August 9, 2007

Win $30 Gift Certificate/Help Us Retire!

My husband and I live in our dreams -- of retirement! We live outside Washington DC and will most likely move from this area in the next 5 - 10 years (we prefer 5, but who knows?). Post a message on this post suggesting a place for us to retire (that meets meets the following criteria, noted below). I'll use the random number generator to pick a winner on Sunday August 12th at 5:pm eastern time. Because the prize is a $30 gift certificate to be redeemed with my friend and Stampin Up Demo Pam Tetreault, you will have to have a US or US Military address in order to win. I will post the winner on Sunday August 12th and give the winner 3 days to contact me. If I do not hear from the winner by the deadline, I'll pick another one... Here are our retirement criteria: 1. Near a university. 2. No super cold winters. 3. Housing cost of living MUST be less than the Washington DC area. To give you an idea, a 4 bed, 2.5 bath home around here goes for about $600,000 give or take a couple of hundred thousand depending upon the exact location. Must be LESS than that. 4. Must have an active arts and culture scene -- music, art galleries, etc. 5. No huge bugs. 6. Decent amount of sun (can't be cloudy or rainy most days). 7. Would be nice to have an active stamping community but this is optional (I'll just form one!). 8. Close to excellent medical care and not farther than an hour from a major airport (not taking no stinkin' little planes anywhere!!). 9. Must not be on known Al Qaeda target list (living through 9/11 in DC is not something I care to repeat...) 10. Would like to avoid major risk of: earthquakes, fires, mudslides, tornadoes, hurricanes. Am willing to trade this for active stamping community, however!! I think that is our top criteria. Suggest away. One post per person please although you can suggest several places in one post. Thanks!

115 comments:

  1. I do not live there, but my parents do, it is Athens, GA. The University of Georgia is there, so nice university town, with a great art/music scene. It is less than an hour away from Atlanta, GA, so there is your big city/airport...doesn't get real cold, I don't think they have had snow the entire time my parents have lived there. Housing seem to be pretty good.

    Enjoy

    Kyla in KY

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  2. I live in Carmel, Indiana which is a 'burb of Indianapolis. I think Indy is a well kept secret. Great cost of living, major medical centers, nice downtown scene, and as a plus we have the best corn on the cob!!!! No scenery to speak of, but with the low cost of living you can justify flying anywhere you like to get your fix of mountains/ocean/whatever you like.

    I have lived on the East Coast and Florida, and think the Midwest is best!

    Love your blog!!!

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  3. Tough criteria, easy to pick a place that has MOST but not ALL your requirements!
    Western Colorado would be my suggestion (it is where I live). Grand Junction is high mountain desert, mild winters usually 300 plus sunny days per year, mosquitos in the summer, but no monster bugs (I lived in Augusta---GINORMOUS cockroaches etc,,,creepy!!)
    Mesa State University is a small school, but has an ative arts/music department. Lots of outdoor summer concerts with GREAT variety. There is an arts center for classes, and active art community for media, classic music is OK, not as strong as other areas, but effort is there.
    The airport is in the city, some puddle jumpers, some larger flights, you just have to schedule accordingly. Montrose (1 hr south) has large flights connecting to Houston, Newark, Chicago and LA directly in the winter on weekends in ski season.
    I once did a website comparison on Montrose to Augusta and the weather is a winner!! no hurricanes, no tornados, GJ gets 6-8 inches of rain per year. I have shoveled the snow 2 times in 5 years! Key: west facing driveway--let mother nature take care of that!
    Houses can be in the range you are looking for...location is key.
    Health care is top notch, however as in many areas, there are shortages of specialists.
    It is an outdoor mecca for recreation. Consider Grand Junction. In 2005 it was named the #1 retirement community in the US...there is a reason!
    I plan to stay here when I retire and choose to move here with that in mind.....
    Good luck and happy searching!

    Sandy in GJ, CO

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  4. I would pick Knoxville, TN (http://www.knoxville.org/)

    1. University of Tennessee is located here.
    2. They never have a really dramatic winter, but it can get hot in the summer.
    3. Since it is midwest it is pretty reasonable. You can get a home comparable to what you said in DC for half the price.
    4. Museums, history centers, performing arts centers
    http://www.knoxville.org/museums-galleries/
    http://www.knoxville.org/performing-arts/
    5. Not too sure about this one, but don't know of a lot of huge bugs.
    6. Nice amount of sun/rain mix. Not known for a rainy season.
    7. I did a search on Stampin' Ups website for demonstrators in the Knoxville area and it pulled up 10 right away. I think you could find a lot of stampers to commune with.
    8. Several hosptials and close to other areas that have major research facilities.
    9. I don't think Tennessee is on the hit list.
    10. Tornados are about as wild as I think it gets, but these can hit anywhere.

    Great mountains and outdoor activities. There are smaller communities around it like Maryville. This is where my boss retired a few years ago to.

    I live in Southern Indiana and love it here, but don't plan to retire here. Maryville is my plan, but unfortunately I have about 30 more years until I can retire. Hoping to save enough to knock 10 years off that number:)

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  5. I live in Indiana...........I don't think for the most part our winters are too cold.......no real big bugs, Univ. all over the place. Airport is only 20 min. from where I live, cost of living is pretty low. Best Medical around, I almost lost my husband to melanoma, and the dr. here he saved him. Downtown is full of art and music. Hmmm sounds like the place. Only I'm moving back to WA state, my home town. I want the trees, mountains and oceans. Only for you that wouldn't be the place, we had an earthquake before we left, and although everyone says it rains all the time, they are all full of it.......LOL Good luck on the retirement.

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  6. Colorado seems like the winters would be cold but Colorado Springs is a little dream city. Winters are probably easier than the DC ones. It is beautiful and housing sounds less expensive. There is Colorado College and a huge satellite campus for CU. It is a very cultural city too.

    Hope you get lots of good suggestions. I'm live in Houston and definately don't recommend it here. I did love living in Amarillo, Tx but it is not a cultural mecca but it is pretty decent for a small city.

    Anyway, good luck! I love your blog and thanks for the cool give away!

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  7. How about Tempe or Chandler Arizona. Arizona State is in Tempe but Chandler is right next door and it is all one big metropolitan area. The airport is 15-45 minutes away. Lots of sun. If anything, you'll want to get out of it occasionally, but there are mountains to the north that make for great day trips. Lots of great culture. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the major performing arts venue in Tempe so everyone loves to perform there. The median home price has increased over the last few years as people move in from California, but it is still less than half what you are quoting (ouch!). No bugs, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc... No major terrorist sites, unless they start targeting golf courses :-) Chandler was named one of the five great places to live by AARP this year

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  8. Seattle. It doesn't rain as much as everyone thinks, but we don't tell people that...it is what we say when we don't want more people to move here! ;-)

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  9. It sounds like you NEED the midwest. I live outside of Des Moines and yes I know it's in IOWA. I don't think that Des Moines has really cold winters, but it all depends on what you are used to. It doesn't even seem like we get all that much snow. I just can't imagine living anywhere else. I have always lived in small towns in Iowa and wouldn't have it any other way.

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  10. Didn't see US as a criteria so I am going to throw out Victoria BC and Cambridge UK. Fell in love with both places! Cambridge is the ultimate definition of a university town, but not sure what the living costs are like.

