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There are many factors that make a city or town the perfect retirement destination. A mild climate, a low crime rate, ease of access to public transportation, proximity of good hospitals, low housing and cost-of-living expenses, and low taxes on property, pensions, and social security are just a few. But in reality, there is no place that’s absolute perfection for retirees. And there are many individual factors that a town perfect for your retirement personally—including proximity to family and plenty of activities that suit your personal interests.
Even so, there are a few towns that stand above the rest when it comes to retirement destinations. Here are our picks for 2012.
Finding the perfect place to retire isn’t easy. But there are a few things to consider when deciding whether a place is right for you.
Arizona is known for its oven-like dry heat—but Flagstaff’s weather is normally fairly mild, due to its high altitude. It’s sunny more than two-thirds of the time, but the temperature rarely gets higher than 90°F. Winters are cold-but the snow melts quickly in the sun
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Mild climates and a fun, musical and artistic scene make Austin an exciting place to retire to. Enjoy the gorgeous bluebonnet season in the spring, a mild winter, and sunny summers. It’s a musical Mecca and a stop for many famous musical tours and festivals throughout the year. And it’s surprisingly cheap—with home values as low as $125,000. Not to mention Texas doesn’t have an income tax.
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Ithaca, New York
Ithaca is a college town with an affordable median home price of around $176,000. There are plenty of opportunities for continuing education and cultural events, with top universities like Cornell and Ithaca College. And with the beautiful scenery, there’s also plenty to do for those who love the outdoors—including over 100 waterfalls and gorges, biking and boating in the Finger Lakes region, and hiking the surrounding hills.
When most people think of big cities in Pennsylvania, they think of Philadelphia. But Pittsburgh is also a great place to retire—with plenty to do. The cost of living is astonishingly low—with median home prices at $97,900 in 2010. There’s the University of Pittsburgh and all the cultural and educational opportunities associated with it, as well as an excellent hospital and a public transportation system that lets seniors ride for free.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe offers plenty of galleries and museums, as well as culture, history, and a thriving artistic community. There are also plenty of yearly markets and festivals. The city is ideal for those who love arts and culture—as there’s a unique mix here of Native American and Anglo artistic traditions.
See Also: Senior Living in New Mexico
The city that made the Philly Cheesesteak famous is also known for its other foods—Philadelphia is a little-known Mecca for fine dining, and prices are lower than what you’d find in nearby New York City. Browse the Italian Market for low-cost vegetables, meats, and foods from local farmers and vendors—or enjoy the city’s history as the nation’s birthplace. Most of the historical attractions of the city are free of charge or low-cost. There’s also the Philadelphia Art Museum, proximity to some of the best hospitals and universities in the country, nearby hiking and other outdoor opportunities, and more.
Port Charlotte, Florida
The prices on homes is a surprisingly low $59,950 as of 2010—perhaps because this town was hit hard by the economic crisis. There are still plenty of good deals in town on homes—and Florida ahs no state income tax, another plus for seniors. The weather is mild, there’s proximity to gorgeous scenery and plenty of waterfront housing, and everyone has a boat in the backyard. Ideal for seniors who love the outdoors and are looking for an affordable way to live on the water.
Walnut Creek, California
It’s got a high population of retirees—more than half of the people who live here are retired. Perhaps they come for the unique combination of downtown attractions and natural beauty. The city offers boutiques and shops, excellent food, galleries and art centers, and 22 city parks. There’s also hiking and other outdoor activities in close proximity—and San Francisco isn’t far away.
Traverse City, Michigan
Traverse City is an affordable place to lie on the water—with almost 150 large lakes and 180 miles of shoreline on the banks of Lake Michigan. Houses here average about $155,715 in price—quite reasonable for a waterfront location. Those who love boating will find plenty of opportunities to pursue their passion.
Finding the perfect place to retire isn’t easy. But there are a few things to consider when deciding whether a place is right for you. Decide what your priorities are—in terms of taxation, affordability, proximity to hospitals, and closeness to friends and family. If you do, it’s likely you’ll find a retirement destination that makes sense for you.