Showing posts with label best places to retire in the united states. Show all posts
Showing posts with label best places to retire in the united states. Show all posts

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Forbes List of Top Retirement Cities

Forbes Magazine periodically comes out with their choices for the best cities for retirement.  In 2013, the criteria they used was based on finding cities that had a low cost of living, low taxes, and low crime.  They also looked for cities with easy access to medical facilities, a wide selection of outdoor activities and plenty of  volunteer opportunities.  In addition, they considered the climate of their different choices, although they took into account the fact that many people do not want to move to a new region of the country and not everyone considers the Sun Belt to be essential to a happy retirement.  Therefore, some of the cities on the list are in the northern United States, in locations that get harsh winter weather.

On this particular list, Forbes did not take into consideration the local economy, which could be an important factor for those Baby Boomers who hope to work after retirement.  Consequently, be aware that some of these location may have high unemployment rates.

Forbes looked at 400 cities before coming up with their list.  Here are their top retirement choices:

Forbes List of Top Cities for Retirement

Alexandria, Louisiana
Athens, Georgia
Austin, Texas
Bangor, Maine
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Billings, Montana
Columbia, Missouri
Fargo, North Dakota
Huntsville, Alabama
Mesa, Arizona
Orlando, Florida
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

If you want to read more details about the criteria used in coming up with this list, you can read the full article at:

More Commentary about the Forbes List of Top Retirement Cities

The median home price in these cities ranged from a low of $127,000 in Bangor, Maine to a high of $208,000 in Austin, Texas, which means that retirees in a variety of financial situations should be able to find an affordable city on the list.  In fact, some retirees who have a lot of equity in their current home may even be able to pay cash for a small home in some of these towns.

One city that comes up over and over again on a wide variety of lists of popular places to retire is Austin, Texas.  For someone who is planning to retire in Texas, the area around Austin is certainly worth considering.  Just north of Austin is the popular retirement community of Sun City - Texas, which I discussed in another blog post a few months ago.  Although the median home price in Austin is above average for the United States, and at the top of the Forbes list, this city is a fun place to live.  It has a thriving music industry and numerous recreational lakes in the area.  Austin is the state capital of Texas and is also home to the University of Texas.  In addition there are several other small colleges in the area, such as Southwestern University in nearby Georgetown, where Sun City - Texas is located.  It is also worth mentioning that Texas has no state income tax, although property taxes are higher than in many other states.  (When we moved from Texas to California, we discovered that our property taxes were only half as much per $100,000 in home value in California than they had been in Texas.  This offset the state income taxes we now pay in California.)

Another city I wanted to specifically mention is Columbia, Missouri.  I grew up in Missouri and attended the University of Missouri at Columbia.  It is a charming small city in a beautiful state with gorgeous hardwood forests and rolling hills.  Missouri is also centrally located for people who want to live in the Midwest region of the United States.  From Missouri it is an easy drive to a number of other states, including Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Kentucky, and Tennessee.  The downside to living in Missouri is the extreme weather.  Temperatures can climb to the upper 90's, with high humidity, in the summer.  Freezing temperatures and snow are not uncommon in the winter.  In addition, some of the other cities in Missouri are not as charming as Columbia.  For example, St. Louis has had one of the higher crime rates in the United States during the past few years.

Orlando, Florida is the ideal city for people who love theme parks.  Orlando is home to Disney World as well as many other amusement parks and recreational facilities.  You could never be bored in this active area.  Like Texas, Florida also has the advantage of no state income tax.  I have relatives who live in Orlando and they love it.  The cost of living and home prices are quite low, with a median home price of about $135,000.  Small retirement homes can be purchased for even less.  Winters are beautiful, although it can occasionally get down to near freezing.  On the other hand, summertime temperatures can be quite hot.  Most retirement communities in the area have swimming pools, golf courses and other amenities, so this can be a very desirable area to retire.

There are cities on this list in almost every region of the United States except the western states of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada.  The closest cities to the western region are Mesa, Arizona in the south and Billings, Montana in the north.  Hopefully, next year Forbes will add some desirable locations to live out west!

There is much more information you will want to consider before choosing a place to retire.  Consequently, you may want to check out the topics below.  Each of these links will connect you to a number of articles on these topics.  You may be especially interested in viewing "Great Places to Retire in the United States."

