It takes years to save for retirement. Once you are ready to stop working, there may be a good chance that you do not want to live in the same town anymore, because you are ready to move to a better place. Not every retirement is the same. Some people want to relax, while others want to go out and live an active and adventurous life. Choosing somewhere to settle down can be tricky. Many of us want to stay in a state where we grew up, or within driving distance of our loved ones. Lucky for us, Forbes has collected the data of the income and cost of living in the best towns in the US, and we are here to tell you more about what you can expect from each of these places.
50. Auburn, Alabama
Home to Auburn University, this college town in Alabama has plenty of options of entertainment, dining, and the arts. Like most other college towns, it will be busy during the school year, with lots of peace and quiet during the holidays and summer time. The median household income is $48,579, and the average home price is $186,000. The unemployment rate is tiny- at just 3%.
49. Homer, Alaska
Alaska may not seem like the state where you would want beachfront property, but the town of Homer has surprisingly mild weather, and it earns its nickname “the cosmic hamlet by the sea”. For anyone who loves to go fishing, this town is a dream come true.
One of the biggest allures to moving to Alaska is the fact that there is no state income tax, and no inheritance tax, either. Homer is also home to the most physicians per capita, so you will have access to a doctor quickly and easily.
48. Green Valley, Arizona
Located between Tucson and the Mexican border, the desert community of Green Valley, Arizona has a population of just 32,000 people. There is a very low crime rate, and no income tax on social security benefits. The median home price is $175,000, which makes it affordable for most people to purchase with their retirement nest egg. Just minutes away from the Santa Rita Mountains, Green Valley is a great place for hiking, cycling, and enjoying the great outdoors.
47. Bella Vista, Arkansas
Bella Vista, Arkansas is known for having high quality air, and it has beautiful wooded walking trails that lead to the Creek Waterfall. The cost of your average home is just $163,000, so it is affordable for more retirees. It has the highest number of doctors per capita, so you’ll be able to get access to health care quickly and easily.
46. Sacramento, California
Sacramento is a bustling city with a population of 500,000 people. There are tons of things to do, like wine tasting, theater, museums, and cultural experiences. When the grandkids come to visit, you can take them to the nearby “Fairytale Town” or one of the many local parks. The median cost for a home is $317,000. This is higher than the national average, but compared to San Francisco, which is an hour and a half away, living in Sacramento is much more affordable.
45. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Seventy miles south of Denver, the city of Colorado Springs has a population of 465,000 people. With the median home price of $276,000, it’s only slightly above the national average. Colorado Springs is close to tons of outdoor activities like zip-lining, and the famous geological formations called the “Garden of the Gods”.
44. Mansfield, Connecticut
Home of the University of Connecticut, the town of Mansfield has a relatively small population of just 26,000. With the nearby college, there is plenty to do, and you’ll have access to doctors and everything you could possibly need. Expect to pay around $236,000 for the median home price. When the grandkids come over, you can take them to the nearby Adventure Park or the Museum of Puppetry. There are also plenty of historical attractions, like the drive-in movie theater.
43. Newark, Delaware
Newark is in-between Philadelphia and Baltimore, so it’s close to two of the biggest cities on the east coast. It is also the home of the University of Delaware, so there are plenty of museums and form of entertainment. The state of Delaware has no sales tax, so one of the greatest places to go in Newark is the Christiana Mall. The median house price is $228,000, so it’s also a fairly affordable place to live.
42. Jacksonville, Florida
People love to retire in Florida, but some people are unsure of which town to pick. Jacksonville is the largest city in the state of Florida with a population of 880,000 people, but unlike other big cities in the US, it has plenty of apartments available for under $1,000 per month, and houses are just $165,000. It is also way less likely to be hit by a hurricane compared to other parts of Florida. The biggest downside to Jacksonville is that it has a higher crime rate than smaller towns in the same state.
41. Athens, Georgia
Home to the University of Georgia, Athens has a thriving art and music scene. Its population is around 209,900 people, which makes it a relatively small city, but there is plenty to do. The average cost of buying a house is $204,000. If you friends and family come to visit, they can see the State Botanical Garden, and the Georgia Museum of Art, as well as local beaches and nature trails.
40. Kaneohe, Hawaii
Who wouldn’t want to retire in Hawaii, right? Living anywhere in Hawaii full-time is very expensive, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the median price of a house is $828,000. It is more likely that you would be renting a house or apartment, instead. The population of Kaneohe is just 35,000 people, but it is close to health care, and has a very low crime rate.
