December 13, 2017 — How about this for a rhetorical question: would you like to retire in a boring place? Of course not, why would anyone choose an uninteresting place to retire. Unfortunately, many people are lazy about their decision about where to retire. The result: they end up living in a place with a lot less day to day zip than they could have had. This article will give you our ideas on the 8 most interesting places to retire in the USA, by region. We hope you will contribute your suggestions in the Comments section at the end of the article.
What makes an interesting place to retire?
Everyone probably has a different idea about what makes a town or city interesting. While a beautiful town is a great attribute in a place to retire, that is only one thing that might make it interesting. Here are some of our possibilities for what make might make a town an exciting place to retire:
– A college or university that is a big part of the town
– Diverse mix of people in terms of ages, races, cultures, backgrounds, and interests
– Strong cultural institutions that attract locals and visitors
– Compact downtown that is walkable and/or good transportation system
– Involved citizenry
– Beautiful town and buildings (some would say charming)
– Inviting natural environment
– Outstanding recreational and social programs for people of retirement age
– A place where there is an opportunity to do something different or meet an interesting person everyday.
Our top 8 by region
We recognize this is a subjective list – there are hundreds of interesting retirement possibilities in this amazing country. We approached the task with a regional focus – we selected a winner, and some runners-up, in 8 regions of the country. To develop our selections we consulted lists from Countryliving.com, Readers Digest, AARP, and the Culturetrip.com. Although these sources suggested a number of very appealing small towns, many of them popular with tourists, we discarded most of them because we thought they would be too small or too one-dimensional to sustain a retiree’s interest over the long term. Although we included some medium-sized cities, we excluded very large cities, even though they are undoubtedly interesting places to live. We will leave that list to another day. Most of the places to retire we have chosen are on the expensive side, a reflection of their desirability.
1. Portland, Maine. This small city perched above Maine’s southern coast is the hot place to be. The town is overrun with good restaurants and entertainment. Real estate is not too pricey and the scenery and Maine recreation are outstanding. Runners-up – Portsmouth, NH and Burlington, VT.
2. Williamsburg, VA. Colonial Williamsburg is a living representation/restoration of the 18th century colonial capital. If you are a history buff and you love antiques, this is the place for you. Shops and cafes in the downtown area look like museum places but are all functional. Williamsburg has a population of just over 12,000.
Runner-up. Princeton, NJ.
3. Sarasota, FL has one of Florida’s best downtowns along with many interesting neighborhoods. It has an impressive array of cultural facilities. The Ringling Brothers located the winter quarters of their circus in Sarasota, and their philanthropic legacy has made the city a cultural powerhouse. For example, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is one of the most impressive museums in Florida. Runnerups – Greenville, SC and Athens GA
4. Columbus, Ohio. Home to The Ohio State University, this mid-sized city has multiple interesting neighborhoods, suburbs, and active communities. The downtown is walkable and the riverside parks are beautiful. . Runner ups – Traverse City, MI and Columbus, IN.
5. Santa Fe, New Mexico. This fantastic mountain town at 7000′ with 70,000 residents is renowned for its art (think Georgia O’Keefe). It offers awe-inspiring vistas of mountains, canyons, and gorges. Plus it has a rich Indian and Spanish history – Santa Fe is the oldest European community west of the Mississippi. Runner-up: Boulder, CO
6. Tucson AZ. Home to the University of Arizona, Tucson has hills and nearby mountains, along with a vibrant lifestyle. At 233 performing arts dates per year, it also has one of the nation’s highest numbers of arts performances. Runner up: Sedona, AZ.
7. Port Townsend, WA was wealthy early and then missed the next boom. So it had an incomparable stock of great Victorian buildings and houses that were never “remodeled”. Port Townsend is considered one of the prettiest towns anywhere, and has been named to all of the “best 100 places to retire lists”. Most of the town is preserved as a national historic district. It has an incomparable setting on the water and with views of the Cascade Mountains to the east and the Olympic Mountains on its west. Runners-up: Ashland, Oregon and Bellingham, WA.
8. Austin, Texas is the exciting home of the University of Texas. It is quite different in most ways from the rest of the Lone Star State. The food, art, and music scene is very much alive. Runners-up: New Braunfels, TX and Tulsa, OK.
Comments? What do you think are the most interesting places to retire, anywhere? Do you have other ideas about what might make a place interesting? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
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