Awesome Retirement Spots
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30 Unexpectedly Awesome Places to Retire Across America

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Awesome Retirement Spots
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Remapping Retirement

The decision on where to retire has never been more interesting. And based on shifting population demographics and revitalized downtowns in places off the beaten track, it's eye opening to see what certain American towns have to offer. Whether you are an active retiree who's a bit more comfortable financially or on a strict budget and concerned about the cost of living for a new place to call home, there's a diverse range of places to explore. We explored under-the-radar retirement destinations that offer a range of attractive attributes, including affordable real estate and housing options, low taxes, abundant cultural attractions and outdoor activities, great dining and shopping options, as well as access to medical care and senior services. Check out this list of 30 surprising places for retirement that you might not have considered, and see if any hold appeal for a late-in-life change of location.

Related: 22 Costs and Challenges of Relocating for Retirement

Nampa, Idaho
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Nampa, Idaho

Nearby Boise is white-hot on lots of "best places to live" lists, but the adjacent old town of Nampa is a charming and affordable city to consider. Nampa was once a solid railroad town, and the infrastructure and city have kept their old-town feel with modern retail and services in preserved older buildings. Diversity, a low cost of living, and real estate prices with $862 as the median rent make this Idaho gem a find.

Bisbee, Arizona
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Bisbee, Arizona

Arizona is a popular destination for sure, but small-town Bisbee is a border-town find that is full of charm with a strong arts scene, the antithesis of the more common Arizona gated-community vibe. The median rent is $713. It's a perfect spot for those who like really small towns with lots of quirky bars, restaurants, and artsy shops, along with hiking trails and a strong sense of community.

Camas, Washington
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Camas, Washington

A bit larger community, Camas is classic Pacific Northwest small-town cool, and perfect for those who dislike the hot and humid options. Camas is a scenic wonderland and a natural spot for active retirees. It sits near the Columbia River and Oregon-Washington border and sports a beautiful downtown with lots of art, good food, and culture. Somewhat more costly, the average rent is $1,340, a bit higher than other places in the state.

Falmouth, Massachusetts
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Falmouth, Massachusetts

This Cape Cod town is off the beaten track and scenic with seascapes and a quaint downtown. Falmouth also has a local hospital and lots of access to amenities without the urban crush of the greater Boston area. Lots of food options, shopping, and services abound for retirees, including a city-sponsored senior center and perks for living arrangements and various supportive services to help retirees, too. Rents average around $1,300.

Traverse City, Michigan
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Traverse City, Michigan

For the flintier retirees who aren't bothered by seasonal winter cold, this great restaurant, arts and picture-perfect downtown is a great choice especially for active retirees who love golf, skiing, and hiking. Financials are in retirees' favor as the state does not tax Social Security and provides a sizable deduction to seniors on other types of retirement income. Michigan does not have an estate tax or an inheritance tax.

Related: Best Perks for Seniors in All 50 States

Hot Springs, Arkansas
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Hot Springs, Arkansas

America's own "Hot Spring" for natural hot tub bathing, retirees love Hot Springs, a city offering lots of benefits including medical facilities, diverse restaurants, golf, camping, hiking and biking, and water sports. Nearby access to 52 Arkansas state parks, seven national park sites, and three national forests along with a lower-than-the-average cost of living make this a hot pick.

Gardnerville, Nevada
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Gardnerville, Nevada

A favorite for retirees for several reasons: Social and cultural amenities are abundantly available; there's a low tax burden; and there are established retirement communities along with recreation centers tailored for seniors. Gardnerville boasts highly ranked medical centers. Real estate is a bit pricier than the state average, but the small-town charm and safety seem to make up for the bump in housing costs.

Delaware, Ohio
Delaware, Ohio by Ben Turover (CC BY)

Delaware, Ohio

Lots of outdoor leisure boating, hiking, and water skiing activities are only 20 miles from Columbus, Ohio's capital city. Delaware's waterways include Alum Creek Lake and Delaware Lake and feature the largest inland beach in the state. City dwellers can enjoy downtown Delaware's breweries, restaurants and shops. Low crime rates and low real estate prices make this Ohio college town one to check out.

Georgetown, Texas
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Georgetown, Texas

Less hubbub and traffic than nearby Austin, yet loaded with old time charm, a lively arts scene, and antique stores, scenic Georgetown is full of diverse activities for seniors and perfect for active retirees. Real estate costs are more affordable here and highly ranked medical centers are close at hand. There's no state income tax in Texas, and Social Security retirement benefits and all other types of retirement income are tax-free. Downside is that Texas has high sales taxes and property taxes.

