I want to climb in an affordable ‘promising’ city in the west where I could retire, where should I go?


I’ve worked in the luxury resort business my entire life … primarily in Hawaii (large golf / beach resorts) and Colorado (high mountain ski resorts). So I’ve always lived in great places, but also in very expensive places. I have been able to do well financially and live well, but it also depends on my job and being in the hotel business, working 50 to 60 hours a week.

I am 53 years old and have about $ 1.4 million in 401 (k) and Roth accounts plus about $ 900,000 in other assets. I live and play outdoors a lot and I want to live in the West. My wife is an avid climber, so she needs to be close to that sport. I would like to move in the next two to five years to a place where the housing costs are reasonable and we can have land and room to roam. I want to be in recreation country, but not necessarily work in the resort business. I could take a “regular job” to stay active and, most importantly, keep up with my health insurance. I would plan to work for at least another 10 years, maybe more. My idea is to put a lot of money in a house, so the mortgage is not what I have to work and play for in the mountains. I hunt / fish / hike and generally like rural areas and small towns as long as I can support myself. I used to think that getting to a college town was the way to go, as a campus has many jobs and the university supports many medical and local businesses as well as having good activities. But now I wonder if COVID-19 will change that concept forever. I was thinking of Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and the Dakotas as they are cheaper than Colorado and Utah. But I want to find a “promising” place, and not a “dead and dying” old city. So what do you think? John Dear John, Colorado and Utah may seem expensive, but don’t be fooled by Idaho. House prices have been rising, in part due to COVID-19; see Sandpoint, for example, suggested here. And in Montana, Bozeman? Woof! Finding affordable housing and a job with benefits in a country of recreation can be difficult, and COVID has made housing in many previously affordable areas more expensive. So be realistic about the job market, or the hours you could be working for much less pay than your current job, or if you could be on your feet for the entire shift, or if the work will be only seasonal and you’re still you are pending health insurance. You may be able to turn your decades in the hospitality industry into a job tied to a university and your hotel management program, but will that be a position with health insurance and a 401 (k) plan? If that’s what you want to do, start networking. Or have you considered talking to your current employer about options with fewer hours? Beyond work, it says nothing about the cost of the lifestyle you now lead or want to lead in retirement. So, check to see if your sizeable savings can easily fund you or if you need to keep saving cash. There are no guarantees in financial planning, so incorporate a margin of safety. Read: Here’s how you can withdraw from your 401 (k) at age 55, without paying a penalty. But what if I could go anywhere? I asked MarketWatch’s tool “where should I retire” for fast-growing areas in the mountainous region with a below-average cost of living and a college town (MarketWatch only includes universities with large research programs, so neither not even all the flagship state universities appear). I added the outdoor options and looked for smaller metropolitan areas (less than 100,000 people) if possible. You have many options, although, as always, there are trade-offs. The results show metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas defined by the government, not a particular city. Keep this in mind when looking at median home prices. You can search online for median home prices in a particular city; you’ll find a great variety in the Salt Lake City area, for example. So don’t rule out Colorado and Utah; Colorado Springs (suggested here), Logan, Utah (suggested here), Ogden, Utah (suggested here), and St. George, Utah (suggested here) may be more affordable than you think. You can treat them as starting points for something more rural. Here are three more suggestions to get you started in the states you asked about. Missoula, Montana

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Taylar Robbins for Destination Missoula.

This city in western Montana, located in the northern Rocky Mountains, has about 77,000 residents, making it the second largest city in the state after Billings. It is also home to the University of Montana. I think its size gives you a wider range of job opportunities, or is it too big, even if you choose to live outside the city limits? You can kayak downtown on the Clark Fork River (and the man-made kayak wave) and explore nearby ghost towns, plus the rock climbing, hiking, fishing, and horseback riding you hope to discover. westward. Oh, and the Bitterroot National Forest, Lolo National Forest, Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge, and the Bison National Range are very close. What a playground! With all that public land available, do you need your own “land and room to roam”? Or is that a way to cut the budget? The downside is that median home prices, whether in Missoula or elsewhere in Missoula County, are not cheap, although they are much lower than Bozeman and cheaper than Boise. Here’s what the housing market looks like, using listings from Realtor.com (which, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp.) If Missoula isn’t for you, but Montana draws, consider Kalispell, near the entrance to the Park National Glacier and his home. almost 26,000 people. Gillette, Wyoming

Devils Tower National Monument is an hour from Gillette, Wyoming. AFP via Getty Images

Looking for an affordable city alongside some great rock climbing sites, I stayed away from Lander, Wyo., Even though it is rated as a great outdoor city, because its population has barely budged for most of one of each. Gillette, in eastern Wyoming, scores higher because Devil’s Tower National Monument, an hour away, is on this list of great climbs and has added several thousand residents since 2010. One word of caution: still a growth rate slower than the national average, so you must decide if the city is promising enough for you. With nearly 33,000 people, Gillette is nearly three times the size of Spearfish, SD, also an hour from Devil’s Tower. Rapid City, SD, would be the “big city”, closest in size to Missoula and with more jobs in the tourism industry due to Mount Rushmore, but in that case Devil’s Tower is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away. That’s a trade-off that you and your wife would have to weigh. When it comes to your Wyoming outdoor fun, Keyhole Reservoir, on the way to Devil’s Tower, is a fishing possibility. Hunting here includes antelope and pronghorn, as well as white-tailed deer and mule. Housing is much cheaper in Gillette (and even Rapid City) than it is in Missoula. But you won’t get a college town. And since the biggest employers at Gillette are energy companies, you may have to embrace the economic changes that come with that. This is what’s on the market now, again using Realtor.com listings. Idaho Falls, Idaho

The City of Rocks Nature Preserve, courtesy of Idaho Tourism

This is an alternative to Pocatello, a city marked by the “where should I retire” tool that I have suggested here. Pocatello has Idaho State University’s main campus, but Idaho Falls, an hour away and slightly larger at 63,000 people, might be a better fit because it’s growing faster (and faster than Gillette, too). The Milken Institute ranked the Idaho Falls area as the best performing small city in 2021, citing significant short-term job growth and also performed well on the five-year growth indicators; Pocatello is ranked 59th. One of the big employers is the Idaho National Laboratory, a government site that conducts nuclear power research and development. There is also a University of Idaho outpost here. Idaho Falls is closer to Yellowstone National Park and the Tetons than Pocatello, and you can start fishing on the Snake River in town. Split the difference for a more rural lifestyle and the advantages of labor markets in both Idaho Falls and Pocatello, and you’re in Blackfoot, with a population of 12,000. Massacre Rocks State Park, south of American Falls, is a rock climbing possibility. More options are Castle Rocks State Park and City of Rocks National Reserve, more than two hours from Idaho Falls. The Craters of the Moon National Monument and Reserve is about 100 miles away. This may be the cheapest real estate market of the three. This is what your money has to offer in Idaho Falls. Readers, where should John and his wife (semi) retire? Leave your suggestions in the comment section. More Retirement Ideas on MarketWatch I can afford a $ 300,000 house in a ski town ‘but not if it comes with $ 6,000 a year in HOA installments,’ so where can I retire? I want to leave New York State and retire to a rural place with four seasons. Where should i go? I’m a ’68-year-old with $ 3,200 a month in Social Security and I don’t want to be taxed, where should I retire north or west of Colorado?