    While I am out of the country...Vancouver is a nice place to live too!

    Yosha

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  11. San Diego meets almost all of your requirements, maybe all. I'm just not 100% sure about the University aspect or the cost of housing. Do you want to stay in a 4 bedroom or would you downsize to a condo? I know housing prices are fairly high in SD but so is Washington DC. Will you also want to be close to your son depending on where he goes to college?

    It's a lot of fun reading the responses and dreaming with you! Unfortunately I have a lot of working years ahead of me :(

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  12. Most of the points you mention, Colorado qualifies :) We got pretty good universities here in Colorado Springs and in Denver. Very dry air, hence very few mosquitoes, the higher you go, the less of those bugs. House price should be considerably less unless you move to a special high_nosed area. Our winters are long and cold, BUT, you CAN sit out in a t-shirt in december because the sun is so strong. Average of 300 days of sunshine per year :) Two days of clouds and I get depressed LOL...
    The art scene is up and coming with plenty of art schools around.
    You have a choice of several airports, Denver being the largest.
    If you like nature, THIS is your place, you can hike your heart out. Fishing, horse back riding, whatever people do here....
    In Colorado Springs we have lots of new and modern hospitals.
    The best and worst really is the no-humidity factor. If its warm, its quite pleasant, if its cold, it doesn't FEEL that cold because its dry. Sort of limits your choice on garden landscaping unless you have a real big watering hose and a lot of time ;)

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  13. There is no such place.

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  14. How about Austin, Tx or the Hill Country of Tx. Austin never has snow. They have the University of Texas which is one of the Top Ten State universities in the nation. Really active music and art scene. Housing is a little more expensive than some other areas of TX but really low compared to some other states. Great medical care, new airport. The hill country of tx is just southwest of Austin and is really beautiful. Check it out.
    Kay

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  15. Well, I live in Orlando. I think it meets most of your criteria but there are several that are lacking: bugs (yes, the mosquitoes can carry away small children, and the palmetto bugs can be an inch or more in length). However, we have a close university (UCF) and several others within a two hour drive. We didn't have a hard freeze last year, and probably only a few days in the 30s -- NICE! Cost of living is nowhere near DC. While Orlando doesn't have a wonderful Big City art scene, it's getting better all the time. We have a great theater with off-Broadway shows, and several museums. Miami and Tampa Bay are both day-trip drives where you can enjoy even more culture.

    Can you tell I love this place :)

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  16. ***NOT AN ENTRY***

    Joan,

    Just another thought... I have that article from the AARP magazine on 5 great places to live. If you'd like to read it, let me know (goneinkognito@gmail.com). I'm happy to send it to you.

    So jealous... I'd love to be able to pick the perfect place to live without having a job be the huge constraint!!!

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  17. Hilarious that the first poster said Athens as that was the first place I had thought of. I lived in CA and moved to GA so I know what you mean about the cost of living.

    I love Atlanta, GA, or just outside. I would suggest Alpharetta, GA which is a great place to live. You are about an hour from the airport and downtown which has lot of art/music places. The hospitals around here are wonderful and there is one nearby to Alpharetta in almost every direction. The summers are warm, but the winters are mild. I think we get snow once a year (where I am) and it lasts a few hours at most. Universities are all over the place so you just have to pick one. Housing prices are probably just below what D.C. is.

    Good luck with your goal of retirement in 5 years!

    Kim in GA

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  18. NOT an ENTRY ...

    We have homes in Glenwood Springs CO, Ft.Myers FL., and Laytonsville MD.
    We will split our retirement this way.
    Spring and Early Summer in Maryland.
    Late Summer and Fall in Colorado.
    Winter in Florida.
    If I had to pick one .... it would be
    Glenwood Springs, Colorado

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  19. I was going to suggest Austin, TX or Tempe, AZ and was beaten to the punch on both of those. My husband is a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Probably not the ideal place to retire--cold winters--but the cost of living can't be beat!

    What about Bloomington, Indiana? They have Indiana University and it is such a cute town. Small town feel with the benefits of a major university.

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  20. Well, I guess I am out then, I wanted to suggest you move here - North Central Montana..the nearest major univeristy is 500+ miles (Go Griz), our winters dip into the -40*F for a few days.
    Housing...our house is 3 bedroom, 2 bath up; 2 bed 1 bath down for around $100,000.
    Nearest art area is Great Falls some 200 miles away, we have mosqitos...they get big..LOL
    Lots of sun, lots of stampers...decent medical care here and for 90 miles. Small plane airport, but 200 miles to the major one.

    Now that I think of it, Great Falls would be better than where I am...but Montana is very pretty all the time.

    Good luck JOan!!

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  21. I'll give a plug for Pensacola, FL:
    1)good university system 2)winter is 50 degrees 3)new 4 br, 2 ba house runs about $250K 4)moderate arts scene 5) OK - we have big bugs and I freak out, but have learned to make DH take care of them 6)its Florida - always sunny 7)we can use more stampers 8)wonderful medical (DH can attest to that) 9)no terrorist threat here 10)we have weather issues but anywhere you live there will be something.

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  22. Raleigh, NC. We live about 2 hours away, in Concord (near Charlotte) and Raleigh just made the top 10 (I think) list of best places to live. Cary is a nice little community just outside Raleigh and Chapel Hill University is close, the Raleigh/Durham airport is there, and I'm sure there are more universities. The winters are cold, but not very snowy often, and they don't last long. I don't know about a stamping community since I don't live there but I'm sure you could create one! Charlotte would be my next suggestion, or just outside it actually.

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  23. Hahah, I have no entry on this, but have AVIDLY been reading all the responses. DH works in DC and we hope to retire to the mountains of WV after we get all the kids out of the house and he is ready to retire. We shall see!

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  24. Have you considered Billings, Montana? Off the beaten path, but not as cold as you'd think. Our winters are pretty mild; there is snow, but we also have chinooks, so it is a rare winter when the snow is on the ground for very long.

    1. Near a university.
    Two in Billings: Montana State University-- Billings, and Rocky Mountain College.
    2. No super cold winters.
    See above. We have low humidity, so when it does get cold, it isn't as intense as the midwest. Also, with less humidity, there is less snow.
    3. Housing cost of living MUST be less than the Washington DC area. To give you an idea, a 4 bed, 2.5 bath home around here goes for about $600,000 give or take a couple of hundred thousand depending upon the exact location. Must be LESS than that.
    Average home prices are about $200,000.

    4. Must have an active arts and culture scene -- music, art galleries, etc.
    Lots of galleries, county art museum, etc. Billings Symphony and Chorale have full season. Two community theaters offer plays. Lots of touring companies and performers stop here as well.

    5. No huge bugs.
    Well, we get some big grasshoppers in the summer. I just saw a hummingbird moth this week; they're pretty big. As far as roaches, etc., we don't have 'em.
    6. Decent amount of sun (can't be cloudy or rainy most days).
    LOTS of sun! Even in the winter.
    7. Would be nice to have an active stamping community but this is optional (I'll just form one!).
    Well, we've got two RSS, a couple of scrapbook stores, Michael's, Ben Franklin, and Hobby Lobby just announced they're coming to town.
    8. Close to excellent medical care and not farther than an hour from a major airport (not taking no stinkin' little planes anywhere!!).
    Two big regional hospitals: St. Vincent's, and Billings Clinic. Billings' airport is called Logan Field; we regularly take DC-10s, and 727's out of here.

