There are lots of reasons to decide that a place is the “best” place to be in retirement.
We actually offer lots of lists for lots of reasons each year: places where retirement money will stretch farther, where people are healthier, where there are plenty of recreational opportunities, where the climate is congenial to older folks, etc.
If retirement is in the cards for this year, you might want to have a gander at our take on Forbes’ list of best places.
Forbes settled on 25 places, in no particular ranking, for lots of reasons that made them appealing. It tends to favor warm places, it says, but there are also other considerations that influence its selections—such as how they rank on the Milken Institute Best Cities for Successful Aging.
That particular list rates communities on such things as health care, transportation and community engagement—and that’s not the only scale of measurement used.
Another consideration these days almost has to be the viability of jobs for older people, who may end up having to work to supplement a skimpy retirement fund or cope with late-in-life financial or medical emergencies.
So that’s another metric tossed into the mix—as are low unemployment, a strong economy and the “best retirement value”—low cost of living, low taxes for retirees, property values, etc.
Health concerns also play a substantial role in choosing these retreats from the 9-to-5, as do crime, air quality, the ease of getting around (walkability, bikeability and the availability of public transportation) and the number of recreational and cultural opportunities (after all, why retire in a place where there’s nothing to do?).
So have a look at our 10 best places to retire, culled from the list of 25 and presented in no particular order, and see if any of them tickle your retirement fancy.
10. Colorado Springs, Colorado
At 60 miles south of Denver, Colorado Springs offers a bikeable refuge in a beautiful setting for outdoor sports and recreation—not to mention the proximity of Pike’s Peak for mountain lovers.
It has an above-average Milken Aging rank, a good economy and a median home price of $242,000.
Of course, it’s not perfect—not very walkable, iffy tax climate, and a cost of living 5 percent above the national average—but then, what place is?
The city made last year’s list, too.
9. Green Valley, Arizona
You’ll have plenty of company here, with “dozens” of retirement communities in which to find friends.
Between Tucson and the Mexican border, the city boasts a cost of living 4 percent below the national average, a very low serious crime rate, and an adequate number of doctors for the population.
It’s at an elevation that brings cool nights, and its southerly location offers mild winters. It also offers a good state tax climate for retirees.
On the flip side, it’s not all that walkable (hot days, too) and the economy is only so-so.
8. Iowa City, Iowa
A “central-casting college town” (University of Iowa) with an average cost of living, Iowa City offers not only higher education opportunities but it ranked at #1 on the Milken Institute list of cities for successful aging.
Good air quality, plenty of volunteering opportunities and a strong economy coupled with beneficial tax policies for retirees make it a good candidate, despite its cold winters and only “somewhat” walkability.
7. Lewiston, Maine
If you love the ocean, you’ll be fairly close to it here, in a “woodsy” city where the cost of living is 5 percent below the national average.
Tax policies aren’t so great for retirees and winters are cold—as you might expect.
The economy isn’t fabulous, but there are plenty of doctors per capita and the place’s air quality is good. Besides, who doesn’t want to be in New England in the fall?
6. Ocean Pines, Maryland
Just eight miles inland from the Atlantic on the Eastern Shore, Ocean Pines is wooded, bikeable and stocked with doctors.
Your Social Security won’t be taxed here, and the crime rate is extremely low.
However, the economy is so-so, there are state estate and inheritance taxes and the cost of living is 5 percent above the national average.
Oh, well, you can’t take it with you—and you can’t have it all.
5. Maryville, Tennessee
With a cost of living 13 percent below the national average, you might enjoy living in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.
The tax situation for seniors is advantageous, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities and the local economy is good.
It’s not very walkable, though, and the Milken Institute didn’t think all that highly of it for successful aging—but depending on your tastes, the pros may outweigh the cons.
4. Peoria, Arizona
Another Arizona town, Peoria is just northwest of Phoenix and boasts, among other things, a good economy and a beneficial tax treatment of retirees, as well as no state estate or inheritance taxes.
The median home price is $240,000, but the cost of living is high—9 percent above the national average.
And it’s not very walkable, but it has “adequate” physicians, an extremely low serious crime rate and, for those who like hot weather, a hot climate.
3. Port Charlotte, Florida
Cost of living is a nice 6 percent below the national average here in this inlet town on the Gulf Coast. It’s 100 miles south of Tampa, and boasts a median home price of just $150,000.
Low crime rate, Florida climate and a decent economy, as well as beneficial tax treatment of retirees, compare with the risk of hurricanes, a low ranking for successful aging from the Milken Institute and low walkability.
Still, maybe you’d rather swim?
2. The Villages, Florida
This senior-oriented town 60 miles northwest of Orlando offers mild winters, naturally.
It also has a low crime rate, adequate doctors and did we mention that Florida climate? Also factor in a decent economy and the state’s beneficial tax treatment of retirees.
It does have drawbacks, one of them being a low Milken Institute ranking and another being low walkability.
1. Wenatchee, Washington
On the Columbia River, 150 miles east of Seattle, sunny Wenatchee is on the “very dry” side of the Cascades and is high on the Milken Institute ranking.
Minimal rain, no state income tax and a very low serious crime rate stack up against a high cost of living—11 percent above the national average—and state inheritance and estate taxes.
It’s “somewhat walkable” and has a good amount of doctors per capita. With the Cascades filling the view, what more could you ask?