February 1, 2011 — As many of us have discovered, the glamour queen (or king) we might be first attracted to often doesn’t turn out to be as enchanting in the long term as the quiet beauty in the back of the room. A similar phenomenon happens with best places to retire lists, so last year we came out with a list of “The Most Under-Rated Places to Retire”. Our readers seemed to like the concept, so here we go again with our 2011 list: More Under-Rated Places to Retire. Part 3 in the series was published in 2014 (see bottom of article for link).
We started with our search for this year’s list by using the Topretirements “Retirement Ranger“. There we specified these criteria:
1. Lower than average cost of living
2. Average January temperature above 40 degrees (F.), (we’ll do a similar list of towns in cooler climes in the future)
3. Higher than average cultural life
4. Tax-Friendly State.
We took the list of the 40+ towns that the Ranger provided and then screened out towns we featured on our previous under-rated list, towns on our 100 most popular places to retire list, and towns that seem to be selected over and over again. In a couple of cases we included towns that have a higher than average cost of living compared to the U.S. overall, but are a relative bargain for the region. Here goes, in no particular order:
Mount Dora, FL – Located near the highest elevation in Florida, this is a classy old town has plenty of charm and things to do.
Auburn-Opelika, AL – This town and suburb is one of the fastest growing communities in the country. It not only has a major university (Auburn), but it also has a beautiful downtown with culture and shopping.
St. Petersburg, FL – To see just why St. Petersburg is so special, all you have to do is look at a map – this charming old city is set on a peninsula on Tampa Bay. Surrounded by beaches and water, St. Petersburg has a low-key and relaxing feel to it.
Ashland, OR – Home to one of the largest Shakespeare festivals in the world,one that attracts 400,000 visitors a year, Ashland is a wonderful town with fantastic cultural opportunities. Ashland’s housing costs are above the U.S. figure although not out of line for the West Coast (median home here was about $300,000 in 2010). We felt that the town has so many things going for it that it deserves to be included on this list.
Corpus Christi, TX – Located on the water with great beaches, Corpus Christi generally gets rave reviews from its residents. Seems like there is always something to do in this affordable town at the southern tip of Texas, where the median home goes for $133,000.
Sequim – WA – Airline pilots are generally credited with discovering Sequim as a retirement town. It seems that in the generally overcast skies of Washington, there was always a “blue hole” above Sequim. In addition to good weather, Sequim is on the water and close to the mountains. It is relatively inexpensive by west coast standards.
Fredericksburg, TX – This town is justly proud of its German-American heritage. Fredericksburg gets a lot of tourists for its festivals, restaurants and other attractions like the WW II Museum and the Nimitz Hotel. LBJ used to go to church here.
Ogden, UT – The Salomon Recreation Center is one of the highpoints of this town. Featuring indoor climbing, surfing, dance, and a lot more in this giant facility, it has helped propel Ogden into one of the leading towns in America for high-adventure. Ogden also has a burgeoning art scene with the restored Egyptian Theatre.
Georgetown, TX – This town north of Austin has a very large concentration of active adult communities, some of them very large like Sun City Texas. It has more than 200 restored Victorian and pre-WW1 buildings in the pretty downtown. Georgetown is not unknown by any means, it has won numerous awards in recent years.
Dahlonega, GA – One of our Topretirements members called Dahlonega, located in the north, one of the nicest towns in Georgia. It was home to the first gold rush in the U.S. and is also close to Lake Lanier.
For further reading:
“Part 1: The Most Under-Rated Places to Retire”
Part 3: 5 More Under-Appreciated Places to Retire.
What do you think? Do you have some favorite retirement towns that never seem to make a “best” list? If so, we would like to hear about it. Please let us know via the Comments section below.