    9. Must not be on known Al Qaeda target list (living through 9/11 in DC is not something I care to repeat...)
    I would be surprised if we were on the target list; we do have a couple of oil refineries here, though.
    10. Would like to avoid major risk of: earthquakes, fires, mudslides, tornadoes, hurricanes. Am willing to trade this for active stamping community, however!!
    We sometimes have roof-wrecking hail storms in the summer. Tornados are rarely seen here; I'm 50 and I can't recall one ever touching down in any population area. There's lots of open space around here.
    There was an earthquake in Yellowstone Park several years ago; I felt a tremor sitting in my home. We are in the line of fire should Yellowstone's volcanos ever erupt.

    Did I mention we're in easy driving distance from Yellowstone Natl. Park? Lots of recreational opportunities in the area, too. Gosh, I sound like I'm working for the Chamber of Commerce! (I'm not; I'm an attorney for state government, in a regional office here in Billings.)

    Anyway, I can answer questions about Montana in general, too!
    Ann

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  25. harpist@hot.rr.com8/09/2007 11:45:00 AM

    I would second the suggestion of Kerrville, TX. You would be close to San Antonio (has a great stamp store and all sorts of culture going on) or New Braunfels, TX which would get you closer to SA and Austin which has a mega university and culture. The summers can get pretty warm but the winters make up for the heat. The cost of living is much less than DC area. Sorry if I am late on chiming in; been on vacation and just now getting caught up with blogs and email.

    Gretchen Williams in TX

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  26. I was already beaten to the punch on my answer... but I'll leave it anyways! My recommendation is the Phoenix/Chandler/Tempe area. I know we get a lot of flack because of our warm (umm.... hot!) summers, but they truly are NOTHING compared to horrible humid summers in the south! Plus, everywhere has air conditioning - you get used to it so fast, and the winters are a great trade off... talk about beautiful! You are also only 2 hours from Flagstaff, another cute college town in the mountains, with skiing and other fun "winter" stuff - good if you need a snow fix!
    Phoenix and the surrounding areas have everything you could ask for... they are putting in a great light rail system, shopping is phenomenal, the restaurants are awesome, ASU has great performing arts (plus they get all of the regional Broadway tours), and there are many, many stampers around town! You would average about $450,000 for a 2000- 2500 sq. ft home (4bd/2ba), give or take a little. Certainly there are cheaper and more expensive areas, but that price would give you a nice house in a good neighborhood. Good luck!!

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  27. I have the most perfect city for you--Winston Salem, NC. There are several universities nearby-Wake Forest for one. There is excellent medical care, an hour from Raleigh airport, because of it being a university town, there are excellent opportunities in the Arts. No big bugs, a change of seasons with it not being too cold in the winter. About an hour to the mountains and about 4 hours to the beach. An hour from Charlotte. Cost of housing is reasonable. I think the state of NC is the best place to retire. Come check us out.
    And we have the best stamping store around called Enchanted Cottage, just minutes from Winston Salem.
    Cheryl Sims

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  28. The two states I've lived in longest, Oregon and Calif., both seem out given your criteria, so I would suggest Arizona, maybe the Tempe area, or North Carolina, possibly the Raleigh area. Good luck!

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  29. Oh, oh, oh!!! Come to Boise! (shhhh - don't tell anyone else. I'm making an exception to my "don't tell anyone how great it is here" rule just for you cuz you're one of my fave bloggers!) Here's how we stack up:

    1. Near a university. - Boise State is right downtown
    2. No super cold winters. - this might be the only one we don't meet completely. It does get cold here, but snow never stays on the ground more than a day or two at the most. It's dry here too, so it' doesn't *feel* as cold.
    3. Housing cost of living MUST be less than the Washington DC area. I live in a super nice area of Boise. Our house is 5 bedrooms 3 baths and it's worth about $550 or so. I'm SURE the cost of living is less here than DC.
    4. Must have an active arts and culture scene -- music, art galleries, etc. We definitely have this, although it will be on a smaller scale than a major city.
    5. No huge bugs. - none here - the cold kills them all.
    6. Decent amount of sun (can't be cloudy or rainy most days). It's definitely not cloudy or rainy most days here. The only *issue* we have is that we get occasional inversions and right now the whole state is on fire, so we're dealing with smoke.
    7. Would be nice to have an active stamping community but this is optional (I'll just form one!). My up-upline has about 300 in her downline - we have great group meetings and lots of fellow stampers.
    8. Close to excellent medical care and not farther than an hour from a major airport (not taking no stinkin' little planes anywhere!!). We have two major hospitals right in Boise and we have the biggest airport in the state.
    9. Must not be on known Al Qaeda target list (living through 9/11 in DC is not something I care to repeat...) Yeah, we're not even on the radar screen.
    10. Would like to avoid major risk of: earthquakes, fires, mudslides, tornadoes, hurricanes. We have none of these things! No earthquakes - ok, we have had fires - but they're pretty far away, no tornadoes on this side of the state and only 1 or 2 in the whole state each year, definitely NO hurricanes. So, should I make an offer on the house down the street for you!!????

    You can see more here:http://www.visitidaho.org/

    One can never have too many stamping buddies on their block, can they???
    Britiney

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  30. Joan, you seriously crack me up! I love reading your posts - I love your honest opinion and I sometimes think you pluck the words from my brain, LOL! Good luck finding a place to retire. I'm not sure if I have any worthy suggestions but I did a little research and found the best places to retire in 2006 @ CNNMoney.com

    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bpretire/2006/index.html

    Walla Walla, WA
    St. Simons Island, GA
    Prescott, AZ
    Holland, MI
    Williamsburg, VA

    Not sure if they meet all your criteria but I'm sure they're worth checking out. :o)

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  31. LOL Britiney beat me to the punch. ;-) Come out here to Idaho, Joan!
    --amysings

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  32. contrary to popular belief, the SEATTLE area is not all doom and gloom. we have lots of beautiful sunny days. we meet the other criteria as well, check us out!

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  33. I think Denver, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction would all be good matches for you. Have fun searching!

    1. University. - Many university options for you.
    2. No super cold winters. - Even when it snows, it usually melts off quickly.
    3. Housing cost - Costs remain reasonable.
    4. Active arts and culture scene -- it is active and is increasing.
    5. No huge bugs. - no big bugs here! Thank goodness!
    6. Sun - average of 300+ days per year
    7. Stamping community - I don't think you'd have a problem with this one.
    8. Medical care/airport - Univ. of Colorado is a top-rated hospital and we have many other fine hospitals while the airport is about 45 min. from most areas in/around Denver.
    9. Al Qaeda target list - Shouldn't be a problem!
    10. Natural disasters - there is some tornado activity on the eastern plains of Colo., but rarely in the Denver metro area.

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  34. Joan! You must check out the community I live in! We have a university, the winters aren't bad, lots of sunshine...etc...

    Here is a link...

    http://www.visitellensburg.com/

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  35. Just travel maybe 60 miles to Baltimore and the surrounding counties. Wonderful medical care, lots of universities and cultural arts. Rarely a bad winter. You can be close to friends in D.C. and cost of living is much better, especially in the outlying counties. It's Bawlmer hon!

