What Are Your Top 10 Retirement Locations For Woody Boaters?

Saturday 40 -2

We aint dead yet! Gull Lake Minn

Fellow Woody Boater Bob Huff sent us this email the other day. Funny thing is that we were writing a similar story, and this is one topic always on our minds. Is there such a place? A perfect place for Woody Boaters to retire?  This isnt about living and working, so cost of living, housing, medical facilities, taxes all play a roll in today’s topic. We have talked about this several times. But Bobs gone the extra step and actually on a quest. here is his email. We each have personal parts of our lives that customize our areas. Family, friends are the big ones. Here is the email from Bob.

Hi Matt and Texx

We have talked about this subject before. After many more miles on the road and water I wonder what you now think are the top 10 retirement locations for Woody Boaters. I wonder what other boaters think as well.

Dora Afternoon

Lake Dora afternoon

We spend the winter in Mt. Dora which you know well and I would say it is a good candidate with warm weather, lots of other Woody Boaters nearby and a great, early boat show. But it rains and the wind blows often, 40mph gusts today, and Lake Dora’s water quality/clarity is poor.

There are many lakes like Lake McDonald in Glacier that are among the most beautiful places on the planet but may be too isolated for comfortable retirement living. Retirees need easy access to bread, milk and doctors, among other things.

Squam Lake

Squam Lake in NH is a wonderful location

We prefer lake based communities like Wolfeboro, NH on Lake Winnipesaukee... beautiful water and landscape and a very nice community… but most of their Woody Boaters are down here in the Winter! Clayton, NY on the St. Lawrence, seems similar to us plus it has the fabulous Antique Boat Museum. Skaneateles, NY has a gorgeous lake and is a nice town.

We’ve also found all of these northern tier locations have very high real estate taxes, particularly, if you actually locate on the water.

reedville 22

Reedville on the Great Wicomico is a magical frozen in time area. You can live like you’re on a lake, and also go to Europe by boat if you like.

We looked at that house next to you in Reedville, VA during the boat show but that August humidity was tough to take. I think we are biased toward fresh water lakes vs. coastal.

I’d love to know more about the rest of the country. I doubt there is any “perfect” location, particularly on a year-round basis when weather is considered. Well, we can’t all live in San Diego!

Sooo, we know you are still just a kid but l’m betting you have thought about this… what have you come up with so far?

Bob Huff

Sandiego boats

San Diego

Thanks Bob, Being more Southern, we like us some humidity, nothing like a arm summer afternoon cocktail cruise. And in October your still boating.

pauls Sedan Tahoe

Tahoe! Great community, great people, great service.

We also love all the areas you do, and also would add in Lake Tahoe, Idaho, Montana, Georgia Lakes. Lake Rabun, Lake Burton.

Torch Bad header

The Magic of Torch Lake.

Also we love, love anything in Michigan. Torch Lake, Traverse, Hessel, Algonac.. But to retire? Half of Michigan retires in Florida as well. Is it a Summer up North, Winter in the south?  What about Minnesota?  Gull Lake is one of our top picks for the lifestyle.  Also a big consideration is a great active Classic Boat community. But that includes companies that also service that community. Restoration, sales, service. So today post your top ten places. maybe there is a place we dont know about? Need to visit.

43 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    My top pick right now is The Great Loop. Always moving with the season.

    Other than that I think Chesapeake Bay, where you can leave your boat in the water all year and “Go Boating” all the time like John in Va does, or just head south on the ICW for warmer weather.

    Another community that sounds AWESOME to me, even though I have never been there, is Smith Mountain Lake.

    • Alan Frederick
      Alan Frederick says:

      Well SML is indeed awesome so you need to take the plunge at our Sept. 9th and 10th ACBS boat show. The “Jewel of the Blue Ridge” is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary this year with all sorts of great activities each month. We have 500 miles of shoreline so you can always find flat water and fantastic views plus our boating season is from late March until October. Actually, since the water never freezes over, outboards are on the lake every month of the year.
      And yes, we do have all seasons here to enjoy, but the winter days are for the most part easy to handle. I know it’s hard to find it all in one place but SML is about as close as you’ll ever find plus we have a great antique boat club that is extremely active.
      Nuff said, come on down and find out for yourself.

