August 28, 2018 – When it comes to the best places to retire the American West, a huge area comprising 9 states, has a lot to offer. From coastal California to the Pacific Northwest to the gorgeous mountain states, there is something for everybody. This installment of our “Best Places to Retire 2018” provides the top 20 most popular retirement towns in the U.S. West. Here is a link to the first, “The Top 20 Places to Retire in the Southwest“.
What States are in the West?
The National Geographic Society includes nine states in the American West, a huge territory. Those are Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. With the exception of the coastal Northwest, most of this region is dry with hot summers. It includes contains portions of the Rockies and other big mountain ranges like the Tetons. Most of the region has low humidity. For more information about what it is like to retire in the West see our “Dueling Retirement States” series: Dueling Retirement States: The Pacific Northwest, and
Dueling Retirement States: The Western Mountain States
The 20 most popular towns in the West contain some surprises, including a few not familiar to many. The surprising #1 most popular place to retire on our list, St. George, Utah edged out many more well known towns and cities. Obviously the word is out that the retirement there in the southwestern corner of Utah has many advantages. Viewed over 3,500 visitors viewed our review in the first seven months of 2018 by Topretirements.com visitors, it beat out somewhat unknown #2, Sequim (WA) and #3, Colorado Springs (CO). We were also pleasantly surprised by how many towns in the top 20 were not exactly household names. Our bet is that many people were not aware of St. George (UT), Sequim (WA), Mesquite (NV), Bellingham (WA), and Medford (OR) before they started thinking of a place to retire. We like that boomers are thinking of moving out of the box!
The battle of the states
It was a close race for favorite retirement state in the West. Whereas Arizona was the runaway favorite in the Southwest, here in the West there was a four way race. Although Colorado had 5 cites in the top 20, it was closely followed by Washington and Nevada (4 each), and Oregon (3).
How we choose the winners
Topretirements.com has published lists of the most popular retirement towns annually since 2007. While most “Best Places” lists are either the subjective opinions of the authors or a ranking from various criteria, this list is different. St. George made the top spot on this list through a simple process. We counted how many times each city’s review was viewed at Topretirements.com during the first seven months of 2018. We view that count as a gauge of interest in that destination. For example, the St. George review was viewed over 3,500 times. You can debate whether “most popular” is the same as “best”; another way to say it is that these towns certainly spark the most interest.
That was about 3.5 times as often as Coeur D’Alene (ID) in the #20 position. It doesn’t mean that people will actually move to any of these destinations, but it does indicate that folks are interested in learning more about them. Note that popularity is affected by other factors, such as whether or not we featured a town in one of our newsletter or Blog articles. We do not include active adult communities in our compilation. See our “2016 Most Popular Active Adult/55+ Communities” for that list. To make sure you don’t miss new lists like this, sign up for our free weekly “Best Places to Retire” newsletter. See also “The Worst States for Retirement – 2018“.
Here are the Top 20 Places to Retire in the West
Based on popularity at Topretirements, here are the 20 best places to retire this year:
1. St. George, UT. Saint George has spectacular red rock bluffs overlooking the town, a mild climate in winter, and terrific recreational opportunities. (viewed 3,500 times)
2. Sequim, WA. Sequim is popular both with retirees and with people looking for second homes. The town has has won numerous awards as a great place to live and retire.(visited over 2,900 times)
3. Colorado Springs, CO. Colorado Springs is an extremely popular retirement community due to spectacular scenery, abundant sunshine, and conservative values. The city also offers bike trails, parks, and cultural activities. (viewed 2,800 times)
4. Ft. Collins, CO. Fort Collins was chosen by Money Magazine as the best small city in the U.S. It’s a popular retirement community for its low crime rates, fantastic outdoor life, and small town ambiance.
5. Grand Junction, CO. Grand Junction, is a college town perched on the border with Utah. It has a nice downtown, and natural beauty and recreation are abundant.
6. Mesquite, NV. Mesquite is an extremely popular retirement town in southeastern Nevada, almost in Arizona and Utah. Casinos arrived here in the 1970’s. The town markets itself as a low key alternative to Las Vegas. (visited over 3,000 times)
7. Bend, OR. Bend offers great scenic beauty, skiing, mountains, golf, fishing, and more. Bend makes just about every list of “best retirement communities”.
8. Boise City, ID up from #100 “The city of Trees” is a modern, prosperous, and livable city that offers many recreational activities and a great lifestyle.
9. Palm Springs, CA (New, was on the 2015 list). We love this oasis town east of Los Angeles in the Coachella Valley. You can be playing golf in the valley and see snow on nearby mountains.
10. Las Vegas, NV Las Vegas is one of the fastest-growing communities in the U.S. Legalized gambling in this desert resort city has created an enormous economy and attracted many new residents, including retirees in active adult communities. The Las Vegas strip is justly famous for its glitz and many attractions.
11. Durango, CO. Durango is one of the most interesting small towns in Colorado. It is world famous for every kind of outdoor recreation including mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and golf.
12. Boulder, CO (New). Perhaps the most prestigious and expensive city in Colorado, it is home to the University of Colorado.
13. Henderson, NV. Henderson, second largest city in Nevada, is also one of America’s fastest-growing communities. the city prides itself on its master-planned residential areas, transportation projects, and outstanding recreational opportunities.
14. Eugene, OR . Eugene enjoys a national reputation as one of the most livable cities in the country. As a retirement community it offers small town charm combined with big city sparkle. It has a thriving and eclectic arts scene along with unsurpassed natural beauty.
15. San Juan Islands, WA. San Juan Islands Located off the coasts of Washington and British Columbia, are both a tourist destination and a retirement community. The setting, the tranquility, and the scenery are world class.
16. Reno, NV.”The Biggest Little City in the World”, is the 4th largest city in Nevada with a population of about 220,000. The nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains and deserts make this a great area for people who like the outdoors. As a college town it has a full supply of cultural and sporting venues.
17. Medford, OR. Located in the Rogue Valley, which tends to be drier and hotter than other regions of Oregon, Medford is famous for its fruit and wines (Harry and David are headquartered here). The city has had an excellent development plan to attract new residents. Downtown Medford is a vital place and features a restored Ginger Rogers Craterian Theatre, many restored buildings, an urban plaza, and an active library.
18. Bellingham, WA. If there was ever a town with momentum it is Bellingham Washington. Kiplinger’s called Bellingham one of the top retirement communities in the U.S. It boasts unbelievable natural scenery from Puget Sound on the west and Mount Baker to the east.
19. Spokane, WA. Spokane is the 2nd largest city in Washington, and one of the largest in the Northwest. It is located on Washington’s eastern border with Idaho, and is the cultural, social, and economic hub of this area.
20. Coeur D’Alene, ID. This beautiful town of 46,000 on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene attracts retirees and tourists. Coeur d’Alene is located near two major ski resorts, Silver Mountain Resort and Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort. Barbara Walters once called it a “Slice of heaven”.
For Additional reading:
2016 Best Places to Retire
100 Best Active Adult or 55+ Communities – 2016
Dueling Retirement States Series (Starts with Arizona vs. Florida)
10 Worst States for Retirement – 2018
What do You Think?
How do you like the idea of dividing up our list of the most popular places to retire by region? Are you considering a western retirement? Where are you thinking about retiring – do you have a preference east or west? Is it a town on this list, or someplace else? Please add your Comments and reactions about what makes for a great place to retire in the Comments section below.