Best Places to Retire

Ken Teegardin Written by Ken Teegardin
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver

Where Should I retire? This question has as many different answers as there are people asking. But before we get to the where let’s look at a few important factors that will help you narrow your search. Some of these will weigh heavier than others.

Best Cities For Retirement

Cost of Living
For most seniors, affordability is the most important factor when deciding where to live. What is the median home price? What is the total state and local tax burden? Does the state tax IRAs, pensions, etc.? What is the median income? What is the state’s overall cost of living? If you’re planning to work part-time is the unemployment rate low?

Family and Friends
How important is it to live near family and friends? Do you want to live within driving distance of your grandkids? Do you want to have built-in friends around you? Or are you comfortable making new friends?

Are you tired of cold, wet winters? Consider the South or Southwest. Don’t like long, hot summers? Try the Northeast or upper Midwest. Does the humidity bother your arthritis? Consider a state like Arizona or New Mexico in the dry Southwest.

Coastal areas in states such as Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana can experience frequent tropical storms and hurricanes. Are you prepared to deal with potential evacuations, boarding up your home’s windows, and other safety measures? Insurance costs in hurricane zones can be astronomical.

Northeastern states experience long and cold winters with little sunshine.

You now have more time on your hands than ever. How do you plan to spend it? Golfing? Gambling? Fishing? Hiking? Mountain biking? Volunteering at the local history museum?

Do you already have hobbies that you want to continue? Or are you interested in trying something new? Get a feel for that city or town’s (your hobby) community by going on-line. Check out local clubs and associations.

Having a college or university in town means you can continue your education. It also means more cultural activities and sporting events.

Do you need a world-class arts community? Consider being close to a large city.

If you’re a traveler make sure you live close to a major airport.

At some point you may need more frequent and possibly more urgent medical attention. Is there quality care nearby? If you have a specific medical need are there facilities close by that can address that need? 


Top Cities for Retirement

Now that you have some questions (and hopefully some answers) bouncing around your head, let’s look at a few retiring hot spots. These cities and towns made the lists of AARP,,, or U.S. News and World Report.

Prescott, AZ
This former capital of the Arizona territory has a lot going for it: beautiful high desert scenery, low housing costs, a thriving arts community, and plenty of year-round sunshine. Located between Phoenix and Sedona, Prescott is a small city (43,217) with plenty to offer seniors.

History buffs will love exploring the city’s 809 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The median sales price for homes in the fourth quarter of 2010 was $220,650. The estimated per capita income in 2009, according to, was $29,866.

You won’t run out of things to do with the city’s four golf courses, four colleges, Frontier Days rodeo, Prescott Film Festival and many other yearly cultural events. If you’re active, explore the Mile-High Trail System, 28 miles of trails along the former Santa Fe Railroad.

Fort Collins, CO
Tucked in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, this college city consistently makes the lists of “Best Places to Retire” and for good reason. You’ll experience 296 days of sunshine and mild winters making Fort Collins an outdoor lover’s dream. You can drive to a handful of world-class ski resorts in several hours. And the city has built miles of bike paths and hiking trails.

Continue your education at Colorado State University. Arts lovers will find a home at the Fort Collins Symphony, Opera Fort Collins, and the OpenStage Theater and Company.

The median home price is $222,500. Unemployment is just 6.4%.

Greenville, SC
The city of Greenville (pop: 61,782) is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. With pleasant year-round weather, this Southern city will delight active seniors with its hiking and biking trails, many golf courses and nearby Jones Gap State Park.

Culturally you’ll never run out of things to do. Try the Greenville County Museum of Art, The Roper Mountain Science Center, the Indie Craft Parade, and others.

 Outpatient Center and Upstate Surgery Center is among the best healthcare facilities in the country. And the University Medical Center has five campuses.

The median home or condo value is $183,726; the median household income is $38,090.

Updated: Feb 09, 2011


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