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  36. Wow that's some list. I live west of Austin, Tx in the Texas Hill Country in the small town of Marble Falls. We're about 1 hr from Austin and 1.5hrs from San Antonio. This is a large retirement area because of the climate and lakes. If you or your husband play golf you'd be in paradise as there are about 8 great golf courses in a 20 miles area. www.marblefalls.org or www.horseshoebay.net


    The cost of living is not too bad. A 4/3/2 in a nice area will run $200-500K if you want some land add another $70-100K


    Austin is known as the live music capital of the world. Lots of different types of music and entertainment. The Univerisity of Texas is downtown with 3 other smaller universities in town, Texas State University is about 2hrs away, San Antonio has several large colleges/universities.

    I love it here!

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  37. As Katie in northcentral Montana said - Great Falls would be a great place to retire ... in fact, many Air Force retirees who have been stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base here, DO retire to Great Falls. We have very mild weather, a private liberal arts university (University of Great Falls), a branch of Montana State University, excellent medical care...the only thing that's a little lacking is air service in and out of here. Great Falls is on the Missouri River, has mountain views in three directions, has friendly people, even quite a stamping community! We are home to a great Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, have the Charles M. Russell Museum here and in March Great Falls is the Western Art Capital of the world! This is not a bustling metropolis, but a great small town with lots of musical and thespian talent. Housing is affordable when compared with other parts of the country but can be less than affordable due to wages here not being that great. (DH and I have been looking recently at 3 BR/2 BA homes for under $200,000.) Did I mention Montana has NO SALES TAX?!

    Joan - I'd love it if you were my neighbor!
    http://greatfallscvb.visitmt.com/
    http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage

    Renee K in Great Falls Montana

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  38. Williamsburg VA all the way!

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  39. I currently live in Illinois but I live the first 58 years of my life in a beautiful town (about 45,000) nestled on a bay called Bellingham. It has a Western Washington University and fulfulls all other items on your list except once in a great while they do experience a slight earthquake. Bellingham is 90 north of Seattle and 50 miles south of Vancouver, BC (Canada). Lots of culture and art in either direction. Actually any place on the west side of the mountains in Washington would be ideal.

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  40. Sounds like you described the Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota area except for the winters part. I'm not sure what you mean by "super cold winters". In the city, we have the whole heat bubble thing going on so it only gets really cold a few days out of the year (but I'm a native Minnesotan so what can I say).

    BTW, could you just add a couple more items to your list like - must have native pink elephants or something similar? Your list is so specific and excludes real general stuff, it almost seems like you're looking for a place that doesn't exactly exist in reality! ;D

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  41. Greenville SC is it! We have a couple of universities (Furman and Bob Jones); we have seasons!!; we have an airport (might be a little bit of a stretch because it's not major but we get big planes!); we're about an hour away from the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains and about 3 hours from the beach (fun vacationing!) Come one down! (and housing is much cheaper...)

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  42. I would seriously consider Portland, Oregon or surrounding area - meets most of your criteria - I retired from Portland to the Oregon Coast and love it - short trip to Portland, Salem, Corvallis or Eugene, and wonderful Ashland for the theatre!
    NancyS

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  43. Depending on what you think is "too" cold, I suggest a suburb of Minneapolis. You've got colleges and universities, a diverse population and culture, a major airport hub, affordability, lots of things to do, a big community of stampers, etc. Just an all around nice place to be.

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  44. Hate to tell you this, but Minneapolis is the place for you. It meets all your requirements EXCEPT the winters, but after one winter, you'll be acclimated fine!!

    1. It's near the U of M, plus many other fabulous colleges!
    2. Winters suck, but what the heck....
    3. Cost of living is average
    4. Outstanding arts and culture scene!!
    5. No big bugs, but we do consider our state bird the mosquito!
    6. Lots of sun!
    7. Hello! I'm here, so that means stamping is alive and well in MN!
    8. You're 20 min from the Mpls International airport, and you'd have abolutely the BEST access to world renowned medical care right here in MN. Mayo? Abbott? U of M? Hazelden? I could go on and on....
    9. I can't say much about Al Qaeda...who really knows where the heck that guy has ties....
    10. No earthquakes, hurricanes, but we do get an tornado once in a while.

    Come to MN!!!!

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  45. I'm going to say Austin, TX.

    1. University of Texas - Austin
    2. umm...it's Texas.
    3. Good lord! For $600k in Texas you could end up with a palace.
    4. It's a very multi-cultural environment; high Mexican population.
    5. Well, they do have big bugs; but they don't bite.
    6. Again, it's Texas
    7. I'm sure in a town that big, there is an active stamping community.
    8. San Antonio International airport is just 45 minutes away.
    9. It might be a target because it's the capital of Texas, but I'm not sure.
    10. Not too many tornados, but there are a lot of floods and thunderstorms.

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  46. I think you would be very happy in Madison, Alabama. It is right outside Huntsville so I don't know about the terrorist thing. UAH is there and it is close to several other universities. You're within 10 minutes of an international airport. My daughter is 7 and has never seen snow. I don't think I even put on a jacket more than a dozen times last year. Housing is excellent and even less if you move into a bedroom community. My SU! upline lives in Madison and she was honored this year for personal sales of half a million in the 11 years she's been in SU! Personal sales! She throws some great classes/parties. We are extremely friendly down here. We say hello and ask how you are on the sidewalk whether we know you or not. There is a concert hall that gets great musical talent, art museums, wonderful medical centers with lots of specialists. The Space and Rocket Center is here and everyone who visits wants to go. Not too far from Gulf Shores, AL and the Florida beaches (about a 4 hour drive). Don't know if I answered all your questions but this is where I'm staying.

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  47. I'm gonna pretend I have some advice because I want to WIN! I suggest Santa Barbara CA, or more likely something somewhat outside of Santa Barbara (for cheaper housing prices). I have never been there, but I hear it is lovely, and less expensive than where I live now (San Jose area). Earthquake risk is overblown. Don't believe the hype!

    Some posters are suggesting Montana or the Midwest. I have lived both places (grew up in Billings, went to grad school in Illinois) and I would not return to either place for love or money! When you are used to a cosmopolitan lifestyle, the County Art Museum and the community Chorale just don't cut it! (I did community theatre in Billings and I was fabulous, but still...) I don't mean to criticize the other posters or throw water on their suggestions, but the city lifestyle and the non-city lifestyle are just different in ways you forget to imagine. (Like all the stores are closed on Sundays.)

    As for me, my dream is to get a summer house in Twillingate, Newfoundland. I will sit on the porch with my cinnamon iced tea and watch the icebergs float by! Mmmm, icebergs.

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  48. Central KY is the best place ever!!! University of KY is here too!

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  49. I've got two suggestions:

    1. Another vote for Boise, here. It meets virtually all your requirements. It's on our short list for retirement, and we lived there for 3.5 years. It ROCKS! BTW, it's got a huge number of restaurants, almost all of which have outdoor seating 'cause in the summer, as soon as the sun sinks behind the mountains, the temps get really comfy. No bugs, so everyone wants to eat outside! Also, the Summer Symphony Concert Series at BSU is fab: outdoor theater, go early with wine, eat a picnic dinner, then get a different show every weekend in July. It's totally, completely, fabulously wonderful.

