Here are five trends that are making retirement more fun — and accessible — for retirees of all kinds.
Senior co-housing: A Danish trend takes hold
The concept is that individuals and couples live in private homes but share ownership a central common house. Construction is well underway for Valverde Commons in Taos, N.M., which is in easy walking distance to the Taos Historic District. There will be 28 home sites on 10 acres, with a 4–acre grassy commons, a common house and a barn. Building lots sell for as little as $150,000, and each custom home will follow guidelines for sustainability and energy efficiency.
Belize: Cheap — and they speak English
Despite its Central American setting, Belize uses English as its national language, so visitors and retirees don't have to worry about understanding the lingo. The country is also popular with Americans because it’s possible to live here comfortably for less than $25,000 a year. A complete meal in a mid-price restaurant, for instance, will cost under $40 for two — and if you like fresh seafood, this is your culinary paradise. Belize also has big appeal as a retirement destination for active couples who love snorkeling, scuba diving and jungle trekking.
Retiring at sea — on a cruise ship
While there are condominium cruise ships, the entry price to purchase an apartment is usually more than $1 million. But there are alternatives that can provide an extended break without requiring an entire year aboard a ship. For instance, retirees can take advantage of their flexible schedules by booking whichever ship happens to be offering the best deal to destinations with the best weather. Or consider a round-the-world cruise, which generally lasts around 100 days. Fred. Olsen Cruises, a long-time British line that is very traditional in its service and style, offers one that calls on ports in Spain, India, Indonesia, among others; prices start at under $14,000 per person for the 106-day cruise.
Build a tiny home — in your adult children's backyard
Itsy-bitsy houses — some just 400-square-feet — are the newest trend in residential construction. With a tiny kitchenette, a very intimate sitting room and a loft bedroom, these houses are low-cost, low-maintenance and perfect for the retiring couple seriously looking to "down-size." A Virginia company aptly named Tumbleweed Tiny House Company sells a 400-sq.-ft. log cabin with a covered porch for $36,900. If you have grown children who want to look after you, but you still want your independence, this might be a perfect solution — because some retirees choose to build these mini-homes in their children's backyards.
Workamping: Semi-retirement in an R.V.
Imagine driving around the country in your camper van or R.V., picking a nice campsite, and then taking a temporary job to earn some extra cash. When the travel bug hits you, just unhook your RV from the camp facilities and head to someplace new. A growing band of people is embracing this trend, and there are even a number of devoted websites that offer advice to workampers and help them find jobs. The cost? It's true that gas prices are high right now, but that's not necessarily a permanent condition. Plus, your other costs are minimal (mainly food and campsite fees). Some people even work for three or four months as campground hosts, get their campsite for free, and earn a salary besides. Other job opportunities for workampers include amusement parks, hotels in national parks, the Army Corps of Engineers.
Financial expert Sharon Epperson and Mark Orwoll of Travel + Leisure magazine talk about new and different places to retire, such as a cruise ship, a recreational vehicle and co-housing on the Thursday TODAY show.
More from Travel + Leisure