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All Contents © 2019The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Stacy Rapacon, Online Editor
| August 27, 2019
Thinking about moving in retirement? You're not alone. About two-thirds of retirees plan to relocate or already have, according to a survey by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, a research firm focused on the aging population. And while most pre-retirees expect to stay in the same state or region once they retire, 40% want to take the opportunity to try someplace completely different.
Luckily, no matter which state you land on for retirement, you can pinpoint a promising place within state lines to settle down. To help you narrow the choices, here we highlight one great retirement destination in each state that offers attractive advantages for retirees. We've taken into account living costs, safety, median incomes and poverty rates for seniors, as well as residents’ sense of well-being and the availability of recreational and health care facilities. Take a look at our 50 picks for top places to retire around the country and see which ones fit your dreams for retirement.
The list is ordered alphabetically by state. See "How We Picked the Best Places to Retire" at the end of the list for details on our data sources and methodology.
Courtesy Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau
City population: 190,501
Share of population 65+: 15.2% (U.S.: 14.9%)
Cost of living for retirees: 6.1% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $51,853 (U.S.: $56,453)
Community score: 63.3 (U.S.: 61.9)
State's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly
As one of the 10 Cheapest States Where You'll Want to Retire, the Heart of Dixie boasts many great spots for affordable living. And Huntsville, in northern Alabama, is one of the best. It offers all the low-cost, low-tax advantages as the rest of the state, but adds more generous incomes among retirement-age residents. The average household income for 65+ households in Alabama is $46,318, according the Census Bureau.
Home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, the Redstone Arsenal and the Huntsville campus of the University of Alabama, the city offers a robust economy and a highly educated population. There are plenty of cultural attractions, from a sculpture trail to a symphony orchestra, as well as opportunities for outdoor recreation (think bass fishing). In fact, Alabama at-large offers many of Florida's popular retirement attractions—warm weather, nice beaches and plenty of golf—all at a typically lower price.
City population: 298,225
Share of population 65+: 9.4%
Cost of living for retirees: 26.8% above the national average
Average income for population 65+: $70,291
Community score: 62.1
State's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax Friendly
Older folks don't seem too interested in facing the Last Frontier in retirement. Only 10.1% of the entire state's population is age 65 and up compared with 14.9% of the whole U.S. But if you crave adventure—and don't mind long winters and vast swaths of wilderness—it pays to live in Alaska. Literally. A state fund fueled by oil wealth gives all permanent residents an annual dividend. In 2018, the payment was $1,600 per person.
And residents could certainly use the extra cash. Living costs throughout Alaska are significantly higher than is typical across the continental U.S. But Anchorage is the least expensive metro area in the state, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. Plus, being the largest city in Alaska, it offers more amenities including numerous theaters, museums and shopping centers, on top of all the outdoor recreation you'd expect. It also has an abundance of health care facilities, more than 41 establishments per 1,000 seniors in the metro area compared with just about 19 per 1,000 seniors in the U.S.
City population: 1.6 million
Share of population 65+: 10.0%
Cost of living for retirees: 1% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $54,681
Community score: 62.5
State's tax rating for retirees: Mixed
Undoubtedly, many of you have considered the Grand Canyon State for its retiree-friendly climate and beautiful natural scenery. Unfortunately, the financial setting is not quite as picturesque: Average living costs in Arizona are 12% above the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces, while median incomes for seniors with earnings are below average at $50,254. Phoenix, though, offers a pocket of affordability, plus typically higher incomes.
And being the capital city, you can find plenty of attractions to keep you busy—world-class restaurants, professional sports teams and an array of museums, theaters and other cultural attractions. Of course, outdoor enthusiasts have more than enough to enjoy, too, with many hiking and biking trails within the city limits and even more to explore in nearby Scottsdale, Glendale and Tempe.
City population: 81,889
Share of population 65+: 9.1%
Cost of living for retirees: 13.8% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $85,436
Community score: 66.3
State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly
The metro area of Fayetteville, which includes Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville, offers low costs but plenty of attractions. The surrounding Ozark Mountains afford residents outdoor recreation and natural wonders to enjoy while the downtown area, home to the University of Arkansas, provides restaurants, shops and a lively music and arts scene, including the Walton Arts Center.
