8 More Affordable Places to Retire You Will Like Living In

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

October 4, 2011 — If you are like most people, affordability is a key consideration for your best place to retire. We know because so many of our members ask for suggestions for affordable places to live. But we also know that you are not going to choose your retirement location just because it is cheap. That’s why we created this list of places to retire that are affordable, AND have enough going for them that you might actually enjoy living there. This is part II – for towns starting M-Z. Part I (towns A – M) has 10 more great towns, “10 Very Affordable, and Desirable, Places to Retire“. We also updated this with our “20 Great and Affordable Places to Retire” in 2012.

The selection factors we used to develop this list:
Affordability. Median home price in the community should be at least 25% less than the U.S. median of $171,900 (2nd quarter 2011, National Association of Realtors), or $130,000.
Lower taxes for retirees. We did not consider any of the states on our “Worst Tax States for Retirees” list. We also avoided states with the highest property taxes.
High culture. To avoid you getting stuck in just any old town, we selected only towns with a high culture rating.

To develop this list of affordable places to retire we used our free Retirement Ranger selection tool. We did not make any selection criteria for region, state, or minimum January temperature. However, you can use the Ranger to develop your own custom list with your own criteria.

8 More Affordable – and Desirable – Places to Retire (Towns M-Z).
These towns are in alphabetical order; we did not attempt to rank them.

Maryville, Tennessee
Maryville is a small college town (Maryville, College ) of 23,000 that also happens to be only 15 miles from a much bigger college town – Knoxville (home of the University of Tennessee). Pelissippi State College is nearby. This small town has many of the things that make Tennessee retirements so appealing – low taxes and cost of living, small town living, and outstanding recreation opportunities. Home prices are in the low to mid $100’s.

Mesa, Arizona
Home to several colleges (the Polytechnic campus of Arizona State University, East and Mesa Community College), Mesa is a town of 450,000 located near the amazing Superstition Mountains.  It is the 3rd largest city in Arizona. Home prices are in the $110’s, about half of what they were a few years ago.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach was always a bargain compared to some of its tonier neighbors like Hilton Head – it is even more so now. Latest home prices in this incredible beach and golf resort town have fallen into the $80’s – they were in the $140’s just a year ago.

Phoenix, Arizona
This desert community has leaped beyond its borders to become the 5th largest city in the U.S. It also has a very tough real estate market, where median sales prices have fallen to about $126,000 in mid 2011 (National Association of Realtors). This is a huge area with many great places to live and a variety of price points. Fortunately, although it has developed some large city problems like crime and traffic, its weather and proximity to the beautiful Arizona environment is unchanged.

Mount Airy, North Carolina
Zillow reports average listed price of a home in Mount Airy was about $110,000 in mid 2011. Andy Griffith, who hails from here (Mount Airy was the inspiration for Mayberry), has a theater named after him, the Andy Griffith Playhouse, which features regular community productions. The Downtown Cinema Theatre broadcasts a weekly bluegrass radio concert.

Saint Petersburg, Florida
The real estate bargains available in St. Petersburg are hard to fathom compared to just a few years ago. In 2006 the median sales price was about $400,000, in mid 2011 it was under $60,000 according to City-Data.com and $94,300 according to Zillow.com. Meanwhile, the charming city has much to offer with many facilities, great beaches, and plenty to do. The entire Metro had a median sales price of $129,600.

Tampa, Florida
Tampa, is one of 3 cities mid-way along Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast (along with St. Pete and Clearwater). This is by far the busiest and most urban city of the 3, yet there are plenty of nice places to live here. The entire Metro had a median sales price of $129,600, whereas City-Data put the median home near $120,000.