39. Lewiston, Idaho
Life moves slow in Lewiston, Idaho, which will make it a peaceful place to live for retirees. The population is just 63,000 people, and agriculture is the biggest industry. Residents have a high quality of life, with houses costing an average of $211,000. Lewiston is close to the Snake River, and the Umatilla National Forest. There are also a few wineries and breweries nearby.
38. Alton, Illinois
Alton, Illinois is a very small city with just 27,000 people. This sleepy town sits alongside the Mississippi River, so you have plenty of access to boating and fishing. The median home price is just $60,000, which makes it way more affordable than most other cities on this list. There are several museums, a casino, theaters, and parks.
37. Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington, Indiana has a population of 85,000 people, and it is the home of Indiana University. It has been voted by the Milken Institute as one of the greatest places for successful aging. There are two antique malls, and a couple museums. If your young grandkids come to visit, you can bring them to the interactive science museum called “Wonder Lab”.
36. Iowa City, Iowa
Iowa City has a population of 75,000 people, and the average price of a home is $220,00. According to the Milken Institute, Iowa City is the #1 best place to live for successful aging in the United States. So, what makes them the best? It has a very low crime rate, it’s easy to walk through the city, and it has the higher number of doctors-per-capita. It is close to the University of Iowa, and apparently, it is a great place for “anti-retirement”, or still living your life to the fullest as you age.
35. Lawrence, Kansas
Home to the University of Kansas, the city of Lawrence has a bustling population of 95,000 people. It is just 40 miles away from Kansas City. It has a very low crime rate, and lots of opportunity to ride a bike through the town to get around, if you enjoy cycling. When you family comes over, they can visit the Spenser Museum of Art, or the Biodiversity Institute and National History Museum. The average cost to buy a house is $193,000, which should be affordable if you are selling your current house, or paying a mortgage with your retirement nest egg.
34. Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky is a college town with a large population of 318,000 people. It has a huge horse culture, so if you enjoy any equestrian hobbies, it’s a great place for you to meet like-minded people. It’s an hour and 20 minutes away from Louisville, which is the home to the Kentucky Derby.
33. Kenner, Louisiana
Kenner is a suburb just outside of New Orleans. So you’re still close to the party if you ever want to go, but just far enough to enjoy some peace and quiet of small-town living together with a population of just 67,000 people. The median price of a home is affordable at $160,000, and there is a very low crime rate.
32. Portland, Maine
The town of Portland, Maine is one of those beautiful places that looks like it’s from the set of a movie. Residents can easily walk and ride a bicycle around the seaside town, and enjoy fishing or crabbing off the coast. The one drawback is that the median home price is $301,000, so it’s not exactly a cheap place to live. It is 110 miles north of Boston, in case you would want to drive to a big city.
31. Ocean Pines, Maryland
The tiny town of Ocean Pines, Maryland has only 12,000 people living there. Hidden away in a wooded area, this community runs along the Wight Bay. It is only 8 miles away from beaches of the famed Ocean City. This town is a real treasure for retirees. They have a very low crime rate, and a great quality of living. Homes cost an average of $246,000.
30. Northampton, Massachusetts
Northampton is a small town that sits alongside a river. The population is only 28,000 people, but it sits 100 miles away from Boston, so the big city is not that far away. If you’re staying local, you can go hiking at Mount Holyoke, visit one of the many parks, or check out the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum. Average homes cost $285,000, and it has access to several doctors, as well as anything you may need during your retirement.
29. Grand Rapids, Michigan
The city of Grand Rapids has 196,000 people living there, and it is 160 miles away from Detroit. Homes cost an average of $152,000, which is much cheaper than most major cities in the United States. However, they have a high crime rate, and their winters are very cold. For entertainment, they have a zoo, museums, and curiously- they recreation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s horse statue!
28. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
These are called the “twin cities”. While they are right next to one another, people say that Minneapolis is the more trendy place with entertainment hot spots, while St. Paul is more laid-back. So there is a little bit of something for everyone. If you add up the populations of both cities together, you’ll get over 700,000 people. If you plan to buy a home, expect to pay around $236,000.
27. Oxford, Mississippi
The small town of Oxford is home to the University of Mississippi. The population is just 23,000 people, but it is 85 miles away from the huge city of Memphis, TN. The town’s claim to fame is that the author William Faulkner once lived there, and his old home called “Rowan Oak” is open to the public. If you want to buy a house of your own, expect to pay around $187,000.
