Weather certainly plays a significant role in determining a location to move when one decides to retire. This is quite evident when looking at places like Southern California, Arizona, Las Vegas and Florida with their huge population of people in the over 55 crowd. But how important really is weather? I have spent a fair amount of time trying to get to the bottom of it and the results thus far are quite interesting, but not really surprising.
People who spent the bulk of their lives in places like New England and the Upper Mid-west seem to have the highest desire to retire in the sun-belt. That seems like the classic, "no-brainer". People from these areas have lived through what I called "Kill-U-Cold" winters and often faced snow and ice covered roads for months on end. So when perusing the forums and reading comments I find these folks be the ones saying things like; "I'm not shoveling snow anymore" or "I'm through being cold".
When I looked at the comments and postings from people in more mild climates the weather suddenly fell way down on the list of things that make a community desirable. Suddenly it was more about taxes, activities, proximity to family, etc. These folks talked about weather without the same demanding tone. It's more about the extremes than really. They don't want "Kill-U-Cold", but a little snow and rain isn't a deal breaker for them.
This may explain why I keep finding communities in Washington State falling onto "top ten best" lists for retirees. The latest one I found was "Top Ten Best Beach Communities". It appeared as a link form a retirement oriented lifestyle blog. Port Townsend, Washington made the list. There are no palm trees in Port Townsend and you won't likely have to worry about heatstroke... ever. Yet there it is; a top destination for retirees looking for a beach/waterfront experience. Port Townsend isn't even on the Pacific Ocean, it actually fronts the Puget Sound. It is a great town however.
A few posts back I listed general climate information for a variety of locations in Washington State. Take a look at them here.
In my experience as a Realtor®, I find that there are two overriding things that bring retirement age people to Washington State. Proximity to family and taxation. This is somewhat anecdotal but I think it holds true to reality. Washington State is not only a great place to retire, but it is a wonderful place to raise a family. Our schools are highly rated and our state constitution has some of the strongest pro-schools language in the nation. Washington has also weathered the roller coaster economy better than most areas in the country. This brings families to the the state and many retirees want to be close to those adorable little grandchildren. I have blathered on a great deal about taxes so by now you know that we stand strong in that arena for retirees. See more info in this post.
There is a third interesting anecdote I find recurring; many people who come here from California cite a desire to experience four seasons. Most Californians only have two season and many have only one. These folks don't want to live in the bitter cold winters, but they have suggested they feel like they are missing out on the four season experience. I can relate to that as I like having four distinct seasons. I actually wish Vancouver got a little more snow each year.
There are many reasons to move to Washington no matter what stage in life you are at.