September 14, 2011 — If you are like most people, affordability is a big part of the equation in finding your best place to retire. We certainly get enough requests from our members asking for help finding them. But we also know there are other aspects to choosing your retirement location – you are too discriminating to settle for some place just because it’s cheap. So with that in mind we created this list of places to retire that are not only affordable, but have enough going for them that you might 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 Retire“.
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.
– High culture. To avoid you getting stuck in just any old town, we selected only towns have all earned 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 whatever criteria you want.
Our Top 10 Affordable – and Desirable – Places to Retire (Towns A-L).
These towns are in alphabetical order; we did not attempt to rank them.
The median selling price of a home in Chattanooga is $115,000. Chattanooga is famous for its friendly people, its Civil War history, and for a milder climate and lower cost of living.
Located on Florida’s west coast and right next to bustling Tampa and charming St. Petersburg, Clearwater is justly popular with retirees. The median home price is $129,000.
Fort Myers, Florida
Fort Myers makes just about every one of our affordable places to retire lists. The region has been so hard hit with real estate woes that it is a slightly relief that home prices have increased lately – to a median of $110,000. The city is on the Gulf and has amazing cultural, recreational, and lifestyle resources.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
This bustling small city is beloved by its residents. Yet hard times have left it with a median home price of $103,000, a fraction of the national average. Highlights include The Heritage Hill District, one of the largest urban historical districts in the nation, in addition to the Gerald Ford Museum.
This funky little town is on the same island as St. Petersburg. Its Casino on the Bay is one of the busiest dance halls in America. Median home price is about $120,000.
The capital of Pennsylvania has some tremendous infrastructure and beauty for a small city. It has had its share of fiscal woes (the city verges on bankruptcy) but the housing prices can’t be beat – the median home price is $81,000 according to Zillow.com. On top of that, Pennsylvania is surprisingly tax friendly for retirees.
This beautiful town on the Lake with its Dutch heritage is another bargain in Michigan. Median home price is $107,000.
Yet another Michigan bargain with that great name, Kalamazoo. Zillow.com reports the median home sold for $104,000 this year. Kalamazoo is a college town, home to Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Beat up as bad any place in the country by the real estate bust, Las Vegas has become a happy hunting ground for home bargains. The median selling price of a home is $126,000. There are many interesting communities to live in, not to mention there is always something to do here.
The median selling price of a home in Louisville is $130,000, almost 25% below the national average. Taxes are relatively low too. Located on the Ohio River, Louisville is sort of a bridge between north and south. Residents enjoy the Kentucky Derby as well as 22 city parks.
For further reference:
Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront
Most Affordable Places to Retire (2010)
How to Find an Affordable Place to Retire
Most Affordable College Towns in the Sunbelt
WSJ_MarketWatch – “10 Affordable Home Markets”
AARP – “10 Affordable Cities for Retirement”
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.