5 Southern Cities Where You Can Make Your Early Retirement Dreams a Reality
For most people, retiring in your 40s seems like a feat achievable only by a select few superheroes. In reality, the secret to early retirement all boils down to something quite simple: saving. With smart financial planning, anyone can join the live-the-good-life club well before their 60th birthday. And, according to a report by Realtor.com, if you live in a handful of lucrative destinations, your chances are even better.
Inspired by the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) principle outlined in the 1992 bestseller Your Money or Your Life, the real estate website rounded up a list of cities where aspiring early retirees can purchase an affordable home (a key to FIRE followers' success) in a job market that's robust and high-paying. Want to start yourself on a path to success (or, better yet, a path to mid-week brunching at noon while everyone else works their day jobs)? Here are the top five places you should start your house hunt and job search in the South.
Living in These Southern Cities Can Get You on Track to Early Retirement
Along with Houston and Cape Canaveral, Huntsville serves as one of the few epicenters of NASA's space program. Couple that with a heavy presence from the military and tech worlds, and the job market here is always booming (and not just for rocket scientists). The difference between Huntsville and most space and tech hubs, however, is the affordability. Housing prices here hover around $200k, with some historic fixer uppers able to be scored for much less. That's good news for FIRE fans, who should have plenty of their high-paying salaries left over post-mortgage for stashing away into savings.
Boasting big city amenities and small-town vibes, Knoxville doles out the best of both worlds. It also happens to be an extremely smart place to set down roots: With no state income tax and low local property taxes, residents here are able to take home a larger portion of their well-earned dough. And, with major employers like the University of Tennessee and the U.S. Department of Energy nearby, the dough is plentiful.
As a birthplace of the 20th century oil boom—in 1901, a well struck oil underneath the city and gushed for nine days—Beaumont has an undeniably rich history. Today, the still-thriving fuel industry is simply making residents rich. As an industrial hub, Beaumont boasts a high percentage of lucrative jobs. Add on the fact that sizeable homes here can be scored for a steal ($163k is the median sales price) and early retirement dreams seem a little more in reach.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
In terms of size and recognition, Winston-Salem pales in comparison to its North Carolina neighbors, Charlotte and Raleigh. Yet, in terms of quality—and cost—of living, the mid-sized city has it all. Here, the median home sale price comes in at a reasonable $178k. And with nearly 20 percent of the jobs considered high-paying (big employers here include the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Hanes, and BB&T Bank), that leaves a good chunk of cash left over to invest.
Palm Bay, Florida
Why wait to retire to the Sunshine State when you can move there now and smartly save for retirement while living your beachfront dreams at the same time? In the coastal town of Palm Bay, residents have the laid-back lifestyle, but are within close striking distance to major employers like the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and Disney World. And despite Palm Bay's waterfront address, real estate prices here are reasonable, with a median home sale price of $220k.