    2. Ashville, NC. Meets most of your requirements (maybe a little cold in winter, not sure about the airport), but it's gorgeous, has reasonable cost of living, and tons of stuff to do.

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  50. Okay where I live meets "some" but not all of your criteria (that's a tough one). Anyway Walla Walla, WA is a GREAT place to live & lots of folks do retire here. We have relatively mild winters but have been known to have cold weather in January. Our summers are usually DRY & HOT! In fact we set a record this year on July 5th with 110 - Nearby we have Walla Walla University (Adventist College)in College Place, WA & there is Whiman College (a Private college) here as well. Our Airport is okay but you'd need to drive to the Tri-Cities, WA (Pasco, Kennewick, Richland) to take a larger plane out but it's only a 45 minute drive. We are within 3 hours of Spokane, WA, 5 1/2 hours from Seattle, WA and 4-5 hours from Portland, OR - There are lots of lakes, rivers, mountains in the surrounding area for recreation & we are now part of the Wine Country of WA state. I could go on & on because I've lived here all my life & can't think of a place I'd rather live. Ida

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  51. Kelowna BC Canada!!

    1. Near a university.
    2. No super cold winters.
    3. Housing cost very reasonable especially since you have American dollars LOL.
    4. Very active arts and culture scene -- music, art galleries, etc.
    5. No huge bugs.
    6. Lots of sun, we actually get 4 seasons here
    7. Very active stamping community.
    8. Close to excellent medical care and not farther than an hour from a major airport (.
    9. We are not on the Al Qaeda target list
    10. Very little chance of a natural disaster, forest fire would really be the only possibilty.

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  52. Forgot to mention Kelowna is second only to Victoria as a retirement community, great place to be!

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  53. San Diego area. Has all your criteria! You might have to hit the suburbs and head east due to the housing prices, but i live in the area and its great!! check it out!

    Beth (mommy to a busy 3 3/4 yr old)

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  54. Hi!
    Best of luck on your retirement!!!
    And thanks for offering a terrific prize!

    I would recommend Arlington, TX. I lived there for several years...I think it meets all of your criteria. And I know there is a stamping group there.

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  55. Ok Joan, I sooo had the perfect place...UNTIL I got to #10 on your list! So I guess that puts the best place EVER...San Diego...off the list. But seriously, if they didn't have mudslides and wildfires, it certainly meets all your other wishes...no humidity, NO BUGS...meaning you can sit outside and enjoy a nice evening with the family and not be covered in red welts...teehee! I loved it there, but we were on an "all expense" 3 year vacation there...courtesy of the U.S. Marines:) My hubby is from Arlington and his parents just put their shack on the market for 729,000!!!! Crazy, but its all about location, location, location!!!! Hmm...back to the drawing board...lol

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  56. Mmmmm, I'm not sure how cold is too cold, but I do love Salt Lake City. It fits pretty much all of the criteria, but the cold thing might be iffy ... depending on the year and what you're used to. ;) hee hee.

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  57. I don't know if anyone has said this yet, but Tucson, AZ meets all of your criteria. I lived there while going to the University of Az. The airport has normal sized planes, I would fly home to the LA area every month. The cost of living is much lower than Southern CA so it has to be lower than DC!

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  58. Charlotte, NC fits a lot of that. We live right outside of Charlotte so we can go into the city anytime, but you don't have to live there. There are so many things around to see or do. The weather is great (okay well it was 103 today, but it's usually not THAT hot) You have University of Charlotte right there as well. We moved here four years ago from CT and love it. We could not have bought our house in CT that we have here, it would have cost us MUCH, MUCH more. We have been very happy here. No matter where you choose research is very important and I hope you are happy :-)

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  59. Hi!

    So... I guess Bermuda is out, huh? The price of homes is astronomical. But that's my dream retirement spot, hurricanes or no.

    But to address your post seriously...

    I've lived in the St. Louis area and love it. Major medical centers, several well known Universities and very affordable housing. Ummm.. and stamping here... Great! You can hang at my house!

    I would also love to spend time across the pond in the UK. I travel there often for work and love everything about the country.

    Thank!
    Lisa

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  60. My goodness I do believe that my lovely sate of NH fits all of your criteria. :) We have the University of NH our housing, although expensive in some parts of NH is low in other parts of NH. I love NH and do not ever want to move from here. Well, okay if I could afford to live in Maine right on the ocean then I wouldlive there.:) Oh one of my favrorite things about living in NH? We do not have a Sales State tax. How cool is that. I think we are one of only 2 states that have this. Our crime is low and as far as I know we have nothing that anyone wants to attack. C'mon up to NH Joan.

    Mary

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  61. I haven't read other people's comments, but I highly suggest the Triangle area in North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill). It has culture (each university has a different flavor, Duke, UNC, NC State) Excellent Medical care. Small but accessible airport. A day's drive to the beach or the mountains. It is also accessible by interstates. There is Golf, hiking in Duke forest, and good shopping. When I lived there the housing costs were quite reasonable--but I don't know the situation currently. Also, there is a good variety of sports.

    Just my thoughts.

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  62. Joan, do consider Eugene, Oregon. We sit at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, so although there are rainy days, there are not as many as cities to the north. Eugene is the home of the University of Oregon (go ducks!), the Hult Performing Arts Center, and the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers are close. Here you are an hour from the Cascade Mountains, an hour from the Pacific Ocean, and an hour and a half from Portland which has an international airport (stretches it from your one hour requirement). We have beautiful seasons but mild weather, rarely snows, and no humidity!!! Housing is affordable, hey you can buy my house for under 500,000 and I have more space than you currently have plus a view of the city and valley. There are papercrafters here, organic farms, jogging/walking paths along the river, a beautiful library, and green, green, green. No major disasters to worry about except maybe a minor earthquake (rare).
    Thanks for the chance at blog candy. If you ever want to visit, contact me, and you can be our guests!

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  63. PS. I forgot to mention NOT to pick my comment for the very same reason that you did on my blog. :)

    Mary

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  64. The Cincinnati area is wonderful. We live near the Ohio River and will never leave. We have 4 distinct seasons, wonderful cost of living and great hospitals and arts and music. There are at least three universities very close and many many stampers!!! Let us know when you are ready to move!
    Barbara

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  65. Sacramento, CA is the place to be. We are near the University of Davis. It is a great Medical U as well. We don't get snow. The housing is cheaper than DC, We are 2 hrs from Tahoe, 2 hrs from Nappa, 2 hrs from San Fran, 25 minutes from the airport in Sacramento. It is perfect for you.

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  66. I live in Monmouth,Oregon. We have Western Oregon University in our town, Oregon State University about 20 miles away and University of Oregon and Portland State University about an hour away (in two different directions!) There are great music and art programs at our university. The mountains are about an hour away and so is the beach! There are lots of stampers and scrapbookers in the area. Mild winters, not too warm summers and lots of green!There are airports in Portland and Eugene, each an hour a way and jet have just started flying out of Salem, 20 minutes away. Excellent medical care is at most an hour a way. The only problem could be the rain, but that depends on the year! I am a native Oregonian and would NOT want to live anywhere else!

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  67. I don't know much about such things, i'm not a very widely traveled person. But here in Barrow Alaska we have NO bugs and get 24 hours of sunshine 5 monthe out of the year. On the other hand the average temp 6 months out of the year is 30 below !!
    Good luck with your hunt !