Locals seem happy with what they have at their fingertips. Fayetteville ranks 11th for community well-being on the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index with residents reporting high levels of liking where they live, feeling safe and having pride in their community.
City population: 113,147
Share of population 65+: 16.0%
Cost of living for retirees: 40.6% above the national average
Average income for population 65+: $70,348
Community score: 64.3
Part of the San Diego metro area, Carlsbad offers a small-city feel with easy access to big-city amenities. It has a vibrant cultural community, ocean-side living and sunny climate. You can also find 40 parks, more than 50 miles of hiking trails and a full calendar of artsy offerings, including Foreign Film Fridays in the spring and free concerts in the summer. (Not that there are really seasons in Carlsbad: Throughout the year, average highs fall between 62 and 71 degrees Fahrenheit, and average lows only go down to between 45 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Weather.com. And rainy days are rare.) 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—where living costs are 69% above the national average, making it the second-most expensive state in the country behind only Hawaii—Carlsbad and the whole metro area is a pricey place to live. For example, the median home value in the U.S. is $229,000, according to Zillow; in California, it's $548,600; and in Carlsbad, it's (brace yourself) $860,700. And taxes throughout Cali also weigh heavily on your wallet.
City population: 678,467
Share of population 65+: 11.2%
Cost of living for retirees: 9.4% above the national average
Average income for population 65+: $59,601
Community score: 63.4
Colorado ranks fifth in the United Health Foundation's senior health rankings, and Denver plays a healthy role in that rating. Indeed, the Milken Institute, a think tank, ranked the metro area the 12th best big city for successful aging in large part due to Denver’s healthy and active senior population.
Other strengths of the area include high employment and economic stability, as well as quality infrastructure, with well-funded transit for older adults, highly rated nursing homes and ample continuing care. Indeed, the Denver metro area is home to more than 24 health care facilities per 1,000 seniors, compared with just about 19 per 1,000 seniors in the U.S.
City population: 46,747
Share of population 65+: 14.4%
Cost of living for retirees: 19.2% above the national average*
Average income for population 65+: n/a
Community score: 59.8*
State's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly
Like much of the Northeast, Connecticut is known to be a high-cost area, and Middletown is no exception. But the Hartford metro area, of which Middletown is a part, is at least more affordable than other major metro areas in the state, including Stamford and New Haven, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. And local residents tend to pull in high enough incomes to make it work. The city's average income for all households is $90,977 a year, and it's even better for the older population with incomes for residents age 60 and up averaging $92,851 a year.
Plus, being home to Wesleyan University, Middletown offers all the benefits of retiring to a college town, including numerous restaurants, shops and cultural attractions. You can also take advantage of the Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning, which offers no-credit courses, lectures and other educational opportunities at minimal cost and is open to the entire community. And while the nearby city of Hartford has an alarmingly high crime rate—with 1,093.8 violent crimes per 100,000 residents reported, compared with the national rate of 473.2 for cities of similar size—Middletown is far safer with a mere 49 violent crimes total reported for the year.
*Data for the Hartford metropolitan statistical area, which includes Middletown.
City population: 10,654
Share of population 65+: 19.7%
Cost of living for retirees: n/a
Community score: n/a
If you're thinking about heading to one of Delaware's popular beach towns for retirement, brace yourself for sticker shock. Better yet, consider instead the more affordable Milford, where overall living costs are about the same as the national average, according so Sperling's BestPlaces. By comparison, the cost of living in popular Bethany Beach, about 40 miles south of Milford and right on the coast, is a whopping 83.2% above the national average. Indeed, median home values in Milford are far lower than in Bethany Beach at $224,500 and $436,100, respectively, according to Zillow.
The small inland city is about 10 miles from Slaughter Beach, so you can still hit the shore with a 15-minute drive. And if you do want to visit the more popular Delaware beaches, it takes about 40 minutes to drive to Rehoboth or Dewey and another 10 to 20 minutes to Bethany. You can also enjoy some waterfront views in town along the Mispillion River. Downtown, there are numerous restaurants and boutiques, as well as the Milford Museum and the Riverfront Theater, where the Second Street Players, a community theater group, produces and performs a variety of shows and hosts movie nights.
