Thanks for the advice all. And your criticism is well received
FWIW, I'm not looking for "low" COL, just "reasonable" - i.e. not as crazy as say San Fran, and somewhere where rent for a nice 2 BR apartment in a safe place isn't going to cost us more than our monthly mortgage payment for our house in central MA. (The whole point is to downsize after all, budget included)
We spent some time looking at rental property in St Petersburg and Ft Myers areas of FL last night, and they seemed to fit our idea of "reasonable", and there are a few progressive private schools in the area that we are familiar with. The Pew Foundation ranks Florida 20th in the country in regards to how religious each state is, which may or may not translate to a more liberal climate than those states nearer the top. Of course, we're coming from MA which is a heathen state at #44. (Source: pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=504)
@closehauled14 - San Diego is one of the places I would love to go. The only downside to CA in general is that my wife is a pharmacist and that's the one state where there is a market saturation of pharmacists, so finding a job would be more difficult for her then elsewhere.
@MARC2012 - Where in FL are you, and what's the temperature like? Even an average low temperatures in the 50s is better than where we are now.
@tager - We've looked at Seattle in the past, but our research gave us the impression it wouldn't be too much warmer than New England. Would you say otherwise? Is Portland much warmer than Seattle?