  2. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    I am not sure where but it would be nice to retire in my boat at all the places I have not been to yet. Motorhome followed by a Lyman on a Tee Nee.

  3. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    So if the perfect place has low humidity in the warm weather and no snow in the winter months is there anywhere in the USA that has both those qualities besides southern California.

  4. Nick
    Nick says:

    The Brainerd lakes area of MN, which includes Gull, Bay, and Whitefish Lakes…. Along with a couple hundred more!

  5. Larry Forget
    Larry Forget says:

    Chattanooga, Tn on the river had been a growing region the last 6 yrs for our retirement. History had a Chris Craft factory here, good ACBS chapter just into the mtns of north Georgia. Helicopter Life Force medical hospitals you asked about. Good swimming quality water , many pro bass tournaments now held on lake , new state record at 15 lbs. OUTDOOR mag has selected the city for all the Triathlon rac3es. Mid June 9 day RIVERBEND right on the river to dock along side. TVA Locks to cruise thru.. Million $ water homes, or $100k downsize. I-75 interstate. Middle of nashville , Knoxville , Atlanta triangle. Great world class Aquarium to visit with Grandkids, etc. Avg one snow storm per year. Heavy with the classic car guys. Coker tire here.

    • Rick
      Rick says:

      Larry I’ve been down to Chattanooga a few times, once during Riverbend and I agree it is a near perfect place to retire. Also if I remember correctly no State Income Tax? Great river and there is still some change of seasons.

  6. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Central Florida has to be the place…Lots of lakes and many antique and classic boaters already there. Florida has no income tax. The University of Florida Shands hospital is nearby and the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville is an easy commute. Lake Rabun and Lake Burton are an easy nine hour drive for summer retreats and the Carolina Mountains also offer time out from Florida’s summer heat. Oh and they still speak english in Central Florida. Come on down !

  7. Bill Hammond
    Bill Hammond says:

    For Cruiser Heaven I’d have to pick NW WAshington – Seattle Area. More Cruisers per Square Mile than just about anywhere. Terrific Wooden Boat facilities. Lots of ACBS Chpts. and a Chris Craft Rendezvous 2nd to none! And many excellent Wooden Boat Festivals!!

  8. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    I think I have it cased already, to some extent by splitting it up. Winter in Dora – yes it can be windy and well, it rains everywhere there’s a climate conducive to boating but it seems to be a very good choice for the winter months. But, where the rest of the country is stuck in winter, the central Florida lakes are open for business and there is plenty else to do. A major airport only 45 minutes away with great connections – that’s important.

    I have been all over the US for boating stuff and I would put Shuswap Lake where we summer up at the very top tier of summer recreational boating spots, not doubt. So no need to change that, but it is cloudy, cool and damp from November 1 until the middle of March so it is out for me as a year-round home base.

    Truth is, I don’t want to be in one place all the time, no matter what or where it is. Snowbirds figured it out a long time ago. I have a number of clients that winter in Costa Rica and other Central American spots – no boating but gorgeous. Wilson’s got it half right! Half Dora, half our northern lakes – not much better than that.

    • Troy in ANE
      Troy in ANE says:

      Besides all that Paul we all know how much you like being so close to Disney. How much better can it get?

  9. Sean
    Sean says:

    Muskoka. Clean calm water. Clean air. Miles of boating with interesting stops everywhere ranging from wildlife to wild-life (if that’s your thing). An area steeped in history with a heritage boat museum and a Century old + active steamship (1887). Restaurants, crafts, a craft brewery, two great woodyboat shows, hiking trails, amazing sunsets, culture, and every amenity you could think of. Plus we have healthcare and you don’t have to bring your gun. What you do have to bring is your wallet, because paradise ain’t cheap… even in US dollars.