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  68. I don't know if there is such a place. Good idea to make it a blog candy question. It looks like my fellow Barrow-ite beat me to suggesting our town. We have a community college and I must add this is one of the most unique places in the world to live. I've seen the most awesome things in nature here. You should check us out... Barrow, Alaska.
    :-)

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  69. Denise in Arizona8/10/2007 04:01:00 AM

    I suggest the Phoenix area of Arizona (which includes Tempe -- Arizona State University). The housing median in the Valley of the Sun is around $280,000. As far as medical, we have the Mayo Clinic, Barrow Neurological Institute, a heart hospital.

    We don't get snow, of course, it does get to about 110 in the summer! LOL! We get about 7 inches of rain a year.

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  70. Hey Joan, you sure are asking for a lot now aren't you??? LOL! The only place I know of that has all these wonderful criteria is what Sylvia Browne calls "THE OTHER SIDE" Yup you heard me right. There is suppose to be a constant temp. of 80 degrees, a hall of never ending learning, plenty of arts so forth....... Now I'd hate to see you leave this earthly place just to find a perfect retirement place, but in all honestly, I don't think you'll find a place like you are looking for hear on earth. Ever thought of knocking off a few of your musts and moving to Maine. It is the place where everyone wants to come you know!

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  71. Hmmmmm our area covers some, but not all of your request. The beautiful blue ridge mountains of western N.C. would be one nice place, or Winston Salem, Greensboro, or even Charlotte. We have all four seasons, some snow. I hope y'all moved down our way!

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  72. I dont know if it hits all your qualifications, but Santa Fe would be pretty close. I personally am looking at Belize.

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  73. Joan

    I'm a second vote for Indianapolis (see Carmelmomsue and Jen's post!). Occasionally we do have cold temps - but not as bad as "up north". Major Bid Ten schools within an hour driving. Scenery (sorry Sue - I have to disagree) is a mere 45 minutes south - beautiful fall scenery in Brown County - reminds me of northern east coast! Excellent medical care - one of the easiest airports I've been to - and a very active Arts council - great museums! Last but not least - sports! You'd love it here!

    Indy_Patti

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  74. Definitely Charlottesville, VA. University of VA (college) and UVA Medical Center, rated top 5 in the country. Approx 1-1/2 hrs to Dulles or Richmond, VA or we do have jets which fly out of our airport. Tons of the Arts with UVA and various venues, i.e. John Paul Jones Arena (largest in state just opened last year), symphonies, operas, theatre, history of all sorts, Monticello, Ashlawn, etc. 2-1/2 hrs from ocean, 1/2 hr. from mountains. Cost of living much less than DC. We have 2 neighbors who retired here from DC. Definitely 4 seasons, mild winters, occasional snow, but doesn't stick around, beautiful fall with the mountains, lovely spring and summers are sometimes humid, but not unbearable. You could choose city living or very remote country living. (We're in between). If you ever visit, let me know. Not a huge variety of craft stores, but we're very close as I said to Richmond (capital) and DC. We'd love to have you!!!

    Have fun dreaming!

    Betty in C-ville!

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  75. How about Granbury, Texas? That area meets all of your criteria, plus the people in Texas are the friendliest. I love your blog, by the way. It's one of the ones that I definitely keep up with.

    Thanks,
    Jayne K

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  76. Hello! Madison, Wisconsin meets all of your criteria. Even the super cold winters have escaped us the last 10 years or so. Thanks!
    Cheryl KVD

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  77. How about Houston, TX? We meet most of your criteria, although that bug one is a bit difficult, but we do have a huge exterminator population here, too! We have first rate medical care, plenty of universities, lots of culture, excellent winters, and we need a stamping community. Housing is dirt cheap- you could have at least three descent houses for your 400,000. I've been here 14 years now, and I love it. I tell people all of the time, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!"

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  78. Greenville, SC has most of what you want. You can buy 2 ginormous houses for your $600,000. Easily accessible jetport makes flying almost enjoyable.

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  79. I think you pretty much described PHOENIX, ARIZONA!!! or the surrounding Valley...land of SUNSHINE! You couldn't ask for more perfect weather, and I could hook you up with my stamping community!

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  80. I used to live in East Tennessee(Morristown) and plan to retire there some day. I like the Townsend area in the foothills of the mountains. You can build a nice log cabin (or whatever style you like)without breaking the bank. You are within an hour's drive to Knoxville which is where the University of Tennessee is located. The airport is located on that side of Knoxville which would be convenient. The winters are not too long or bad and the mountains are breath-taking. You are farther away from all the tourist traps in Pigeon Forge and Gatlingburg, but close enough for shopping and taking visitors for a day. Cades Cove is only 30 min. from there also. The people in the South are so friendly, too. :) You can go on Google and see what comes up. We vacationed there a few years ago and loved waking up to the mountain air.

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  81. I'd have to say Indiana also. Although I live in WI and love it here. The winters are a bit long and cold so that wouldn't work. You should visit Lake Superior in the summer though, you would love it.
    Claudia

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  82. Hi Joan,
    Althought I don't live in the U.S., this was fascinating to read. I am on the lookout too because I have to get out of Calgary , Alberta. First of all, this area is BEAUTIFUL with the mountain and 300 (but short) summers, but flippin' cold winters. At least we get Chinook winds which warm the area and melt the snow fast. The problem with Calgary is it is a BOOM town with oil and it can't keep up with the number of people moving in. Traffic, HUMONGOUS housing prices, hard to find a doctor. This is NOT the place for you for live. Thought I would start a post saying where NOT to retire. So in 15 years, we are out of here. Which is SO sad, because 15-20 years ago, this city was fab, even with the winters. It's big blue, open sky and it actually is not crowded like in the U.S. because we have so much space. It goes for miles and miles. But the lack of infrastructure, skyrocketing housing and lack of medical care make it a no no. My choice for you? KELOWNA, B.C. Gorgeous area. Has everything there you would want. It's where everyone in Western Canada (well maybe not everyone) wants to retire. VICTORIA, B.C. would also be really great too! It's wonderful.
    Good luck!

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  83. Sorry, meant to say 300 plus days of sunshine, not 300 summers! And of course, this is NOT AN ENTRY. Just a comment.

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  84. Well, how about Philadelphia. The outskirts are beautiful, but close enough to everything you've listed. Granted, we do get some snow, but it is manageable, and never really gets that cold for very long.
    Sally(CKMom)

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  85. I suggest Iowa City IA. It has everything you want. The University of Iowa is there with its premeir hospital, only 20 minues from the Cedar Rapids airport. A three hour drive to Chicago, the housing you described would be in the 200,000. Lots of fun stuff going on.
    Thanks for the chance to win,
    heather B

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  86. i would say that a perfect spot for you is san diego, ca! they have universities close by, great art and culture, it's right by the beach, it has a great and lively downtown... it's perfect for u! :)

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  87. Lincoln Nebraska
    (I have to endorse NE, of course)
    Snow but not ugly cold. University of Nebraska plus great medical hospitals. Rather quiet but that's what the airport in Lincoln and Omaha is for. Kansas City is 3 hours away. Good people!

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  88. Hi!
    Best of luck on your retirement!!!
    And thanks for offering a terrific prize!

    I would recommend Arlington, TX. I lived there for several years...I think it meets all of your criteria. And I know there is a stamping group there.

