THE STATS ON PARADISE
(FORTUNE Magazine) – If shuffling out of your condo and climbing aboard the Happy Hills van--which will whisk you away to the climate-controlled splendor of the nearby mall--isn't your idea of how you want to spend your golden years, this table should offer some relief. You get a sampling of the destinations of today--Ames, Iowa, to Las Vegas; of tomorrow--Camden, Maine, to Eugene, Oregon; and of your dreams--Provence to Mexico.
A few things are certain: the retiree of tomorrow will be a lot more active than today's Modern Maturity reader, so access to skiing, windsurfing, and mountain biking will be an important consideration when evaluating a spot. And, as an alternative to those trips to the mall, we examine each location's proximity to jobs, culture, and continuing education.
No one place can cover all bases, but our table will help you prioritize, offer some unexpected options, and calculate the price of following your dreams.
Capitola California [Population growth] 4.5% [Job market] San Jose, with its technology-based economy, is just 40 minutes away.
Ojai California [Population growth] 1.0% [Job market] Lots of local retail work. Also in driving range of Santa Barbara, L.A., and Thousand Oaks.
Boca Raton Florida [Population growth] 19.5% [Job market] Many jobs--for those willing to cater to other seniors at resorts and boutiques.
Seaside Florida [Population growth] 6.8% [Job market] With a big city out of daily reach, jobs are primarily in the gulf coast tourist industry.
Ames Iowa [Population growth] 2.0% [Job market] Plenty of opportunities, thanks to a strong economy; unemployment rate of just 3.5%.
Maui Hawaii [Population growth] 23.6% [Job market] Predictably, most jobs are tourist related, but finance and real estate are growing too.
Camden Maine [Population growth] 5.8% [Job market] Part-time opportunities abound--but most are seasonal and tourist related.
Lenox Massachusetts [Population growth] (0.9)% [Job market] Slow economy is picking up, thanks to growing special-effects business.
Oxford Mississippi [Population growth] 6.2% [Job market] A student body that doubles the population competes for limited part-time work.
Las Vegas [Population growth] 22.0% [Job market] Annual 15% employment growth. Casinos give seniors special job consideration.
Santa Fe [Population growth] 15.5% [Job market] Jobs are plentiful in the retail and service arenas, although isolated from big-city employers.
New York [Population growth] (0.1)% [Job market] Anything you did before you can probably pursue part-time.
Chapel Hill North Carolina [Population growth] 11.3% [Job market] The university's the top employer, but Research Triangle Park lends a corporate presence.
Eugene Oregon [Population growth] 8.6% [Job market] The economy slumped along with the timber industry, but is back on track with high tech.
Jackson Hole Wyoming [Population growth] 20.0% [Job market] The National Parks employ many retirees to work during the busy summer season.
Golfo Dulce Costa Rica [Population growth] 13.0% [note 1] [Job market] Given the country's low wages, the majority of Americans get into real estate.
London [Population growth] 1.7% [Job market] Residents can work legally part-time or try to contract with an American company.
Luberon France [Population growth] 9.4% [Job market] It is difficult to work legally, but lots of self-employed artists and writers do well here.
Kenmare Ireland [Population growth] (1.8)% [Job market] Unemployment is about 18%, so tax incentives go to those who start businesses.
San Miguel de Allende Mexico [Population growth] 6.0% [Job market] The government prohibits most Americans from working; some contract with U.S. firms.
