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All Contents © 2017The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Stacy Rapacon, Online Editor
Do you dream of retiring your days of freezing winters after exiting the full-time work world? The following retirement destinations offer warm climates that, even in January (the coldest month for much the U.S.), rarely see temperatures drop below freezing. In July, the average high temperatures in these locations range from 80℉ to 102℉.
Spoiler alert: Yes, this list includes places in Florida and Hawaii (where the coldest lows are just 52℉ and 64℉—a midsummer night's dream in the winter for many). But some of our warm-weather retirement destinations may surprise you. Others you might expect, such as in Arizona and Georgia, can actually get pretty cold in the dead of winter, so they didn't quite make the cut (but they still offer great places you might consider for your retirement).
Check out the following 10 hot spots for a warm retirement.
Estimates of living costs for retirees, where available, come from the Council for Community and Economic Research. Populations and median home values are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Estimates of states' average lifetime health care costs during retirement for couples retiring at 65 are from HealthView Services. Tax rankings are based on Kiplinger's Retiree Tax Map, which divides states into five categories: Most Tax-Friendly, Tax-Friendly, Mixed, Not Tax-Friendly and Least Tax-Friendly. Crime statistics are from the FBI. Average temperatures are from The Weather Channel. Retirement destinations are listed in alphabetical order by state.
Average high temperature in July: 93℉
Average low temperature in January: 31℉
Cost of living for retirees: 7.5% below U.S. average
Share of population 65+: 21.3% (U.S.: 14.5%)
Arkansas's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly
Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $355,695 (U.S.: $394,954)
You won't need to travel far for rest and relaxation if you settle in this retirement hotspot. Surrounding the north end of the city of Hot Springs is Hot Springs National Park, which has 47 hot springs that come out of the mountain of the same name and two bathhouses, where you can drink from fountains and soak in the water. The relaxing experience extends into the city proper, where there are many spa and massage services to choose from. You can also unwind by golfing at one of the area's 11 championship courses or by fishing or boating on one of the three local lakes.
Even your wallet can de-stress. Housing and health care for retirees are particularly low, at 24.1% and 12.2% below the national average, respectively. The median home value in Hot Springs, about 60 miles southwest of Little Rock, is $115,600—far below the national median of $176,700.
Average high temperature in July: 70℉
Average low temperature in January: 45℉
Cost of living for retirees: 33.8% above U.S. average*
Share of population 65+: 14.0%
California's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly
Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $408,522
With its vibrant cultural community, ocean-side living and sunny climate, Carlsbad is a great place to retire. It's a small city (population: 112,000) compared with nearby San Diego (population: about 1.4 million), but has no shortage of amenities, with 25 parks, nearly 50 miles of hiking trails and a full calendar of artsy offerings, including Foreign Film Friday and free summer concerts. Plus, you can choose among a host of retirement communities with ocean views.
Of course, you have to be able to afford it. Like much of California, the cost of living is high. For example, the median home value in the U.S. is $176,700; in California, it's $366,400, and in Carlsbad, it's $614,000. The taxes also weigh heavily on your wallet. One of the 10 least tax-friendly states for retirees (and everyone else), California taxes virtually all retirement income except Social Security benefits, and it has the highest income tax rates in the nation.
*Based on cost of living for retirees in nearby San Diego
Courtesy VISIT FLORIDA
Average high temperature in July: 92℉
Average low temperature in January: 52℉
Cost of living for retirees: 5.2% below U.S. average
Share of population 65+: 47.9%
Florida's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly
Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $409,097
With its desirable climate and favorable tax status, Florida is filled with popular retirement destinations. Punta Gorda consistently ranks as one of the best. (It was among our top picks for cheapest places where you'll want to retire.) Because nearly half of its residents are age 65 and older, the city is wise to recognize its strong senior presence and do all it can to satisfy them. You can find numerous retirement communities, restricted to people age 55 and older, that offer waterfront sites, golfing, fishing and other activities. In town, the Harborwalk along Charlotte Harbor is just a portion of the 18 miles of bike trails and pedestrian pathways you can enjoy.
For more amenities, including many restaurants and a lively arts scene, Sarasota is a little more than 50 miles away on the Gulf coast and is another great place to retire.
Average high temperature in July: 83℉
Average low temperature in January: 64℉
Cost of living for retirees: 55.6% above U.S. average
Share of population 65+: 18.0%
Hawaii's tax rating for retirees: Mixed
Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $332,090
Hawaii is well known for its beautiful beaches, enviable climate and high prices. If you're hoping to retire in paradise, you can do so more affordably on the Big Island compared with Oahu, home of capital city Honolulu, where retiree living costs are 79.5% above the U.S. average. The median home value in Hilo is $303,800—still pricey, to be sure, but much more reasonable than the $550,900 median in urban Honolulu.
And the local lifestyle is still priceless. The colonial town's mood is quiet and calm, but its location on the eastern coast of the island and near active volcano Mauna Loa offers plenty of opportunities for adventure. You can explore rainforests and waterfalls, as well as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. In the downtown and waterfront areas, enjoy galleries, shops, restaurants and museums, including the Imiloa Astronomy Center.