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States 

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

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Photo of Austin City Park courtesy of

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Best Places to Retire in the United States on $100 a Day

Whenever I find a high quality list of good places to retire, I try to pass that information on for my readers to review.  In 2012, AARP Magazine and released their 2012 list of great places to live on $100 a day.  This amounts to $36,500 a year, which they estimate would result in an after tax income of $27,375 a year or $2281 a month. (Note:  Due to inflation, I suggest you add 3% to the home prices and cost of living for every year you read this after 2012.  In other words, if you are reading this in 2015, add 9% to the financial figures you see here.  The principle still remains, however, that these locations are affordable and could be good retirement locals for people who will be retiring on Social Security alone.)

This level of income is well within the reach of many retirees, especially couples.  If one spouse has Social Security benefits of $2000 a month and their spouse will receive $1000 a month, they could afford to retire in one of these communities. 

One of the requirements that AARP had in determining the best places to live on $100 a day was that they had to have "affordable luxuries".  They defined this as cities with cultural attractions like museums or symphony orchestras, sports teams, great places to eat, and homes that sell for about $192,000 or less.  In those instances in which I have spent time in a city, I have added my own comments to the AARP list.

2012 List of Best Places to Live on $100 a Day (Prices May be 5 to 10 Percent Higher, Now)

San Antonio, Texas:  San Antonio is a charming town that is sunny 263 days a year.  The median home price is $135,000.  There are plenty of libraries, museums, golf courses and other affordable luxuries in this city.  As a former resident of Texas, we have visited this city several times during the months of July and August and it is important to disclose that San Antonio gets HOT in the summer.  However, one delightful way to cool off is to take a stroll along the famous Riverwalk (pictured above) and perhaps have a cool beverage in one of the numerous sidewalk cafes.  It's right across the street from the Alamo.

Roanoke, Virginia: Roanoke is in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  It is sunny 217 days a year and has a median home price of $151,500.  The city hosts half a dozen festivals every year, and the downtown area has a planetarium, theater and museums.  One of our daughters went to college in nearby Lexington, Virginia and you should know that this town is about a four hour drive from Washington, DC, in a very rural part of Virginia.  However, it is also in an absolutely gorgeous part of the United States, and is a lovely location for enjoying fall foliage.

Las Cruces, New Mexico:  Las Cruces is in the high desert of New Mexico, which means you can expect very hot summers.  We have stayed in this town while driving across the country and love the desert landscapes.  However, the scenery may not appeal to everyone.  There are 287 sunny days a year, and the median home price is $148,000.

I have not stayed in the remaining towns on the list, so I will only list the main statistics here.  To read more, you can see the full descriptions at Best Places 2012.  I just wanted to make sure that I brought these great cities to your attention, so you could add them to the locations you are considering for retirement.

Spokane, Washington:  Spokane has 176 sunny days a year, with a median home price of $145,000.  It's a great city for people who love outdoor sports, whether it is fishing or skiing.  As most people realize, Spokane is much rainier than many other popular retirement locations.  However, we have friends who retired in this area, and they love it!

Eau Claire, Wisconsin:  Eau Claire is another location that is popular with people who enjoy outdoor sports, especially in the winter.  It has 200 sunny days a year and a median home price of only $121,100.  It is also home to a branch of the University of Wisconsin which provides lots of cultural, entertainment and adult education possibilities.

Morgantown, West Virginia:  Morgantown is a small college town in the center of Appalachia.  It boasts an excellent healthcare system.  There are 185 sunny days a year, and a median home price of $168,900.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:  Pittsburgh is no longer a city that is defined solely by the steel industry.  With a wonderful symphony orchestra and a beautiful waterfront, it has become popular with retirees.  The 194 sunny days and median home price of $106,500 is very appealing, too.

Omaha, Nebraska:  Omaha is a Midwestern city that has become popular with high-tech companies in recent years.  It has a symphony and the largest community theater in the United States.  Omaha has 193 sunny days a year, and a median home price of $123,500.

Grand Junction, Colorado:  Grand Junction is a lovely town only a few hours away from the gorgeous ski slopes of Vail and Aspen.  It also has 214 sunny days a year, and a median home price of $159,800.

Gainesville, Florida:  Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, as well as the Florida Museum of Natural History.  It has 205 sunny days a year, and a median home price of $125,000.  Florida has long been considered a retirement mecca because of low home prices and low taxes.  It does get very hot in the summer.

Here is information about other wonderful places you may want to put on your retirement list:

The Best Sunny Places to Retire
Cheap Places to Retire
Best Places to Retire Outside the US
Finding Niche Retirement Communities

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Photo of the San Antonio Riverwalk courtesy of