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 low median rents make this Idaho gem a find.


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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. 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. 


Related: 22 Small Towns with Vibrant Art Scenes

Camas, Washington
Camas, Washington by Sarah McDevitt (CC BY)

Camas, Washington

A bit larger of a 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. Expect average rents a bit higher than other places in the state. 


Related: 50 Small Towns to Visit Across the U.S.

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 Greater Boston. 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.


Related: Fun Facts About New England

Traverse City, Michigan
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Traverse City, Michigan

Flintier retirees who aren't bothered by seasonal winter cold can have great restaurants, arts, and a picture-perfect downtown along with activities such as 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

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


Related: Best Natural Hot Springs in America

Downtown Gardnerville
Downtown Gardnerville by Ken Lund (CC BY-SA)

Gardnerville, Nevada

A favorite for retirees for several reasons: Social and cultural amenities are abundant; there's a low tax burden; and there are established retirement communities along with recreation centers tailored for seniors. Just east of Lake Tahoe, Gardnerville boasts highly ranked medical centers. Real estate is a bit pricier than the state average, but the small-town charm and safety 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 comes with this spot only 20 miles from Columbus, Ohio's capital city. The waterways include Alum Creek Lake and Delaware Lake, and feature the largest inland beach in the state. City dwellers can enjoy downtown breweries, restaurants, and shops. Low crime rates and low real estate prices make this Ohio college town one to check out. 


Related: 10 College Towns That Retirees Love, Too

Georgetown, Texas
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Georgetown, Texas

With 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. High sales taxes and property taxes are a downside, but there's no state income tax in Texas, and Social Security retirement benefits and all other types of retirement income are tax-free. 


Related: Most and Least Tax-Friendly States for Retirees

Fairbanks, Alaska
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Fairbanks, Alaska

For retirees truly 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 such as the Northern Lights. Goods and groceries run higher than the average, but become a permanent Alaska resident and the state will pay you a varying amount from the oil-funded Permanent Fund Dividend (still being debated this year, but nearly $1,000 in 2020). 

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 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 also close to top medical centers, which make it a smart Florida choice.  


Related: 25 Places in America With the Most Seniors

Milwaukie, Oregon
Milwaukie, Oregon by Matthew Warner (CC BY-NC)

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, though retirement accounts such as a 401(k) or an IRA are taxed at full state income tax rates. Lots of senior housing options are available, too.


Related: 25 Places in America With the Most Seniors

Wilmington Village
Wilmington Village by Professor Bop (CC BY-NC-ND)

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 the Haystack Mountain ski resort and Lake Whitingham. Lower real estate prices than the state average make it a smart choice, though the state is not considered a big bargain for retirees in the taxation department.

Kahului, Hawaii
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Kahului, Hawaii

For 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) even though 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. 


Related: The Best of Hawaii on a Budget

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 65-plus 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. Expect a reopened James P. Nix Senior Center to return to offering 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. 


Related: The Best Bike Trails in All 50 States

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
Nephi, Utah by 5of7 (CC BY-SA)

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 may not be cheap much longer. 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 flat income tax rate of nearly 5%, with seniors able to claim a small credit to offset the cost.


Related: 23 Scenic Roads You Can Drive Only Around the Summer

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. 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 traditionally has loads of activities indoors and out, including summer concerts and museums. Retirees pay no sales tax and get an exclusion of up to $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. 


Related: 40 Iconic and Beautiful Boardwalks

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, and active seniors will love the golf, tennis, and hiking trails around the town. Retirees will need to remember that California overall is not a tax-friendly state for retirees, though. 

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, though 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.


Related: Best Winter Hikes Across America

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, with 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, though, and the combined state and local sales taxes are a high 9.45%.

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 interest and dividend income. Cons are the property taxes and high median housing costs.


Related: 20 Prime Places to See Beautiful Cherry Blossoms

Carmel, Indiana
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Carmel, Indiana

Midwestern friendly and safe, this town is tucked 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%, but the average home costs less than $200,000.

Brevard, North Carolina
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Brevard, North Carolina

The Brevard area is nicknamed the "Land of Waterfalls," and 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 state and local sales taxes total 6.75%. Affordability is high, along with a small-town safe quality of life.


Related: Where to Find Waterfalls in All 50 States

Tellico Village, Tennessee
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Tellico Village, Tennessee

Tellico Village was made for active-lifestyle retirees who favor water sports. 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, and Social Security and income from retirement accounts are not taxed by the state, while property taxes in Tennessee are on the low end. Still, expect one of the highest average combined state and local sales tax rates in the country.

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 expanding its 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, combined with affordable median home costs, make it a contender.


Related: 40 RV Retirement Spots for Snowbirds

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 per person deduction of up to $65,000 on all retirement income for anyone 65 or older. Property tax rates are moderate too.

Virginia Beach, Virginia
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Virginia Beach, Virginia

With beach-town homes affordable, retiring in Virginia Beach may be the move for 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. 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. 


Related: 18 Spectacular Lighthouses to See Across America