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.

Population:

16,500

Nearest large cities:

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Baltimore; Washington, D.C.

What $300,000 will buy:

3-bedroom, 2.5-bath renovated farmhouse with wood floors, updated kitchen

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.

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.

Patricia Mertz Esswein
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Esswein joined Kiplinger in May 1984 as director of special publications and managing editor of Kiplinger Books. In 2004, she began covering real estate for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, writing about the housing market, buying and selling a home, getting a mortgage, and home improvement. Prior to joining Kiplinger, Esswein wrote and edited for Empire Sports, a monthly magazine covering sports and recreation in upstate New York. She holds a BA degree from Gustavus Adolphus College, in St. Peter, Minn., and an MA in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University.