Hey Everyone, thanks for all the thoughtful responses. Let me responsd to everyone on a few things here, so folks know what I'm about.
I'm originally from Florida, and do prefer less or no snow, LOL! Hot doesn't bother me near as much.
I've also lived or worked in Pa, Nv, Az, Co, Tn, In, and Cali.
So I'm not a true Californian. Though truth be told... were I wealthy, I'd probably make the final stand here (or Hawaii). Despite the BS politics or the state.
I'm in the infamous OC, south part of it. Believe it or not the folks here are pretty nice and there's a lot to reccommend this area. When given the chance to work from home I moved back here. Only place in my travels I ever moved back to.
But, cost of living is prohibitive... my job doesn't pay SoCal wages... and every job I've had an interview request that would pay a Cali wage... involved moving to or working in Ca. places that I'd rather avoid. (Think S. Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, etc... Places where a shack costs $1 million or more...)
And... for all I know, if a recession comes... and I move to say Kentucky... they could offshore my work to China and I'd be in a pickle, LOL!
But, need to get somewhere where I can have a life of some sort. I'm in my mid-to-late 50s and ain't getting younger, LOL!
So truth is, I want some space around me, be want access to "civiliation" too.
I know, I know... that's like looking for perfection... probably won't find it.
At the moment still looking west of the Mississippi, at the southwest, west and Pacific Northwest.
But Cali pricing seems to have invaded all those places.
In any event, I really do appreciate all the ideas and thoughtful responses... definitely let me know any thoughts that you get. The whole USA is still on the radar.