Retire on the Water – St. Joseph, MI

by Papa Boomer on January 12, 2009

sj1Retire on the water?  St. Joseph, Michigan!  Are kidding me?

We went from Florida, to South Carolina, to Washington State.  How someone at CNN Money chose Michigan I am not sure!   This is a state where you may be able to literally retire on the water for part of the year … and you don’t even need a boat!  No wonder they call it CNN Money … It must have taken someone a lot of money to get it listed as one of the best six places to retire on the water.

Personal experience in choosing retirement Locations.

I remember when I left the company I worked for for 33+ years and had not quite yet decided to retire.  I was testing the waters for nice locations that I could continue my career and eventually retire.  I was approached by recruiters on more than one occasion to relocate to this exact area.  I thought they were nuts and would not even consider an interview.   A couple of my friends also actually moved to the Benton Harbor/ St. Joe area  when they relocated to Whirlpool Corporate Headquarters.   They stayed just long enough to get another job before they had to survive the next winter.  But, let’s try to be fair and visit St. Joe anyway!

Welcome to St. Joseph Michigan

sj2One of the first things mentioned on the  the Home  Page for City of St. Joseph is that it is only 90 miles from Chicago.  That doesn’t sound real encouraging!  St. Joseph, also known as St. Joe, is a deep water port town that is part of a chain of small towns stretching in an arc along the southern portion of Lake Michigan.  It is a community of 8,800 people within the larger Benton Harbor/ St. Joseph area of 162,000 people.   The St. Joseph Lighthouse stands in the middle of the port activities.  Some call  St. Joe “The Riviera of the Midwest”.   I haven’t quite figured out that connection yet.  Take a tour!

According to Newsweek, ” Given Michigan’s reputation as a land of harsh winter weather, it is safe to assume that it will never be a destination of choice for retirees desiring to live in a warmer, more hospitable climate”  It goes on to say, “While the seniors migrating to Michigan to spend their retirement years may be minimal, there are obviously substantial numbers, in fact the vast majority of Michigan residents, who, upon retirement, choose to remain here, either to take advantage of the affordable cost of livng or remain close to family and friends”.  I guess if you decide you have to stay in Michigan, compared to the rest of the state, St. Joe ain’t so bad!

Things to do?

sj4-snow-shovelGolf – Summer only.  There are several golf courses in the area.  I actually played a few of them myself.  Every golf course I played in Michigan was green and lush and in very good condition.  I was told they all stay that way because they don’t get the extended play throughout the year due to the weather.  Fishing – good.  Water skiing – you are kidding, we are talking retirees!  Shoveling snow – plenty to keep you busy!

The Weather!

sj51Weather in the winter Blows!  Today is Monday January 12, 2009.  The forecast for the rest of the week in St. Joe is best summarized as this follows:
Monday (Hi 27F/ Lo 19F,  20% chance of Snow) – Doesn’t suck as much as tomorrow!
Tuesday (Hi 21F/ Lo 2F,  100% chance of snow) – Sucks!
Wednesday (Hi 11F/ Lo 4F, 80% chance of snow) – Really sucks!
Thursday ( Hi 7F/ Lo 5F,  70% chance of snow) – Sucks even more!
Friday ( colder Hi 7/Lo -1F,   only 30% chance of snow) – Continues to suck!
Visibilty for much of the week is less than 1/4 mile!
Air Quality for all five days is good if you you can stand to go out side in the cold and snow!
Summer is really nice, but doesn’t last long.

The Positive Side … this Publicity Picture!

sj61I was considering leaving this space blank!  But, living is affordable.  If you don’t want to be bothered by unwanted visitors most of the year, it could be a good place to retire.  If you are from Michigan and plan to stay, it is one of the best places to retire in the state.  If you need to make a little money on the side,  in the winter you can shovel snow!

And finally,  If you are a strong believer in Global warming, it may be the place to retire … in a few thousand years!

The Negative Side … the rest of the pictures!

Too cold more than half the time!  Read all of the above!


Retire on the water!  St. Joseph, Michigan?  You gotta be kiddin! … Not Me!

I’m not saying it is the worst place to retire on the water, but it is definitely not one of the top 6 or 6000.  In fact, I love the water, and if I owned a home there and was  getting ready to retire, I would probably sell it and move to Florida , South Carolina or anywhere else I could enjoy the water at least half the time.  Or, maybe that’s just Me!  Papa B.

Also Read:

If Michigan is too cold, consider retiring in a foreign country.  Fellow baby boomer blogger Go To Retirement shares about retiring in Panama.  Check it out!

Related Acticles:

  1. Retire by The Water – Dunedin, FL.
  2. Retire by The Water – Beaufort, SC.
  3. Retire by The Water – Sequim, WA.
  4. Retire on The Water – Marble Falls TX.
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mr. GoTo January 12, 2009 at 10:42 pm

I agree with your assessment – why live on a lake if you can’t enjoy it most of the year? I’m guessing that CNN /Money included because they are all about diversity – geographic and otherwise

Mr. GoTo’s last blog post..Financial Reasons for a Baby Boomer to Downsize

Kaye January 26, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Great and honest review and to be honest, had me in STITCHES most of the time. Very entertaining AND useful – my favorite combination :)

Kaye’s last blog post..Moving Questions for the Sandwich Generation

William G. Oatiz August 18, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Michigan isn’t a bad retirement location if you can afford to winter in Florida or Arizona and only come to Michigan in the summer months. Long-time natives know that the winters can be harsh and many of the activities you can ordinarily enjoy are over once November arrives.
.-= William G. Oatiz´s last blog ..Great Lakes cruise | Pictured Rocks Cruises, Inc =-.

Norman April 14, 2011 at 10:57 am

I lived in St. Joe for nearly four years in the late 1970′s. I found it to be a pleasant place between May and September. Summers were wonderful. Having never lived in a very cold climate before, I was in for a shock during the winter. Just so much space to pile snow when clearing the driveway daily. The almost continuous overcast makes one aware how easily it is to become depressed
I found the downtown and my neighborhood to be close to my idea small city America. I was quite comfortable there. I departed St Joe in 1981 for Battle Creek, MI where I resided for 30 years.

Now I live in north central Florida and return to Michigan for brief periods in the summer. Were it not for my children still residing in Battle Creek, I would probably never return to Michigan.

m. dean July 31, 2011 at 8:37 pm

The St. Joe winters may be somewhat cold, but the summers and falls are beautiful. We go there all the time and it is a great place. Traditional retirement areas (Florida, Arizona) are nice in the winter, but suck in the summer… and the swamp or desert aren’t necessarily attractive terrains. Every place has its pros and cons.

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