Fairbanks, Alaska
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Fairbanks, Alaska

For retirees who are really unfazed by cold and who love nature and the outdoors, this pristine city has natural wonders and amenities, restaurants, and an arts scene. There's a low cost of housing and easy access to medical care. Residents also enjoy wonders like the Northern Lights. Goods and groceries run higher than the average, but become a permanent Alaska resident, the state will pay you from the oil-funded Permanent Fund Dividend, more than $2,000 per person.

Bonita Springs, Florida
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Bonita Springs, Florida

Nestled between Fort Myers and affluent Naples, this beachside gem is a more affordable spot for the warm-weather fans who love biking and everything a seaside town can offer. With great seafood restaurants, senior assistance programs, lower real estate costs, and a vibrant arts scene, Bonita Springs is close to Southwest Florida International Airport and top medical centers, which make it a smart Florida choice.

Milwaukie, Oregon
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Milwaukie, Oregon

This Bing cherry capital is a Portland suburb, close to the airport and loaded with small-town charm and modern retail and dining amenities. Milwaukie sits on the banks of the Willamette River, and offers loads of nature walks, leisure boating, and arts-related events to explore. There's no sales tax, and Social Security retirement benefits are exempt from the state income tax, but retirement accounts like a 401(k) or an IRA are taxed at full state income tax rates. Lots of senior housing options are available, too.

Wilmington, Vermont
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Wilmington, Vermont

Safe, clean, and classic New England small-town charisma are all wrapped up in one place. For those who love four seasons, are outdoor-adventurous, and on a budget, Wilmington ticks a lot of boxes. Historic buildings arts and fashion boutiques, diverse restaurants, and loads of leisure activities including golf abound. It's also near Haystack Mountain ski resort and Lake Whitingham. Lower real estate prices than the state average make it a smart choice, but the state is not considered a big bargain for retirees in the taxation department.

Kahului, Hawaii
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Kahului, Hawaii

Paradise on a budget, you can still find deals in this Maui spot. Golfing, hiking, and outdoor activities galore can be had all amid scenic marvels. Upfront real estate costs are higher, and goods and groceries costs are, too, but Hawaii exempts some retirement income (including Social Security and public pension income), but private pensions and retirement savings accounts are fully taxed income. Living in a resort area may cost more, but the health and wellness benefits in a temperate climate are priceless.

Fairhope, Alabama
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Fairhope, Alabama

Fairhope is a pretty find for those with a strict budget. Pensions and social security are not taxed, and homeowners who are 65+ do not have to pay property taxes. Historic Fairhope is sunny and scenic with lots of golf and activities for retirees. Located near the Gulf Coast, it offers leisure boating, marinas, and fishing activities. The James P. Nix Senior Center has activities including luncheons, card games, board games, pool games, ballroom dancing, line dancing, bingo, and more.

Hamilton, Ohio
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Hamilton, Ohio

Affordable and Midwest friendly, Hamilton is accessible to Cincinnati and the airport, located along the Great Miami River, and filled with restaurants, chic shopping, a vibrant arts scene, and biking and walking trails. Named the City of Sculpture, the scenic town has outdoor artwork and murals and is also home to microbreweries, outdoor theaters, and hiking and biking trails.

Bozeman, Montana
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Bozeman, Montana

For the outdoors- and nature-loving retirees, low-crime Bozeman has an airport and easy proximity to the majestic Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. Skiing, hiking, unique eateries and shopping make this Montana town one to love. No sales taxes and low median home prices help soften the state taxing a portion of Social Security benefits for retirees above a certain income level. Montana property taxes are considered low.

Nephi, Utah
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Nephi, Utah

This small college town is in north-central Utah, south of the greater Salt Lake City area. Safe, affordable, and filled with unique shops and markets, Nephi is an up and comer and won't be cheap for long. With lots of activities indoors and out, Nephi has lower living costs that offset the state's taxation on Social Security. Utah also taxes pension income and income from retirement accounts at the state's 5% flat income tax, with seniors able to claim a small credit to offset the cost.

Hide-A-Way Lake, Mississippi
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Hide-A-Way Lake, Mississippi

For fans of a water view and loads of outdoor activities in a warmer climate, this small-town find is the ticket. Retirees on a budget can get the gated community feel without the price tag. This low-crime community is set on a beautiful lake made for boating, waterskiing, and fishing. There are affordable real estate and rental prices, and Mississippi exempts all forms of retirement income from taxation, too. The state has low property taxes and a 7% sales tax.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
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Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Rehoboth Beach is a scenic and temperate Atlantic Coast town with lower real estate costs than nearby states. The town's boardwalk is filled with restaurants, shops, and hotels, and has loads of activities both indoors and out, including summer concerts and museums. Retirees pay no sales tax and get an exclusion of $12,500 from retirement income such as IRAs, pensions, and 401(k) plans for state taxes. Delaware has low property tax rates and no estate or inheritance tax.

