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Retirement in ski country - who has done it?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Friends, if all all goes well, I am looking to retire in about five years. I'll hit 55. I had planned to work (lawyer stuff) till I was 60. And then I saw Warren Miller's film - "If you don't do it now, you'll just be one year older when you do." Well, I can't say that this came as an epiphany, but it did get me thinking that sooner my be better than later given that old adage, "Man plans. God laughs." I live in Maine and have skied here all my life. Used to be that we'd get an average of 120-150 inches of the real stuff each year. This year we have, perhaps, 25" so far with little on the immediate horizon. I never thought I would have to leave here to get dependable skiing, but that was then. More than that, I have never lived in powder country and feel the need to have that experience. I would not cut ties with Maine since I live on the coast (the best place in the world in summer) and this is my wife's "space." I would like to plant some seasonal roots out west, or perhaps the hills in Canada. I have no need for Vail, Aspen or some similar scene. I have no need for the steepest or deepest or knarlyest. A small town is fine. I can amuse myself off the slopes with my camera and other passions. A city with stature, arts, delectable food and urban energy within reasonable driving distance would be a plus. I am Jewish and would value a community of others of our persuasion. So I would be greatful for the suggestions or observations of any souls who have made or are planning a similar journey. Thanks in advance. David
post #2 of 17


Deliberate 1. I will be 65 in April and my wife an I started looking to retire to a small community about 6 yrs ago. Some recommendations so you don't make a mistake.

We set desires:

Wifes. Live in a small community with real ties, not a strip mall on a freeway. Four seasons.

Mine. Good fishing, golf and close to skiing. Four seasons. No traffic and no crowds, no tourists.

When we started looking these were our guidelines. Looked in N. Calif. Ore Wash Id Mt Utah Nev and Colo. It took a couple years of traveling but found our spot. then we visited in the winter and the summer to make sure on weather etc., subscribed to the local paper (weekly) for a year etc.

Just to give you an example of somewhere you've probably not thought of: Couer d alene Idaho area; college, arts, theater 5 ski areas within 1 1/2 hrs, great fishing, hunting, golf, hiking, walking, eagle watching etc. etc. Example, I have a season pass to Lookout Mt. and Silver Mt. cost when bought in April $249.00 for both areas.

My wife and I are very happy here, low key, no rush, cheaper, friendlier with a real opportunity to make friends etc.

I'm glad we kept looking until we foiund the right place and didn 't settle for a location that was just ok and met some of the criteria in stead of all the parameters.

Just some thoughts. Good Luck. Pete
post #3 of 17
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post
Couer d alene Idaho area
Pete, I would agree with you, with one caveat: Does Couer d alene have much of a Jewish community?

Northern Idaho has a certain reputation. It may be undeserved, but it still has it.

That said, northern Idaho is beautiful and puts you within easy reach of southern British Columbia, should you decide to go.
post #4 of 17


Hi JOhn, yes N. Idaho has the Aryan Bros reputation. But it does not exist anymore. A certain contingent was in Hayden (northern suburb of Couer d alene) but they've been gone completely for over 10 years. I have good friends in Hayden and visit them often and have never seen any resemblance of he 80's. St Maries is 60 miles SE of Couer d alene and I have never seen any of this far right jokers. I am not of the jewish faith so I have no idea on that. The predominate person I see is a hard working honest citizen. Yes and we even have some libs, I have one neighbor and he is a judge and a real flaming lib. but we fish and play golf together and politically are both first and foremost Americans.
post #5 of 17
Whitefish is out. No "urban energy", thank goodness. Also I don't think there are a lot of Jewish people here, but then again, I don't pay attention to that kind of thing. (A web site has Flathead Valley Jewish Community756-5159 and the number is in Kalispell.) Theoretically we are "four seasons", but in my mind, spring and fall are largely "mud season" and if there is one big thing I miss from back East it's the fall colors. Sure the tamaracks turn yellow, but those glorious maples are missing and the "shrubs" that have maple leaves on them just seem to turn yellow and no red. Golf is good if you like it. Fishing is popular and, of course, hunting. There is Glacier National Park close by, and if that's too far, just walk out your back door for hiking (I can at least) there is so much National forest land. Plus the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Jewel Basin.

We do have a theater with plays running pretty much all year long. It's hard to find a bad meal here (although if you go in a place that looks pretty bad, it might be, I guess -- I've never been in a couple places, I admit.)

Unfortunately, we have LOTS of tourists. We also have LOTS of second home people who come in for a few weeks and then leave. To me, they are tourists as well. There are an increasing number of "cabins" in the $million range.

Most of the people I meet are Republican and even though we have a "Democratic" governor and some local politicians are supposedly Democrats, to my NJ eye, they're Republicans, too. I seem to be kind of the lone liberal so far. (Watch out, Pete, you SKIED WITH a liberal!)
post #6 of 17
Interesting thread deliberate1....interesting esp because my wife and I have been talking about retiring to coastal maine. Cost of living here in Rhody is ridiculous......retirement funds would get gobbled up quick....I like yawgoo valley and wachusett but.....