City population: 173,679
Share of population 65+: 21.9%
Cost of living for retirees: 2.4% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $42,123
Community score: 64.8
With its desirable climate and favorable tax status, Florida is filled with popular retirement destinations. Many of our favorite retirement spots in the Sunshine State can be found along the Gulf Coast including St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Punta Gorda.
Cape Coral's metro area includes Fort Myers, yet another great place to consider for your retirement. But Cape Coral is unique in its waterway access, offering more than 400 miles of canals for all your boating, fishing and water sports dreams. And land lovers can enjoy the area's beaches, golfing, tennis, parks and other recreational offerings.
City population: 196,899
Share of population 65+: 12.8%
Cost of living for retirees: 9.5% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $44,141
Community score: 62.7
With its low living costs and generous tax breaks for seniors, Georgia ranks third among our Best States for Retirement, behind only Hawaii and (surprisingly) South Dakota. And Augusta is ripening into a particularly peachy city. Revitalization efforts have been pushing especially hard over the past several years, looking to expand the area's appeal beyond the annual Masters golf tournament in April and its accompanying celebrations and tourism revenue. In a walkable downtown, retirees can enjoy new restaurants, museums, galleries and nightlife venues. And even more is on the way with a $94 million plan in the works to redevelop a historic train depot property on the riverfront into a modern mixed-use complex of offices, apartments, retailers and restaurants.
In the meantime, you can already enjoy running, walking and biking along the Augusta Canal and kayaking and cruising along the Savannah River. Augusta University, along with other area schools, adds some nice college-town amenities, including free classes for Georgia residents age 62 and up. The University also supplies the region with a top-notch health care network, including three hospitals and numerous specialists focused on oncology, geriatrics and senior health.
City population: 45,703
Share of population 65+: 18.5%
Cost of living for retirees: n/a
Average income for population 65+: $54,503
Hawaii is well known for its beautiful beaches, enviable climate and high prices. In Hilo, on the Big Island, the overall cost of living is 36.4% above the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces. But at least that's more affordable than capital city Honolulu, on Oahu, where living costs are a steep 101.1% above the national average. The median home value in Hilo is $339,800, according to Zillow—still pricey, to be sure, compared with the U.S. median of $229,000, but much more reasonable than the $676,100 median in 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.
City population: 59,414
Share of population 65+: 12.9%
Cost of living for retirees: 8.3% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $42,795
If retirement for you means putting up your "gone fishin'" sign indefinitely, Idaho Falls may be your choice destination. The area is famous for its fly fishing opportunities, with the convergence of two popular trout rivers, Henry's Fork and the South Fork of the Snake River, which sees more than 300,000 anglers, campers, hikers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts visiting each year.
And when you're done fishin', you can enjoy the downtown area, home to an eclectic collection of restaurants, shops and art installations—with more on the way. Revitalization projects are working on refurbishing old buildings and developing new ones to offer more retail, dining and housing options for everyone, including retirees. The Museum of Idaho, long among the city's most popular attractions, is also growing, opening a new 200,00-square-feet addition in September 2019 and modifying current space by the summer of 2020. Even the health care scene in Idaho Falls is on the rise: The new Idaho Falls Community Hospital is scheduled to open in November 2019, set to offer 88 private rooms, an emergency room, in-patient services and an intensive care unit. And that's on top of the offerings already available at the adjacent Mountain View Hospital and the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, as well as numerous specialists throughout the city.
City population: 115,424
Share of population 65+: 14.3%
Cost of living for retirees: 5.9% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $53,116
Community score: 58.6
A big draw for this relatively small city is its affordability. Housing costs for retirees are particularly low, 20.8% below the national average. Indeed, the median home value is a rock-bottom $89,000, compared with the $229,000 median for the U.S. And a private room in a nursing home costs just $6,798 a month; the median across the U.S. is $8,365 a month.
And yet, plenty of money has been pumping through the city, in a bid to further to develop the downtown area. The Downtown Development Corporation of Peoria recently assisted a number of projects, including the issuance of 714 construction permits in downtown with an estimated value of $74 million. Already the Riverfront area offers a vibrant setting with a number of eateries, shops and attractions, including the Peoria Riverfront Museum complete with its Giant Screen Theater and Dome Planetarium. The museum hosts a senior program with a free bi-monthly morning lecture series and free admission to the museum every second Wednesday of the month to guests age 60 and up. Also, the Peoria Park District offers 64 park sites with miles of hiking trails, golf courses, nature center and more.