Indian Wells, California
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Indian Wells, California

Indian Wells has the charm of old Palm Springs without the high real estate costs and traffic. Lots of retirees are already here, and there are numerous activities and events to enjoy year-round. The city is near the San Bernardino National Forest and Joshua Tree National Park. Active seniors will love the golf, tennis, and hiking trails around the town. In 2016, the median rent was $762, which helps as California overall is not a tax-friendly state for retirees.

Estes Park, Colorado
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Estes Park, Colorado

Stunningly scenic and set in the Rocky Mountains, this safe pristine spot is in a tax-friendly state for retirees not afraid of a robust winter. Loaded with educated professionals with outdoorsy activities for every level of fitness, this is an active retiree's place to be. Senior housing options and rentals are available, but the median home prices are a bit over the national average. This town is perfect for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and those a bit more comfortable in their retirement budget.

Addis, Louisiana
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Addis, Louisiana

Addis has an easy small-town feel in West Baton Rouge Parish along the Mississippi River. Known for a strong sense of community, this town is safe and boasts unique shops and eateries and has affordable housing to spare. Louisiana does not tax Social Security or public pensions and has low property taxes. Retirees will pay income taxes on retirement savings account income, and the state has a high 9.45% sales tax.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire
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Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Sitting on the Piscataqua River, this safe, retiree-friendly town boasts recreation centers and a quaint downtown village with historic New England sights, shops and scenery, and plenty of great food, arts, and entertainment. There's no state tax nor taxed salaries or wages, an exception being a 5% tax on dividends and investment income interest. Cons are the property taxes, and median housing costs in Portsmouth are high, and average rents run about $1,100.

Carmel, Indiana
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Carmel, Indiana

Midwestern friendly and safe, this town is tucked in just north of Indianapolis. Carmel has it all, shopping, arts, food, activities galore for retirees, and a strong sense of community. Indiana doesn't tax Social Security income but does tax pension income. Sales tax runs 7%, and the median home cost is around $331,000.

Brevard, North Carolina
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Brevard, North Carolina

The Brevard area is nicknamed the "Land of Waterfalls," as this scenic town is perfect for active seniors and has all the outdoor activities and the arts covered, along with unique shops and diverse eateries in a well-kept historic downtown. The state has no tax on Social Security income and a 6.75% sales tax. With a median home cost of $210,000 and rentals running at about $730, affordability is high along with a small-town safe quality of life.

Tellico Village, Tennessee
Courtesy of southeastdiscovery.com

Tellico Village, Tennessee

Tellico Village was made for active lifestyle retirees who favor watersports. Scenic walking trails, golf courses, and views of the Great Smoky Mountains abound. Add to that diverse eateries, shopping, and a mild climate with a short winter. There's no state income tax. Social Security and income from retirement accounts are not taxed by the state and property taxes in Tennessee are on the low end, but sales taxes are 9.25%. The median home cost checks in at $235,000.

Los Lunas, New Mexico
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Los Lunas, New Mexico

Los Lunas is south of Albuquerque, along the Rio Grande. It is an up-and-comer town with Facebook opening a huge data center there. The low-crime town has history and a hip vibe and offers fun eateries, museums and bars, with loads of hiking and nature trails to explore. New Mexico taxes all retirement income including Social Security with a deduction for seniors based on income. Low property taxes and 5.125% sales tax combined with affordable median home costs of $175,000 make it a contender.

Stone Mountain, Georgia
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Stone Mountain, Georgia

Just outside of Atlanta, this scenic wonderland near the historic Stone Mountain Park is perfect for active retirees. This safe city has medical centers, eateries, shopping and soon-to-be "state of the art" senior center. There's no tax on Social Security retirement benefits and no state inheritance or estate tax, with a $65,000 per person deduction on all retirement income for anyone 65 or older. The town's sales tax rate is 8%, and property tax rates are moderate.

Virginia Beach, Virginia
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Virginia Beach, Virginia

With beach-town homes affordable at a $267,000 median cost, retiring in Virginia Beach may be the move for the Atlantic seaboard fans. Lighthouses, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean surround the town that boasts scenic sights and eateries, nightlife and bars, and shops and museums, too. Low crime rates and highly ranked medical centers in a state with a number of exemptions to ease the cost of living on retirees are a bonus. Sales tax is 6%, and property taxes are on the low end of the nation's average.