Bartlesville, Oklahoma
This affordable city in Oklahoma has one of the world’s top Mozart Festivals, Frank Lloyd Wright’s only skyscraper, an Arts Center, a stunning Community Center, plus 2 college campuses. And they are just some of the surprising treasures in Bartlesville. According to City-Data the median selling price of a home in 2011 was in the $120’s, although Zillow suggested the median sales price of a home was about $106,000.
For Further Reference
Part I (towns A – M)great towns, “10 Very Affordable, and Desirable, Places to Retire
Retirement Ranger selection tool.
“Surprising Results: The Worst States for Retirement Taxes”

Comments? What towns would you suggest that are not only affordable but great places to live? Any reactions to this list? Let your fellow members know using the Comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on October 3rd, 2011

24 Comments »

  1. Mount Airy, NC also has a regional history museum, the Andy Griffith Museum, the Old Time Music Heritage Hall (located in the Earle Theater, formally the Downtown Cinema)and a modern amphitheater, all which offer a wide variety of cultural activities during the year. A wide variety of festivals (music,wine,arts and crafts, Mayberry) also contribute to the culture of Mount Airy.
    Editor’s note: Thanks Peter, that is very helpful. We have added your suggestions to the Culture section of the Mt. Airy review. Sounds like a happening town!

    by Peter F. Lydens — October 5, 2011

  2. I think when you recommend cities in the south, like Fayetteville and Little Rock, AR (where I am unhappily) you need to make certain people understand what the weather is really like. You are indoors the entire summer due to the heat and humidity, and then they are bugs. The winter can have up to three months of sleet, hail, ice storms and snow. A normal summer with rain also brings hail in some of the storms. Also, if you are a renter like me from CA, you are not going to find here what you are used to in CA, no covered parking, no recycling, and you have to drive to everything.

    by Sharon Roberts — October 5, 2011

  3. To follow Sharon Roberts commenting on the heat in Arkansas, people should know that retiring to Phoenix or Mesa, AZ they will also have to deal with extreme heat. You will be confined to indoor activities 7 months out of the year. Yes, it really is too hot to be outside for more than a few minutes from May to the middle of October. The rest of the year is beautiful. If gardening is important to you, this is not the place.

    by CJ Baskel — October 5, 2011

  4. Hence the Siesta was invented. :smile: :wink: :grin:

    Up Early, work until mid-day or when the heat is too much, lunch and siesta, back to work after the worst of the heat, work late, supper late. Much of Spain, Latin America, etc., developed this successful response to the environment. :lol: :wink: :cool:

    Horses for courses. :roll:

    Gracias,

    Glenn

    by Glenn — October 6, 2011

  5. You started this article with a faulty assumption – that is, you assumed that your previous article about tax rates for retirees was correct, when in fact, it was not. Therefore you eliminated many locations based on your faulty assumption. Retirees have many expenses, and pay many forms of tax, as do all Americans. For intance, there are the costs of housing, as well as property taxes, sales taxes, and income taxs to name a few. In considering tax rates for retirees, it is important to consider all forms of taxes, and not just income taxes. Since most of these articles are used by people considering relocation for retirement it is expecially important to look at costs of living, costs of homes, and property taxes, which are very high in certain states, e.g. NY, CA & Conn to name a few. In fact the costs related to these 3 factors make those 3 states phohibitive for most people unless they already live there & own their home in that state. Most other websites that cover costs of retiring include all those factors and not just whether social security is taxed. I suggest that you rethink your method of categorizing costs for retirees if you want your site to have any relevance.

    by Kathy — October 10, 2011

  6. Kathy, You raise a good point about property taxes. They are often the single biggest tax that most retirees pay. And I think we were quite clear about that in our previous article about the “Worst States for Retirement Taxes”, which mostly focused on the income taxes that retirees are likely to pay in retirement, and how confusing they can be. Sales taxes were also considered in that article, http://www.topretirements.com/blog/great-towns/surprising-results-the-worst-retirement-states-for-taxes-are-not-what-you-thought.html/

    New Jersey, CT, NH, and NY have the highest property taxes. CA is in 10th position, mostly due to controls they have put in place. But in all of these states the homes are worth much more, so that is a problem – if you own there you have the equity value, but you have to pay for it in taxes. In CA, for example, the median home was worth $384,000 in 2009 according to the Tax Foundation. http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/1913.html. Kathy makes a good point: Property values make it very difficult to move into these states from elsewhere.

