December 14, 2016 — This is the latest in our new series of the Best Places to Retire in various states, regions, and countries. You can find links to the rest of the series at the end of the article.
Many boomers are looking toward the sunshine and dry air of America’s Southwest for their place to retire. The challenge is to find an affordable town in such a huge and desirable region. We included 6 states in this look: Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. The 10 cities and towns we’ve included here will give you a place to start your retirement search.
We did not include California since the state is so big and has so many towns – we will develop a 10 best list just for that state. One thing we noticed while doing this search is that real estate values have increased in many desirable cities so fast over the past 2 years that is getting harder and harder to find bargain places to retire. Many towns that we had rated as lower than average cost of living are now above average.
We used the Advanced Search at Topretirements.com to identify these affordable places to retire, using three different criteria:
– Below average cost of housing. For point of reference, the national Zillow Home Value Index is $189,400 and the U.S. median selling price at NAR is $240,900 (we provide both because NAR only covers larger Metros).
– Above average cultural opportunities
– Interesting as place to retire (a subjective rating, not included in Advanced Search)
In the interest of diversity we included at least 1 city from each of the 6 states in the region.
Over 40 towns in the Topretirements.com database met our criteria. From those we selected 10 as the most interesting and affordable places to retire – but we encourage you to use similar searches to come up with your own lists. Note that these are numbered for convenience sake; they are not in rank order. For the record our database came up with 20 towns in Texas with below average cost of living and above average cultural resources, 8 in Arizona, 7 in New Mexico, 5 in Oklahoma, and 1 in Utah.
1. El Paso, Texas
This interesting city on the border with Mexico has a new Triple A baseball stadium along with plenty of theaters and museum. It was selected by GoBankingRates.com as one of ten great towns where you can retire for less than $1000 a month. The sun shines 302 days a year on average. The median selling price of a home in this year’s third quarter was $151,300 (NAR), about $90,000 less than the U.S. median.
2. Canyon, Texas is listed on Livability’s Top Ten Small Towns list. For a few years it was home to artist Georgia O’Keeffe, who was inspired by its natural beauty. It is home to West Texas A & M; it is also known as the gateway to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. The Zillow Home Value Index in late 2016 was $130,300. Population is 14,000.
3. Tucson, Arizona Blessed with sunshine almost 300 days per year, has beautiful surroundings, and has ample land for development. At 233 performing arts dates per year, it also has one of the nation’s highest numbers of arts performances. There is an almost endless number of 55+ and active adult communities to choose from. The Zillow Home Value Index is $156,600, NAR median selling price is $193,300
4. Sierra Vista, Arizona Located near the Mexican border in southern Arizona, it is very near Tombstone, the famous frontier town and home to the OK Corral. Also nearby is Fort Huachuca, the Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve (hummingbird capital of the US), and the interesting old mining town of Bisbee. Zillow Home Value Index of $156,200.
5. Mesquite, Nevada Located at Nevada’s southern tip, the town boasts many active adult communities, several casinos, and resort golf courses. Mesquite is in the process of building the largest non professional sports venue in the country,the Mesquite Sports and Event Complex. Zillow Home Value Index of $193,600, slightly above the national index.
6. Las Cruces, New Mexico, the second largest city in New Mexico (92,000), is in the southern part of the state. It has been listed as a “Best Place to Retire” by several organizations for many reasons; low cost of living, active cultural life with its major university, and unusually beautiful location. In addition to active adults who choose this as their new retirement community, it is home to 23,000 students of New Mexico State University. Zillow Home Value Index of $138,900.
7. Alamogordo, New Mexico is a town in southern New Mexico with a population of about 35,000. The area has a very diverse economy thanks to Holloman Air Force Base, the White Sands Missile Range, and a successful economic development commission. The area is popular with retired military and has a reputation for political conservatism. The median Zillow Listing of a home is $154,950.
8. Carlsbad, New Mexico.Carlsbad is located in Southeastern New Mexico, straddling the Pecos River on the edge of the Guadalupe Mountains. Carlsbad Caverns are here, as are the 2,000 students of the New Mexico State University branch. $165,000 Median home listing at Zillow.
9. Ogden,Utah is big on outdoor sports, in fact many of the 2002 Winter Olympic events were based here. The 125,000 square foot Salomon Recreation Center features facilities like climbing walls, dance studios, wind tunnel, surf-riders pool, and a Gym. The s city is ready to be “the high adventure Mecca of the country.” Weber State University is in town. The Zillow Home Value Index is $132,000.
10. Tulsa, Oklahoma wins the honors for having the lowest Zillow Home Value Index on this list, $110,000, somewhat amazing for a city of this size. (The NAR median selling price is $156,500). It is also the cultural capital of the region with an astonishing array of cultural institutions funded by it wealthy oil patrons. There are many interesting old neighborhoods to live in and the Ozarks are nearby.
That’s it, hope you find the list interesting.
Comments? If you were picking bargain places to retire in the Southwest where would you go? Could you add or subtract any to our list? Do you experiences with these places – if so please share them or your questions.