Great Places to Retire That Won’t Break the Bank

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

September 15, 2015 — Lists of great places to retire are a commonplace these days – but it is novel to see one which includes places that haven’t been mentioned before. Money has done just that with their list of “Best Places to Retire for 2015“. Their complete list has 25 great towns; we are going to review the Top 10 on the list here. We like how they described the list: “These 25 towns offer a wealth of opportunities for enjoying your life after work—without cracking your nest egg”.

The Money list has different categories – Best places for the arts, best places for the outdoors, best places for golf. One of the main attributes of the list was that the towns should not be prohibitively expensive. None of them are that, although many feature a median cost of home that is at or near the national median ($229,400 according to the National Association of Realtors® in 2015’s 2nd Q). Some of these towns have been on various Topretirements.com lists before – many have not! Click on the name of the town to see the complete Topretirements city review.

The Top 10
1. St. George, Utah. Scenic St. George in southwestern Utah made the list as the winner of “The Great Outdoors”. No wonder about that, with the Grand Canyon, Zion, and many other natural wonders nearby. About a third of the population is over age 50, there are many active adult communities to choose from, and according to the article, there are 182 miles of biking trails. City-Data.com reported the median sales price of a home to be just under $250,000, a bit more than reported by Money.

2. Richland, Washington. This town in southeastern Washington was the runner up for “The Great Outdoors”. The folks who live here at the junction of the Yakima and Columbia rivers enjoy kayaking, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, etc. Richland has developed several waterfront parks, along with a scenic 23-mile bike trail along the rivers. Many enjoy visiting local wineries as well. City-Data.com reported the median sales price of a home was $190,000 in late 2014. Ed. note: This is the first time we have ever seen Richland mentioned as a place to retire – welcome!

3. Vail, Arizona. No, not that Vail – this one is in Arizona. Located about 22 miles east of Tucson in the Rincon Mountains, the altitude helps cool off Arizona’s summers a little bit. Median home price in 2014 was about $220,000; the population is just over 10,000. This was another “Great Outdoors” runnerup.

Bustling Fayetteville, courtesy of Wikipedia

4. Fayetteville, Arkansas. A college town, it is home to the University of Arkansas. The downtown area is referred to as “The Square”. Fayetteville is also on the shores of a lake (Beaver Lake). Money cited a strong economy as a good reason to retire here (it is not far from Bentonville, home of Wal-Mart). The nearby Ozarks are another good reason to like living in Fayetteville. Median home price was $180,000 in 2014.

5. Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. This prosperous town and suburb just outside Nashville is situated on 2 lakes: Old Hickory and Percy Priest. Providence Marketplace is a new, large-scale commercial and residential development on the city’s southern side. Median home price was $165,000 (Money said it was over $200k) in this town of 14,000.

6. Boise, Idaho is the surprise winner in the Arts category, in part because there are 17 museums within 30 miles. One-third of the population is over 50, which means baby boomers should fit right in. A fairly large pedestrian zone on 8th street has street side cafes and restaurants, lending Boise a slightly European feel. A The great outdoors is also spectacular in the region. The NAR reported a median home price of $190,000 in 2015’s 2nd quarter.

Southwestern architecture in Santa Fe

7. Santa Fe, New Mexico is definitely a cultural hotbed, as it features over 300 galleries and a dozen museums, including one dedicated to local icon Georgia O’Keefe. Folks come here for the art, climate, and music. Homes are more expensive than most towns on the list, but considering the locale and the scene it is attractive. City-Data.com reported median home price of $350,000, while Money said it was more like $250,000.

8. Greenville, SC is a hot place to retire these days, and we are not just talking about the weather. A cultural center, Greenville hosts 10 music, food, and art festivals a year. Real estate taxes are lower than most people from other regions are used to. Median home price according to NAR was $179,500 in mid 2015. The economy is strong with many foreign companies like BMW setting up shop here.

9. Dover in tax-friendly Delaware is another of Money’s Arts Runnersup. Museums in this, Delaware’s second largest city, include The Schwartz Center for the Arts and Biggs Museum of American Art. There are 2 colleges and an Air Force base make this attractive to military retirees. Median home price is $190,800 according to the NAR.

Impressive building in Chattanooga

10. Chattanooga, Tennessee is located on the Tennessee River and near the Appalachian Mountains. The city’s 21st Century Waterfront Plan is a $120 million redevelopment to transform the Chattanooga waterfront and downtown area. The Riverwalk is a 13 mile trail along the river. Home prices at $155,200 (NAR) are well below the national median.

The rest of the 25 towns on the Money list are worth learning more about – it is a good list. They include some unusual choices like Northfield (MN), Lexington (KY), Bellingham (WA), and Prattville (AL).