    Please note that none of the 18 towns listed in our 2 articles on “Affordable Best Places” were from the highest property tax states.

    by John Brady — October 10, 2011

  7. I want to emphasize an earlier comment about the weather in Arizona. I grew up in Tucson and visit there at least annually. I never go in the late spring/summer. I have relatives and friends who still live there and they said the last summer was particularly brutal…frequently 110 degrees for days on end. It really is too hot to go outside after late morning. Imagine getting into your car if you do not have garage parking. A relative told me the heat bothers him more now than when he was young. So unless you are fortunate enough to have two places to retire to, reconsider retiring to the Tucson/Phoenix area. Northern Arizona has a different climate.

    by Sandy — October 12, 2011

  8. Anything worth reporting on Mena, Ark? Dallas Morning News had a listed spot for vacation/retirement.

    by Jack — October 17, 2011

  9. I think this article focuses only on the affordability of the place so give them at least the benefit of sharing this information. For retirees, practicality is important (unless of course they have a lot to spend). Of course, the weather is much important but I think what the article is emphasizing here is the affordability, as what is indicated in the title. I think my mom would enjoy Mount Airy, NC (Thanks to Peter Lydens), she likes cultural stuff I don’ why. She used to go to Bruce Museum of Arts and Science in Connecticut. :smile:

    by Celine Rickman — October 18, 2011

  10. […] actually enjoy living there. This is part I from towns starting A-L. Here is a link to Part 2, Affordable Towns M-Z. We also updated this series in 2012, see “More Great Affordable Places to […]

    by » 10 Very Affordable… and Great Places to Retire Topretirements — July 24, 2012

  11. […] further reference: 8 More Affordable Places to Live 10 Very Affordable Places to Retire 11 Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront Affordable […]

    by » 20 Great Affordable Towns for Retirement Topretirements — July 24, 2012

  12. […] lists! How to Find an Affordable Retirement The Affordable (and More) Best Places to Retire List 8 More Affordable Places to Retire Sandy’s Adventures Part II: How Anyone Can Find an Affordable Place to […]

    by » 10 Affordable…and Highly Livable… Places to Retire Topretirements — July 24, 2013

  13. I diligently read all of the articles, but some of them are less useful than others. For example, the US News article on where to retire only on social security listed primarily locations with large universities, like Blacksburg VA (Virginia Tech), State College (Penn State) and West Lafayette Ind. (Purdue). The rationale was that the average salary in those areas was low, and equivalent to Social Security. Duh. Those areas have a lot of students and 9-month residents, who can share apartments, live in school housing, etc. If you average the students into the average taxable income for those locations, of course the average salary would show up as low.

    We obviously have to weigh these articles carefully, looking for the grains of usefulness in each of them to our own situations.

    by Sharon — July 25, 2013

  14. Thank you for the tip. I have been following low-income locations looking for low-cost retirement, but I never thought of your reasoning.

    by Moving South — July 26, 2013

  15. If you want 4 seasons, an abundance of low cost activities, and all the natural beauty you can imagine, Northern Idaho has it all. We are close to hospitals and airports but have managed to keep that small town america feel. Check us out!
    Named in “Top ten affordable mountain towns for retirees”
    U.S. News and World Report
    #1 Best Places to retire Young
    “Money Magazine

    And we didn’t even make the list!

    by Lori — August 25, 2014

  16. Why does New Hampshire get the bad reviews as an expensive place to live with high property taxes ? We live in a small town in NH that has low property taxes around the corner from a lovely pond and have a boat to enjoy the beautiful scenery with the mountains in the distance. If you choose to live in some of the surronding towns especially on the water there are higher property taxes , but if you want amenities like living on the water you will have to pay for it .
    No matter where you live as a retiree the regular bills of life do not go away , electricity, heating, cable, cell phones, gas for the cars, which keeps going up along with the weekly grocery bill. The key here is to keep your debt as a retiree LOW so the fun that you want to have as a couple is able to happen ! I think that most people want to stay in the place where they call home and have established roots feeling comfortable in their familiar surrondings also needing to have hospitals and doctors easily accessible along with restaurants and entertainment .I guess the final part of the question is how happy and content you are in your retirement years no matter where you live .
    Judy

