retirement

Greensboro, N.C.: A Great Midsize City for Retiring in Good Health

Proximity to the downtown district and recreational venues attracts many retirees here.

Population: 285,342

Cost of living: N/A (national median: 100)

Median home price: $121,000 (national median: $185,000)

Healthy highlight: City Center Park, including the Great Lawn, a natural amphitheater

Deciding whether to retire to the mountains or the beach? Split the difference in Greensboro, N.C., just three hours by car from the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Atlantic beaches.

But you won't need to leave town to stay active, engaged and healthy. Greensboro’s downtown offers a wide variety of restaurants (mostly independently owned), plus brew pubs, bars, coffee shops and theaters on or near Elm or Greene streets. The Farmers' Curb Market, founded in 1874, is open year-round.

Fitness and recreation venues include the new City Center Park, which offers a variety of fitness classes; the Greensboro Aquatic Center, within the Greensboro Coliseum Complex; and numerous rec centers with adult programs. Golfers can choose from six public and six private courses. The city has invested in sidewalks as well as hiking and biking trails that are open year-round. The Downtown Greenway, under construction, will create a four-mile walking and biking trail around the center city and connect with existing and planned greenways.

After energizing your body, exercise your brain with learning opportunities at the area's colleges and universities (the largest of which is the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) or the city's downtown cultural campus, where a performing arts center will debut in 2018.

Just a couple of miles from downtown, the Old Irving Park neighborhood attracts new residents to its high-end, eclectic homes and winding, tree-lined streets. Three-bedroom houses there run about $210,000 to $675,000. The neighborhood, which surrounds the Greensboro Country Club, also attracts nonresidents who like to stroll there after work, says former Neighborhood Congress board member Cyndy Hayworth. A decade ago, she and her husband downsized to the neighborhood, where they appreciate being "just minutes to everything," including the flagship hospital of Cone Health, a nonprofit health care system.

The state imposes a flat income tax of 5.75% but exempts Social Security benefits. Residents of Greensboro pay a sales tax of 6.75% (prescription drugs and medical equipment are exempt).

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