issues for people over 50, and AARP's blog, ShAARP Session.

Not surprisingly, a broad array of other online resources are popping up to help the 70-million-member boomer generation navigate the post-retirement career waters. No matter where you end up living when you've bid farewell to your current career, if you plan to keep working, here's a sampling of other sites worth a visit:

  • Ageless in America - resources for older job seekers from Boom or Bust! New Careers in a New America co-authors Brad Taft and Carleen McKay.

  • RetirementJobs.com - part job board, part advisor and coach for job-seeking seniors.

  • Quintessential Careers - a comprehensive list of job and career resources for older workers.

  • 2young2retire.com - Howard and Marika Stone, co-authors of Too Young to Retire: 101 Ways to Start the Rest of Your Life, offer coaching, a newsletter, profiles of interesting late-in-life career changers, and much more. Happy hunting!
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