    by Judy — August 26, 2014

  17. Morning..several locations we have looked at retirement homes..the most recent in a 55 community in Pa..and a big part of their ‘sales pitch’ is ..you will never make a mortgage payment on home..it’s as easy as ie..putting 150,000 down on a 300,000 dollar home..then take a HUD HECM (reverse mortgage for 62 and older)
    does anyone ..hve any info on this..that they would share..
    Thanks

    by Robbie — August 27, 2014

  18. I think this is a decent list. I grew up in Oklahoma, and Bartlesville is a pretty town with a lot going for it. However, yes that part of the country can be pretty inhospitable weather wise. Humidity, bugs,thunderstorms and tornadoes, and in the winter snow, sleet and jail. Actually, I can’t think of much in the US that doesn’t have weather issues…northeast too much winter. South east too much humidity and heat, Midwest too much everything..,wind, heat, bugs, tornadoes, floods…mountain zone one of the best but too cold up north in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and too hot down south in Arizona. Texas has bad weather at all times, in all places. Both too hot and too cold in New Mexico. About the only really nice places are along the CA coast…like Santa Barbara or San Diego…and then there are earthquakes.

    So you have to pick your poison. I moved to Tucson this year, in April. April and May were marvelous. By mid-June, it was hot. Just now starting to turn towards cooler. I expect it to be pretty nice by mid to late September, and to continue nice all the way around to late May or early June. I figure I can get 8 pretty nice months a year here…which is a darn good average. I am hoping I will be able to travel around for 3 or 4 months a year to stay with friends.

    It seems to me you have to shot for a combination of a few factors…type of weather you like best, cost of living you can afford, and type of lifestyle you want. I prefer a larger city for the entertainment and medical care, Airport, etc., and a college. (Got to have a good college)
    You may want something totally different. Vive le difference.

    by Ginger — August 27, 2014

  19. Robbie,
    I’m so saddened to hear that the ‘sales pitches’ from developers are now promoting Reverse Mortgages as a way into your next home. It is reminiscent of the late night commercials to buy real estate with ‘no money down’ . . . a scheme that made the promoters profit from those who paid to attend their seminars. But I never had one client or customer who was able to make their touted system work, because the sellers would not take the bait.

    As a licensed Real Estate Agent for over 26 years, I have been saying for the last 5-6 years that the next bubble to burst will be the Baby Boomers who think a Reverse Mortgage is the answer to their inability of saving for retirement. What they don’t tell you is that although it is a government program, the fees are through the roof. While assisting my 82 year old mother-in-law obtain a reverse mortgage some years back, the closing costs where close to $18,000 on a house value of $225,000. This money came right off the top of what they were to receive, thereby reducing the available equity they would have access to in their home. The mortgage agent explained that the average time frame for a reverse mortgage to last was 2-3 years. It was created to help the very elderly stay in their home. Not for a ‘young’ 62 year old to start pulling equity out of a property they are just purchasing. Read the fine print, make sure you understand the details. Like if one of you dies and the other decides to move from the premises the money you have received is now payable back to the bank . . . and if you can’t pay them back, guess who now owns your house? Can you see the ‘new foreclosure era’ on the horizon? As the Baby Boomers age, those who did not plan or where unable to save for retirement for whatever reason may consider this option. But they do not realize that if they thought they were going to leave something for their kids, well think again. Once one spouse passes, who knows whether the remaining spouse will want to or can physically or emotionally remain in that house. If you vacate for more than a few months, like with a nursing home stay, the bank begins proceedings to take back the house to repay the equity payments they have been making to you. If you are less than 80-85 years old I would stay far far away from these promotions. Take it in your 60’s and you may find yourself out on the street in your 70’s with nothing more than a social security check to help get you by Proceed with caution and keep the thought of “buyer beware’ in your mind if you are tempted to go down the reverse mortgage road!
    Good Luck and make the decision that feels right to YOU!

