First Person: 5 Unusual Places to Retire in the U.S

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When we were about to hit retirement age, there were choices to be made. First, we had to escape the harsh, wet winters of Pennsylvania and get to an all-year warm weather location. Fortunately, we found it in Tucson, an Arizona city with hot desert summers and mild, dry winters. However, before we settled there, we had considered other destinations, including some with special features and locations. Here are unusual retirement havens we discovered during our search:

Burbank Senior Artists Colony 240 E. Verdugo Av., Burbank CA 91502 (

Opened in 2005 near Disney and other major Hollywood studios, the Burbank Senior Artists Colony is designed to appeal to the active age 55+ senior who wants to continue personal creativity in the arts, including painting, sculpture, writing and entertainment fields.

Residents have access to all traditional art studio equipment, as well as a digital lab for those who want to work in animation and other entertainment media. There's also a theater for stage offerings. The downtown Burbank location allows residents access to shopping, restaurants, theater and other city amenities.There are 140 rental units, including one- and two-bedroom apartments. About a third are designated for residents with limited financial resources. Rentals range from $1,600 up monthly.

Rocinante 149 Apple Orchard Lane, Summertown TN 38483

Now that marijuana is legal in two states, there soon may be need for more communities like Rocinante. It's a retirement haven for hippies, those outsiders of the mid-century who're now pushing age 55 and beyond. The name Rocinante comes from the faithful steed of Don Quixote. The laid-back theme begins with the requirement for residents to build or buy their own cabins. The estimated cost of materials is from $30,000. Residents must be self-supporting, and committed to helping those who need physical and spiritual support.

Emeritus Senior Living at La Villa 2801 N. Kentucky Av, Roswell NM 88201 (

What better place to retire in this world than in the dry Southwest desert town where all the tales started about space visitors. Emeritus is located right next to Main Street, where there's leisurely shopping, strolling, dining and other city amenities. Several times a year there are celebrations of that Roswell Incident, alleged 1947 alien invasion at the nearby Air Force base. The town also has several museums, displays and restaurants dedicated to the popular theme. Emeritus offers three types of residency: independent living, memory care and assisted living. Rates start at $1,500 a month, and include meals, cleaning, laundry and activities.

The Meadows Of Napa Valley 1800 Atrium Parkway, Napa CA (

Where else would connoisseurs who've enjoyed the nectar of the gods throughout an active lifetime want to spend their golden years? Of course, in the middle of one of the world's most beautiful wine growing regions. Facilities include various apartment options, as well as residences for those requiring levels of assistance and nursing care. In addition to a heated pool, hiking pathways, bocce court and putting green, there are regular classes in yoga and aerobics. For cultural activities, there are scheduled music and educational sessions.

The Meadows senior facility is located on 20 acres in the historic north central California town of Napa. As a prime tourist destination, it has many shops, restaurants and markets. There are frequent festivals, tours, tasting and other events related to wine, as well as events featuring food specialties of the area. There are various pricing plans, with monthly fees starting at $2,000 per month.

Sunrise of Beverly Hills 201 N. Crescent Dr., Beverly Hills CA 90210 (

If you can afford to spend your sunset years in luxury, why not enjoy them at Sunrise of Beverly Hills. Residents have it all, with three daily meals, housekeeping services, laundry and many types of group trips, entertainment and social activities. Just a block or so away is Rodeo Drive, with all the luxurious shops to be explored. Levels of residency include independent living, assisted living, Alzheimer's and memory care, skilled nursing and rehab, as well as short-term stays. The all-inclusive cost starts at $5,400 a month.

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