City population: 262,450
Share of population 65+: 13.4%
Cost of living for retirees: 11.5% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $47,848
Community score: 59.7
The Fort Wayne metro area's affordability will not cost you in amenities. Despite being home to a nice collection of quiet neighborhoods, it also houses a thriving arts scene and hosts a number of festivals and events throughout the year, including the family-friendly Three Rivers Festival in the summers. Indeed, the three local rivers—the St. Marys, the St. Joseph and the Maumee—are a main feature of the area, providing ample opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and cruising. More outdoor attractions: Fort Wayne is more than 80 parks and 100 miles of hiking and biking trails.
Fort Wayne is by no means a metropolis, but if you ever feel the need for a small-town escape head two hours south to Richmond, the cheapest small town in America. Its claim to fame (other than being budget-friendly): Some of the earliest jazz records were recorded in Richmond by such greats as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.
City population: 214,778
Share of population 65+: 11.7%
Cost of living for retirees: 9.4% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $48,740
Community score: 65.7
State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly
For retirees looking to live in a big city on a small budget, Des Moines is a good choice. Affordability is just one reason the Milken Institute ranked the state capital fifth out of 100 large U.S. metro areas for successful aging. Des Moines also boasts a strong economy and plenty of health care facilities specializing in aging-related services.
Retirees won’t lack for things to do, either. There are numerous museums and arts venues, including an outdoor sculpture park, a zoo and botanical gardens. There’s even a casino and racetrack in nearby Altoona that hosts annual camel, ostrich and zebra races (sorry, no wagering on these exhibition races allowed).
Courtesy Manhattan Convention & Visitors Bureau
City population: 55,427
Share of population 65+: 8.2%
Cost of living for retirees: 8.4% below the national average
The Little Apple may not have all the bright lights and major metropolitan allure of New York City, but it has plenty to recommend itself, as well as significantly lower costs. (The cost of living for retirees in New York's Manhattan is 123.5% above the national average with housing a ridiculous 406.2% above average.) Housing costs for retirees in this Manhattan are particularly affordable at 17.2% below the national average. And yet, the average income for all households with earnings is a comfortable $64,135 a year.
Home to Kansas State University, Manhattan affords residents attractive college-town amenities, including the privilege of calling the school's top-notch athletics program your home team. One particularly senior-friendly offering: The university, in collaboration with the local UFM Community Learning Center and the University of Kansas Osher Institute, offers courses year-round for $50 each, along with special events, aimed at encouraging lifelong learning, especially for locals age 50 and older. The city is also developing an expanded trail system—beyond the existing 40 miles of trails throughout the city—for walking and biking throughout the city.
City population: 315,109
Share of population 65+: 12.2%
Cost of living for retirees: 6.6% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $61,323
Community score: 62.9
As you'd expect, the Bluegrass State holds plenty of appeal for horse lovers and bourbon aficionados. But retirees can pursue other interests here as well. Lexington has more than 100 parks, five public golf courses and a 734-acre nature preserve with more than 10 miles of hiking trails. For indoor entertainment, check out the numerous galleries and theaters, including the Lexington Opera House and its schedule of ballets, Broadway musicals, comedy shows, operas (of course) and other performances. The University of Kentucky offers the Singletary Center for the Arts, too.
You can also satisfy your academic pursuits at the University of Kentucky. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers various courses, forums, interest groups, trips and events to people age 50 or older; annual membership costs $35. The Donovan Fellowship allows Kentucky residents age 65 and older to take university classes free, space permitting.
City population: 126,476
Share of population 65+: 13.1%
Average income for population 65+: $64,729
Community score: 62.4
Laissez les bons temps rouler. That's Cajun French for "let the good times roll" and a phrase you ought to learn—and live by—when retiring to Lafayette. Known as the "Cajun Capital City," it's rich in history, distinctive foods, two-stepping tunes and, of course, Cajun and Creole culture. Nature lovers have plenty to appreciate in the area, too. Located on the Mississippi Flyway and the Atchafalaya Loop of America's Wetland Birding Trail, Lafayette offers an abundance of wildlife to observe, as well as plenty of rivers, swamps and bayous for paddling, fishing and exploring.
