Living in a snowy place can be a hassle for workers. The constant need to shovel your driveway and defrost your car before leaving for work can multiply the stress of your morning commute. Luckily, retirees don't have this problem.
In retirement, you can simply gaze out the window at a fresh blanket of snow and pour yourself a second cup of coffee. And snowy evenings are the perfect excuse to light a fire and stay in. When you do venture out into the snow, in can be to ski, ice skate, or simply catch snowflakes on your tongue. Without the pressure of working, you can revel in the picturesque setting a fresh snowfall often creates. "It floats in off of Lake Michigan and it's beautiful," says Norma Walter, 91, of the mostly lake-effect snowfall sprinkled upon South Bend, Ind., each year—an average of 70 inches annually. "It's the beautiful flaky kind."
[In Pictures: 10 Winter Wonderlands for Retirement.]
To find a few winter wonderlands for retirement, U.S. News used our Best Places to Retire search tool, powered by data from Onboard Informatics, to search for places in the United States that are likely to be white for much of the winter. We also screened for locales that offer other amenities, including access to hospitals and medical care, affordable housing, and a reasonable cost-of-living.
Juneau, Alaska, is the coldest on our list, with January temperatures ranging from an average low of -2 degrees to an average high of 10 degrees. Syracuse, N.Y., is the snowiest, averaging 117.5 inches of snow annually. As the inches accumulate, residents of this affordable city pile the snow banks a little higher and carry on with business as usual. "You bundle up and keep going," says John Scala, 64, a former manager for a gas and electric utility business who retired in 2002.
Skiing is one of the most popular retirement activities in snowy places. Burlington, Vt., has five major ski resorts within an hour's drive of the city. Salt Lake City, Utah, the host city for the 2002 winter Olympics, has four nearby ski areas, all of which offer discounts to seniors. "When I had the opportunity to take early retirement, I wanted to be closer to skiing, which is my passion," says Jon Weisberg, a former international public relations executive for Bristol Meyers Squibb who moved from New York to Park City, Utah, and then Salt Lake City after he retired in 2000. He now skis 30 to 40 days per season. But it's other amenities—not just powder days—that keep him in Salt Lake City. "Salt Lake has skiing and culture and good access to medical care and proximity to a major airport, and it also has a magnificent landscape," Weisberg says.
Ski towns sometimes offer opportunities for part-time employment. When he retired in 1995, Peter Bloukos, 81, moved from Houston, Texas, to Marquette, Mich., a small city with just over 20,000 people that averages 117 inches of snow annually. A former bond trader, Bloukos now works part-time as a ski instructor at Marquette Mountain, which is just four miles from his house. "It's fun and it's nice people and I have a good time doing it," he says about teaching children to ski. "It keeps you in good shape."
Coping with near-daily winter snowfall isn't a problem when you are prepared for it. For Pati Olson Canfield, 74, a former wedding service coordinator in Minneapolis, Minn., who retired in 2006, that means wielding a 42-inch wide shovel and a snow blower to clear off her double driveway. She enjoys the outdoors year-round. "You can walk around the lakes and the park reserves even in the wintertime, and if you can't walk, you can go snowshoeing or ski," Canfield says.
[Check out the 10 Best Places for Single Seniors to Retire.]
For those who can't take the cold, it's possible to almost completely avoid January temperatures that seldom rise above freezing in Minneapolis. Shoppers can utilize this city's eight-mile, climate-controlled skyway system. These glass walking tunnels, located one story above ground, can connect you to restaurants, stores, and the Historic State Theatre, no coat or boots required.