Oberlin, Ohio: A Smart Place to Retire

Stellar health care options, affordable living and engaging community activities make this Ohio town a great choice for retirees.

Population: 8,312

Cost of living: 98

Median home price: $154,000

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College perk: Oberlin residents can audition to perform with Oberlin College’s Arts and Sciences Orchestra.

Oberlin College, one of the oldest liberal arts colleges in the U.S., prides itself on offering a “diverse and inclusive residential learning environment.” That extends to the surrounding community, too.

For example, at Kendal at Oberlin, a retirement community a mile away from the main college campus, students rehearse campus productions before an audience of Kendal residents. The community also owns a duplex that houses up to four student volunteers, who receive free room and board in exchange for volunteering 15 hours a week during the school year.

All Oberlin residents age 65 and older can audit classes for free at the college. Many concerts and recitals offer free admission, too. At Lorain County Community College’s Center for LifeLong Learning, anyone 50 and up can attend lectures for a fee that ranges from $5 to upward of $100. The curriculum covers art history classes, personal fitness and music.

But there’s more to Oberlin than academics. The city celebrates its history as part of the abolitionist movement with its annual Juneteenth Celebration, which marks the end of slavery in the U.S. Tappan Square, in downtown, hosts summer concerts. For film lovers, the Apollo Theater, which was renovated in 2011, shows first-run films.

Winters are long and overcast in northeast Ohio, but the low cost of living will make your heating bills easier to handle. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo goes for about $235,000, and a five-bedroom, two-bath single-family home sells for about $255,000. Entry fees for a double-occupancy cottage at Kendal range from $220,375 to $552,870, with a monthly fee of $5,145 to $7,734.

Another plus: You don’t have to venture far to find quality health care. University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center is 10 miles east of Main street, while Fisher-Titus Medical Center is 25 miles away. Both hospitals have cardiovascular and orthopedic services, and each received a 4-star rating from Medicare. The main campus of the Cleveland Clinic, one of the top hospitals in the U.S., is roughly an hour’s drive from Oberlin.

Where taxes are concerned, Ohio is a mixed bag for retirees. Social Security benefits are exempt from state income taxes, but other types of retirement income are taxable at rates ranging from 1.98% to about 5%. However, retirees can claim a tax credit of up to $200, depending on income.

For population figures, we used the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data. Cost-of-living data comes from the Council for Community and Economic Research (100 represents the national median). Median home prices were provided by Redfin, Zillow and local associations of Realtors.

Rivan V. Stinson
Staff Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Rivan joined Kiplinger on Leap Day 2016 as a reporter for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. She's now a staff writer for the magazine and helps produce content for Kiplinger.com. A Michigan native, she graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 and from there freelanced as a local copy editor and proofreader, and served as a research assistant to a local Detroit journalist. Her work has been featured in the Ann Arbor Observer and Sage Business Researcher.