When you retire, will you be footloose and fancy free – a somewhat poetic way of saying will you be able to retire anywhere you want. Many retirees will stay right where they are living now – to be close to friends and family or because they’re just really happy where they are. But if you don’t feel the need to keep your roots planted, there are 10 best places to retire that you might want to consider carefully.
Naturally, any list of 10 best places to retire will be subjective because there is no universal consensus as to what these towns would be. And this does not always mean cheap places to retire either. Some of these places do have a lower cost of living than the rest of the United States. With that in mind here are the 10 best places to retire that could end up on almost everyone’s lists:
Prescott is an old mining town located at 5400 feet and is now one of America’s most popular retirement areas. It borders the Prescott National Forest to the south and west and is near the towns of Chino Valley and Prescott Valley, forming what denizens call the Tri-City area.
Prescott offers a lot to see and do and has been officially designated as “Arizona’s Christmas City.” Activities available to seniors in Prescott include crafts fairs, antique shows, art shows, the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Phippen Art Museum. Zillow.com reported that in early 2011, the median home price in Prescott was just over $200,000.
Durham, North Carolina
One of Durham’s biggest attractions and reasons to retire there is because it is home to Duke University. The school offers a life-long learning program for retirees and the median price of a home there is just $163,000. If you like four seasons – none of which is too extreme – you will love Durham’s climate. If you love golf, you’ll be happy to hear the Durham has many courses. If you are into the arts, there is the Durham Performing Arts Center that plays host to Broadway hits and numerous concerts.
Durham’s Duke Nasher Museum has a growing collection of contemporary art. The city is dotted with parklands and has a population of about 224,000. Twenty-five percent of this population is over the age of 50.
Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia offers the twin advantages of being a capitol city and playing home to the state university. It also has several hospital systems and low housing costs as its median home price in 2010 was just $147,000. And when you choose Columbia, you can choose to live in Victorian-style homes on historic streets or ultramodern apartments near the city’s new riverfront esplanade.
For socializing and keeping healthy, seniors can go to the Capital Senior Center for yoga, Pilates classes and tai chi. The city is less than two hours from Charleston, 1 ½ hours to Charlotte, NC and just a 2 ½ hours’ drive from Savannah, Georgia – so there is not only plenty to do in Columbia, there is also plenty of other places to go and see.
Fort Worth, Texas
This mid-size town sort of melds the feel of a low-key, small town and the glitz of neighboring Dallas. This makes the city part rodeo and part Rothko and gives retirees the opportunity to be as cosmopolitan or as laid back and country, as they want to be.
The cost of housing in Fort Worth is generally on the affordable side as the median home price in 2008 was $128,500. And culture lovers can enjoy two world-class museums, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The city also boasts a top-notch zoo and the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.
Kansas City, Missouri
Retirees in Kansas City say that the city is both a fun and affordable place to live. It offers a reasonable cost of living – as you would expect in a Midwestern city- with a median home price of $118,000 or about 20% below the national average.
Kansas City offers a rich mixture of sounds and flavors from symphonies to jazz clubs and from great barbeque to sushi. Seniors can stay busy visiting the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art or the Crossroads Art District that throws open its doors once a month for free tours.
You probably know this already, but Tucson is one of America’s favorite places to retire. It offers a warm, dry climate, an affordable cost of living and is a Mecca for outdoor activities such as biking, hiking and camping. One of the best deals for retirees is a lifetime National Parks pass that costs just $10 and will get you into the nearby Saguaro National Park as many times as you care to visit.
The Tucson Audubon Society offers more than 150 free birding excursions each year and the city plays home to a large number of over-55 communities. You can actually get a manufactured home there for less than the cost of a luxury car.
This town has a population of about 300,000 and lies next door to Denver. However, unlike Denver, it offers much cheaper housing, with a median home price of $138,000 (2008) or about $40,000 less than its sister city. Aurora has a great climate with 300 days of sunshine a year and four seasons. The fall and spring in Aurora are great, the summer filled with outdoor things to do and see and, surprisingly enough, its winters tend to be on the mild side.
Aurora is just an hour’s drive away from the spectacular Rocky Mountains or you can hop on light rail and ride into downtown Denver for about a dollar. The city has many bike trails that extend from the Cherry Creek Reservoir clear to downtown Denver.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Detroit, Michigan might have a pretty nasty reputation these days but Ann Arbor certainly doesn’t. It’s a very lively college town (University of Michigan) with fairs, sporting events, lectures, museums and other such attractions – many of which are free. A retiree could easily stay busy every day of the week. Seniors even get free bus service so you can often leave you car in the garage when you set out for a day of sightseeing and recreation.
Ann Arbor is far enough away from Detroit (about 40 miles) to feel insulated from Michigan’s troubled auto industry but access to a major city does have its benefits. The median sale price of a home in Ann Arbor this year is $199,00 though houses can be purchases for less – depending on size and location. But the winters can be pretty cold. So if you don’t like driving through a couple feet of snow each winter then you may want to look elsewhere.
This is a quaint city of 36.524 and is the capital of Maryland. It is the home of the U.S. Naval Academy and boasts a humid subtropical climate with summer temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s, and wintertime temps that are usually in the 50s. The city is on the Atlantic Ocean and offers much in the way of sailing and other water sports. It has two theaters, the Banneker-Douglass Museum, and a number of 18th Century houses that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Annapolis is also the home of St. John’s College, a non-sectarian private school. The median sale price of a home in Annapolis is currently $387,600, which is down about three percent in the last year.
The name of this town may be hard to pronounce but it’s an easy place to live.
Natchitoches is actually the oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase Territory. It is the home of Northwestern State University of Louisiana so offers the sports, arts and cultural activities you would expect from a college town. It also has one of the lowest property tax rates in the US. The city’s population is 18,202, making it an easy place to get around. The local residents are friendly and the median value of home in Natchitoches is just $107,800. The cost of living there is 21.9% below the national average.
So there you have a quick rundown of what might possibly be the 10 best places to retire. However, there is no “one size fits all” best retirement location. We cannot make the decision for you. We can only hope to help you find a great retirement spot. Hopefully these 10 locations will help give you ideas as you approach your retirement.
You can check out the resources below to help you learn more about the best places to live and retire in the US: