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A Better List of Best Places to Retire- Or, Why Everyone Is Moving to Texas

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

December 1, 2021 — Last week in “Slanted Best Places to Retire List” we reported on the US News list of best places to retire. The creators of that one seemed to have not realized that the Mississippi is not the western border of the U.S. Many of the picks made there came in for strong criticism from our Members. This week we are happy to report on a better list of best places, one you can create yourself.

The NY Times just published an article with the headline, “Is Texas the New California“. Its author, a Californian, was very surprised to find that after taking a quiz designed by the newspaper, 7 of the top picks were in the Lone Star State. They found that on characteristics like more space for your money, racial diversity, and school quality, Texas had some of the highest ranking places to live in America. Although the quiz is geared towards people of all ages, it can be tailored to reflect the priorities of people in retirement. That is, in our opinion, the best thing about this quiz – it takes into account individual priorities rather than those of the authors.

You can take the Times “Best Places” quiz here. (Note: The quiz is behind the paywall but as long as you haven’t exceeded your quota of free articles you should be able to access it). It compares 16,847 communities with a population of 1,000 or more on 30 metrics backed up by reliable data. It starts out by asking you to check broad characteristics you care about, like mountains, schools, population, clean air, trees, health care, crime, etc. If you click on something more than once it weighs that factor more heavily. The broad headings of Climate, Demographics, and Politics provide other categories with things to check. At the top you can select preferences for big cities, cost of living, or confine the search to specific regions of the country. The entire quiz takes only about a minute or two to complete, and provides instant results. Change your preferences and the choices immediately change. The Times article provides details on the sources it used for the data used in its quiz.

Nevins Library in Methuen, MA

Your editor took the quiz and the results were extremely interesting, bringing up towns definitely not on our radar. Among other preferences, we chose above average cost of living and anywhere in the U.S. We wanted racial and political diversity, presence of retirees, and clicked twice on healthcare. Your results will undoubtedly be different, depending on what you check. At the top of our list were Wenatchee (WA), Danbury (CT), Lacey (WA), Westfield (MA), Yonkers (NY), East Providence (RI), Fishkill (NY, Methuen (MA), Cranston (RI), and Gresham (OR). All of the towns were relatively small. We can guarantee that no other best places to retire list ever came out that was this diverse, or precise!

A list developed like this one from the Times has several strengths. One is the sheer number of towns, guaranteed to be many times larger than considered by any other list. The number of factors, and the fact that you can select the ones you want, allows tremendous personalization. Another is that the results are presented immediately on the same page. The net result is a list that makes sense for you, and brings up choices you might never have thought of. By concentrating on particular regions (which we didn’t) or cost of living you can really narrow down the search.

Bottom line

We think this tool is a welcome addition for anyone considering a new place to live, retiree or not. The life-long California resident who authored the article was surprised and intrigued with his or her number one picks coming up in Texas. Manjoo concluded that there was no wonder so many people are moving to Texas, as it obviously has a lot more than meets the eye (and counters to its critics). In a sidebar to the article there was a “Where to Live if You’re…” section. If the answer is “Looking for affordable, an empty nester, and ready to leave the snow behind”, there were 10 picks, all of them in Florida. Vamo and North Port were the top 2, neither of which we are familiar with. For the record, Vamo is a small community near Sarasota and North Port is between Venice and Port Charlotte.

Don’t forget our Retirement Ranger
Don’t forget to take the Topretirements Retirement Ranger. It operates on many of the same principles (you choose what is important to you), gives instant results, but does not cover as many towns and cities.

Note about access to the New York TImes: The Times will let you read a certain number of articles each month before they either shut you off or you subscribe. You should be able to take the quiz unless you have been on their site a lot. If you look online you can find some very attractive digital subscription rates, including one for seniors. Real journalism with trained reporters costs money, so in this case you get what you pay for.

Posted by Admin on November 30th, 2021

25 Comments »

  1. Unfortunately, the quiz on the New York Times website is behind a pay wall.

    by LS — December 1, 2021

  2. Wait until you see your property tax bill in “no taxes” Texas, over $10k for a $500,000 house.

    by Julia — December 1, 2021

  3. The Times will let you see a certain number of articles free per month before they shut you off. So unless you have been on their site a lot you should be able to take the quiz for free. They also have a lot of deals on digital subscriptions if you go over that number, so it is worth looking around. I have seen senior rates of $.25 per week.

    by Admin — December 1, 2021

  4. If someone can afford to purchase a $500,000 house, it is likely that they can afford the taxes that go with that lifestyle. If not, then they are overplaying their hand.

    by Monni Olen — December 1, 2021

  5. Wow $10K+ taxes on a $500k home! That’s more than one pays for a $700K home Hi-tax-rate Oregon!

    And though I was born in Texas and have a family history there, I find the politics there criminal and bigoted, with the possible exception of Austin!

    by Will Godfrey — December 1, 2021

  6. Will, one of the interesting observations made by the (definitely liberal, California native) author was how surprised they were by how diverse Texas can be, racially and politically. Of course that differs by region, but the big suburbs are as liberal as many a place on the coast. So, as always, generalizations can be dangerous. The Times article makes for interesting reading.

    by Admin — December 1, 2021

  7. I lived two towns away from Fishkill, NY for 36 years and i can’t imagine why it would be on anyone’s list. It’s just a suburban area near the mall, nothing special.

    by ella — December 1, 2021

  8. I like taking these quizzes just to see if my results come close to what I have in mind. This one puts me in Iowa pretty much. I double-clicked health care but that was the only input I gave more priority to. I also chose low climate risk as one of my criteria which I think is why my results steered me away from the coasts, the mountains, the lakes, and fun.
    ( I liked the results I got on your Retirement Ranger quiz).