COST OF LIVING Dinner Annual Cost of Car for two health club Movie house (in insurance [note 4] membership ticket thousands; [note 3] (top [note 5] 2 br, 2 bath) restaurant) (top club)
[Capitola $250 $264 $80 $417 $7.50 California] Shadowbrook Spa Fitness
[Ojai $300 $384 $100 $1,200 $8.00 California] Ranch House Ojai Valley Racq. Club
[Boca Raton $194 $276 $120 $1,800* $6.50 Florida] La Vieille Athletic Club Maison
[Seaside $400 $130 $87 $960* None Florida] Bud & Alley's MM Personal Training
[Ames $90 $159 $50 $400 $4.50 Iowa] Aunt Maud's Ames Total Fitness
[Maui $283 $483 $100 $420* $6.00 Hawaii] Gerard's Gold's Gym
[Camden $150 $169 $86 $550* $5.50 Maine] Sail Loft Samoset Resort
[Lenox $193 $316 $160 $375 $7.25 Massachusetts] Blantyre Lenox Fitness Center
[Oxford $85 $133 $72 $180 $4.00 Mississippi] City Grocery Flex One Club Fitness
[Las Vegas] $114 $352 $150 $1,020* $6.50 Palace Court Green Valley Ath. Club
[Santa Fe] $190 $291 $104 $800* $6.50 Coyote Cafe El Gancho
[New York] $480 $638 $150 $1,199 $8.50 Le Cirque Vertical Club
[Chapel Hill $147 $208 $72 $400 $6.00 North Carolina] Mondo Bistro Spa Health Club
[Eugene $128 $242 $70 $880* $6.50 Oregon] Sweetwaters Downtown Ath. Club
[Jackson Hole $200 $164 $90 $700 $6.00 Wyoming] Snake River Jackson Hole Grill Ath. Club
[Golfo Dulce $60 $100 $25 None None Costa Rica] Sol y Mar
[London] $350 $672 $230 $1,920* $13.25 Chez Nico Harbour Club
[Luberon $400 $750 $76 $390 $6.00 France] Le Fournil Fitness Wld. Carpentras
[Kenmare $90 $212 $150 None None Ireland] Park Hotel
[San Miguel $100 $332 $50 $720* $1.60 de Allende] Sierra Nevada Club de Golf Mexico] Malanquin
[Capitola California] [Taxes] [note 2] $50,000+ taxed at 8% to 11%.
[Ojai California] [Taxes] [note 2] $50,000+ taxed at 8% to 11%.
[Boca Raton Florida] [Taxes] [note 2] No income tax. $2,900+ in property taxes.
[Seaside Florida] [Taxes] [note 2] No income tax. Seaside dues cost $1,500.
[Ames Iowa] [Taxes] [note 2] $48,000+ taxed at 9.98%. $1,700+ in property taxes.
[Maui Hawaii] [Taxes] [note 2] $41,000+ taxed at 10%. $80,000 property-tax exemption for seniors.
[Camden Maine] [Taxes] [note 2] $33,000+ taxed at 8.5%. $2,000+ in property taxes.
[Lenox Massachusetts] [Taxes] [note 2] 5.95% to 12% rate, depending on source of income.
[Oxford Mississippi] [Taxes] [note 2] $10,000+ taxed at 5%. $60,000 property-tax exemption for seniors.
[Las Vegas] [Taxes] [note 2] No income tax. $1,800+ in property taxes.
[Santa Fe] [Taxes] [note 2] $48,000+ taxed at 8% to 8.5%.
[New York] [Taxes] [note 2] $25,000+ taxed at 7% to 7.9%. Beware 8.25% city sales tax.
[Chapel Hill North Carolina] [Taxes] [note 2] $21,250+ taxed at 7% to 7.75%.
[Eugene Oregon] [Taxes] [note 2] $10,800+ taxed at 9%. $2,500+ in property taxes.
[Jackson Hole Wyoming] [Taxes] [note 2] No income tax. $1,100+ in property taxes.
[Golfo Dulce Costa Rica] [Taxes] [note 2] Costa Rican income taxed; IRS taxes U.S. income.
[London] [Taxes] [note 2] Income from both countries can be taxed, but no double taxation.
[Luberon France] [Taxes] [note 2] Income from both countries can be taxed, but no double taxation.
[Kenmare Ireland] [Taxes] [note 2] Income from both countries can be taxed, but no double taxation.
[San Miguel de Allende Mexico] [Taxes] [note 2] Mexican income taxed; IRS taxes U.S. income.