    For your "which should I send", I like the one with the hardware. Adds a nice home made feel.

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  89. I think that you should come live in Colorado. I live in Colorado Springs and think that Denver would be a good match for you (there is a little more cultural activities in Denver). There is a stamper community in Denver and heck...it's only a short 1 1/2 drive or so down to the Springs (if I'm driving anyway). We do get snow, but the nice thing is that it will snow one day, and be sunny and warm the next (with the snow going bye bye). Happy retirment Joan!

    Linda

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  90. As I read down your list I realized that place I live meets everything on your criteria except perhaps the winter. I live in Spokane, WA and our winters to average about 3 snowfalls per winter but nothing like I remember as a kid. They are generally mild and we haven't had one with over a foot of snow since 1968. But everything else rates high on your list. I'm a theatre buff and believe me when I tell you that our theatre here is extra-ordinary. We have Best of Broadway, The Spokane Civic Theatre, and Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre & all are highly rated and win many national awards. Hope you consider it & don't let a few snow falls scare you away:)

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  91. I gotta start with a plug for Newark, Delaware, because, well, I live here. And I like it. A lot. And it's close to everything (that really should be our state motto...). 20 mins from Wilmington (up and coming, up and coming...) 45 to Philly, 2 hours to NYC, and if you head south, it's 1 hour to Balto, and 2 to DC. Actually, it's about 1 1/2 hours to the Greenbelt station, and that's usually what we do... love the Metro.
    AND, it's the home of the University of Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens. Did I mention no sales tax? We're also only 1 1/2 hours from the best beach in the world, Rehoboth.

    Now then, if you're tired of the East Coast all together, I have two more suggestions, both places I've spent significant time: the Phoenix, Arizona area, (except for the killer heat, and the fact that scorpions are considered a minor nuisance (excuse me?!)), and Asheville, North Carolina. I didn't read all the comments, but I'm sure somebody already recommended Phoenix, because it's awesome. So, yeah, have a looksee there.

    Asheville is where I took refuge between my Bachelor's and Master's degrees. I spent a year there, and, if not mired here with kids and family and such, would move back in a heartbeat. Fabulous weather, terrific scenery, a couple of colleges nearby, great art scene, and, oh yeah, it's where Trudee lives, so you could stamp with a Dirty Girl. And I never saw a bug bigger than my thumb. Definitely within squashing size. With somebody else's shoes.

    I'm sure you've gotten a ton of great ideas, but I'm also sure mine are the best. I'm kidding, I'm kidding.. everybody settle down.

    Good luck picking somewhere great!

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  92. Got the perfect place for you!

    1. Near a university.

    We have Whitman College (classifies as a university) and Walla Walla University (used to be college but recently made a university). Both are outstanding schools.

    2. No super cold winters.

    We have a few cold days now an then. No more than a skiff of snow now and then. Of course we are only 30 miles from some of the best snow skiing so you can get to winter easily. We are warm enough that the wine industry thrives.

    3. Housing cost of living MUST be less than the Washington DC area. To give you an idea, a 4 bed, 2.5 bath home around here goes for about $600,000 give or take a couple of hundred thousand depending upon the exact location. Must be LESS than that.

    A nice home for your description would be around $250,000 in a very nice neighborhood.

    4. Must have an active arts and culture scene -- music, art galleries, etc.

    We are known for our symphonies, concerts, galleries, plays, etc, due to the tourist that come with our nearly 200 wineries and our 2 universities and one college.

    5. No huge bugs.

    An occasional mosquito--have yet to be bitten this summer. Sometimes a small spider. Nothing nasty.

    6. Decent amount of sun (can't be cloudy or rainy most days).

    We do have some cloudy foggy/winter days, but most of the time is quite nice.


    7. Would be nice to have an active stamping community but this is optional (I'll just form one!).

    Oh yes! I'll join your group and you can join my 2 clubs. Big stamping fun here.

    8. Close to excellent medical care and not farther than an hour from a major airport (not taking no stinkin' little planes anywhere!!).

    10 minutes to an airport that can take you to Seattle in 45 minutes, but we do have 2 very outstanding Medical Centers right here.

    9. Must not be on known Al Qaeda target list (living through 9/11 in DC is not something I care to repeat...)

    They don't want us. All we have are sweet onions, wine, asparagus, wheat, and baby boomers.

    10. Would like to avoid major risk of: earthquakes, fires, mudslides, tornadoes, hurricanes. Am willing to trade this for active stamping community, however!!

    Nope, have never seen any of these in the 30 years I have lived here.

    Come on over!!

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  93. How about Seattle? They have a wonderful art scene, very diverse culture, fantastic medical care, housing is less than DC, and there is so much to do there. There are multiple universities there with lots of opportunities for retirees to audit courses, etc. It's "rainy" (picture light drizzle) from November to February, but I would not call it gloomy and the summer's there are heaven on earth!

    Shawn K.

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  94. I say Arizona!! Aournd the Chandler/Phoenix area! That's the same place we're headed in four more years too!

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  95. There are some nice places near Dayton, Ohio (North to be exact) that meet your requirements. OSU is fairly close, there's the Dayton Art Museum, the Dayton Air Show and best of all our winter's are pretty mild. I've heard there are a lot of stampers in Ohio too. Oh, and the house you described can be had for about #300,000 give or take (new). Happy Retirement!

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  96. Hello, I think Newport, RI is your place. We have Salve Regina University, lots of cultural events, the Jazz Festival is this weekend, the Folk Festival was last weekend. No bugs, wonderful beachs. We have beautiful seasons here, fall especially.

    Good luck,
    Denise

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  97. I think Columbus, Ohio is the PERFECT place for you, because I'm here and dying to meet you and your family, LOL. We only have gray days in the winter, but we could get together and stamp to let the sun shine in. CMH-Columbus
    International Airport is down the street from me...notice the international? Housing cost are amazing compared to the northeast. We have THE Ohio State University which also has an EXCELLENT hospital with a lot of great research and new ideas surfing all the time. We also have an A1 Children's Hospital. We have Ballet Met, Columbus Symphony, Picnic with the Pops, Columbus Museum of Art, a Gallery Hop on Friday Evenings, and the BEST restaurants. Also Stampin' Up demos and good malls. Oh yes, and DICK BLICK, ARCHIVER'S, Jo Ann, Michael, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and I can't think anymore. We'd love to have you here in the midwest.

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  98. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  99. The Hampton Roads area of Virginia is great an meets your needs! This covers Williamsburg, VA all the way down to VA Beach. Great winters--cool, not frigid...maybe 1-2 cold months. LOTS o' sun, no big bugs. Universities: William and Mary in Williamsburg, Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Housing costs here have risen terribly like many parts of the country, but it's significantly better than DC. As far as healthcare, good strong community hosp in Williamsburg, nationally ranked hospital in Norfolk ( see July 16 issue of USNews) particularly in cardiac (ranked high the last 8 yrs)and this year in kidney disease/treatment. Will admit I work in cardiac and am partial to that :)
    Lastly, we have an awesome symphony and opera in Norfolk....and really, only a 2-3 hr drive - depending on where you start - back to DC to see old friends.
    Would be happy to answer questions if you need.
    Jeanne

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  100. Cedar Rapids or Iowa City, Iowa would meet most of your qualifications (except for the "no small planes). And I suppose, being an Iowa resident, my idea of "no super cold winters" may be different than yours. I'm enjoying reading all of the recommendations.

    http://ingeniousinkling.typepad.com/

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  101. Anywhere around Portland, OR would meet ALL your requirements. Everyone thinks we have a lot of rain, but we're actually a very mild climate. Texas, the South, DC, the midwest, all get more rain than we do. We just like to tell people we get a lot of rain so they won't come flooding in (excuse the pun). Since you're a stamper, we'll make an exception -- tee hee!

