MOVING INTO RETIREMENT
As retirement nears, many people make lists of possible locations for their golden years. Some even look outside the country to take advantage of the currency exchange and other benefits, although that presents challenges. Plenty of U.S. locales are getting buzz on retirement-focused blogs and forum postings but little attention as top destinations for retirees. Cheapism.com compared indicators such as cost of living and median home prices in these locales against the national averages, as reported by Sperling's Best Places, to come up with 13 destinations that deserve a closer look.
An outlier in the Pacific Northwest, Sequim (pronounced "skwim") does not receive the same torrential amounts of rain as the rest of the state. The town is small and relatively isolated, although big-box stores are moving into the area. Sequim has a large community of retirees, and residents can drive two hours to Seattle for cultural events such as ballet or theater. Major medical facilities are 25 minutes away in Port Angeles.
GREENVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
Greenville and surrounding Pitt County offer a friendly and inexpensive landing spot for retirees. East Carolina University students give the city a lively college-town feel, and the downtown area is a charming cultural center with restaurants, retail shops, and events. The local Vidant Medical Center is one of the largest hospitals in the state. Due to its health care facilities, offices, and clinics, the west side of town is known as the Medical District.
MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA
Warm weather and favorable tax laws make Florida a go-to state for retirement. For wildlife lovers, Merritt Island (actually a peninsula) may be an ideal location. The cost of living and median home price are slightly above the national averages, but the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, public parks, and surrounding waters provide plenty of value for the money. Space enthusiasts will thrill to Cape Canaveral, right across the Banana River.
With both a football and a baseball stadium, there are many opportunities to catch a game in Arlington. On off days, residents can enjoy the local parks and sunny weather. The cost of living is below average, with a median home price of $129,600. Dallas and Fort Worth can be reached in less than 30 minutes, and the nearby international airport provides easy access to the rest of the world.
SHERMAN OR DENISON, TEXAS
North of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Sherman and Denison are small towns with a cost of living about 22 percent lower than the national average and a median home price around $77,500. Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is nearby, as is Lake Texoma, and the Texoma Medical Center sits between the two cities.
Thanks to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the Redstone Arsenal military base, Huntsville has earned the nickname Rocket City. It bests the national averages for cost of living, housing price, and physicians per capita. There are four universities in the area, the largest being the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In addition to museums, golf courses, and parks, the city has a symphony, a ballet company, several theaters, a performing arts center, and a gaggle of local breweries.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS
A below-average cost of living, a median home price of $112,900, and warm weather make Corpus Christi an attractive retirement choice. Boating, golfing, and exploring the museum district are favorite activities. The city is also a popular spring break destination, which might be bothersome, but fortunately the beaches are peaceful the rest of the year.
MARION COUNTY, FLORIDA
Central Florida's Marion County is home to two notable senior communities. The Villages is one of the largest in the world, with on-site restaurants, shopping, entertainment venues, and activities. Lake Weir Living welcomes RVs, classic cars, and boats (and gearheads in general) alongside its stock of permanent housing. However, homes in both communities are pricier than those in the rest of the county, where the median is slightly less than $100,000.
Ogden is not as well-known as some other cities in Utah but offers plenty of culture and is comparatively less expensive. Ogden is a good fit for seniors who want to live an active lifestyle and don't mind chilly winters. The nearby mountains host skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer, and local rivers are made for kayaking and canoeing. Enjoy golf at one of the many courses in the area, or exercise inside at the 125,000-square-foot Salomon Recreation Center.
As a small town in the heart of America, this suburb north of St. Louis may fly under the radar as a retirement destination, but downtown Florissant has been undergoing a welcome renaissance. The cost of living is nearly 20 percent below the national average, and the median home price is $76,800, well below the average of $170,100.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Better known for its music and bar scene than as a retirement destination, New Orleans still may be a great fit for some retirees. The average cost of living and median home price are below the national average, and there are two and a half times as many physicians per capita. Of course, good food and entertainment are plentiful.
The "Biggest Little City in the World" attracts retirees with the state's lack of income and inheritance taxes, helping balance out a cost of living and median home price slightly above the national averages. The number of physicians per capita is above average, and there are three medical centers in the area. Although Reno is known for its casinos, there are also many festivals throughout the year and outdoor attractions in the Tahoe National Forest and on Mount Rose.
In north-central California, Redding is in the valley just south of Shasta County. Nature lovers will enjoy nearby Mount Shasta, rivers, and lakes, and there are many local attractions and events within the city itself. Although the cost of living and median home price are higher than the national averages, there are two hospitals and an active senior community.