No. of doctors No. of per thousand hospitals
[Capitola California] 2.09 2 [Comments] Local hospital offers lifestyle management program.
[Ojai California] 3.12 1 [Comments] UCLA's renowned medical center is 90 miles away.
[Boca Raton Florida] 2.96 5 [Comments] Residents have confidence in care, but it can be expensive.
[Seaside Florida] None 2 [Comments] Warning: Both hospitals are 45 miles away.
[Ames Iowa] 1.63 2 [Comments] One of the nation's least expensive states for health care.
[Maui Hawaii] 1.02 3 [Comments] Those requiring specialized treatment must be flown to Oahu.
[Camden Maine] 1.32 1 [Comments] Primary-care hospital and resort location attract good doctors.
[Lenox Massachusetts] 5.92 1 [Comments] Good doctors; nearby Canyon Ranch is a preventive alternative.
[Oxford Mississippi] 1.12 1 [Comments] New Yorkers beware: There's just one psychiatrist.
[Las Vegas] 0.81 9 [Comments] Fewer doctors, more facilities than other popular retiree spots.
[Santa Fe] 1.24 1 [Comments] Alternative-medicine mecca: acupuncture, homeopathy, reflexology.
[New York] 3.13 80 [Comments] Whatever you've got, the endless specialists can treat it--for a price.
[Chapel Hill North Carolina] 3.10 1 [Comments] There's UNC as well as the renowned Duke Medical Center.
[Eugene Oregon] 1.79 4 [Comments] Local hospital provides seniors with preventive health classes.
[Jackson Hole Wyoming] 2.98 1 [Comments] Skiing has made Jackson a leading center for orthopedics.
[Golfo Dulce Costa Rica] None 1 (12 hr. by boat) [Comments] Excellent, cheap health care nationally; none in this area.
[London] 3.65 50 [note 6] [Comments] Residents are eligible for National Health Services.
[Luberon France] 3.16 60 [Comments] Foreigners are not eligible for state-run health care.
[Kenmare Ireland] 1.39 1 [Comments] Doctors make house calls, but the major hospital is 40 miles away.
[San Miguel de Allende Mexico] Many English-speaking 1 [Comments] Hospital is only 1 1/2 years old and costs just $55 a night.
MOBILITY Public Nearest airport transportation No. of flights
[Capitola Extensive bus service San Jose--35 miles California] 370
[Ojai Limited in-town Santa Barbara--45 miles California] bus service 108
[Boca Raton Extensive regional Ft. Lauderdale--20 miles Florida] bus service 417
[Seaside None Panama City--35 miles Florida] 48
[Ames Limited bus service Des Moines--35 miles Iowa] 120
[Maui None Kahului Airport on Maui Hawaii] 226
[Camden Limited bus service Bangor--40 miles Maine] 75
[Lenox Limited bus service Hartford--60 miles Massachusetts] 272
[Oxford None Memphis--40 miles Mississippi] 537
[Las Vegas] Extensive bus service Las Vegas 845
[Santa Fe] Limited bus service Albuquerque--60 miles 296
[New York] Extensive subways, JFK, LGA, and Newark buses, regional transit 3,366
[Chapel Hill Extensive bus service Raleigh-Durham--30 miles North 399 Carolina]
[Eugene Extensive bus service Eugene Oregon] 72
[Jackson Hole Seasonal bus service Jackson Hole Wyoming] 32
[Golfo Dulce Only one bus a day Golfito--30 min. by boat Costa Rica] 5
[London] Extensive bus and Gatwick and Heathrow underground systems 1,727
[Luberon None Avignon--35 miles France] 8
[Kenmare Seasonal bus service Kerry County--30 miles Ireland] 6
[San Miguel Extensive bus service Leon/Guanajuato--75 miles de Allende 34 Mexico]
[Cultural highlight] Communing with the counterculturalists in Santa Cruz's perpetual Dead-head scene. [Outdoor activities] The California dream: surfing, swimming, mountain biking, volleyball, windsurfing. [Education] UC Santa Cruz offers 70% tuition discount to seniors.
