If you're a Baby Boomer, it's time to start thinking about how you'll spend the Fourth Quarter. That's right: retirement in the 21st century is no longer about rocking on the front porch and whittling things out of wood. Today's retirees are looking for active, peaceful ways to maximize the seasoned days of their lives. No twilight years for them, thank you kindly. Boomers are looking to live it up: like country singer George Jones, they don't need your rocking chair. So here's the rundown on the top 10 best places to retire and, even if you've got a fixed income, your nest egg won't be cracked:
- 1. Tucson, AZ
There's something to be said for Tucson, Arizona. After all, Arizona means "arid place" in Spanish and we're thinking that means humidity is a nonexistent word here, including Tucson. With a population in the metro area around 520,116, Tucson isn't just tumbleweed territory replete with marshals and outlaws roaming the frontier. 31-percent of people - nearly one-third - are over the age of 50, and state income taxes range from a mild 2.59% to 4.54%. The median home value is $171,200, with a median property tax rate of $1,356. Top that off with a cost of living that is 5% less than the average and the warm weather, Tucson is sporting a package you cannot beat and makes it one of our top retirement cities.
- 2. Boise, ID
If you think potatoes and mountains are the only currency Idaho trades on, then you need to check out Boise. Boise, Idaho has a population of 205,671, 30% of whom are over the age of 50. Income tax rates range from 1.60% - 7.80%, and a median home value of $205,000 keeps housing affordable. A median property tax rate that puts the median bill around $1,188 means you'll be spending less on taxes and more on those honey-do projects that come with retirement. The cost of living is 6% lower than average, and that means more than just cheap potatoes: you'll be able to justify flying the grandkids in next summer.
- 3. Winston-Salem, NC
Bringing it east, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is hitting its stride in the 21st century. This town built on a tobacco heritage has a population of 229,617 and a growing older adult population with 35% of people over the age of 50. Housing is quite affordable with a median property tax bill of $1209 and a cost of living that comes in at a whopping 10-percent below the average. Did we mention that the median home value $141,200, means good deals for all tax brackets? Warm weather is a norm, and retreating to the Smokey Mountains is close at hand. So put that in your tobacco pipe and smoke it: Winston-Salem is emerging as one of the mid-South's prime destinations for seniors looking for the best retirement options possible.
- 4. Clearwater, FL
It's not the typical south Florida senior "haven" that drew retirees of yesteryear with shuffleboard courts and enticing high-rise condo deals. Florida's west coast boasts some of the best beaches which also double as Florida's best-kept secrets. Clearwater, Florida, with a population of 107,865 is adjacent to trendy Saint Petersburg and is part of the larger Tampa Bay metroplex. And take its name for the literal marketing ploy that it is: the water is (usually) clear, while the beaches and warm weather are persistently enchanting. Clearwater is like a big Chamber of Commerce poster waiting to lure you in, not to mention that the cost of living is a surprising 9-percent less than the average. Plus, you've got no state income tax to worry about and you'll find lots in common with the 42-percent of the population over the age of 50. Median home values slide in at a reasonable $180,700 in worth, and give you access to world-famous beaches within minutes from anywhere in town.
- 5. Austin, TX
You may not know or care about a burgeoning music, technology and all-around cultural jam session called South-by-Southwest, buts along with an awesome music scene that has styles for all generations, Austin, Texas, is quickly becoming a mecca for Boomers wanting an active retirement. This seat of Lone Star state government has a population of 790,390, and a zero-percent state income tax. They've got a strong housing market with a median home value of $200,000.00 and a cost of living 5-percent less than the national average. Kick-in warm weather and this cutting-edge scene offers relevance for seniors who want to stay plugged-in.
- 6. Manchester, NH
If you want a little rustic New England charm, Manchester, New Hampshire is an emerging point for connecting the best of all worlds. Not only does Manchester, with a population of 109,565, put you in a place where small town charm still exists, you're likely to find access to all the finer offerings of a big city. If not, the drive into Boston is always a back-up. If you love snow, it comes free-of-charge: shovels not included. You're also guaranteed lots of picture-perfect scenes, so long as you're not having to trek through them to work anymore. There's no income tax and low unemployment if keeping busy with a part time job is on your radar. The median home value is $235,700 and includes some of the best real estate finds in the country.
- 7. Spokane, WA
If you're up for some of the most picturesque country in the Great Northwest, Spokane, Washington is a great option for seniors wanting a convergence of sites and sounds in a natural background. If you're worried about a Cobain-inspired grunge scene, have no fear: big mountains separate you! 34-percent of the 208,916 residents are over the age of 50. There's no state income tax and homes have a median value of $161,200, opening the market to a wide array of options among our top retirement cities. The cost of living is 6-percent below average.
- 8. Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque, New Mexico has become a virtual melting pot of perspectives and people, including retirees. The population is 545,852 with consistent population growth. 32-percent of people over 50 have found communities that emphasize south-western and Hispanic, as well as Native American culture. The income tax rate ranges from 1.70% to 4.90%. The warm weather is great for seniors seeking mild seasons year-round. The median home value of $188,600 strikes an affordable balance for every kind of bank account. Kick-in a some of the best property taxes in the nation - with a median bill of $880, and Albuquerque is worth a second look. You will find the pace of life is much easier than the lesson you'll need to master the spelling of A-l-b-u-q-u-e-r-q-u-e.
- 9. Charleston, SC
A Southern gem that's enjoying a revival of classy charm, Charleston, South Carolina's 120,083 citizens entices retirees with income tax rates that range from none to 7-percent, a median home value of $261,300 and median property taxes of $689. Add the coastal charm to the constant sea breeze and you'll be convinced that this is a place to enjoy your seasoned years. Among the best places to retire, you'll find sipping sweet tea and Southern drawls aren't required...most of the time!
- 10. Fort Collins, CO
Unique on the list is Fort Collins, Colorado. Don't know much about Fort Collins? Don't worry. It's in verdant Colorado. That's all you need to seal a fine deal. This cozy town of 143,986 people sports a 2.9-percent sales tax and a 4.63-percent income tax. There's high-quality living with some swanky options. And, yes, swanky, can still be worth the move: the cost of living is 4-percent less than average. But keep in mind, above all: it's Colorado. Enough said.
You can refer to our Best Places to Live report for real-time, up-to-date and interactive top 100 best and worst list of cities. The report is sortable, and it allows you to discriminate by the population as well as your preferred state.