10 Best Small Towns in America to Retire
A recent study found that one in three Americans don't have enough in savings to pack-up-shop at the office. That's why picking the town that you'll decide to call your home post-working days is so essential. Not sure where to grow roots? Here, the best small towns to consider.
Palm Springs, California
Whether Palm Springs brings to mind Rat Pack or Coachella, know that the area has been growing rapidly over the past decade and continues to be a sought-after retirement address. New restaurants, shopping, and culture centers are being opened, along with further development of art galleries and antique shops, shares Paul Morris, owner of a Keller Williams Realty office and author of Wealth Can’t Wait. Plus, if you’re an active senior citizen, it’s an ideal place to keep your energy levels high. “The weather is dry and warm all year and hot in the summer, which allows for year-round outdoor activities, including tennis, swimming, hiking, and biking. And, with nearly 125 golf courses has the largest concentration of golf courses in the U.S.,” he says.
Known for more than just maple syrup, Vermont is a quiet, picturesque state to consider for your retirement days. Here, you not only have a vast amount of outdoor activities—from skiing in the winter to sailing in the summer—but AARP names this northern Vermont town one of the best destinations for senior citizens. It’s central to plenty of larger towns, with Montreal 75 miles north and Boston 180 miles southwest, giving your children plenty of places to live and raise their families, without grandma and grandpa being too far away. What you’ll love the most (apart from the beauty and relaxed vibe, of course), is Church Street Marketplace, a four-block indoor-outdoor center where you’ll see Victorian and Art Deco buildings filled with coffee shops, galleries, boutiques, and much more.
San Marcos, Texas
Here’s the deal: living near(ish) to college students gives you many advantages in your golden years. Not only can you expect that arts and community to be all around you, but you can find services, from massages to lawn care, for much cheaper, as students are training for their degrees. Morris says another perk of Texas-living is easy access to medical care and a low tax impact because the state has no income tax. Before you pack your bags and head Southwest, make sure you’re prepared to sweat; Morris adds that while winters are mild, summers can be hot. Texas is also considered one of the best states to retire in.
When you consider where you want to live out the rest of your days, what’s top of your priority list? If having room to roam, clean air to breathe, and a quiet space to reflect and relax come to mind, retire to this Virginia town that’s only 65 miles west of Washington, D.C. Not only is this city budget-friendly, but 14.5 percent of its population is above the age of 65, meaning you have a high chance of making new pals. This is especially true if you’re active! In addition to golf courses for the birdie-seeking crowd, there are also opportunities for equestrian lovers and bicycle road warriors. Your friends and family will be keen to visit you too, since Winchester is home to the popular Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival and plenty of parades, concerts, a circus, and more. Find out the perfect age for retirement. (Hint: It’s not 65.)
While you might consider this a trendy college town at first glance, this cultured, nature-minded small city is home to more than 6,000 residents above the age of 65. With a below average cost of living and a beautiful, laid back downtown area, there’s plenty to see and do, especially with so many college students to build the scene for you. And if retirement for you means having a part-time gig, employment opportunities are up in this town, meaning you have the chance to earn a little somethin’ somethin’ to support your hobbies. When you’re not filling up coffee cups, you can enjoy the arts and theater scene, or if you’re able, enjoy hiking, fishing, canoeing, camping, and more at nearby Monroe State Park, a 202,000-acre oasis. Next, read up about the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement and how you can benefit from it.
The appeal of retirement is the ability to enjoy the little things in life, like the sound of the wind rolling through the leaves or the beauty of snow falling softly to the ground. In this small town, just 30 miles north of Portland, you’ll get the best of summer and winter. Here the cost of living is average, attracting senior citizens who appreciate the change of seasons (heavy on the winter) the opportunity to live richly for their golden years. A bonus is the highest percentage of their population are 65 plus, encouraging the town to offer affordable housing for those on a limited budget. Here, you’ll enjoy the arts and culture scene, including historical explorations too, like the Franco-American Heritage Center and the Museum L-A. For those seeking to stay active, the nearby Androscoggin River is ideal for catching Atlantic salmon or for long walks along the water.
With miles of white sandy beaches and clear, blue ocean, Morris calls this one of the most beautiful small towns he’s visited. If you’re a water-lover, pushing this destination to the top of your list is a must, as your visions of seaside living could be a reality. Here, Morris says the weather is agreeable year-round and the most of the town is walkable. “Biking, strolling, and some of the best ocean fishing are additional outdoor activities that abound in Naples,” he says. Florida is tax-friendly to seniors, but Morris says that single-family residences are pricey, so it might be worth it to look into a condo or another community-living experience to save on cost. “The higher cost housing is probably well worth it, if you can swing the additional cost, as Naples ranks among cities with the highest well-being Gallup index,” he says.
Want another Panhandle state alternative if Naples isn’t in your budget? Morris says to turn your attention to Hollywood, Florida. ” Located on Florida’s east coast between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Hollywood is very affordable while still providing access to two of Florida’s most vibrant cities,” Morris says. “And, there is lots to do in Hollywood, including strolling the two-mile long boardwalk, visiting the Kolb Nature Center, and the Artspark at Young Circle.” Another big perk of this retirement town is the food: tons of farmers’ markets, fresh caught-that-day seafood, and small restaurants that serve local dishes. It’s also a great find for healthcare, with many hospitals and research centers, if health is top of your mind.
Technically a mid-sized city, Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods have that small town vibe you’re aiming for. Time and time again, the Steel City is rated one of the most livable cities, because not only does it have low crime rates and a low cost of living, but it also has a great infrastructure, multiple universities, a great cultural center, and trusted medical care. It’s also pretty tax-friendly, especially for seniors who are looking to make their pensions stretch far and wide into their golden years. One important note to keep in mind, however: Winters. “While certain parts of the city are quite walkable, the weather is often inclement–quite cold in the winter and hot in the summer—which is Pittsburgh’s biggest down-side for retirees,” Morris notes. Even with the negative factor of weather? Morris says Pittsburgh is still where his 92-year-old mom (and all of her girlfriends) refuse to leave.
Even though Bellingham has six months of rain, plenty of senior citizens choose to call this their home. That’s probably due to the abundance of opportunities for fun and adventure: from sailing and hiking to a bustling art scene, there’s something for everyone. It doesn’t hurt that you’re also close to Canada, so you can exercise that passport throughout your golden-aged years. More than 10 percent of the population here is over the age of 65, so friends abound to join together for fishing, speed-boating and more. Though the cost of living is higher, there are plenty of job opportunities, with unemployment well below the national average, if you want a part-time gig. And if you want to improve your brain endurance? The nearby Western Washington University offers the ‘Academy of Lifelong Learning’ just for retirees. Next, make sure you avoid these 15 mistakes that will ruin your retirement.