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Very Interesting: 10 Great Towns for Retirement

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

August 26, 2020 — You are probably only going to have one retirement, so you might as well make the most of it. At least, that’s the way we think about it. So why settle for a “nice” place to retire, when you have actually have the option to go for the gold – a town that is interesting, charming, bustling – one you never tire of. Here are 10 possibilities for you to consider, chosen by region, and along with the criteria we used to select them.

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 other possibilities that 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 or charming town and buildings
– 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.

10 Really Interesting Places to Retire

New England/Northeast

Burlington, Vermont. Located on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. It is a college town, home to the vibrant University of Vermont. Burlington is very popular with outdoor loving retirees who also want the youth and enthusiasm provided by a major university. In addition to campus life and the interesting life downtown, there is hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and great skiing at nearby Sugarbush.

Mid-Atlantic

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Down on the Delaware shore, Rehoboth has plenty of small town charm along with beaches and the boardwalk. Diverse, it is an artistic community that is popular with gays and lesbians. There are factory outlets, malls, and interesting shopping. Recreational opportunities from golf to sailing abound. 

South. (2 choices since this is such a popular choice for retirement)

Athens, Georgia. This university town in the hills of northeastern Georgia is extremely popular with retirees. The University of Georgia has helped to create a community with a thriving artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual scene. The downtown, centered on College Avenue, is one of the most interesting and vital centers in the nation. It offers many restaurants, nightclubs, music stores, sidewalk cafes, bars, bookstores, and shops.

Saint Petersburg, Florida. This was a tough choice because Florida, contrary to many people’s opinion, has many interesting places to retire, including Sarasota, Boca Raton, Jacksonville, Delray Beach, and Key West. St. Pete, a classic retirement and tourist destination since the 1920’s because of its winter warmth, great beaches, and ideal location on a peninsula in Tampa Bay, is having a resurgence with a vibrant downtown.

Mid-South.

Knoxville, Tennessee. A vibrant college town with interesting smaller communities nearby, Knoxville offers big-time sports and many cultural events. The University of Tennessee is a big part of why this town is an interesting place to live, and the nearby mountains add many things to do.

Midwest

Traverse City, Michigan. The “Cherry Capital of the World,” enjoys a reputation as one of the top arts towns in the country. It is a great spot for retirement because in addition to arts and music, it has terrific golf, skiing, and outdoor activities on Lake Michigan. Traverse City is all about water – it is on Grand Traverse Bay and connected to it by the Boardman River and Boardman Lake.

Mountain

Bozeman, Montana.  Home to Montana State University-Bozeman and its 10,000 students, Bozeman is located in the Gallatin Valley and surrounded by mountains on all sides. There is a vibrant downtown with a busy new library and great outdoor stores. Restaurants are full and people are on the street at 9PM. Yellowstone is not far away.

Southwest (2 choices)

Prescott, Arizona. Located at an elevation of 5400 feet in the mountains of north central Arizona, the City of Prescott was the original territorial capital of the Arizona Territory. This old mining town and now popular active adult retirement community borders the Prescott National Forest. Downtown is the Courthouse Plaza, framed by towering elms, which is the focal point for exhibitions and street fairs.

St. George, Utah. Located in extreme southwestern Utah, it has spectacular red rock bluffs overlooking the town, a mild climate in winter, and terrific recreational opportunities such as hiking in the nearby Zion National Park and many golf courses. The population is growing rapidly.  More diverse than much of Utah, it has a vital downtown, pleasant streets, plentiful restaurants, and many active communities to choose from.

Pacific Northwest

Ashland, Oregon. About 15 miles north of the California border you will find this cultural mecca, host to the ongoing Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It also has Southern Oregon University and its 5000 students. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is one of the largest and most successful festivals in the world, with events year round.

California

Palm Springs, California. This State has a plethora of interesting places to retire, but the problem is many of the nicest ones are super-expensive. Palm Springs is relatively more affordable. It draws residents from all over the world with its beautiful landscape, rich culture, fine restaurants, diverse communities, and outstanding attractions. The slightly funky, upscale downtown is in a broad valley set against picturesque Mount St. Jacinto, which rises over 10,000 feet directly above the town.

Bottom line. There is a reason why all these towns are popular with retirees. They offer beautiful settings, have great downtowns, and a never-ending list of things to do. They are by no means the only interesting choices, across the USA there are many more. Once this pandemic subsides you might want to go out and start visiting some of them.

Comments? Please share your thoughts. Do you know of some interesting places to retire we should have considered?

For further reading:
8 Most Interesting Places to Retire in the US

10 Surprising Places to Retire

Posted by Admin on August 25th, 2020

14 Comments »

  1. Interesting that HEALTH CARE is not one of your criteria for a retirement spot. As we age we ALL need it and some areas you have chosen have substandard health care. As a health care professional this is number one on my list. A good cultural mix does absolutely nothing when you need a stellar stroke or cardiac center . NICE can take a back seat to top of line medical care!

    Editor comment: Great point Pamela. While health care quality may not be interesting, it sure is important for us retirees. Thank you. Fortunately most of these towns are good in that regard, particularly those with a university or in a capital.

    by Pamela Nelson — August 26, 2020

  2. Pamela, you are so right! What is the best way to research for good hospitals and good doctors? I see all sorts of conflicting comments on websites. I need to find true ratings of these important matters. Thank your for bringing this out. Your information on this subject will help tremendously.

    by Mare — August 27, 2020

  3. Terrible representation of the SW with listing only one, Prescott, AZ. There are so many more, and more interesting thsn Prescott too! Kind of biased against the SW.

