Portsmouth is a small and very old town of just over 20,000 in eastern New Hampshire, right on the Maine border. Portsmouth has a tremendous amount going for it as a retirement town. There is a charming old downtown with lots of great shops and restaurants, cobblestone streets, historic seaport, plenty of water to live near, and a relatively mild climate thanks to its presence on the coast. It was named as one of the "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Because Portsmouth was so important as a seaport and shipbuilding center, its early days were as a very wealthy town. The beautiful homes and buildings constructed during that era represent the colonial, georgian, and federal styles - many of the surviving mansions are now open to the public. After many tragic 19th century fires, a building code went in requiring brick and slate construction in the downtown district.
Shipbuilding is still important across the Piscataqua River at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Durham, home to the University of New Hampshire, is another lovely town about 15 minutes inland.