Family ties restrict us to NE. My thoughts were, golf, tennis, beach and I could mosey on up to sugarloaf or saddleback in the winter. I'd be pretty happy with that I think.....I might even venture back into teaching skiing again part time. The perks with the job would help for sure. Got the Seadogs to follow and U Maine hockey that would be fun too....

Hopefully we'll get those turns in before you depart:

Good luck with your quest.
post #7 of 17
My plan is Reno.

1. High desert climate within 1 hour drive (some less) of 6 great ski resorts (Squaw Valley, Heavenly, Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood, Sugarbowl, and Northstar).

2. Golf 10 months of the year.

3. Home campus of the University of Nevada.

4. Great entertainment venues (apart from gambling).

5. Outstanding health care (I'm a doctor--so I know).

6. Major airport.

7. No state income tax.

8. Reasonable housing costs.

9. Can't comment on religious situation--but Reno sure isn't Utah or Idaho.
post #8 of 17

But Reno doesn't really have four season.

I lived in the SF Bay for a few years. It has NO season whatsoever, just warm and cool. Reno does have season, but not the distinct 4 seasons back east.

Also, the lack of green really irritates me after the 3rd months of brown hillsides (lawns don't count).
post #9 of 17
Look at Bend Oregon. A viable Jewwish community. Music event every night in the summer. Powder out the gazoo on the right day.

Not cheap.

Growth pains.

I spent three years at Colby College in Maine, ten in Bend. If I had to finish out my time it would be in Bend, though Maine is not without it's attractions ayeah.

ps: what Pete said about Idaho Nazii's has been my impression as well. I don't know where they went , but it does indeed seem that they left.
post #10 of 17
You've touched on some good things. The presense of a compatible faith community would be a major issue for me as well. You seem to imply that you will maintain two homes, ME coast and mountain West. That is a nice option if you can afford it. However, it does come with the extra headache of managing a property that is vacant or rented out for half of the year. If you have children and you want them to visit your mtn home then you might want to factor in convenience to a major airport. (Is this is a problem with Bend?) Ebough raised a bunch of other wise points including good health care. Something also to consider is staying put in familiar ME environs and just doing multiple one or two week ski vacations each winter. This allows lots of flexibility and variety (including the Alps) and though expensive, may not be really more than second home ownership.

I've got a few general scenarios.
1. Retire sooner (5 yrs), get into second working career and relocate to a city like Denver, SLC, Manchester NH, Sacramento/Reno, Santa Fe, Portland, etc. that is more convenient to fine skiing, get a second career for a few years and ski local areas on weekend pass-holder basis. Remain in place when fully retired and ski more.
2. Retire later, but fully, in about eight yrs.
A) Stay near current geographic location, mid-Atlantic, but travel more frequently to fine, distant ski locales. This would afford more high quality skiing at fun, varied destinations in US and Europe, while remaining close to extended family and familiar socio-economic environment. It wouldn't, however, satisfy a longtime goal of immersion into a mountain lifestyle and daily skiing.
B) Relocate to a home that is slopeside or near slopeside at a quality ski area. Ski daily as grey-haired mountain ambassador. Sounds great to me, but possibly too isolated for the wife, who is an integral partner in any plan. What happens after ten years? If I get crippled up by arthritis or some other calamity and skiing is out, I guess fall back plan is to buy an Airstream trailer and see the USA from behind the wheel of a car. Final plan is to buy a rocking chair and watch old Warren Miller flicks.

Search Epic, there is a lot more on this topic, including suggestions about the best locations to ski-retire.

