If your dreams for retirement involve exploration, adventure, and finding your own path, your next chapter of life might be waiting to be written in the wide-open spaces of the New West.
Imagine a view from the dining room window that stretches to mountains on the horizon, or looks down a valley sprinkled with stands of trees – and often visits from local wildlife. That’s what welcomes retirees in the West, and the land provides opportunities for exploration and hobbies unattainable in cities or suburbs.
“We wanted privacy, we wanted lots of peace and quiet,” says Phil, who retired to a remote home he and his wife Cheryl built on ranchland. “Almost every day, I get up in the morning, I come out here on the porch and look out and say ‘this is so great.’” Read Phil’s story
For Phil and other retirees, moving to western ranchland is about more than aesthetics – it’s about adopting an entirely new way of life on their own terms, without sacrificing the things most important to people in retirement.
For many retirees, affordability is a key to stretching their retirement dollars as far as they can go. Fortunately, Western ranchland can offer an exceptional bang for your buck.
Ranchland can go for as little as $1,000 or less an acre, making it realistic to acquire a large parcel. Parcels as small as an acre may be available, too. There are properties to match any budget, and some people purchase the property and build their retirement home over years, spreading the costs. Property taxes are typically low or even non-existent, and up-front investments in electricity generation or wells mean low-cost service for years to come.
“When we were looking, we thought maybe this would be a weekend getaway or secondary home,” Phil said. “But then we started thinking, maybe we would just build and retire here. We grew this property week by week.”
The west and southwest have always been popular destinations for retirees because of their abundant sun, pleasantly dry climate and access to recreation and popular travel destinations. Depending where you live and the altitude, you may enjoy changing seasons or regular warmth.
For Gary and Diana, retiring to a 40-acre ranch offered everything they wanted, day and night. “When it gets dark, its beautiful,” Gary said. “One night I came home from dinner, and there was the Big Dipper coming up on the horizon like you could reach out and grab it.” Read Gary and Diana’s story
Gary and Diana also like traveling in their RV, and their location in the west lets them use their home as a jumping off point for trips. The Rocky Mountain states, from Wyoming to Arizona, are home to more than a dozen spectacular national parks and scores of state parks and wilderness areas for campers and travelers.
“We come and go as we please,” said Diana. “Sometimes it’s nice not having any plans, or saying ‘Where to next month?’ We’ll never see it all, but we’ve seen so much.”
If your idea of an active retired life is heavy on the outdoors, having your own ranchland might be the perfect fit. With many parcels to choose from, retirees can choose to be close to their nearest town or neighbor or get as far away as they want.
When they are home, Gary and Diana get to enjoy the sights and activities available on their property, including biking, hiking, four-wheeling and shooting. They go to a nearby reservoir for kayaking, and when their desires are more social, they drive 20 minutes to a nearby small city of 55,000.
“I’m a city girl, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle the quiet,” said Diana. “But I love the peacefulness, and I haven’t had to be 100% country girl.”
“Remote, but not distant” – that’s how Phil describes his living situation. With modern communications, he is never cut off from family, and maintained roads make it easy to welcome visitors.
With many ranches offering land, retirees can balance their land choice to their needs and wants. Some parcels have electricity and phone connected, others don’t. Some are an hour or more from the nearest town, others mere minutes.
“We enjoy having neighbors on the other side of the hills,” Phil says. “We have people who come out periodically, and we visit with them and cook out. We help them, they help us. It feels a lot like how people say communities used to be.”