Plus, it's more affordable than the more (in)famous Louisiana city of New Orleans, which is about 130 miles east of Lafayette and comes with living costs 1% above the national average for retirees. So if you're hoping for a retirement that's like one long Mardi Gras celebration, and you want help your budget to stretch as long as the party keeps rolling, Lafayette is the place for you.
City population: 66,715
Share of population 65+: 13.7%
Cost of living for retirees: 17.1% above the national average
Average income for population 65+: $44,769
Community score: 65.8
The largest city in Maine, Portland offers a lively downtown and plenty of urban-esque amenities amidst the great outdoors of the Pine Tree State. You can enjoy museums, theaters and an array of eclectic dining. The flagship L.L. Bean store in nearby Freeport is a must-see for many visitors, but resident shoppers also flock to Portland’s unique boutiques and outlets.
All the while, you’re never too far from the area's many beaches. That means ample opportunity to lounge on the shore or dive into water-based activities including fishing, kayaking, sailing and even surfing. And of course, hiking and biking trails abound—perfect in the (much) colder months, too, for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
City population: 16,606
Share of population 65+: 23.5%
On the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, this small town is packed with history, charm and senior residents. You can find a surprising number of eclectic dining options in town, as well as an array of boutique shops, art galleries and other cultural attractions. In fact, in July 2019, Easton was named one of two new Arts and Entertainment Districts in Maryland, joining the 26 existing Districts in the state in offering tax incentives to local artists and creative businesses. Qualifying developers and organizations will get a property tax abatement for artistic-related improvements to their buildings, and local artists can score a state income tax deduction for all art created and sold within the 110-acre district.
And you could use the extra opportunity to save. Maryland is, by and large, a wealthy area, home to a great number of millionaires, and the living costs reflect that. The cost of living for all residents in Easton are 13.8% above the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces, which makes it at least more affordable than Annapolis, on the opposite shore of the bay, where living costs are 41% above the national average. And water-loving retirees still have access to the same torrent of activities, such as kayaking, canoeing, boating and fishing, common on the Chesapeake Bay.
City population: 43,289
Share of population 65+: 19.0%
Cost of living for retirees: 7.9% above the national average
Average income for population 65+: $58,231
New England is notoriously expensive, but Pittsfield, located in the western part of Massachusetts, offers a small pocket of relative affordability—more reasonably priced than Boston and Cambridge, where living costs are, respectively, 48.1% and 38.1% above the U.S. average. Housing is notably affordable: The median home value in the city is $173,200, compared with $407,400 for all of Massachusetts and $592,300 for Boston proper, according to Zillow.
Leaf peeping in the fall may be enough to draw you to the Berkshires. But you have plenty to enjoy all year round, including excellent sites for camping, fishing, hiking and skiing. Nearby, enjoy musical performances at the Tanglewood Music Center, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. There’s also world-class art at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCa, for short) in North Adams.
City population: 119,303
Share of population 65+: 11.3%
Average income for population 65+: $82,971
Another college town well suited to retirees, Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan with all its educational programs (including the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), sporting events and cultural affairs. The university also runs the Geriatrics Center & Institute of Gerontology, which focuses on health care issues that come with aging. Along with its research facilities, medical facilities and staff, the Center offers programs and classes to help older adults maximize their good health and independence.
In fact, Ann Arbor's health care facilities are top-notch, helping to earn it a sixth-place ranking among small metro areas for successful aging, according to the Milken Institute. The area's public transportation options are another noted winning attribute for older residents. A downside, however, is affordability. Overall living costs are 27.1% above the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces, and the median home value is $378,600, versus just $153,000 for the rest of the state, according to Zillow.
City population: 41,241
Share of population 65+: 11.0%
Cost of living for retirees: 4.4% below the national average
If the cold winters and equally harsh tax situation don't put you off of the North Star State, consider retiring in Mankato, about 90 miles southwest of the Twin Cities. It's still a small city, but development is on the rise, and the local economy is growing fast. Revitalization projects have added a nice mix of restaurants, shops, entertainment venues and more to the downtown area in recent years, and the city's five-year strategic plan aims to spread that level of development throughout the Minnesota River Valley. Some goals of the plan include adding housing, specifically within walking distance of where jobs and shops are; expanding Riverfront Park and other recreational land; and possibly building a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Minnesota River to North Mankato.
