Are you looking for a place to retire? It is important to think about your hobbies when you’re looking for places to live, especially when you plan to be there in retirement. If you’re a gardener, location is key. In this article we will discuss the best places to retire for gardeners.
Factors to Consider for Gardeners in Retirement
In compiling this list, we looked at three main factors:
It is important to consider the environmental aspects of the location you’re looking at. Things like the growing zone, fertility of soil and growing seasons are all things to keep in mind.
Does the place you’re considering for retirement have a lot of gardeners or farmers already? Places that do will make it easier to find supplies for building your own garden.
Is your target location a good place to retire in general? Factors that go into making a good retirement location are things like access to healthcare, cost of living, size of senior population and friendliness.
Best Places to Retire for Gardeners
Within the United States, there are a few places that are both great retirement locations and excellent places for gardeners. Here are the best places to retire for gardeners within the United States:
Often ranked number one in lists of the best states to retire, Hawaii is a beautiful location with excellent healthcare and a large senior population. While it may be more expensive to live there, Hawaii is home to famous pineapple plantations and several botanical gardens and nature reserves. Most of Hawaii is in USDA plant hardiness zone 11, so you can grow the full range of tropical plants, including delicious fruit.
If you want to experience all four seasons yet have mild weather, the Pacific Northwest is a great place to retire. One of the most popular destinations within this region is Spokane, Wash. for its affordable living and access to many outdoor activities. The Pacific Northwest is also home to many vineyards and wineries. With plant hardiness zones between seven and nine, you can grow pretty much anything. Bulb flowers grow particularly well in the northernmost section, while the southern section boasts grapes rivaling California.
Speaking of California, it’s another great state for retiring garden enthusiasts. While the state is known for its high cost of living compared to the rest of the United States, your quality of life is going to be higher. Much like the Pacific Northwest, California is also known for its vineyards but has a warmer climate with great weather year round. The plant hardiness zones in California range from around eight to eleven, so depending on the area of the state you choose, you can grow cold hardy and tropical plants. If you love succulents and cacti, California is perfect as many varieties are native there and there are plenty of places to source a collection.
Florida is perhaps the most well-known state to retire to. Because of this, there is a huge senior population in most cities to mingle with. Here are some of the best cities in Florida to retire for gardeners:
The northernmost city in this selection, Orlando is home to a lot of entertainment options without being right on the coast. It is in hardiness zone 9b, perfect for year round planting. If you’re interested in growing edible crops such as citrus fruits and heat tolerant fruits and vegetables, Orlando is excellent. However, you are looking at a lot of suburban real estate so you may have to get creative to maximize your gardening space on smaller plots of land.
West Palm Beach
The West Palm Beach area is home to a large swath of farmlands and right next door to the Everglades. Sitting right in USDA hardiness zones 10a and 10b, West Palm Beach is a haven for gardeners looking for good soil and warm weather year round. It may be difficult to grow some cold hardy plants, though. You’re also right by the beach, so if you love the ocean you’ll feel right at home there.
Situated in and around Tampa Bay, Tampa and St. Petersburg offer a combination of freshwater and saltwater fun as a sort of middle ground between Orlando and West Palm Beach. There are a lot of river deltas where freshwater rivers empty into the Gulf of Mexico, so you’re looking at some amazing soil in this area. Tampa has great retirement options, and a large retired population, so those who choose to retire here are in good company. Like the rest of southern Florida, you can grow a mix of tropical and subtropical plants in the Tampa area.
Gardening-friendly Countries Where You Can Retire
If you are looking to expatriate, the world is your oyster. Here are a few of the best countries to retire if you’re into gardening:
Mexico is one of the most popular retirement destinations in the world, and for good reason. With beautiful beaches, amazing weather and a low cost of living compared to the United States, Mexico is a great choice for retirement. Mexico also has one of the best environments for gardening.
Based on the USDA plant hardiness zones, Mexico ranges from zone 8a to zone 13b. For example, popular retirement and expat destinations Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta are zones 12a and 12b, respectively. While you may find it difficult to grow cold hardy plants, you have the full range of beautiful tropical plants to choose from. For comparison, the coastal areas of Hawaii are in zone 12, too.
Spain has a variety of climates to choose from. Whether you’re interested in beaches and sun or mountains and alpine entertainment, Spain has everything. Spain also has a low cost of living compared to the rest of Europe, second only to Portugal. Spain also has a top 10 healthcare system globally. For gardening, Spain is considered a Mediterranean country and therefore has a similar climate to California and the Pacific Northwest with extensive vineyards and access to fresh fruits and vegetables. With the exception of the Pyrenees mountains on the border between Spain and France, the hardiness zones of Spain range from eight to ten. You can grow just about anything in Spain.
With the lowest cost of living in Europe, Portugal is an excellent retirement destination. Because they share the Iberian Peninsula, Spain and Portugal are very similar in terms of climate. The inland areas of Portugal are home to extensive plantations and an abundance of fresh food, so gardeners will feel right at home. If you’re also interested in beaches, Portugal has some of the best in the world while remaining just a short distance from the lush interior of the country. Most of Portugal is zone eight or nine.
If you prefer central Europe, Slovenia is one of the most popular retirement locations. Slovenia is a small country between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. While not the least expensive cost of living in Europe, Slovenia is still quite a bit cheaper to live in than the United States. Slovenia’s hardiness zone ranges from six to eight so you are getting some Mediterranean weather closer to the Adriatic Sea and more of an alpine climate inland. Gardening is a widespread practice in Slovenia even in urban areas such as the retiree-friendly capital of Ljubljana. Slovenia is also home to extensive apiaries, so it is a very plant friendly country.
With highly fertile soil and incredible beaches, Southeast Asia is a great place to retire for gardeners. In general, Southeast Asia is affordable and features a more tropical climate than the European countries on our list. Here are the top three retirement destinations in Southeast Asia:
Thailand is a diverse country with some of the best beaches in the world. There is also a large expat community and a low cost of living, so it is a very feasible option. With a hardiness zone range of 10 to 13, Thailand has a range of tropical climates. The growing season is generally year round and virtually anything can be grown here. You can also find a large community of fellow gardeners here.
Malaysia is a former British colony with a rich history, and because of that history, most Malaysians speak English. If you’re looking for a beautiful location to retire without as much of a language barrier and one of the least expensive cost of livings, Malaysia is your place. Most of the country is in zone 13, so it is very tropical. Whether you choose a large city like Penang or Kuala Lumpur, or a more rural area, you can find great gardening. Many people in Malaysian cities have lush balcony and rooftop gardens, so even urban gardening is good.
Vietnam is an extremely affordable place to retire with a friendly population and large expat communities. Widely known for its extensive rice paddies, Vietnam has excellent soil. You can’t go wrong with retiring in Vietnam as a gardener!
While this list barely touches the extent of choices for retirement locations, you can find good gardening all over the world as a retiree. Whether you want to stay close to home within the United States or expatriate, there are tons of options. If you would like to learn more about different retirement options, check out our other articles.