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  102. Well, just so happens I just retired, and many of my hopes mirror yours. My town of choice is Prescott, AZ. Housing prices are edging up though. Let us know where you set your sights.

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  103. Hello! I think you should come here and help me start that stamping group! I live in Yorktown ,Virginia and we love it! We are retiring here.I think you would love it here! We are 20 minutes from Williamsburg and not to close but not to far away from Norfolk and Virginia Beach and having been stationed near Washington,D.C.,I know we are not as expensive as D.C.......! Good luck in what ever you decide...Elizabeth

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  104. The Piedmont Triad (Winston-Salem Highpoint and Greensboro)or Research Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) areas of North Carolina are both fabulous areas! Houses are very nicely priced in each area. Mild winters, lots of sun, no major storms, a good # major universities & medical places (Duke, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, ASU, ECU, UNC...) are close by along with several mid to larger airports. Most bugs are small to normal sized that I know of and there is lots of art, music and historical stuff. I'm not sure where the area stands on a target list - I wouldn't think its too high.

    And as far as the stamping community goes, well I'm here!!! LOL! There's lots of fabulous stamp/scrap stores and tons of friendly people that stamp. And a great highlight is that you're very close either mountains or the beach for your choice of vacation! Each just a 2-3 hour drive at most!
    You now have about 5 years to visit some places to help you decide!!! Have fun! Hugs to you!
    ~Angie

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  105. Hi!
    Best of luck on your retirement!!!
    And thanks for offering a terrific prize!

    I would recommend Arlington, TX. I lived there for several years...I think it meets all of your criteria. And I know there is a stamping group there.

    BTW...your cock-a-doodle-do card is priceless :)

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  106. PurpleFlowers @ SCS8/12/2007 12:29:00 AM

    Well I would have said State College but the airport ruled that out, so how about the Harrisburg, PA area?

    Lets see how it measures up to your requirements:

    1. Near a university. Check. Penn State Harrisburg, plus several other close like Dickinson.
    2. No super cold winters. Check - only a couple of degrees different than DC weather most days.
    3. Housing cost of living MUST be less than the Washington DC area. Check.

    4. Must have an active arts and culture scene -- music, art galleries, etc. Check - symphonies in both Harrisburg and Hershey, galleries not so sure about but I think so
    5. No huge bugs. Check
    6. Decent amount of sun (can't be cloudy or rainy most days). Check
    7. Would be nice to have an active stamping community but this is optional (I'll just form one!). Not sure, but there is a great stamping store in York (Stamp-ede, just 20-30 minutes down rt 83) so I expect you'd be able to find a group.
    8. Close to excellent medical care and not farther than an hour from a major airport (not taking no stinkin' little planes anywhere!!).
    Check (Hershey Med center less than 30 minutes) and Check (HBG Int'l airtport - not super huge but that has it's advantages)
    9. Must not be on known Al Qaeda target list (living through 9/11 in DC is not something I care to repeat...) Hmmmm ..... don't think it would be on that list
    10. Would like to avoid major risk of: earthquakes, fires, mudslides, tornadoes, hurricanes. Am willing to trade this for active stamping community, however!! Check - for the most part; there's a rare tornado every once in awhile.

    Not too bad. Maybe 8 or 9 out of 10.

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  107. Lots of people said Phoenix/Chandler, but I'd have to suggest Tucson, AZ instead. Great university, small-town feel with all the amenities you need. Affordable housing,major air transport, medical facilies, culture, shopping, etc... I lived there for several years and enjoyed many quality theater performances, concerts, art shows. Also, the restaurant selection is fabulous! After moving away, several friends and I returned for a vacation and ate ourselves silly at great places. Good luck deciding!

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  108. Well if you want almost everything on your list then San Antonio, Texas is your town. It has everything on your list but the bug thing. The bugs here can get big. But you can do what I did and hire an exterminator so you don't have to deal with them at all. We have a company that guarantees no bugs or they'll come back out to your house and redo the treatment. There treatments are safe for pets (a must for us because our youngest "son" Georgie is the cutest little yorkie you've ever seen.) There are colleges here the housing is cheap compared to DC, low crime, everyone's friendly, large stamping community (check out SCS), tons of culture, tons of sun, great hospitals, several aiports close by one in San Antonio and one in Austin (1 hr away) another in Houston (2hrs), never heard of any mention of SA in Al Qaeda threats, lots of sun, mild winters, no real threat of such weather. Tornadoes maybe but not that i"ve heard of here in the city. So you see, SA is the way to go. Good luck with your search. We love it and plan to retire here when DH retires from the military... two years left!!

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  109. quietlystamping on SCS8/14/2007 04:43:00 PM

    I would also recommend Boise, Idaho to you. We moved here from the Phoenix/Chandler/Tempe, Arizona area seven years ago. Boise has four seasons and not nearly as many people as the Phoenix metro area. It does get hot in mid summer but it's dry. Winters are very mild. Since we've been here, we've never had enough snow to actual shovel or interfer with travel. A few inches if we're lucky. What makes Boise ideal is even though not a huge city; its the largest for hundreds of miles in any direction so it has all the services you need - medical, university, shopping and air travel. I love our airport, not a hub but easy to navigate. Boise itself is much more liberal than the rest of Idaho if the sterotypes bother you.
    If Arizona stikes your fancy, check out Prescott. About 90 minutes from Phoenix with its own hospital though no university. The weather is mild.
    In Oregon, I would recommend Bend. A beautiful place.
    My only question is would you like the west? It's a whole different culture than back east, very dry and in many place quite brown. Good luck with your search.

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  110. Shannan Teubner (aka steubner on SCS)8/16/2007 01:28:00 AM

    I gotta post here even though your blog candy is over. I think you should move to TEXAS!! You could move to Granbury, which is close to Tarleton State University, no hurricanes or disasters, sunny weather, no cold winters (trust me...), and close to DFW Airport. Flower Mound is also a great choice which is close to University of North Texas, Texas Wesleyan, and Texas Womens, to name a few. A little further south and you have Texas Christian Univ. I love it here!!

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  111. Ooh, and we have lots of cultural stuff. There's the Kimball Art Museum, Fort Worth Museum of Science & History, Bass Hall, & all the stuff on the Dallas side. :)

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  112. I know your contest is over, but you may want to check out this site: http://www.findyourspot.com/

    Good luck!

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  113. ditto to Seattle.
    I can't guarantee the Al Qaeda target thing though. ;)

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  114. My vote for Austin, TX. has been taken several times over! There are so many advantages and so many opportunities for great living experiences in nearby smaller towns. Give it a try!

    Mary

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  115. I know this contest is over, but I am personally inviting you to move to Asheville, NC!! You would love it here, and it meets all of your guidelines! Wanna come to my monthly stampin' meeting? :D

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