Idyllic coastal locations, especially those blessed by wide, sandy beaches, warm coastal waters, and sunny subtropical weather, have long been prized as retirement havens. Unfortunately, as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have demonstrated recently, the good life along some of America’s most popular coasts is not without serious risks to life and property.
What should careful retirees consider when relocating?
Warren Bland, a geographer and professor at California State University, Northridge, and author of “Retire in Style: 60 Outstanding Places Across the USA and Canada,” has these suggestions:
- Don’t overreact to perceived dangers. Understand that you are in greater danger during routine car trips and from air pollution than from catastrophic but rare hazards like hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and tornadoes.
- If you decide to live along the Gulf or Atlantic coasts despite the hurricane threat, be sure to minimize your risk from storm surges by choosing a home site at least a mile inland and 20 feet above sea level.
- If your choice is California, avoid low-lying, tsunami-threatened areas along the coast, proximity to active earthquake faults, smoggy areas, and places having a history of landslides.
- In the American Heartland, avoid floodplain sites and have a storm cellar where you can seek shelter from tornadoes.
Dr. Bland’s top picks include: Victoria, British Columbia; Boulder, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; San Antonio, Texas; Asheville, North Carolina; Sarasota, Florida; Tucson, Arizona; and Ithaca, New York.
If you retire to Sarasota, consider his advice: live at least a mile inland and find a spot at least 20' above sea level! In Sarasota this generally means east of 301.