My mother came to visit my family this past weekend to participate in the Halloween festivities and see a few soccer games. When Saturday turned into a soggy, frigid day, we hunkered down in the family room and got sucked into the HGTV show “Vacation House for Free.”   I’m not kidding when I say I think we watched five episodes back-to-back.screen-shot-2014-02-15-at-11-15-17-am

For those who’ve never seen it, the premise is that you can buy a “fixer upper” in your dream vacation location and, with the right upgrades, rent it out for twelve to sixteen weeks per year to cover the costs of owning the house. Some of the locations featured in the episodes we watched included Hilton Head Island, Lake Tahoe, Marin County, and Marco Island.

The original homes were horrible, musty, dated, and in one case, utterly dilapidated. But within a matter of months, these smallish homes underwent amazing transformations, becoming charming, cozy, idyllic retreats. There is something entrancing about watching a renovation and seeing the “before” and “after” images. Perhaps there’s a parallel with why we enjoy a good love story: the hero and heroine also go through major transformations on their way to an idyllic ending.

But I digress, because what the HGTV marathon really made me think about what where I’d like to retire one day. While that decision will somewhat depend on where my children end up living as adults, a big part of me has always been drawn to the west and the mountains.property_c_343

Of the locations I saw on Saturday, hands-down I’d go to Lake Tahoe for its drop-dead landscape, funky resort towns, and abundant outdoor activities in every season. In other words, it’s pretty much heaven on earth.

If you could retire anywhere, where would you choose?