    by Jem — December 2, 2021

  9. I have to laugh with the number of comments on folks about 10K on a 500K house for property taxes in Texas. Come to Vermont – I pay over 5K on a 250K house & that included nothing like trash/water etc. But one also needs to check places with low property taxes making sure other services were not cut like roads etc. Some times you get what you pay for, not that I like high property taxes especially with the cost of living in Vermont being so high but ….

    by VTRetiree — December 2, 2021

  10. I live near Houston Texas and had been considering a retirement back in NW PA. We have found property taxes there to be even higher than where we reside in Texas, on top of a PA state income tax. Erie County charges 3 to nearly 4% tax on the assessed value of a home. So property tax on a $500K home would be between $15K to $20K. Gas, alcohol, food prices, and services are also higher there. My husband prefers the cooler weather and the lifestyle around Lake Erie which would be the only reason to move back home. Financially we would be far better off to remain in Texas.

    by CJ — December 2, 2021

  11. After last year’s power outage in the state, I’m surprised anyone would ever consider moving to Texas. It’s not like they fixed the problem and climate change isn’t going away.

    by Brian — December 3, 2021

  12. Thanks for the link, but I hit the paywall. I guess there are many unquantifiable factors in places to live. This pandemic has exposed the political climate in states like Texas and Florida and that would make those states a definite NO WAY for me. The cities in RI that came up for you are very puzzling to this native Rhode Islander because although RI is a beautiful state, those 2 cities would be at the near bottom of the list of good places to live. As far as the property tax rate, 10k for a 500k home does not sound out of line to me, especially if there is no income tax.

    by Maimi — December 3, 2021

  13. I live in El Paso. I bought a new home here in 2018, no mortgage. My concern is the property taxes. There are lots of new homes at and around 200K, but property taxes on 200K are near 5K/year. It is hot in the summer and El Paso has its own power grid so we did not suffer like so much of Texas east of El Paso did last winter. We get a little snow in February, maybe 1-2 days. We get our share of wind. However, El Paso is a large county with Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods and lots of other shops I enjoyed in Los Angeles. I can see that a big chunk of my savings will go to property taxes, but I have a reasonable retirement income. Selling in Los Angeles and buying here gave me a nice 6 figure cushion. There are things I liked much better in California, the politics, for one! But the financial edge is what got me to move.

    by Marilyn — December 3, 2021

  14. Yes, VTRetiree, I live in CT and I have a home that is in the range of $250-$275,000 and my taxes are $5,200 a year. On top of that, the taxes on the vehicles.

    by Louise — December 3, 2021

  15. I just saw this Retirement article on AARP site and still can’t figure out how they decide these lists. Chuckle over the comments.
    https://www.aarp.org/retirement/planning-for-retirement/info-2021/best-places-to-live.html

    by JoannL — December 4, 2021

  16. Good point JoannL. The AARP’s is not the craziest list we’ve seen, but it does make you wonder…

    by Admin — December 5, 2021

  17. Texas would be the last place I would move.

    by Claudia — December 21, 2021

  18. TEXAS? Never!!! Have you been there? When you need a 500 acre farm to feed ten cows enough said! Hot in the summer freezing in the winter! Not to mention the horrible politics happening!
    Find a better place to retire

    by Ron — December 22, 2021

  19. I thought Washington State had high taxes! My house value is about $530K and my taxes are about $6000 a year. I live about 25 miles south of Seattle.

    by Beebs — December 22, 2021

  20. Texas? Not if it’s the last place in the U.S. !!! I lived there in the military for a couple of years. The heat is oppressive and if you want to get anything done outside it must be completed before 10 a.m. the winter was pretty much as cold as it was in Michigan, just less snow. And don’t get me going on their political situations… It’s so not for me. There or Florida. I’m happily living in a 55+ community in Virginia and I’ve never been happier.

    by Dave C — December 22, 2021

  21. Beebs I’d be happy to have a $530K home paying $6K for taxes. Try Vermont my $250K+ home is over $5K. We do have a homestead tax which you get about a forth of your property taxes back but still Vt. is expensive but I do love it except for the long winters & normally one can escape for awhile to a warmer place. No matter where you live/retire there will always be good/bad, just have to enjoy the good & try not to dwell on the bad. Merry Christmas everyone & look forward to a time we can go out without a mask & be near people without worry, grateful I live in the country with land I can walk around & enjoy the outside with my fur buddy.

    by VTRetiree — December 23, 2021

  22. I live in Lewes, DE. My property tax on my $400K house is around $1700 a year. There is no sales tax. And they don’t tax Social Security. I have normal summer temps. (80s) but a cool Bay or Ocean to cool off and the winters are mild for the most part. I’m a 2.5 hour drive to Philadelphia, Baltimore, or DC. There is no traffic though the locals complain of summer traffic but it’s not that bad. Healthcare is booming with the number of retirees coming here. And Lewes is a picturesque small whaling town, founded in 1631. What’s not to like?

    by Tom — December 23, 2021

  23. Here’s a video about Lewes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seSaPBestCo&t=2s

    by Tom — December 23, 2021

  24. Looked at all parts of Texas as a potential retirement locale. Loved it all, but at the end of the day, decided to downsize close to home in central Virginia.

    by Sandie — December 23, 2021

  25. Tom,
    Does DE tax you on Pensions?
    Are you in an over 55 community? I know there are quite a few there in DE.

    by beebs — December 27, 2021

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