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We want to retire on a lake within 11 hours of L.A. by car — our budget is $500K

Dear MarketWatch,

My husband and I would love to retire on a nice, quietish lake an under 11-hour drive from Los Angeles. Our budget is around $500,000 for two to three bedrooms. Any suggestions?

Thank you,


Dear Kristin, 

Living on the water tends to cost a small fortune and being on the West Coast — rather than the middle of the country — can keep prices lofty. But since you’re willing to drive up to 11 hours, your spectrum of potential destinations widens.

Lake Tahoe is out of your price range and may have too much activity for your goal of a “quietish lake.” There are several lake-town options in California, such as Clearlake or Chester, but between algae blooms in the water and wildfires threatening the hillsides, I would not suggest them. 

Here are some options for lakeside life.

Garden City, Utah

The town sits on the shores of Bear Lake and is on the Idaho border. It’s a popular summer-resort destination and boasts the nickname the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its intense turquoise water. (The water contains white-colored limestone that reflect the water’s blue color back to the surface, giving the lake its unique color.) 

The lake is perfect for swimming and water sports, as well as fishing and ice fishing. Nearby, explore the Paris Ice Cave or Minnetonka Cave, hike along the Limber Pine Trail or go birding at the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Garden City’s population is about 600, as of 2021, making it very small and quite quiet. If you miss a city vibe, Salt Lake City is about two hours away by car.

Saratoga Springs, Utah

Saratoga Springs likes to boast about its beautiful lakeshore living on Utah Lake, and its quiet and sparse suburban atmosphere. With its population of about 37,000 people, it’s a lot bigger than Garden City. Saratoga Springs is about midway between the Provo-Orem and Salt Lake City metro areas. 

Utah Lake and the Wasatch Mountains.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Utah Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the United States west of the Mississippi River. With an average water temperature of 75 degrees, Utah Lake is a great spot for swimming, boating and paddleboarding. Nearby, the Saratoga Hot Springs, located off the northwest side of Utah Lake, are natural hot springs that are accessible year-round.

The population of Saratoga Springs has roughly doubled in the past decade. Still, reviews lament that there’s not a lot to do there, and many places are closed on Sundays. That may represent just the quiet you’re looking for.

If these locations don’t work for you, check out the MarketWatch “Where’s the best place for me to retire?” tool here.

Readers, where should our couple move? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.

More from MarketWatch’s ‘Where Should I Retire’ column:

I’m looking for a place that has year-round mild, sunny weather and is near or on the water, and my budget is $125,000 — where should I retire?

I live in the South and don’t want to retire here. I’m seeking four seasons, diversity and outdoor living. Where should I retire?

We want to retire somewhere in North Carolina or South Carolina on $3,400 a month in Social Security — where should we go?

This story originally appeared on Marketwatch

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