[Cultural highlight] Watching celebrities and New Agers mingle at summer art, wine, and music festivals. [Outdoor activities] Various clubs offer tennis, golf, and horseback riding; hiking in the national forest. [Education] UC Santa Barbara is 30 minutes away; seniors can audit with permission.
[Boca Raton Florida]
[Cultural highlight] Touring en masse with other retirees to the cartoon museum and to the local dinner theater. [Outdoor activities] With 67 courses, you can play golf 365 days a year--and there's always the beach. [Education] Three senior-friendly universities offer continuing-education programs.
[Cultural highlight] Attending theme events, like mambo day and wine tasting. [Outdoor activities] The beach draws sunbathers and fishermen; there's also tennis and state-of-the-art croquet. [Education] Not much, except the Florida State campus at Panama City, 45 minutes away.
[Cultural highlight] Choosing between the New York Philharmonic, Ballet Hispanico, and La Boheme. [Outdoor activities] Public parks, golf, and nearby Lake Panorama's 31 miles of shoreline. [Education] ISU offers a College for Seniors with specific courses for those over 55.
[Cultural highlight] Soaking in the sounds of the Maui symphony when it plays in the main town, Kahului. [Outdoor activities] World-famous beaches, world-famous windsurfing, world-famous volcano. [Education] Only one community college on the island.
[Cultural highlight] By day, the Farnsworth Museum's American collection; by night, Bay Chamber concerts. [Outdoor activities] A sailing mecca that also offers hiking, skiing, and swimming for the brave. [Education] Nearby branch of the state university waives tuition for students 65 and older.
[Cultural highlight] Picnicking at Tanglewood for classical music or Edith Wharton's estate for Shakespeare. [Outdoor activities] Hiking the Appalachian trail, cross-country skiing, and Vermont's downhill nearby. [Education] With approval, seniors can audit courses at nearby Williams College.
[Cultural highlight] Following the town's two native literary sons: Faulkner and John Grisham. [Outdoor activities] Most people fish for the excellent local bass, but golf and tennis are options too. [Education] Ole Miss offers seniors one free course per year plus unlimited audits.
[Cultural highlight] Catching acts like the Bolshoi ballet one night--and Debbie Reynolds every other night. [Outdoor activities] Skiing and water activities within 35 miles, in case you tire of the 26 golf courses. [Education] UNLV offers seniors free tuition for all classes.
[Cultural highlight] Patronizing the opera company, the rodeo, and the myriad local artists and craftspeople. [Outdoor activities] In the summer: horseback riding and rafting on the Rio Grande; in winter: skiing. [Education] Local community college offers reduced rates to seniors.
[Cultural highlight] (If you don't already know, we're not going to tell you.) [Outdoor activities] Health clubs are the way of life, but there's Central Park and the Hamptons too. [Education] A variety of senior offerings at Columbia, NYU, Fordham, New School, etc.
[Chapel Hill North Carolina]
[Cultural highlight] Listening to Southern writers read from their works--and then talking with them over coffee. [Outdoor activities] Nearby lakes provide some relief from the monotony of tennis and golf clubs. [Education] University offers all courses free to seniors 65 and over.
[Cultural highlight] Hearing the likes of Wynton Marsalis at the Hult Center, a top West Coast concert hall. [Outdoor activities] Famous for its extensive bike paths, but cross-country skiing and rafting are nearby. [Education] University offers a Learning in Retirement program for people over 62.
[Jackson Hole Wyoming]
[Cultural highlight] Touring the latest exhibit at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. [Outdoor activities] An outdoor paradise: every winter sport plus summers of hiking, rafting, and fly-fishing. [Education] Limited courses at branch of Central Wyoming College; art and outdoor lectures.
[Golfo Dulce Costa Rica]
[Cultural highlight] Reading week-old Miami Heralds--with a couple of margaritas. [Outdoor activities] If you don't like deep-sea fishing, the beach is really the only other thing going. [Education] None.
[Cultural highlight] Splurging on orchestra seats for nearly every show in the West End. [Outdoor activities] What's big: team sports. What's not there yet: the U.S.'s passion for health clubs. [Education] Numerous opportunities at most London institutions.
[Cultural highlight] Driving to the nearby towns of Arles, Aix-en-Provence, and Avignon to soak up art and history. [Outdoor activities] The area's national park setting can be explored on foot, horseback, or mountain bike. [Education] Avignon's Institute of French Studies offers language and civilization courses.
[Cultural highlight] Drinking in local color at the corner pub--or driving 60 miles to Cork for more options. [Outdoor activities] Strolling or cycling down deserted country roads is de rigueur--also golf and fishing. [Education] Local vocational school offers seniors foreign-language night courses.
[San Miguel de Allende Mexico]
[Cultural highlight] Keeping up with the infinite music festivals, plays, and Latin America's largest English library. [Outdoor activities] It helps to belong to the local golf club, but there's horseback riding and biking too. [Education] Two premier art institutes offer courses in English.
Blue-hair Crime Boredom factor rate factor [note 7] [note 8] [note 8]
[Capitola 11% [Two handguns] [Zero Z's] California]
[Ojai 22% [One handgun] [One Z] California]
[Boca Raton 15% [Two handguns] [Two Z's] Florida]
[Seaside 7% [1/2 handgun] [Three Z's] Florida]
[Ames 13% [1/2 handgun] [Two Z's] Iowa]
[Maui 11% [One handgun] [Three Z's] Hawaii]
[Camden 24% [1/2 handgun] [Two Z's] Maine]
[Lenox 17% [1/2 handgun] [One Z] Massachusetts]
[Oxford 12% [One handgun] [Two Z's] Mississippi]
[Las Vegas] 16% [Two handguns] [Zero Z's] [Santa Fe] 13% [Two handguns] [One Z] [New York] 13% [Four handguns] [Zero Z's] [Chapel Hill 9% [Two handguns] [Two Z's] North Carolina]
[Eugene 13% [Two handguns] [One Z] Oregon]
[Jackson Hole 7% [1/2 handgun] [Two Z's] Wyoming]
[Golfo Dulce 10% [One handgun] [Four Z's] Costa Rica]
[London] 16% [Three handguns] [Zero Z's] [Luberon 18% [1/2 handgun] [Two Z's] France]
[Kenmare 7% [1/2 handgun] [Three Z's] Ireland]
[San Miguel de Allende 4% [One handgun] [One Z] Mexico]
[Climate] Sunny and warm most of the year, some fog and rain. [Perks/Quirks] Quaint beach town offers peaceful charm and quick access to Santa Cruz and San Jose. [Who'd retire there] "Legalize marijuana" supporters
[Climate] Mild winters, warm summers, some L.A. smog. [Perks/Quirks] If you've given up on Southern California, Ojai--with groves, spas, and gurus--is your (pricey) cure. [Who'd retire there] crystal-wearing gold-card carriers
[Boca Raton Florida]
[Climate] Mild, with humid summers; hurricanes. [Perks/Quirks] Haute retiree community--if you like the idea of a senior-oriented lifestyle. [Who'd retire there] those dying to join a senior social club
[Climate] Cooler in summer than southern Florida. [Perks/Quirks] Well-designed utopia with mandatory picket fences. Few year-rounders; consider renting out. [Who'd retire there] Upscale neat-freaks
[Climate] Four seasons; cold winters, muggy mid-summers. [Perks/Quirks] A pleasant place for midwestern grounding, but small-town activities can be limiting. [Who'd retire there] Norman Rockwell fans
[Climate] Moderate year-round, rain and clouds in some areas. [Perks/Quirks] Fatigue from tourist dodging can set in, but relief excursions to the mainland are costly. [Who'd retire there] Rich surfers
[Climate] Bone-chilling winters, mild summers, no spring. [Perks/Quirks] A fine spot for outdoorsy retirees, but summer, with its tourists, is a good time to go elsewhere. [Who'd retire there] solitary nature lovers in Gore-Tex
