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The Search for The Good Life

What does it mean to retire well? It depends on whom you ask

Mary Steele, right, plant flowers with a foster child at Treehouse Community in Massachusetts.

Gregg Segal

Mary Steele, right, plant flowers with a foster child at Treehouse Community in Massachusetts.

WHAT MAKES A GREAT RETIREMENT? Yes, good health and strong financial resources are important, but neither one satisfies our hunger for joy and community and purpose. To answer the question fully, we sent reporters across the country to ask Americans about their vision of "the good life."

In Florida, we found a perpetual party amid a sea of golf greens. In New Mexico, an artist community has achieved the perfect mellow. In Massachusetts, older women find joy caring for foster children. And in inner-city Baltimore, the good life is found simply, with friends and family.

The four stories below show that geography is far less meaningful than achieving a sense of harmony with our surroundings. We hope that, in showing some examples of those who have found the way, we can inspire you on your journey.

Robert Love, editor in chief

Permanent Vacation

America's largest master-planned community The Villages in Central Florida provides residents with lots of recreational opportunities including access to 81 swimming pools and 48 golf courses . If you enjoy plentiful sun and nonstop fun this may be your dream retirement spot. 

Beauty and Solace

The artist community of  Madrid, New Mexico, has achieved the perfect mellow. The colorful desert town has 40 art galleries  -- one for every fifty residents -- and a laid-back vibe. If you love art and eccentric neighbors then you'll fit right in.

Caring and Sharing

Older residents act as grandparents to dozens of foster children in the  Easthampton Treehouse Community. An extended family and a sense of purpose makes this multigenerational living arrangement a winner for young and old.  

Sticking to Their Roots

Longtime residents of  inner-city Baltimore find comfort. love and community by staying put. Generations of families and friends are committed to helping and caring for one another.