So far, all that growth has yet to push up living costs. While other metro areas in Minnesota come with above-average expenses, Mankato's cost of living for retirees (and others) remains below the national average. By comparison, Minneapolis has living costs for retirees 5.7% above the national average. Unfortunately, typical incomes in Mankato are also lower, with the overall annual income for residents with earnings at $62,776, on average, compared with $64,626 in Minneapolis. Still, the poverty rate for residents 65 and older is lower at 7.8% in Mankato, compared with 12.6% in Minneapolis and 9.3% in the whole U.S.
City population: 170,393
Share of population 65+: 11.6%
Cost of living for retirees: 10% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $47,876
Community score: 57.8
Low costs and friendly tax policies can make for a sweet retirement in the Magnolia State, and the capital is particularly alluring. Jackson is a surprisingly eclectic city that holds appeal for Civil War buffs, blues music aficionados and even ballet fans. Every four years, dancers from around the world flock to Jackson for the two-week USA International Ballet Competition to compete for medals, scholarships and spots in ballet companies. Similar competitions are held only in Russia, Bulgaria and Finland.
The Milken Institute ranks Jackson eighth among the best large cities for successful aging due to its affordability and an abundance of nurses, nurse practitioners and orthopedic surgeons, as well as caregiving options and geriatric facilities. Note, however, that the area's residents are prone to unhealthy habits that you don’t want to pick up in retirement, including low levels of activity and high levels of fast-food dining.
City population: 476,974
Share of population 65+: 12.4%
Cost of living for retirees: 3.7% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $47,657
The Kansas City metro area straddles two states and offers a wide range of attractions for people of all ages including retirees. The music and arts scene is particularly vibrant, being home to legendary jazz musician Charlie Parker as well as the American Jazz Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Kansas City Art Institute. For foodies, authentic barbecue is big, too. And you can entertain visiting grandkids with Legoland, the Sea Life aquarium and the Kansas City Zoo.
Also, while the University of Missouri's main campus is about 125 miles east in Columbia, the school brings more than 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students, as well as all the amenities of college life, to its Kansas City campus. It even offers an all-volunteer education program called Communiversity, offering a wide variety of classes and seminars to the entire metro area. Class fees range from just $10 to $18, plus a $3 registration fee, but students age 65 and older can skip the registration fee and get a discount of $1 off the first class and $2 off all subsequent classes.
City population: 43,132
Share of population 65+: 8.6%
Cost of living for retirees: 3.2% above the national average
State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly
If you've ever dreamed of retiring to the mountains, here's your chance. Bozeman is in southern Montana, nestled in the Gallatin Valley and surrounded by majestic ranges and national forests. Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks sit due south of Bozeman. The geography means you have to be comfortable hiking, mountain biking, skiing and backcountry exploring your way through retirement. Hunting and fishing are also popular local activities.
But don't expect total isolation. Montana State University's Bozeman campus is home to about nearly 17,000 students. Exuberant co-eds might not be the neighbors you pictured in your mountain-view retirement destination, but you may enjoy the dining, culture and entertainment options that come with a college town.
City population: 277,315
Share of population 65+: 12.5%
Average income for population 65+: $50,654
Community score: 64.2
Lincoln may not be home to financial guru Warren Buffett like Omaha, which is about an hour north, but it has plenty of other notable points to recommend it. The capital city offers an abundance of attractions, including more than 130 parks, fine restaurants, an active nightlife and a number of museums and theaters. Highlights include the Sunken Gardens (for budding horticulturalists) and the Museum of American Speed (for car enthusiasts).
Being a college town, home to both the University of Nebraska's Lincoln campus and Union College, the population may skew young. But the city is also prepared to assist its aging residents with about 30 health-care and social service facilities per 1,000 seniors, compared with about 19 per 1,000 seniors in the U.S.
City population: 239,732
Share of population 65+: 13.8%
Cost of living for retirees: 10.4% above the national average
Average income for population 65+: $51,061
Community score: 61.2
Whether or not you like to gamble, retiring to Reno can make you feel like you've hit the jackpot. Boasting a small-town feel with big-city amenities, the locale proclaims itself "The Biggest Little City in the World." And it backs up the claim, offering a downtown full of restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries and music venues, on top of its well-known casinos.