Quick and sort of random list, not including ME since you have that covered:
1. Carbondale, CO
2. Denver/Boulder, CO
3. Eagle, CO
4. Steamboat Springs, CO
5. Sandpoint, ID
6. Reno/Carson City, NV
7. Lake Winnipesaukee area, NH
8. Santa Fe/Taos, NM
9. Bend/SunRiver, OR
10. SLC/Park City, UT
13. Manchester, VT
12. Waterbury, VT
13. Jackson Hole, WY
14. Durango/Pagosa Springs, CO
15. Lake Placid, NY
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Friends, I am greateful for your thoughtful replies. As a fourth generation Mainer, just the concept of relocating is both titilating and just a bit "unsettling." We do have our ways in this great state which are somewhat disimilar to you folks "from away" (ie: the rest of the world). Further, the concept of retirement is quite different for me as it undoubtedly is for many in my generation. I regard it more as a rebirth than a retreat. I grew up on the slopes of Sunday River and Sugarloaf - all well before the advent and influence of the American Ski Co. I decided too early in life that my dream was to be a lawyer in the summer and a ski bum in the winter. Perhaps it might somewhat bleakly be said that I have practiced in my profession in my summer years (with a bit of sailing as well) and now in the with the approaching winter, it is time to fulfill that dream. I do not even want to comtemplate what "mud season" may bring - here in Maine, that time after winter....I figure I got a few years left. I come from pretty stubborn stock. My "Nana" passed away summer befor last at the age of 102.5 yrs. A few years back she threw her own 100th birthday in her own home. At 50, I figure the glass still half full.
Hrstrat57, if you plan to linger on the coast of Maine, you'd best get a piece of it soon. While you can still buy a piece of deepwater oceanfront in Downeast Maine for something south of $200k, shorefront in the area where I live goes for around $4000 to $8000 per foot. On Mount Desert Island (Acadia Natl Park) it is even more. Still, if a place in Newport, or Narrangsett goes for $4 million, that same place is perhaps, $2 million. Hardly a bargain. If you are looking for a piece of Maine, your best bet would be in the western part of the state,perhaps within a hour or so of Saddleback (my favorite) or Sunday River. PM me if you like.
Newfydog, I am going to look into Bend. As a Colby grad myself, I can see how you might choose most anywhere over Waterville, Maine.
Ebough, Reno sounds like it has it all. But I might be just enough of a country boy to find such a place a bit overwhelming.
Sibhusky, I quite agree that fall in Maine is when the jewels come out to play. I need four seasons - or five, if you count mud time.
Pete, Idaho would probably be spinning at my speed. My wife and I have always been serious voulunteers in our community, and we would need a place where we would be welcome to do that and to be who we are.
Again, my thanks to all of you.
post #12 of 17
Summit County has a strong Jewish community, as well as an "adventure rabbi" who conducts services on Copper Mountain on Saturday. We aslo have two excellent theater companies, one in Breckenridge and one in Dillon. In the summer, there are concerts at the Riverbend Theater in Breckenridge, and concerts and plays at the Lake Dillon Ampitheatre. There are also plenty of opportunities for volunteer work.

The Over the Hill Gang at Copper is a lively and thriving organization!

Summit County also has a free bus system, two public libraries and three large supermarkets. People come for the winters and stay for the summers.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Lisamarie, the idea of an "adventure Rabbi" is my kind of clergy. Mixing religion and skiing brought back one of my fondest ski memories. It was April, 1969, two weeks before my Bar Mitzvah and the day of the first Inferno Race down the Cone of Mt Washington (NH) since Tony Matt had shussed it more than twenty years before. I shlepped up my Heads and Lange Comps into Tuckerman Ravine, made a few turns directly into a mass of corn snow. While my leg twisted the Marker toe didn't and I cracked the tibia and fibula - knee and heel were nicely aligned. Transported down the hill by snowcat for a two day stay at the Memorial Hospital in North Conway where I was awarded a cast and a shot of Demerol (seeing the white concrete ceiling turn into a Peter Max burst of color and water pipes floating out the windows was cool). So two weeks later, I hobble up to the bima (alter at synagogue) on crutches and a full length cast. Sweetest part was that I was wearing that pair of bell bottoms my mom absoulutely refused to let me wear two weeks earlier. Turn out they were the only pants that fit over the cast. I think that was all worth a couple extra Cross pen and pencil sets and Rogets Thesauruses (Thessauri?).
I will definitely check out Summit and am obliged for the lead.
post #14 of 17
Santa Fe also has a very active Jewish community. Everything from Chabad to Tikun and all points in between. The skiing in NM is great some years (like this one) and sometimes can be drought, but it's only 3 hours to Wolf Creek and not much further to Summit County.

And you don't need to travel to a city for big city amenities. Santa Fe has truly world class music, art, dance, theater, food and a very stimulating scientific community. Interesting, engaged, intellectual folk. And way more to do than you can possibly take advantage of.

It isn't so much a ski resort area, though, and as a community, it wants its citizens involved. So if your HQ will still be East Coast and you just want some place to bop in and out of, it might not be a good fit. If you really want to sink your teeth into a place, though, this is pretty nice.
post #15 of 17
I think most of the choices so far are really good ones; Taos, Bend, and Idaho stand out. Some of the choices have outrageous real estate values and I'm not sure they're as cool as they used to be - Jackson Hole, Vail, Carbondale. I'd also stay away from Summit County. There's a lot of better places to move.

I'd recommend Coeur d'Alene as well just because it's not a ski town. I'd recommend staying away from the ski towns. Although, it's an instant conversation starter; just ask, "Did you get out today?"
post #16 of 17
Some of your preferences are kind of mutually exclusive from each other. most of the places being talked about are going to have alot of tourists and as someone mentioned outrageous real estate prices. I have a place in Maine, Cumberland, l now live primarily in Vermont but lived for many years in JH. I am Jewish and JH has a pretty strong Jewish community reletive to it's size. In the summer the hordes of tourists is overwhelming tho.

As it was mentioned taking some time to actually visit places is a must. The places that keeps popping in my head are Livingston or Bozeman, Mt. Some of the things you will miss in the rockies is the greenery, fall foliage, the ocean, LL Bean, Bob Marley, Moxie and all those lakes we have in Maine.
post #17 of 17
I tend to agree with Pete on Northern Idaho/Eatern Washington. I found Spokane to be a very accomodating place with very tolerant and open, friendly people. I used to go there 4 times per year on business and made a new friend or 2 on every trip. It's got plenty of culture but is not a tourist destination. It's a pretty easy drive to some decent skiing.
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