Vail Daily column: Is Vail the right place for retirement? |

Vail Daily column: Is Vail the right place for retirement?

Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

I am one of those Baby Boomers that always enjoys coming to Vail to ski in the winter and vacation in the summer. Now that I can retire any time in the near future, my wife and I are trying to decide if we want to buy a home and retire in Vail, or are we better off going to an area that specializes in retirement communities in California, Arizona or Florida, for example? I know that is a wide range of choices, but we truly have that kind of flexibility.

Dear Flexible,

That is wonderful that you can choose most anywhere to retire. As you may know, about 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring every day in the U.S., and this trend is supposed to continue for up to 30 more years, according to Judson Haims, of Visiting Angels Home Care. Judson, in a recent article in the Vail Daily, “Should you retire to Colorado?” pointed out that Colorado was the fifth fastest growing state in the 2010 census, and Eagle County was the fifth fastest growing county from 2000 to 2010. Mr. Haims went on to say that from 2010 to 2030, Eagle County has a projected growth rate of 303 percent increase in residents older than the age of 65! The point being, if you decided to buy a home here, soon to be your permanent residence, then you could have plenty of peers for friends!

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I, of course, think this is a great place for seniors, being one myself. You know all of the good, fun reasons for being here, i.e. wonderful winters and beautiful summers, cultural and arts opportunities, a wonderful supply of superb restaurants, recreation, golf, clean air, low crime, great scenery, international airport, etc. I think that you will greatly enjoy moving/retiring here. I also believe you should carefully consider the following points when making your “retirement home” selection:

If you always wanted to own a ranch or outlying property, then buy it soon and consider not only what you like, but what will appeal to others if you decide to sell in the next 10 to 15 years (a good broker that knows rural properties can help you with this).

Consider your location carefully. Do you want ski-in, ski-out, or would you really rather be on a golf course or near mountain-bike trails or level riding to go to the coffee shop daily? Do you walk/run every day and prefer less steep terrain? Do you like to go to a health club/recreation facility and enjoy being close? Do you like to live in a “club” atmosphere where you meet with your peers often? Do you have any medical issues that make easy access to medical facilities an important priority?

Consider the style of the home. I personally like stairs as I think they offer a physical benefit all day. However, if you have any knee, hip or back issues, then a main floor master and the capability to live on the main floor may be important factors for you to be able to enjoy the home for many years to come.

Consider the setting of the home. Do you like that nestled in, protected feel, or more wide open, more exposed with big views?

Lastly, are you going to enjoy flower gardens and yard care (or arranging for yard care)? Would you prefer to be in a townhome or condo with no outside maintenance? Will you travel a lot and the home will be vacant for stretches at a time so that there would be benefit to having an association or caretaker.

Will your friends and family visit often (keep in mind that most everyone likes to have a relative or good friend with a home in the Vail Valley!)? Will you need one or multiple guest rooms and extra space (family room?) to spend some time apart during a longer stay?

Joan Harned is an owner-broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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