    by Jane — August 27, 2014

  20. Jane, thank you for explaining Reverse Mortgages. I have a friend that is considering doing this with their home and I’m trying my best to give them the best information possible on why this is a bad idea.
    If you are still working, please start saving for your retirement. It’s amazing to me how people can work their whole entire life and have nothing saved. Live below your means and save something for retirement. Stop taking expensive vacations, buying houses way beyond your budget, buying toys that aren’t necessary. I somewhat understand if someone has health issues, but if you have insurance, they should be picking up most of those bills as well.
    Please plan for your retirement. No one else is going to help you put food on your table. That is your responsibility!

    by Sunny — August 28, 2014

  21. To Judy in N.H. We are looking to move near Andover, Mass and are looking at southern New Hampshire also. Can you tell me what town you live in or recommend any towns between Manchester and Andover Ma that we can research that fit what you were talking about. Thanks.

    by Darryl — August 28, 2014

  22. Jane,
    I also want to thank you for taking the time on your well-written, thorough article on reverse mortgages. This will be incredibly helpful for anyone who is considering one. And i can only hope people are saving as Sunny has suggested. If my future is not my responsibility, then whose is it?

    by ella — August 29, 2014

  23. Darryl
    I lived and worked in Massachusetts for many years. There is a state tax on your income and sales tax on your purchases, which can be pretty hefty at 6% when purchasing a large item such as a car etc…Andover, North Andover are nice towns usually a bit pricey on real estate and therefore property taxes could run high. They are pretty towns and have good public school systems. Once you cross the line into Southern New Hampshire in a city like Nashua which has plenty of homes for somewhat reasonable prices, BUT the property taxes are high an average of $8,000 to $10, 000 per year .There are plenty of places to shop and restaurants to eat, the downtown is nice and there are 2 hospitals right in Nashua .The surronding towns are also nice and the further away from Nashua can still have some property taxes that are high such as Hollis, Salem , Hudson, Merrimack, Bedford BUT you will get that country feeling and not so much traffic and congestion as there is in Nashua especially on weekends when everybody crosses the Massachusetts border to shop and save on sales tax. I really do not know a whole lot about Manchester but it is a big city with lots to offer . Not sure if you want the city or more country feeling ?
    We live in Northern New Hampshire near the mountains. We built a retirement home some years back and now we are enjoying living here. Again depending on what town you choose property taxes can run high . Wolfeboro is beautiful with plenty of restaurants , shopping and the local hospital is right there. If one lived in downtown Wolfeboro you could walk to everything including the local library . There are surronding towns and villages that are quite nice and lots of small lakes and ponds for summer enjoyment , Ossipee has Lake Ossipee , again high property taxes. Choosing a home in a town that you live directly on the water equals a high property tax. We live around the corner from the water making taxes lower for us in the woods and we have 3 villages, Brookfield, Wakefield and Sanbornville. One must do more driving to get to areas to shop for food, the malls etc….but seeing the beautiful scenery and mountains in the background while driving is soothing and heck we are retired enjoy the view ! The Conway and north Conway area is very nice lots of hotels, shopping with the outlets and restaurants . North Conway is quaint with lots of little shops to poke around in . If you are an outdoorsy person there are plenty of hiking trails and skiing for the winter King Pine is in Madison and Cranmore is in No.Conway and is open year round with plenty to do. Also if you have grandkids and they are visiting there are kid friendly things to do such as StoryLand,, Santas Village and of course Mt. Washington etc…further north in Glen and Jackson but worth the trip . I hope you have enjoyed reading my little synopsis and have fun looking for the right place to retire for you .
    Judy

    by Judy — August 30, 2014

  24. I am a 55 yr old RN thinking of moving pre-retirement. Would love to hear more about New Hampshire living in general. I have a history of spending time in New London as teen and then in Rindge as college student. Curious about Littleton area also.

    by Carol — August 31, 2014

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