What do all these places have in common?
Ask people who have lived in any of them for a while, and sooner or later they'll all tell you... "It has the best weather in the world."
Of course, weather is a subjective thing. For reasons we've never been able to understand, some people actually prefer snow and ice. Others, again for reasons unknown to us, long for the kind of weather you find inside a sauna.
And it goes without saying that all the places mentioned above don't have exactly the same weather, so they all can't have "the best weather in the world," whatever that means.
But people keep saying it... and we've said it ourselves. We've lived in two of these places and spent time in the other three, and we'll say without hesitation that they all have the best weather in the world.
So what exactly do we mean by that?
We're from Nebraska, so when we say "the best weather in the world," we primarily mean... deep down and on a very fundamental level... weather that won't kill you.
If you've ever had your car stall on a country road 40 miles outside town at 10 p.m. on a January night in central Nebraska, you know what we mean. Fourteen degrees below zero is one thing... add a 30-mile-an-hour prairie breeze and you have what Nebraskans call a "chilly evening." The kind of evening that can be tough on exposed flesh.
So for us, weather that doesn't make you lose fingers and toes if you have to walk to the nearest gas station can easily qualify as the best weather in the world.
But you don't have to be caught out in it to know if the weather around you isn't ideal. Sit inside on one of those "chilly evenings" and listen to the furnace running non-stop, gobbling up high-priced energy, and you can almost feel your bank account shrinking.
Likewise, living in a place where you can fry an egg on the sidewalk and only you, mad dogs, and Englishmen go outside after noon can be a challenge. Anyplace where the morning news features a "heat danger index" and a fund drive for fans for the elderly is -- for us -- a place that does not have the best weather in the world... especially if you have to listen to the morning news over the constant, electricity-sucking hum of your air conditioner.
For us, a place has the best weather in the world if we don't need a furnace or air conditioner at all... ever. A place where no one has ever heard of a "snow shovel" because it's never snowed. A place where, on the hottest day of the year, you can take a walk without worrying about staying hydrated and having to take a shower afterward.
It's a place like the place we live now, where your monthly utility bills cost about as much as a dinner and a couple beers at Outback... every month, all year long.
As we said, it's all subjective. Some people want to spend the rest of their lives in Speedos and sandals and don't mind the smell of DEET. Others enjoy paying attention to things like goose-down thermal ratings and wind-chill indexes.
But for us, spending the rest of our lives in jeans and t-shirts feels about right. Most nights where we live in Ecuador are cool enough to take a sweater along for our walks to the town café. Most days are warm enough to leave the sweater in the closet. Those are about the biggest decisions our weather forces us to make.
We'd say the same for all the places we mentioned at the beginning. And there are hundreds more around the world just like them. That's a good thing to keep in mind when you start thinking about your own bad-weather escape.
So how much could you save if you eliminated everything you spend each year on heating and/or air conditioning?
That's about how much we like living in a place with "the best weather in the world."
If your child has relocated to the West Coast, think about retiring to St. George, Utah. The town is close to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Less than two hours away by plane, the area is known for its great healthcare system and for having one of the largest numbers of golf courses per capita in the country. And the average home sales price isn't bad either -- $225,000. In addition, St. George is just 119 miles from Las Vegas and is also less than an hour's drive from the Tony-award winning Utah Shakespearean Festival held during the summer and fall in Cedar City, Utah.
If your child has a penchant for the Windy City, you're in luck. Not too far away is Door County, Wisconsin, dubbed the Cape Cod of the Midwest. Here, you can enjoy fishing, boating, canoeing and walking along picturesque shoreline. And you can travel to and from Door to Chicago in less than an hour via direct flights from Milwaukee. Buyers can find great values here with the current average home sales price around $172,000. Amenities around the aera include five state parks, 11 lighthouses and 300 miles of shoreline.
If your children have settled in Beantown, then why not try retiring to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, packed with outdoor activities and an excellent healthcare network. Numerous golf courses and good restaurants also have helped boost Cape Cod's reputation as a great retirement spot. In addition, direct flights from Hyannis to Boston take 30 minutes. An added bonus? Your new haven can become your kids' new vacation destination. Currently, homes are available at an average selling price of $457,000, but there are also homes available in the $150,000 range and condos priced at less than $100,000.
If you want to live close to our nation's capital, try Richmond, Virginia, only a two-hour drive from Washington, D.C. Not only does Richmond offer numerous outdoor activities -- what with it being close to both the beach and the mountains; it's also easy on the bank account with an average home sales price of $206,000. In addition, there are wineries, plenty of restaurants, golfing, fishing and loads of Civil War sites for history buffs.