26. Columbia, Missouri
Columbia has three colleges in town- Stephens College, University of Missouri, and Columbia College. With all of those college students coming into the town, the population is sure to fluctuate, but it usually has an average of 120,000 people. The architecture of the town is beautiful, and there are loads of doctors in the area. There are also plenty of as grocery stores and access to entertainment. If you love the outdoors, you’re in luck, because it is very close to several state parks and outdoor recreation areas.
25. Billings, Montana
The city of Billings, Montana is home to 110,000 people. If you plan to buy real estate, expect to pay an average of $223,000. Great for people who enjoy riding bicycles. The Pictograph Cave State Park is nearby. There are tons of places nearby to bring your family and friends, like the DanWalt Gardens and Montana Zoo.
24. Lincoln, Nebraska
As the Nebraska’s State Capital, the city of Lincoln has plenty to do. The University of Nebraska is in the city, which means that they have plenty of restaurant and entertainment options geared towards the students. The population is 280,000, and houses cost $176,000. The Lincoln Children’s Museum is a great place to bring your grandkids, or you could watch a game at the Memorial Stadium.
23. Reno, Nevada
Reno, Nevada is famous for having loads of casinos and a huge amount of nightlight entertainment. It is also the home of the University of Nevada and the National Automobile Museum. The city has a total population of 240,000 people. It is 220 miles away from San Francisco, but it is way cheaper to live, with houses costing an average of $355,000.
22. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth, New Hampshire is an idyllic-looking seaside town with a tiny population of just 21,000. It has a posh atmosphere, and it’s just 60 miles away from Boston and an hour from Cambridge, so you are sure to bump into some Harvard graduates around town. The biggest downside is that this is one of the most expensive cities to buy a home on this list, with houses costing an average of $438,000. But if you do decide to retire there, this is plenty to do. The grandkids can enjoy the Water County Water Park, and history lovers can go to the USS Albacore Museum, and the Strawbery Bank Museum.
21. Manchester Township, New Jersey
New Jersey is the “Garden State”, but that doesn’t mean everywhere you go is actually green. If you want to find small town living with access to all of your creature comforts, look no further than Manchester Township, New Jersey. The town has a population of 44,000 people, but it is very close to both Philadelphia and New York City. Homes cost $180,000, which is much cheaper than many other towns in the densely populated state.
20. Las Cruces, New Mexico
The natural scenery of Las Cruces, New Mexico is an attraction within itself. There are plenty of walking trails, and even an excavation park, if you’re looking to dig up some fossils. It is also home to New Mexico State University, so there is plenty around in terms of groceries, health care, and entertainment. As an added bonus, you’re just 50 miles north of El Paso, Texas. Buying a home will set you back about $164,000. Cost of living is 10% less than the national average, and so is the crime rate.
19. Ithaca, New York
Just 31,000 residents called the town of Ithaca, New York “home”. The famed Cornell University is in this small town. The town has both an Amtrak train station, which will take you the 225 miles to New York City, if you ever choose to go. Residents get to enjoy a quiet, scenic life near the lake. Plenty of shopping and local culture. Homes are just $242,000, which is much cheaper than anything you can get in Manhattan!
18. Asheville, North Carolina
The city of Asheville, North Carolina is home to 90,000 people. It is just 200 miles away from Atlanta, Georgia, but the houses are much more affordable at $275,000. Great air quality, low taxes. One of the most famous landmarks in Asheville is the Biltmore manor, which was the Vanderbilt mansion. It is open to the public for tours of the mansion and gardens. Hipsters will be happy with the arts district, and there is even a pinball museum for those of you who love the game.
17. Fargo, North Dakota
The world may associate the North Dakota city Fargo with the Cohen Brothers movie of the same name. In reality, the town has a population of 212,000 people. Home of North Dakota State University, there is plenty for people to do. If you are looking to buy a house, expect to pay around $225,000.
16. Sandusky, Ohio
The town of Sandusky, Ohio has a population of 25,000. The sleepy town sits on Lake Erie, so it is perfect for anyone who loves to go fishing or boating. The best part of Sandusky is that homes are just $69,000. That makes it one of the cheapest places to live on this list. It is also in close proximity to both Toledo and Cleveland, in case you ever want to visit a larger city. It also has a very low crime rate, so you can spend your retirement relaxing.
15. Edmond, Oklahoma
The town of Edmond is a suburb of Oklahoma City, but it is still fairly large, with a population of 91,000 people. The average price of a home is $222,000. Funny enough, their cost of living is at the exact national average. The town has plenty of parks, and it’s near Arcadia Lake.