Average high temperature in July: 91℉
Cost of living for retirees: 4.3% below U.S. average
Share of population 65+: 10.9%
Louisiana's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly
Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $395,452
Pleasure-seeking retirees can find a lot to satisfy them in the Big Easy. The unique cultures, delicious foods and signature music are big draws. The city offers brass band parades and festivals throughout the year, including the hugely famous jazz fest.
Considering New Orleans is a world-renowned convention and tourism destination, the cost of living for residents is surprisingly reasonable. So, too, are taxes on retirees, explaining why Louisiana ranks as one of our 10 most tax-friendly states for retirees. The city's median home value is $183,700, slightly higher than the national median of $176,700, though it might be worth it to pay a bit more to live in nearby Metairie (where the median home value is $209,500). The New Orleans suburb offers greater safety and a higher share of seniors, who make up 17.1% of the population.
Average low temperature in January: 30℉
Cost of living for retirees: not available
Share of population 65+: 10.5%
Mississippi's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly
Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $379,852
Ole Miss can breathe new life into your retirement. Hometown Mississippi Retirement, the state's official retiree attraction program, has designated Oxford a certified retirement city, which required a three-month evaluation that assessed its affordability, safety, access to quality medical care and abundance of recreational opportunities. Housing in the city can be expensive; the median home value is $224,100, much more than the state's median of $99,900. But the Magnolia State's tax situation is one of the nation's friendliest for retirees.
The University of Mississippi makes Oxford a great college town to retire to. You can enjoy football and other sporting events (plus tailgating), musical and theater performances, and academic pursuits. Residents 65 and older can take one university course per semester free. Or you can take your education to go with the academic traveler program, which organizes weeklong, faculty-led trips several times a year.
throgers via Flickr/Creative Commons
Average high temperature in July: 80℉
Average low temperature in January: 38℉
Cost of living for retirees: 26.5% above U.S. average
Share of population 65+: 10.4%
Oregon's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly
Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $391,559
Portland is such a great place to retire that it rises above the high cost of living and the Beaver State's unfriendly tax situation. As an original participant (and sole U.S. representative) in the World Health Organization's Global Age-Friendly Cities Project, Portland is committed to satisfying the needs of its older residents. In the early stages of its action plan, the Age-Friendly Portland Advisory Council—with members from AARP Oregon, nonprofit Elders in Action and Portland State University's Institute on Aging—has held discussions about intergenerational activities and programs, ways for businesses to engage with older adults and developing age-friendly housing. For more information, visit www.agefriendlyportland.org.
And you can already enjoy the pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, such as the popular Pearl District, as well as the public transit system, which costs only $1 a ride for those age 65 and older. For natural diversions, you don't have to go far. In the city, you can stroll Forest Park or hike extinct volcano Mount Tabor. Mount Hood and the ocean are also nearby.
Sk5893 Via Wikimedia Commons
Average low temperature in January: 34℉
Cost of living for retirees: 3.5% below U.S. average
Share of population 65+: 15.1%
South Carolina's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly
Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $381,681
Myrtle Beach is a great setting for the classic retirement dream of endless rounds of golf, broken up only by lounging on the beach. Tee off from any of about 100 championship golf courses in the area. And enjoy 60 miles of beach, where you can just lay out or opt to boat, fish, surf, kayak, scuba dive or partake in other water activities.
Life with all these amenities comes relatively cheap in Myrtle Beach. For example, housing-related costs for retirees typically come in 28.5% under the national average. By comparison, Hilton Head Island—another popular South Carolina retirement destination, where 28.8% of the population is age 65 and older—has housing-related costs 8.2% above average for retirees.
Courtesy City of Sherman
Average low temperature in January: 33℉
Cost of living for retirees: 13.0% below U.S. average
Share of population 65+: 13.2%
Texas's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly
Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $393,414
With a population of less than 40,000, the small city of Sherman offers retirees big savings. Overall living costs are cheap, and housing-related costs for retirees are particularly affordable, at 24.8% below average. The median home value is $98,100 in Sherman proper and $79,100 in Denison (also part of the greater metro area)—well below the state's $128,900 median. Residents can save on taxes, as well: The Lone Star state levies no income tax.
In Sherman, you can enjoy boutique shopping, unique cafés and several community gatherings throughout the year, including an Earth Day festival and free "Shakespeare in the Grove" performances. Also explore the 12,000-acre Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, home to about 500 different wildlife species. And when you feel the urge for big-city stimulation, Dallas is about an hour's drive away.
Average high temperature in July: 102℉
Cost of living for retirees: 8.5% below U.S. average
Share of population 65+: 19.0%
Utah's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax-Friendly
Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $376,742
St. George's low living expenses can help ease the sting of Utah's tax bite. Living costs in all categories—from groceries to health care—fall below the national average. And the city's affordability isn't limited to the retired population; it also ranks as one of our cheapest cities you'll want to live in regardless of age.
Outdoor-loving retirees can appreciate St. George's location just south of some state parks and conservation areas, west of Zion National Park, and north of the Grand Canyon. Athletes who are age 50 and older can even participate in the Huntsman World Senior Games, an annual competition hosted in St. George. Sports include archery, basketball, golf, softball, track and field, and much more. If that's not enough for risk-taking retirees, try your luck in Las Vegas, a two-hour drive away.
SEE ALSO: Great Places to Retire in All 50 States
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