Retire Here, Not There: Virginia «
Virginia is home of the “half backs” —retirees from the north who tried Florida, decided it wasn’t for them, and then came halfway back up the coast.
With its richly varied landscapes, including the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains in the west and Atlantic coastline to the east, it is easy to see why Virginia draws these migrants. While hot and humid summers in Florida and other states further south can be tough on the over-65 set, Virginia offers a comparatively milder climate. “You can golf nine or 10 months of the year here,” says Robert G. Topping, a financial adviser at Covenant Wealth Advisors in Williamsburg, Va. Combine that with the state’s plethora of recreational activities and urban amenities, along with a healthy smattering of college towns, and advisers say retirees have a broad palette to choose from.
Enlarge Image Virginia has its financial perks, too. The median home here sells for $210,800, according to Sperling’s Best Places, and the average combined state and local sales tax rate in Virginia is just 5%, which puts it 44th in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. And while cost-of-living in the state is 9.4% above the national average, it is far less pricey than many states to the north. Older professionals who are looking to continue working may also be in luck, as unemployment statewide is only about 5.5%.
As with any state, there are drawbacks. Millions of tourists descend on Virginia each year—Virginia Beach has more than 5 million annually, while Colonial Williamsburg gets about 1.7 million—making some areas less than ideal for retirees seeking a quieter retreat. On top of that, some of the most popular retirement spots are some of the state’s least affordable. In Williamsburg, for instance, the median home price is $297,500 and the cost of living is 31.6% higher than the national average, according to Sperling’s Best Places.
But that doesn’t mean retirees can’t find a beautiful beach community or mountain town without breaking the bank. With the help of financial advisers and natives of the Old Dominion State, MarketWatch.com identified four spots that have all the charm and natural beauty of historic Williamsburg, but at a fraction of the cost.