More articles about great places to retire on a budget:
Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront, Part 1
Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront, Part 2
10 Affordable and More Best Places to Retire
20 Great and Affordable Towns to Retire
8 More Affordable Places to Retire
Most Tax-Friendly Places to Retire
AffordableRetirements.com
Sandy’s Adventures Part II: How Anyone Can Find an Affordable Place to Retire
More Affordable Places to Retire – A Reading List

Comments? Do you have experiences with any of these towns that you can share? How about other affordable towns you would recommend. Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.




pennnational

Posted by Admin on September 14th, 2015

25 Comments »

  1. Excellent choices to relocate according to your individual needs. (The top ten) It would be worth researching towns near these choices too. I found my choice by accident, visiting some cousins already relocated and retired in Kentucky South. I am going to keep this list for future vacation spots.

    by DeyErmand — September 15, 2015

  2. I just inherited a house in Farmington, which is less than 5 miles from UAR in Fayetteville. Many houses can be bought for half of the Fayetteville price, and Farmington being included in Washington county is benefitting from much of what makes Fayetteville such a great place to live. That’s where I’m headed after retirement. The VA hospital there is very good; both Fayetteville and Farmington are in low-risk tornado areas; there is a strong organic farming network in the that part of the Ozarks; and, one is able to drive to many other cities and interesting places within 1-2 days. “Keep Fayetteville funky” is the local motto. UAR has free audit classes for seniors, and the Fayetteville senior center is part of a 5-year national study to gather data for improving services for seniors in the future, which is driven by the Baby Boomer retirement phase.

    by Elaine C. — September 15, 2015

  3. Not to put a negative spin on some of the named places, but Vail, AZ, recently had a number of wells have problems with polluted water from mining. Richland (not Richmond), WA, is south of the Hanford Nuclear Waste Site that continues to be in process of getting cleaned up. I worked in WA state in the Dept. of Ecology for a few years in the 1980s, and it was a big issue then. It’s important to check out the areas you’re interested in for environmental issues. Richland may be all right now, but I don’t know because I’m out of the environmental loop for that region. I’m currently investigating the Farmington/Fayetteville environmental prognosis.

    by Elaine C. — September 15, 2015

  4. Have to laugh. Upon retirement earlier this year we moved from Santa Fe to Pueblo, Colorado, because it was so much more affordable — especially with respect to housing. Santa Fe was a wonderful place to live while working, but too expensive for us in retirement. Everything’s relative, I guess.

    by Dave — September 16, 2015

  5. I was very happy to see Boise, Idaho on the list. I have been researching this area for quite some time now and I have noticed several 55+ communities in the Boise suburbs. Boise has an excellent public transportation system as well as beautiful golf courses, walking and biking trails and a pleasant semi-arid climate. Thanks to your list, I have narrowed my search somewhat and have included Boise as one of my top choices.

    By the way, Dave, I have friends in Pueblo, Colorado. They moved from the congestion of Denver into a lovely home in Pueblo and are very happy there.

    by Joanne Patterson — September 16, 2015

  6. Glad to see that Dover, Delaware was on the list. Does anyone know of any relatively new active 55+ communities that are in Dover?

    by Mary Ann — September 17, 2015

  7. Hello Mary Ann,
    My husband and I visited DE in August. Champions’ Club and Village of Eastridge were both very nice. If all goes well, we’re planning our move there in the near future.

    by Rosa — September 17, 2015

  8. I lived in the Richland area for 5 years in the early 1980’s and have been back a few times. I had a relative there and friends. You can read and decide about the nuclear facilities mentioned but this place is booming and I’m not sure where they get the median sales price information but you better look carefully at what that will buy you in the area. The area is know as the Tri-Cities…Richland, Pasco, Kennewick. It has a lot of outdoor activity but most of the stores and good shopping are in Kennewick. It is not that far but just a clarification. I believe with the building of another bridge the Pasco area has increased in population and amenities also. Richland and Kennewick are on one side of the Columbia river and Pasco on the other. This area is actually a big agricultural area…grapes..wineries mentioned…cherries, asparagus..etc. It is a fantastic outdoor area and the Columbia River and park and trail they mention are quite nice. But it is also a small town / rural feel so if you don’t like that you won’t like it here. But you can access Seattle or Portland in 3 to 4 hours if that suits you. Spokane in a couple of hours. I just would be cautious about the low cost of real estate. Many Californians ‘discovered’ this place for retirement and they had ample money to buy so prices were driven up in many areas. But the Columbia River and the other outdoor activities are very nice and proximity to Seattle or Portland, especially for an overnight is pretty easy. Anyway I too am surprised someone finally found this area. It is not for everyone but it is unique.

    by Mejask — September 18, 2015

  9. I’m interested in anyone’s input with regard to life in Pueblo CO. Being close to retirement, if like to get a small RV and check out some places. For some reason, I’m drawn to Pueblo- I’m fro Northern CA

    by Linda — December 6, 2015

  10. Pueblo is a great clean city. You also might want to check out La Junta which is a town about 45 minutes away. They get a small amount of snow. When I was there in 2001 the cost of housing was so inexpensive. There are streets there that are made of brick in a herringbone pattern. It is a very friendly town and had a great cafe that was out of the 50’s.

    by meg stein — December 7, 2015

  11. Thanks Meg. I don’t mind a little snow. Sounds like the town has a little character, which is great!

    by linda — December 7, 2015

  12. My husband are starting to look in the mountains of Western NC. Haven’t found any ‘active adult’ communities yet. We do want local amenities and ‘things to do’. Not too far from Greenville is good.