    • floyd r turbo
      floyd r turbo says:

      And the people are great, like the US was in the 60’s polite, unpretentious, treat you better than relatives, but, yes the taxes, real estate, GST, PST are wicked. With all the lakes you would think you could find a waterfront deal…sorry, nothing under 500k, yet everyone has a cottage here – must be birthright

    • Kerry
      Kerry says:

      I’m with you Sean. I live in Austin, TX and have been spending more and more time in Muskoka during the summer. With the dollar at $0.7097 today it’s better than ever to buy a cottage…not to mention your dream boat!

  10. Gary
    Gary says:

    I have to go with Bill’s choice, Puget Sound. Tahoe has winter and paralyzing winter driving, San Diego is too warm all year.

    Lake Washington has no ice. Two seasons essentially, summer and winter rain some days. Average temp is about 70.
    We spend time either on Lake Washington or a special lake on the Olympic Peninsula or once in a great while head North of the Border to some pristine lakes.
    Puget Sound is the absolute best for sailing and cruising.

  11. Eric
    Eric says:

    I second (Matt) or Third (John) for the Northern Neck of VA off the Chesapeake. Lots of protected Creeks off the Bay. Here’s the mouth of our creek with the sand bar and we have a great beach area about a half mile over to the next creek markers. This is a video that one of our house guests shot from his drone over the holidays, too long but it was his first flight! https://youtu.be/zzLNEx0HJuI

  12. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    Anyplace but Illinois! We loose 100000+ residents annually. Most corrupt and second highest property taxes.
    Eagle River/Three Lakes, WI in the summer. Haven’t found a winter place yet. Unfortunately I have TOOOOO much to move.

    • charley quimby
      charley quimby says:

      What’s Retirement? Like Jim, I am top-heavy with hardware, engines, and boats. The taxes here in Maryland are treetop tall. I’d pick Central Florida… CQ

  13. Doug Pope
    Doug Pope says:

    Skaneateles is indeed beautiful but it’s a hard place to keep a wood power boat. It’s oriented north/south and wide open with no islands. That’s a long fetch with no protection. Your boat needs to be on a lift or a mooring. It’s a great sailing lake though. I love Maine but I wouldn’t mind getting out of here for a week or three in February.

  14. Wylie
    Wylie says:

    Parked here last summer at my warm weather spot listening to the Beach Boys outdoor concert, different artists every week. Retired 7 years now up here in Hagertyland, Grand Traverse Michigan. Winters in middle Tennessee where taxes are low. Both places have the best in healthcare. Keeping these spots even if I win the powerball.

    • floyd r turbo
      floyd r turbo says:

      I was shocked to see how different and beautiful Traverse City was after driving across a somewhat boring middle of Michigan for the first time. The Great Lakes are so clear and beautiful along with many of the other smaller lakes throughout the state.

  15. cenger
    cenger says:

    I lived on a boat for 8 years in CT. Loved every minute of it. Plan to return to boat living once the kids are out of the house (which is not for another 15yrs…at least).

  16. Brian Flaherty
    Brian Flaherty says:

    PNW all the way!! We have several fresh water lakes around the region, many with resorts and amenities on their shores. Plus, when we get to be retired we’ll have to have cruiser cause we need rapid access to the head at any moment… So that opens you up to year round cruising of the sheltered waters of Puget Sound (San Juan Islands all the way up to southern Alaska!). Plus just look at the views we get even in January! We seldom get real snow issues, summers average in the 80’s with a typical week or two in the mid 90’s… Also, humans are like 80% water so shouldn’t all the rain be good for us??

  17. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Somewhere on the St. Johns River in Florida for the winter months would be ideal for my taste. But the wife has an equal say and she prefers the beaches on the Gulf Coast. We both like being close to the grandkids and they live in Missouri It’s usually comfortable in most summer months. So being a motor home owner, we are flexible, and it is capable of hauling a woody boat anywhere there are roads and a place to park it. Even Shuswap Lake is included on the bucket list.