Outdoor enthusiasts also win. The nearby Sierra Nevada mountain range and Lake Tahoe provide ample opportunities for hiking, biking and boating in warm weather, and skiing in winter. The area's resorts and marinas are also popular among residents of Gardnerville Ranchos, a small Nevada town near Lake Tahoe that's home to a surprising number of millionaires.
City population: 16,237
Share of population 65+: 20.5%
Tiny Laconia offers a big bargain for your retirement destination. The overall cost of living is 1.2% below the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces, making it much more affordable than Manchester—about 50 miles south—where living costs are 13.2% above average. But local average incomes are still high, averaging $71,605 for residents across all ages. That adds up to favorable odds for a balanced budget. And the Granite State's tax situation for retirees is solid, too.
Tucked between Lake Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam Lake, Laconia has been dubbed "The City on the Lake," home city to New Hampshire's Lakes Region. That means plenty of beaches and water-related activities for you in the warmer months. Other outdoor recreation abounds nearby, too. Gunstock Mountain Resort in neighboring Gilford, for example, offers camping, ziplining and snow sports, as well as fairs, events and dining options. Local crime may be worth noting: While the state sports a low rate of 1.99 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, Laconia's rate is 4.68, even slightly higher than the national median of 4 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, according to NeighborhoodScout.com. On the bright side, between 2009 and 2018, there have been only two murders in town, according to the community's police department. The site lists Parade Road-Old North Main Street and Weirs Beach-Lakeport as the safest neighborhoods in Laconia.
City population: 11,328
Share of population 65+: 29.3%
The Garden State offers a number of appealing retirement destinations for those who can afford it. Ocean City is a particularly attractive spot, evidenced by the high share of seniors who have already chosen to reside there. Family-friendly beaches, a fun three-mile boardwalk and proximity to Atlantic City are notable draws.
But yes, it's going to cost you. Living costs and taxes are notoriously high all over Jersey. In Ocean City, the cost of living for all residents is a whopping 62.2% above the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces. And housing is particularly expensive with the median home value within city limits at a hefty $611,100, compared with $327,800 for the state and $229,000 for the U.S., according to Zillow. Plus, you have to budget extra for insurance to protect against possible storm and flood damage. Note, too, that Ocean City is a dry town, but you don't have to travel far to buy your booze.
City population: 556,718
Share of population 65+: 14.2%
Cost of living for retirees: 3.1% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $49,684
Community score: 57.5
You can find a bright retirement in Albuquerque. The city tends to get 310 sunny days each year through all four seasons. That gives you plenty of opportunities to explore the many hiking and biking trails in and around the city, go hot air ballooning and plat the variety of golf courses in the area. And when the sun goes down, local casinos—complete with concert venues, restaurants and more, along with table games, slots and bingo—help energize the local nightlife.
All that comes with below-average costs, but also below-average incomes. And many people aren't able to strike a balance: The poverty rate in Albuquerque among residents age 65 and up is 9.9%, compared with 9.3% for the U.S., but better than the 11.9% rate for New Mexico.
City population: 209,463
Share of population 65+: 10.3%
Cost of living for retirees: 0.7% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $47,912
Community score: 61.1
While much of New York comes with above-average living costs, Rochester proves more affordable, slightly below average for retirees. Housing costs are notably cheap at about 10% below average for retired residents. Indeed, the median home value is a mere $79,000, according to Zillow, compared with $229,000 for the entire U.S. and $303,600 in New York state.
That can leave plenty of room in your budget for warm coats, snow shovels and other winter gear. The average snowfall is a heavy 99 inches a year. In January alone over the past two winters, nearly 33 inches of snow fell on Rochester, according to the National Weather Service. Luckily, you have plenty of local wine options to help keep you warm year-round. The surrounding Finger Lakes Region is home to more than 100 wineries, all within a 90-minute drive of Rochester, and Casa Larga Vineyards is located just 20 minutes from downtown.