    by Carol — January 5, 2016

  13. Carol: If you haven’t read it you should check out this article and the 40+ comments made to it:
    http://www.topretirements.com/blog/great-towns/our-members-speak-a-blue-ridge-mountains-retirement.html/

    by John Brady — January 6, 2016

  14. South Dakota won’t conjure many warm thoughts of retirement for most folks, but there is a “banana belt” of moderate 4 season climate in and around Rapid City and the Black Hills areas. Is anyone considering SD or moved to SD in retirement? And so, how goes it? -unhappy in TN

    by johnd51@sbcglobal.net — February 9, 2016

  15. The cities listed are great but not quite what we wanted… we chose one that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles but does have a lower cost of living than where we live. We are moving to Show Low, because we can afford the housing and all the amenities, it has 4 seasons that aren’t as severe as DE, SD, ID or other crazy weather that happens in the east. It does have a hospital (which takes Medicare) with 2 air ambulances so that if they need to get you to somewhere that can help you in a crisis they will. They also have an awesome cancer center (a friend of mine goes there for treatment). The population is small for the majority of the year (just over 10k) until the “flat landers” — Phoenix, Tucson & Yuma people come to get away from the heat in the summer. They have a small VA clinic, and local hospital takes VA (not all hospitals do).

    Do your research online. Then go there. Make a check list of what you require (or feel you will require to live there comfortably). Because what someone writes about a place might have changed since they wrote it, or when you visit, you might find that another way to fulfill that item on your check list.

    by KathyO — February 10, 2016

  16. Richland Washington and the area is still being saturated by radiation from Hanford via the wind, jet streams, and groundwater – you really have to do your radiation research before you consider any area nearby a nuclear lab or nuclear reactor – especially near Hanford which is one of the most heavily polluted places on the face of the earth – Aiken South Carolina is just as bad because of SRS – these sites will be under so called “clean-up” for thousands of years and they don’t have the billions it would take to finish the job – it only takes one hot particle of radiated dust inhaled to cause your cancer and terminal illness – wake up people – you are supposed to be educated and resourceful to not place yourself into harms way –

    by Hollywood — March 11, 2016

  17. Hollywood, Thanks for the cautionary statement! This is one area i haven’t been looking into; but, from now on, will.

    by ella — March 12, 2016

  18. We live in Ventura CA, too expensive for us to retire so I’ve been curious about Fayetteville AR. What about floods and extreme weather,maybe tornadoes? I’ve lived in San Antonio TX before & didn’t like the humidity, but is AR worse? Do people there spend a ton on their cooling & heating expenses? It all sounds good but….. I’m not sure. Eventually we will have to take a trip to see. I also wondered if it was a politically conservative area??

    by Meg Martinez — July 1, 2016

  19. Anyone have any comments about Port Townsend, Washington and the surrounding area? Have read that this area gets much less rain due to “rain shadow” caused by Mount Olympic.

    by Jim C — July 2, 2016

  20. Has anyone retired to Huntsville, Alabama? Thinking of moving there from northern VA. We are extremely liberal, not religious. Husband is concerned that Huntsville is too conservative.

    by Chris — July 3, 2016

  21. Meg Martinez – If I could afford it, I would love to retire right in Ventura Harbor. I absolutely love that place. The Harbor has such a great vibe, and they have such great events all year long. All I would want is a room above one of the retail stores or numerous eateries. I can just imagine the rental fees $$$$$. What a beautiful harbor with all the stores, eateries, and drinking establishments. And right across the street, the beautiful beaches. On beautiful clear fall days you can see the islands. I am just dreaming!!! Southern California at its best.

    by Bubbajog — July 3, 2016

  22. Chris: I lived in Alabama for three years in the late 1990’s. It’s still a very conservative state. I found the people to be friendly overall. Liberals may find some kinship in cities with large universities. Huntsville has the University of Alabama at Huntsville, which is known for its aerospace programs. If you’re looking for moderate-to-liberal friends, the staff and faculty at UAH may provide that opportunity. If you’re moving from the D.C. suburbs, you probably won’t find that atmosphere anywhere in Alabama. Other more rural and southern parts of VA are likely to be more similar to Alabama. But Huntsville is a big enough city that you may find clusters of progressive people you can involve yourself with. Also, look at the voting history in the Huntsville area. That may also be helpful as to conservative vs. progressive.

    by Clyde R. — July 3, 2016

  23. I’ve lived in Huntsville since 1968. Don’t retire to Huntsville if you’re looking for friends who are liberal or baseball fans. (It’s dead here, after 30 years of having a AA team.) State government is a joke.

    by David Weiser — July 3, 2016

  24. Chris, I think you’ll find lots of interesting information about Huntsville at City-Data.com.

    by Barbara — July 4, 2016

  25. Oh, sorry, I meant the City-Data forums. You can start with either the main City-Data page for Huntsville (there are bar graphs and pie charts in red and blue to show political sentiment. Scroll waaaay down to find them.) And then head over to the forums and search for Huntsville. There will be a lot.

    by Barbara — July 4, 2016

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