    Editor comment. Thanks Bob. We are all ears, what towns would you suggest? Would love to hear your opinion. We limited this article to just 10 towns and actually included 2 from the Southwest (St. George, UT the other one).

    by Bob — August 27, 2020

  4. I wish there was a source for great foody towns and cities. I live in New Mexico and there is little choice available here if you don’t or can’t eat Mexican food. The reasons for moving here have NOTHING to do with the food. I am considering relocating my retirement to a place more palatable.
    Good food is one of the pleasures that we have in retirement.
    I live in Las Cruces, which is in southern N.M. And not far from the Mexican border.
    Santa Fe used to have some good restaurants but now has gone over to the ethnic palate as well. I think I must relocate to a completely different area of the country.
    The weather is beautiful here and we have no major hazards like hurricanes,floods, tornado or humidity, but the QUALITY of healthcare is horrible. Skilled work in any field is unavailable or unwilling.Quite often, appointments mean nothing.
    I know that Las Cruces has been listed on the best places lists but these things should also be considered when deciding where to retire. I realize that these things are difficult to know until you are living there. Vacationing is very different

    by LasCruceslassie — August 27, 2020

  5. One of the first things I do when investigating a new area is to check out “Yelp”. It gives information and reviews of most restaurants. It also shows shopping, grocery stores, etc. It’s a great resource.

    by Staci — August 28, 2020

  6. There certainly are such lists – just put “Top US cities for foodies” in any search engine and a long list will come up. I tried to put links here but it wouldn’t let me.

    I can personally attest to Las Vegas NV, New York city, and Portland ME (300+ restaurants for 65K people). All places with a wonderful variety of food!

    For more information on individual cities/towns – check out http://www.city-data.com

    by Flatearth6 — August 28, 2020

  7. AZ? Thanks, no.
    https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix-weather/2020/08/28/phoenix-hits-50th-day-110-degrees-2020/5662386002/

    by Peder — August 29, 2020

  8. I know AZ is very hot but I have relatives/friends that moved to Phoenix metro as they couldn’t handle the heat and humidity in KY along with the the winter cold. Our experience is when it is 95 in AZ it feels like 70 in KY thanks to the lack of moisture in AZ (46″ per year in Louisville versus 8″ per year in Phoenix). One should take into account the heat index/comfort index when comparing locales. An advantage of being retired is a person can alter schedules to be out and about when crowds, traffic and weather are optimal.

    by danno — August 29, 2020

  9. Flatearth, consider adding Charleston, SC, to your list of best restaurant cities. As a coastal city with many local-area farms, the restaurants there have a bounty to work with and some of the country’s best young chefs have taken notice the last two decades. Newly opened Charleston restaurants perennially make respected “best of” lists, and even those that are long in the tooth have’t lost their luster and are filled night after night. For a city of its size, only New Orleans and San Francisco rival it in quality of food. Charleston real estate has gotten pricey, but there are still some neighborhoods over the bridge in booming Mt. Pleasant, close to the beaches of Isle of Palms, that are reasonably priced.

    by Larry Gavrich — August 29, 2020

  10. Larry,

    Just curious as to which neighborhoods close to the Isle of Palms you are referring to? I did not realize that there were affordable (depends on your definition of course) areas close to the beaches.

    by Fionna — August 29, 2020

  11. Fionna, It does depend on your definition of “affordable” and the context of where one is looking. My definition for affordable in the Mt. Pleasant area and, indeed, most of the Charleston area, is in the $200s, mindful that there are many for whom that is above their budget. Also, I was careful not to say the homes were “close” to the beach because that too is a relative term. Isle of Palms is about a 20-minute drive to the heart of Mt. Pleasant but only about 10 minutes to the area just over the bridge which, for those who enjoy the occasional day at the beach, seems close enough. (Perhaps my bias; I am not a beach lover.) However, in reconsidering my comments, I should have said most of those “affordable” homes were condos.

    by Larry — August 30, 2020

  12. Thanks Larry. I do agree with you about the “affordable” homes being condos. I’m not much of a beach person either (been there, done that) but am sorry we didn’t look for an “affordable” cottage in Mt. Pleasant. Love all of the amenities the town has to offer as well as proximity to Charleston. We live in Summerville but are planning to return to Greenville since we like that area of SC better. Weather is also nicer (cooler, less humid).

    by Fionna — August 31, 2020

  13. Mt. Pleasant SC is great, but unfortunately there are no longer many single family homes there under $350,000.

    by Staci — September 1, 2020

  14. Staci, unfortunately we are going to see prices in towns like Mt. Pleasant continue to rise for the foreseeable future. In the short run, before a vaccine for the pandemic, suburbs like Mt. Pleasant will look attractive to city dwellers who perceive their chances of safety are better outside the city. Many of them, of course, are going even more rural, but the lower cost of living in a place like Mt. Pleasant compared with many cities and densely packed suburbs will continue to be a strong lure. (Example: Cost of living in Mt. Pleasant is 50% cheaper than in Wellesley, MA, a suburb of Boston, according to BestPlaces.net). There is another factor that will increase real estate prices, and that is all those corporate employees who are working from home. Their companies note that these workers are even more productive at some distance from the office, and the companies can save tons of money on leases, utilities and other expenses by keeping them at home. Now if you know you can work from home for the foreseeable future, will you do that in a Wellesley, with its cold winters and high cost of living, or in a Mt. Pleasant with a cost of living half that of Wellesley and much milder winters? The irony of the pandemic is that it has been good for real estate markets outside cities, and may continue to be so for the coming years. Anyone who has been contemplating a move South might want to consider pushing up their time frames or they may be looking at paying more or accepting less of a house.

    by Larry Gavrich — September 2, 2020

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