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Philadelphia: A Great Large City for Retiring in Good Health

The "City of Brotherly Love" appeals to a variety of people -- from art enthusiasts to fitness buffs.

Population: 1,567,442

Cost of living: 119.5 (national median: 100)

Median home price: $180,000 (national median: $185,000)

Healthy highlight: Philadelphia's annual Broad Street Run is the largest 10-mile race in the country. This year, more than 40,000 runners took to the course in the pouring rain.

For retirees eager to keep their mind and body in motion, Philadelphia offers no shortage of activities. The culturally inclined can take in the art at the city's world-class museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation. Or they can attend concerts and lectures at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, whose fall lineup includes the touring cast of An American in Paris and chef and author Anthony Bourdain.

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Health-conscious retirees might spend their mornings shopping for fresh produce, meats and cheeses (and maybe the occasional cannoli) at the Ninth Street Italian Market or going for a bike ride among the gaggles of runners, walkers and strollers on scenic Kelly Drive. What's more, Philly is home to several excellent university health systems, including those at Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Pennsylvania.

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Each of Philadelphia's neighborhoods has its own flavor, says Heather Petrone-Shook, a real estate agent at Long and Foster and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors. If you don't want all the hustle and bustle of city life, she says, Manayunk, just 20 minutes from Center City Philadelphia via Septa Regional Rail (people age 65 and up ride free), offers a blend of urban amenities and small-town charm. The neighborhood scores major walkability points thanks to its bustling mile-long Main Street corridor. Main Street boasts seemingly one or two of everything, from bars and restaurants to high-end clothing boutiques to quirky record stores and antiques shops. Just steps from Main Street, active residents can visit the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, with basketball courts and a 250-seat theater, or walk along the Manayunk Canal Towpath—a two-mile boardwalk that connects with more than 60 miles of trail along the Schuylkill River.

Formerly known as a haven for Philly college students, Manayunk's housing prices, location and improving amenities have recently brought empty nesters to the neighborhood in droves, says Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corp. Renovated townhomes built from 1900 to 1920 with three bedrooms and two bathrooms sell for about $220,000 to $350,000. New homes, most of them 2,000 square feet or more with garages, start at about $550,000, she says.

Pennsylvania is tax-friendly for retirees. The Keystone State doesn't tax retirement income for residents age 59½ or older, income from individual or workplace retirement accounts, or Social Security benefits.

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