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Best Cities, States & Places

Why Easton, Md., Is a Great Place to Retire

In Easton, you don't have to own waterfront property to enjoy the majestic Chesapeake Bay.

Economic Development and Tourism, Talbot County, MD

Population:
16,500

Nearest large cities:
Baltimore; Washington, D.C.

What $300,000 will buy:
3-bedroom, 2.5-bath renovated farmhouse with wood floors, updated kitchen

SLIDE SHOW: See Our Picks for 10 Great Places to Retire, 2017

Easton is the county seat of Talbot County, Md., a watery and largely rural enclave on Maryland’s Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The town abounds in shade trees, lush landscaping, flowers, brick sidewalks and welcoming front porches. Much of the county’s land is agricultural, so you can quickly be surrounded by fields and forest just outside town.

Easton’s authentic and well-tended downtown includes the Tidewater Inn, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and shady pocket parks. The Academy Art Museum houses its own collection, touring exhibits, studio and performance space. The restored, Art Deco–style Avalon Theater features live entertainment. The Talbot County Free Library offers an extensive program. You can indulge the grandkids at the locally owned toy and bookstore or visit the town’s playground.

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Bill and Eleanor Messner, both 72, wanted to move from West Springfield, Mass., to be closer to their daughter and her family, who live in a Washington, D.C., suburb. Their search for a place to retire ended in Easton when they visited the Easton Club East, a 55-plus community. They bought a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home for $350,000 and rented it out for a year until they moved last August.

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The median home price in Talbot County is about $290,000, and the median annual property tax is $1,905, one of the lowest in Maryland. Prices here haven’t shot up, and there are plenty of homes on the market. In the Messners’ community, prices range from $300,000 to nearly $400,000. Homes along the sought-after Oxford Road corridor, including Cooke’s Hope, a planned community, run from the $500s to $1.2 million. Waterfront properties start at about $550,000. Vacation-home owners from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, each about an hour and a half’s drive away, often move here full-time in retirement, but the area is increasingly attracting retirees from the Northeast, too, says Chuck Mangold, a real estate agent.

And you don’t have to own waterfront property to own a boat. The county has about 20 marinas, where a slip will cost from $2,000 to $6,000 annually. Or skip the expense of a boat altogether. “The most important thing is to have friends with a boat, not to have a boat,” says Cassandra Vanhooser, director of Economic Development and Tourism for Talbot County.

The local health care system is anchored by the not-for-profit University of Maryland Shore Regional Health. Although you can find any specialist you need locally, residents can also get care at the Johns Hopkins Medicine health system in Baltimore or the MedStar Georgetown and George Washington hospitals in D.C. Locals typically fly out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and they can get there easily via the BayRunner shuttle.

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Maryland doesn’t tax Social Security benefits, but its income tax rate maxes out at 5.75%. Seniors may qualify for a pension exclusion, which is worth up to $29,000. Maryland imposes a tax on estates exceeding $3 million for 2017; the threshold will rise to $4 million in 2018. The state also has an inheritance tax, but spouses, children and siblings are exempt.

See Also: The State-by-State Guide to Taxes on Retirees