Retirees target unconventional homes in cooler climates

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“You think, my goodness, why would you retire to Maine? It’s snowy, icy,” she said. “But the winters here, I have found, are better and milder than Boston.”

The idea of going to Florida didn’t appeal to the 66-year-old Mrs. Smith because of the humidity, crowds and hurricanes. She likes that life here has a slower pace but that there’s still plenty to do.

“It’s like the 1950s here,” she said. “People trust each other. People don’t lock their homes or cars, although we do because we’re from Boston and it’s ingrained.”

She and her husband like that they can walk to downtown, that performance centers and museums are nearby, and that people are active around here — be it walking, biking, kayaking, boating, hiking or volunteering their time for community groups. It’s also important that a hospital is located nearby and there’s bus service from town when they want to go to Portland, Boston or New York.

With baby boomers now reaching retirement age, they’re looking for places that are walkable with good restaurants, volunteer opportunities and perhaps college courses they might be able to take, said David Savageau, author of “Retirement Places Rated,” now in its seventh printing. They’re also looking for places with familiarity, where they’ve visited on vacation or perhaps spent summers as a child.

For many retirees nowadays, the idea of a “golf kind of idle recreation” retirement associated with Florida isn’t appealing, he said.

“That’s the old view of retirement,” Mr. Savageau said. “And it’s kind of dying out, the desert Southwest and South Florida. That was for our parents; for us it might be somewhere closer to home, a college town, a ski resort or a historical area that gets some kind of tourism in season.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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