Many people dream of a retirement in which they will never again have to shovel snow or defrost a car. But at the same time, not many retirees want to swelter through or pay the air conditioning bills associated with several months' worth of 95-degree days.
To find some places with year-round pleasant weather, U.S. News used National Climatic Data Center figures to find places where the average high temperature in July is less than 90 degrees and the average low in January is above freezing (32 degrees). That's not to say these places have never had a very hot or cold day, but average temperatures generally remain within this range. Here are some places where the weather is typically nice throughout the year:
You'll find warm winters and moderate summers in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas, where January's average lows are in the upper 40s and July's average highs are in the low 80s. "The coast of southern California, San Diego for instance, is characterized by year-round pleasant conditions," says Charles Wax, a meteorology and climatology professor at Mississippi State University and state climatologist for Mississippi. "This area is under the Mediterranean-climate type, which is a moderate climate with a summer dry period. The lack of rainfall in the summer is conducive to outdoor activities, wine-growing, and the movie and air industries."
It's cooler in the San Francisco Bay and Santa Barbara areas, where average temperatures can drop into the lower 40s in winter and hit highs in the low or mid-70s in summer. "Anywhere in California offers relatively mild winters, but the heat in the summer can vary dramatically," says Eugene Cordero, an associate professor of meteorology at San Jose State University. "For example, Sacramento or any inland place in California during the summer can often go over 100 degrees, while San Francisco can be in the 50s and 60s because of the cool clouds from the ocean." Other places with year-round pleasant weather include San Diego, Santa Maria, and Eureka.
Key West, Tampa, and Palachicola each experience an average high of 90 degrees in July. All three cities have much cooler winters, with an average January low of 65 degrees in Key West, 52 degrees in Tampa, and 43 degrees in Palachicola.
In July, Atlanta's average high is 89 degrees. During the winter, the temperature declines to an average low of 34 degrees. David Stooksbury, an associate professor of engineering and atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia in Athens, says his current city is his first choice for a retirement spot. "Located in the northern Piedmont region of gently rolling hills, the spring and fall seasons are long and pleasant. The winters are mild with an occasional snow," says Stooksbury. "Because of the University of Georgia being located in Athens, the city has many free to inexpensive cultural and academic opportunities. With the growth of the medical program at UGA, medical options are expanding throughout the city."
If you're looking for a place to retire that has consistently pleasant weather, Hawaii is your best bet. In Honolulu, for example, temperatures ranged from an average low of 66 degrees in January to an average high of 88 degrees in July. Temperatures are also consistently pleasant in Hilo, Kahului, and Lihue. "Hawaii does have a seductive temperature range," says Gary Barnes, a meteorology professor at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. "The air has a soft and wonderful feel." However, housing prices in Hawaii reflect the pleasant climate. "I would not retire in Hawaii simply because I could not begin to afford it," says Barnes. "Cost of living wins out, unfortunately, over Hawaii's great weather."
Summer temperatures in Cape Hatteras hit an average high of 85 degrees in July, which offers plenty of opportunities to visit the impressive Atlantic Ocean beaches and wildlife refuge. January's average low is 39 degrees. "If I had retired in the USA, and based only on weather and leaving out the west coast, Asheville would have been my choice," says Peter Robinson, an emeritus geography professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who is now retired in the UK.
Temperatures range from an average low of about 33 degrees in January to an average high of 82 degrees in July in Eugene and Salem. Astoria is generally cooler in the summer (67 degrees) and slightly warmer in the winter (37 degrees).
San Juan has a tropical climate that can get very humid in the summer, with an average high of 87 degrees in July. It doesn't cool down much in the winter in this Caribbean island city. January's average low temperature is a pleasant 71 degrees.
Hot summers are common in Charleston, which has a semi-tropical climate. July's average high temperature is 89 degrees, but winters cool down significantly to an average low of 42 degrees.
Winters are mild in Galveston, where the average January low is a pleasant 50 degrees. Summer can be sweltering, with an average high in July of 89 degrees. John Nielsen-Gammon, an atmospheric sciences professor at Texas A&M University and the Texas State Climatologist, recommends the South Texas coast, from Corpus Christi to Brownsville. "The area is far enough south that it avoids many of the cold-air outbreaks that plague the rest of the central and eastern United States, and it's also along the main path of tropical Atlantic air flowing northward into North America," he says. "This means that the South Texas coast almost always has a decent breeze blowing, even in summertime, making its summer climate similar to that of a Caribbean island."
Seattle's legendary rainfall is largely confined to the winter months. The city averages just five days of precipitation in both July and August. Most places in Washington have fairly cool summers, with July's average high of 75 in Seattle and just 68 in Quillayute. January lows in both cities are in the mid-30s.
Of course, not every retiree wants to live in a place with placid weather. Some may find the change of seasons and large shifts in weather interesting, and feel like something is missing without them. Nielsen-Gammon has no intention of retiring somewhere with year-round pleasant weather. "I'd much rather be entertained by the weather," he says, suggesting that he might prefer witnessing 50-knot wintertime gales on the Oregon coast, thunderstorms in South Florida, tornado-producing supercells forming over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, or the steady accumulation of lake-effect snow in Michigan. "Now those would be good weather destinations for retirees," he says.