7 surprising spots for retirement

You're retiring where...?

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Don't want to retire where you live now? You're not alone. Three in 5 Americans want to move to another city or state to retire, according to a Bankrate survey.

But you don't have to settle for your typical retirement community in the Sunbelt. Baby boomers have been redefining retirement on their terms. They're hitting the open road, finding their muse and exploring new ways to live out their golden years. And that's led to some unusual choices.

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Here are the some of the strangest retirement destinations worth considering.

—By Tom Anderson
Posted 24 July 2015

Artist colonies

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Find your bohemian side by retiring to a senior artist colony. Historically, colonies were set up for artists to reside in inspiring digs for up to a year. But you can stay in senior artist colonies, which offers classes, exhibitions and studio space for seniors to toil for their art.

Los Angeles is a hub for these communities, with colonies in Burbank and the NoHo art districts, naturally. The Burbank Senior Artists Colony calls itself the first apartment rental community dedicated to providing independent living in a creative, art -inspired environment. Its amenities include a performance theater, art studio and fitness center—plus access to "lifelong learning" classes like poetry in motion.


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It takes a village to retire if you live in a cohousing community. Started in Denmark in the early 1980s, cohousing communities are usually designed as attached or single-family homes, ranging from seven to 67 homes, clustered around a central courtyard and a common house. The common house provides a kitchen, dinning room and lounge for the community. Many common houses have guest rooms, workshops and laundry facilities. All common property is maintained by the residents.

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Fostering a sense of community is focus of cohousing. Residents of all ages have group meals regularly, reach decisions about how to allocate community fees through consensus and are encouraged to know everyone in the community.

There are more than 150 cohousing communities in the U.S. The Cohousing Association of the United States provides a directory of communities.

Cruise ships

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If you can afford it, you can spend your golden years seeing the world by sea.

Lee Wachtstetter, a Florida widow, has been aboard the luxury cruise ship Crystal Serenity for seven years, paying $164,000 annually to travel in seafaring style. "The day before my husband died of cancer in 1997, he told me, 'Don't stop cruising.' So here I am today living a stress-free, fairy-tale life," Wachstetter told USA Today.

Many cruise lines offer year-long living quarters for retirees, and some specialize in cruise retirements, so the vacation never ends.


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For retirees on a budget, houseboats provide an affordable alternative for those who want to retire on the water.

Houseboats range in price from $20,000 to more than $500,000. Keep in mind that insurance, slip rental and utilities, such as electricity and pumping, can add hundreds of dollars in monthly costs.

Data on the number of retirees living in houseboats are hard to come by. But the National Marine Manufacturers Association estimates that overall marine equipment sales last year, which includes houseboats, surpassed sales in 2007 before the Great Recession.

Recreational vehicles

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More seniors are hitting the highways in recreational vehicles. RV sales are up 6 percent through the first five months of 2015 from the period a year ago. And more than 9 percent of the 8.5 million motorhome owners are age 55 or older.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association expects that percentage to grow as more baby boomers retire and manufacturers offer a variety of RVs that are more fuel efficient at different prices.

Boomers on bikes

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Gearheads have more retirement communities tailored to their interests.

For instance, Lake Weir Living in Ocklawaha, Florida, encourages residents to bring their hot rods, motorcycles and other "toys." The community is a 30-minute ride to the Leeburg's Bikefest, a motorcycle rally that hosts 250,000 bikers each year.

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. motorcycle owners are 51 to 69, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.

University-based retirement communities

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More seniors are going back to school ... for life. University-based retirement communities provide a range of continuing education options centered around college life and all the amenities that come with it.

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University-based retirement communities provide more than school spirit. Residents at Stanford University's Vi at Palo Alto partners with the school's top-notch teaching hospital for health-care programs. Residents of Oak Hammock at the University of Florida can audit college classes for free. Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame is within walking distance of the campus and residents can use the school's library and fitness center.