14. McMinnville, Oregon
McMinnville is one of the suburbs of Portland, so you are close to the city, but far enough away to have a quiet setting for your retirement. It is a small town 35,000 people, but it’s filled with the highest number of physicians per capita, and has a lot of highly educated people. It costs $308,000 for a home, so it’s not exactly the cheapest place to live, but significantly cheaper than Portland.
13. Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
One of the biggest cities in the state, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania has a population of over 300,000 people, but it only costs an average of $145,000 to buy a home. This city is home to the Andy Warhol Museum, and the PNC Park Stadium. There is also a zoo, botanical gardens, and tons of smaller niche museums. When friends and family come to visit, you will have endless options of where to bring them for a great night on the town.
12. Westerly, Rhode Island
The beautiful beach town of Westerly, Rhode Island has a population of just 23,000 people. Since it is such an idyllic place to live, the cost of a home is above the national average, at $329,000. It’s great for retirees, because it’s close to physicians. There are loads of beaches, a lighthouse, and a seaport museum.
11. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina is a little piece of southern paradise. Since the city is home of the College of Charleston, and The Citadel, there are plenty of young people around, and this opens up and lot of options of entertainment. The 138,000 residents are very friendly, and always seem to have a pep in their step. The median cost of a home is $311,000.
10. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
The city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota has a population of 174,000 people. While there is plenty to do in town, you are a 240 mile trip from the nearest major city, Minneapolis. Real estate will set you back $184,000 per home. Filled with beautiful nature, Sioux Fall has amazing air quality. For the grandkids, there is a zoo and a water park nearby.
9. Smyrna, Tennessee
Smyrna is a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee. Citizens say that life has a totally different pace in Tennessee. The population of Smyrna is 49,000, and the cost of a home is $219,000. Compared to other towns in Tennessee, the cost of living in Smyrna is below the state average, even though it’s so close to Nashville. If you love history, you can take a visit to the Stone River Battlefield Park, which was the location of a Civil War battle. There is also the historical Sam Davis Home and Plantation (pictured above).
8. San Marcos, Texas
The town of San Marcos, Texas has a population of 61,000 people, and it is home to Texas State University. Buying a house will set you back $208,000. If you are in the mood to relax, you can rent tubes at the Lion’s Club to float down the San Marcos River. There is a Tanger Outlet Mall in town, so you will have plenty of places to shop, and there is also an antique mall, a brewery, and winery.
7. Salt Lake City, Utah
The city of Salt Lake is the capital of Utah, and has a population of nearly 200,000 people. It sits alongside the Wasatch Mountains, where you can go skiing and snowboarding in the winter time. Houses are just as pricey as most major cities- $366,000. On the plus side, you would have access to pretty much anything you could possibly need during your retirement.
6. Burlington, Vermont
Burlington is home to not just one, but two colleges; The University of Vermont, and Champlain College. Despite having these two schools, the population is only 42,000 people, which gives it the feeling of a quaint little town that has plenty to offer in terms of entertainment. However, you have to pay for the priveledge of living in such a cute town. Expect to pay $300,000 for a home.
5. Roanoke, Virginia
The historic community of Roanoke, Virginia has grown into a thriving city along the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are 100,000 people living there, and the median home price is $148,000. The nearest major city is Washington DC, which is 240 miles southwest of Roanoke. When your family comes to visit, you can take them to one of several attractions, like the Taubman Museum of Art, and the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
4. Wenatchee, Washington
Wenatchee is a small town in Washington State with a population of just 33,000 people. It sits 150 miles away from Seattle, so it’s close enough to a big city so that you can enjoy the scenic outdoor living, but still be relatively close to a metropolitan area. Wenatchee is particularly great for retirees, because it has great air quality, low crime, and has been rated by Milken Institute as being one of the top towns in the US to settle down in your golden years.
3. Huntington, West Virginia
Huntington is a town of 48,000 people that sits alongside the Ohio River. Houses are just $80,000, which is far cheaper than the national average. For entertainment, you have plenty of museums, parks, and an amusement park for the grandkids.
2. Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is the state capital of Wisconsin, so you can visit the beautiful capital building, or the nearby state University. The city has a population of 253,000 people, and the median home price is $252,000. Madison has tons of doctors in the area, and access to pretty much everything you would ever need. The one big downside is that the winters are very cold.
1. Casper, Wyoming
There is plenty to do in Casper, Wyoming. If you are interested in history about the Wild West, explore the Fort Casper Museum, or the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. There is also skiing in the winter, and parks with gorgeous waterfalls in the spring and summer. The population is 60,000 people, and homes cost an average of $201,000. The closest major city is Denver, Colorado which 280 miles away.