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 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.
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.
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, 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.
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.