  18. Tuobanur
    Tuobanur says:

    I have to say I love it here in South Carolina, been here all my life. We have beaches on one side and mountains on the other and lakes and rivers all over. But one of my favorite spots is Lake Jocassee, crystal clear water, water falls, hiking trails, and within a few miles even more hiking trails. Some day soon I hope to have a place there, it is a great place for my 41 CC.

  19. Ken Slaght
    Ken Slaght says:

    So I’ll jump in here for the SoCal contingent. Having served in the Navy and “seen the world” I can honestly so say there is no finer place to retire than San Diego! Perfect weather year round (average 73 degrees) and a world class yacht club (San Diego Yacht Club) that hosts our ACBS SoCal Fall Gathering every year. Sure there’s salt, but that’s why they invented “SaltAway”! I took that iconic picture of Tom Wright’s perfect Century Coronado in front of the Hotel Del Coronado – I’ve posted another of one of our members, Dave Grundies, skiing behind his beautiful Kettenburg 16 in front of the Del. Come by and check out paradise sometime!

  20. Brian Aiken
    Brian Aiken says:

    I got this boat from my friend and neighbor on Georgia’s Lake Burton.. I did a two year restoration on it.. that was 1989. My family had a place from 1967 to 2005. Nice place but $even figures and up to get on the lake.
    Northern Wisconsin is also nice, family there for 100 years as of this year.
    BUT….. short boating season..
    My vote? Lake Hartwell Ga or SC [the border runs right down the middle. We have a great ACBS show every spring, 900 plus miles of shoreline, mild winters AND affordable property as lake property goes. And it’s pretty, just at the foot of the mountains so the upper parts of the lake has some great views
    I usually keep this hushed up but I’d welcome more vintage boats.



  21. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Well not everyone on Squam or Winnipsaukee is rich. I have a dock and my house is off water. House assessment $267k, taxes $2700 per year. That assessment and tax bill would be 3x on the lake. On the positive side, NH doesn’t have any income tax, sales tax, so someone has to pay.

    • Jim Staib
      Jim Staib says:

      I WISH I had your taxes. My place is assessed considerably less than yours and my taxes are over 3X. All that stuff is seeming light about now.

  22. Wolfgang
    Wolfgang says:

    In Michigan, you forgot Presque Isle. One of the best shows going. June 17 & 18 2016. Check out that clear emerald water. Plus lots of fun.

    • Ed F
      Ed F says:

      We plan to be in Presque Isle again this year and two of our sons plan to be there with their boats and families. It is a beautiful location and the best bargain in boat shows. The WaterWonderland Chapter has chosen Presque Isle as this year’s non chapter show to attend. Hopefully we will have several boats there.

  23. R Hansen
    R Hansen says:

    I’m with Ken Slaght on the perfect place to live, maybe not retire, because it’s very expensive. We have many fresh water lakes in our local mountains and of course our big bay and its wonderful San Diego Yacht Club and legendary Hotel Del Coronado, (thanks Salt-Away).
    Not to be forgotten, is fantastic Lake Tahoe, (woody capital of the west coast) home of the Lake Tahoe Concours De Elegance, also boasting the most Rivas in the U.S.

  24. Larry Weikart
    Larry Weikart says:

    We live on an Island in S. Mi. which is a little piece of paradise unknown to most. 14miles of cruising thru channels joining 8 lakes together. Yep, we like the seasons and if winter gets too rough, away we go. The perfect place for woodies? probably not, but I’ll take 7 months of sunset cruises like this. The other 5 months I’ll enjoy the other things this wonderful Country offers. God Bless America where we have the freedom to enjoy life as we wish!

  25. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Wow!…After reading all that, I guess I’ll have to buy a mororhome like Al Benton, hitch up the boat and head from Florida up into Ga/SC then on up thru Tenn. to Michigan, up into Canada and over to Pac.NW and then down to SanDiego and back…Guess nobody cares much for Texas so we’ll just get on I-10, come home and then start all over again.

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