[Climate] Four seasons; colorful falls and snowy winters. [Perks/Quirks] An upscale, if remote, mecca for all things cultural in a small-town New England setting. [Who'd retire there] highly educated ex-New Yorkers
[Climate] Mild, with humid summers, rainy winters. [Perks/Quirks] A surprisingly vibrant literary community superimposed on a peaceful small town of 10,000. [Who'd retire there] writers of the unfinished novel
[Climate] Endlessly hot and dry: 300 sunny days per year. [Perks/Quirks] Okay, it has the Liberace Museum, but it's also one of the top retirement destinations in the U.S. [Who'd retire there] people who prefer late-period Elvis
[Climate] Winters can be cold, but it's sunny year-round. [Perks/Quirks] Remarkable cultural diversity in a drop-dead setting. Building codes enforce adobe style. [Who'd retire there] artists and those who admire them
[Climate] Four seasons; slushy winters, sticky summers. [Perks/Quirks] It's hard to top N.Y.C. for its extremes--from the art and restaurants to the traffic and attitude. [Who'd retire there] type A's not willing to let go
[Chapel Hill North Carolina]
[Climate] Four seasons; mild winters, and hot, humid summers. [Perks/Quirks] UNC is a big plus, but off-campus activities are more limited than in many retirement areas. [Who'd retire there] academics emeriti
[Climate] Four seasons; rainy winters, pleasant summers. [Perks/Quirks] A tirelessly healthy atmosphere keeps the focus on the great outdoors. [Who'd retire there] graying granolas
[Jackson Hole Wyoming]
[Climate] Very cold winters, moderate summers. [Perks/Quirks] If you recreate, this chic town is for you. If not, it may not be worth the higher cost of living. [Who'd retire there] social-mountain climbers
[Golfo Dulce Costa Rica]
[Climate] Year-round tropical heat and stickiness. [Perks/Quirks] For people who want peace, even this may be too much. Beware of physical and mental rot. [Who'd retire there] masters of rod, reel, and rum
[Climate] Rainy, gray at times with moderate temperatures. [Perks/Quirks] The cost of living is quite high--but then again the style of living is too. [Who'd retire there] Yanks who honor teatime
[Climate] Arid desert climate with an occasional mistral. [Perks/Quirks] The warm breezes blow and the lavender blooms, but don't try it unless you speak French. [Who'd retire there] serial readers of A Year in Provence
[Climate] Gulf stream keeps temperatures mild; rainy year-round. [Perks/Quirks] Quintessential Irish coastal beauty, but limited access to all things cosmopolitan. [Who'd retire there] seekers of the sound of silence
[San Miguel de Allende Mexico]
[Climate] Temperate, with no need for heat or a/c. [Perks/Quirks] Attracts many American artists (and nonartists) who appreciate English-speaking community. [Who'd retire there] those who can't afford Santa Fe
[NOTES] 1 Nationwide. 2 Property tax calculated for a $150,000 property. 3 Based on minimum annual insurance required by law for a $15,000 car and 65+-year-old driver. 4 For three courses, one cocktail, one glass of wine per person. 5 Prices marked with an asterisk do not include initiation fees. 6 Based on census estimates. 7 Percent of population over 65. 8 On a scale of 0 to 4.
SOURCES: AMERICA'S BEST PLACES TO RETIRE, BY RICHARD FOX; RETIREMENT PLACES RATED, BY DAVID SAVAGEAU; THE STATE ECONOMIC, DEMOGRAPHIC & FISCAL HANDBOOK, 1996, BY AARP; TAX HEAVEN OR HELL, BY EVE EVANS AND ALAN FOX; WHERE TO RETIRE, BY JOHN HOWELLS; BACK INFORMATION SYSTEMS; STATE FARM INSURANCE COS.
REPORTER ASSOCIATE Shaifali Puri