Metro population: 550,281 (Durham: 257,170)
Share of population 65+: 13.6% (Durham: 10.8%)
Cost of living for retirees: 10.5% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $63,046 (Durham:$59,567)
Community score: 64.1
Duke University and the University of North Carolina may be bitter sports rivals, but their hometowns of Durham and Chapel Hill, respectively, team up to form a powerhouse metro area, and a great place to retire. Indeed, the Milken Institute ranks Durham-Chapel Hill as the third best large metro area for successful aging—crediting the area's economic strength, as two-thirds of North Carolina's Research Triangle (the other third being Raleigh), and quality health care. The universities play a big role in those two advantages and also boost up the local cultural and recreational scenes, like in many college towns.
Though not a deal-breaker for every retiree, it’s worth noting that violent crimes are more prevalent in Durham than they are for the nation as a whole. The rate of violent crime is 8.6 per 1,000 residents, according to the Neighborhood Scout, compared with a national median of 4 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. Chapel Hill rates safer, with just 1.8 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. And the real estate values reflect it: The median home value is $382,900 in Chapel Hill and $229,900 in Durham, according to Zillow.
City population: 118,099
Share of population 65+: 11.1%
Cost of living for retirees: 0.5% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $57,580
With its low costs and generous tax situation, North Dakota has consistently ranked highly among our best states for retirement. So we believe spending your golden years in the Peace Garden State to be a financially savvy choice for your retirement destination (albeit perhaps an unorthodox one). And Fargo fits the bill for affordability, with particularly low housing costs for retirees, 14.3% below the national average. Indeed, while the average cost for a private room in a North Dakota nursing home is $11,690 a month, it's just $9,644 a month in Fargo, according to Genworth.
North Dakota State University is based in Fargo and, along with a number of other area colleges, brings with it attractive amenities for retirees and co-eds alike. That includes sporting events and cultural attractions, such as numerous musical and theater performances. Just be sure to bundle up if you venture out in the winter months. The average low temperature in January is literally 0 degrees Fahrenheit, according to U.S. Climate Data, only goes up to an average low 6 degrees Fahrenheit in the surrounding months.
City population: 852,144
Share of population 65+: 9.8%
Cost of living for retirees: 7.8% below the national average
Average income for population 65+: $46,941
The biggest city in the Buckeye State comes with some of the smallest costs. Housing is particularly affordable: The median home value in Columbus, the state capital, is just $157,500, compared with the national median of $229,00, according to Zillow.
But low costs doesn't equate to a lack of activities. Home to Ohio State University, locals can enjoy the co-ed culture, including big sporting events, concerts and cultural diversions. It also offers Program 60, which invites Ohio residents age 60 and older to take university courses free. Off campus, the downtown area has a lively scene with an eclectic mix of shops, galleries and restaurants. The Short North and German Village neighborhoods, in particular, are worth exploring.
City population: 629,173
Share of population 65+: 11.9%
Average income for population 65+: $57,615
Community score: 60.3
The biggest city in the Sooner State charges residents little in living costs. Housing-related expenses are particularly affordable, at 28.1% below average for retirees. Indeed, the median home value across all ages is $131,700, well below the nation's median of $229,000, according to Zillow. And a private room in a nursing home costs a median $66,248 a year, compared with a median $100,375 a year for the U.S., according to Genworth.
Cowboys may feel particularly at home in Oklahoma City—it has one of the largest livestock markets in the world, after all—but given the area's downtown revitalization efforts over the past several years, everyone can find something to enjoy. The Bricktown Entertainment District has a variety of restaurants and nightlife options. And in neighboring Norman, the University of Oklahoma plays host to bigtime sporting and cultural events.
City population: 56,224
Share of population 65+: 11.5%
The small city of Corvallis, located about 85 miles south of popular Portland, offers a similarly laidback lifestyle, but with smaller crowds and relatively lower costs. The overall cost of living is 19.8% above the national average—still pricey to be sure, but much more affordable than Portland's living costs at 47.8% above average. And average incomes are comparable at $68,589 a year in Corvallis and $68,125 in Portland for all residents.
Beyond financials, the area has plenty to recommend itself. You can enjoy the great outdoors, hiking or biking along the more than 60 miles of surrounding trails, observing the local wildlife, or taking advantage of nearby fishing, kayaking and swimming spots. You can also indulge in the more intoxicating offerings of the area. Coravllis is home to more than a dozen wineries—naturally, being in the heart of the Willamette Valley—as well as four craft distillers for whiskey, vodka and more and six breweries right in town.