While many retirees are drawn to warm weather, Peter and Meg Scheller were looking for a different type of warmth altogether.
After living in San Bernardino, Calif., for two decades, Peter, now 80, realized something: He and his wife didn't really know their neighbors. "People in California drive straight into their garages, close their garage doors, and then settle into their castles," says Peter, who is a retired business administrator for nonprofit organizations.
"We wanted a different type of life," he says. And since the Schellers retired to Concord, N.H., two years ago—in part to be closer to their son Karl, who lives in nearby Bow, N.H.—they say they've found it.
It may seem odd to move from sunny Southern California to chilly New England in retirement. In January, Concord's average temperature falls to a brisk 21 degrees. But Meg, 77, finds that the warmth of the community more than makes up for the cold.
Before she moved to Concord, a modest city of 42,000, Meg says, "I had the impression that New Englanders were cool and reserved." But she discovered that it was just the opposite. Neighbors in Concord take time to get to know one another. "We do a lot of walking," says Meg, a librarian during her working years who now volunteers at the Concord library. "And when we meet people on our walks, we like to talk."
And there are plenty of idyllic places to walk in this charming city nestled along the Merrimack River. Concord's historic downtown is lined with elegant Victorian-era buildings and anchored by the majestic, gold-domed New Hampshire State House. Plus, there are dozens of walking paths in the capital.
The more adventurous take to the miles of hiking trails throughout the area. And then there's the skiing. Gordon and Cy Sherman, who retired to Concord more than a decade ago, love that they are only about half an hour from both Crotched Mountain and Mount Sunapee, two favorite downhill runs.
In the summers, the Shermans take advantage of nearby lakes, including Lake Winnipesaukee, about 45 miles north. "I would get very stagnant if there were no change in seasons," says Gordon, 70, a former banker who previously lived in New York and southern New Hampshire.
There's more to Concord than just the outdoors. New Hampshire's special role in electing presidents has given the Shermans a chance to work for various candidates' campaigns. And they routinely take advantage of Concord's local industry: government. It is the only U.S. state capital where the legislature still meets in its original chambers.
Concord's central location was a big reason it was chosen as state capital. And it's just 90 minutes away from both Boston and Portland, Maine, and some of the best restaurants, colleges, museums, and theaters in the country.
ABOUT CONCORD, N.H.
Median home price: $211,953
January average temperatures (high/low): 31/10
July temperatures: 83/57
Source: OnBoard LLC