-- Last Updated: Nov-10-13 1:31 PM EST --
I agree with magooch about that.
If it were based on weather and natural environment alone, I would choose the southern CA coast. It has a wonderful climate plus nearby mountains and valleys and desert as well as ocean. Apparently, that's what millions of people also decided during the 50s and 60s, leading to the biggest reason for NOT choosing to retire there: crowding.
Given that there really is no such thing as a perfect place, you balance what's most important to you against the tradeoffs. In my case, crowding was such a negative that it even overshadowed climate. But I couldn't stand to live in a perpetually wet area OR hard winters, so I chose a rainshadow region of the PNW. I also don't like being a suburb or exurb of a large city (been there, done that), so my choice meant giving up proximity to malls and the like. Having so much public land and ocean access is more important to me than shopping. Our former home in the Colorado foothills had a lot of positives, but winters were awful and paddling venues extremely limited.
Washington does have high sales tax, though not the highest in the U.S. It does have financial woes, just like many other states do. My town has high property taxes and very strange code enforcement, along with some genuine quirks. It also has real charm and uniqueness which I won't detail here since it's not relevant to the gist of your question.
Paddling opps are so varied compared with Colorado's that I'm still trying to wrap my mind around them. But one thing you need to know is that if it's saltwater paddling you're after, you need to account for tidal flows as a normal part of your trip-planning. I began by studying up on such things years before we moved, and the effort is paying off many times over. There is still much to learn in the way of seamanship, and there always will be...but that is part of the fun.
What matters now is that you start taking vacations in a range of areas and narrow them down. This process took us years, but YMMV. You have 10 to 15 years to decide, right?
Don't do what my brother did and just look at data; what does your heart tell you? If you feel a bond with an area, that will go a long way toward alleviating minor, possibly temporary, obstacles and irritations.
Overstock Outlet Foods
Touring Kayak Paddles
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