Top Places to Retire in 2016
The “top places to retire” really is a subjective topic. Warm and tropical locations nearly always rank high. That makes a lot of sense. Even if you’ve lived up north for most of your life, wouldn’t it be nice to retire from shoveling snow, too? But what if your idea of the most perfect place to retire has less to do with palm trees and more to do with dropping a line in the water of a mountain lake and waiting for a bite?
That’s why our collection of top places to retire for 2016 has a little more breadth than a typical short list. We’ve taken the best from Kiplinger, AARP, Money and other sources and come up with something that’s a little more well-rounded.
Sure, you’ll find some ocean waves and salty air. But you’ll also find a few other ideas, in case your dreams are more about desert mesas or on boats than beach blanket bingo. Here, in no particular order, are 5 great places to retire, and one of them might just suit your taste.
1. Top Places to Retire: St. George, Utah — Affordable and Outdoorsy
Money Magazine rates St. George, Utah as “The Great Outdoor Winner.” This southwestern town is small on size but big on classic southwest beauty. From the stunning red rock of nearby Zion National Park to miles of great bike trails, St. George is a sleeper hit in retirement destinations.
According to Time’s Money magazine, the over-50 population in St. George is about 32 percent. And unlike some of the exorbitantly priced U.S. cities that always seem to make lists like these, this town is affordable. The median home price is about $195k, and the average property tax is about $1,500.
St. George offers lovely warm weather and clear skies that the Mojave desert is famous for, but it also has a change of seasons. Their Chamber of Commerce says that there’s some snow in winter, even though the average high in December, January and February is in the mid to upper 50s.
St. George has several retirement developments, if that’s the type of living arrangement that you’re interested in. And as for finding activities, there’s climbing, golfing, lots of hiking, and no shortage of festivals, arts and culture.
2. Top Places to Retire: Naples, Florida — A Beach-Centered Retirement Playground
Naples is classic upscale Florida all the way, which is why AARP calls this “the embodiment of the Florida retirement dream.” The beach ranges from beautiful sands and pier fishing to rocks and jetties that jut out into the turquoise water. And you might very well spot someone rich and famous on a magnificent luxury yacht while you’re strolling along the water’s edge.
About 42 percent of Naples residents are of retirement age, over 65. The mean or average price of a piece of Naples real estate doesn’t come cheap, and AARP says that it will cost you a little over a cool million. However, the Naples Chamber of Commerce also explains that the median price of real estate sold in January of 2016 was $340,000. That’s a bit more affordable.
As for weather, you can probably guess that this city has more than its share of warm, delightful sun. Florida is one of the top retirement friendly states for a reason. It’s also got humidity, but that’s to be expected. A real bonus is the air quality. It boasts “one of the nation’s lowest levels of atmospheric ozone,” says AARP, and the average life expectancy is just shy of 81.
There’s modern beach life as well as history in and around Naples. And if you’re interested in arts and events, there’s a community theater, plus the symphony and an art museum are located at the Philharmonic Center for Arts.
3. Cambridge, MA: An Intellectual’s Dream City
If you’ve held a MENSA membership for longer than you can recall, or your idea of a great time is sitting in on a lecture or experiencing a concert, have we got a retirement destination city for you. Cambridge, MA might not be cheap, says Kiplinger, but it’s a dream come true for people who thrive on intellectual stimulation of every imaginable variety.
About 1/4 of the population of Cambridge is over the age of 55. Home prices are on the high side. According to the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, the median value of a single-family home in 2005 was about $650k. You’ll find neighborhoods that are more akin to “urban villages,” and an interesting range of residential options.
Situated just outside Boston proper, Cambridge is, of course, home to both Harvard and MIT. Nor surprisingly, nearly 3/4 of the population has a bachelor’s degree or post-graduate education, so this is one of the top places to retire for people with big brains who want to keep them that way.
It’s a city that’s brimming with history and has a diverse population. Although it takes a beating from winter weather, there’s plenty to do indoors. The arts, history and culture here are so diverse that you should never again suffer from boredom. And if you do long for something different, hop on the subway or “T” for barely more than a dollar, says Kiplinger, and head into downtown Boston.
4. Prattville, AL: If You Love Golf, You’ll Love This Town
A city that you might never have heard of before takes the top slot in Money magazine’s retirement destination for lovers of all things golf. Prattville, AL boasts 24 golf courses within a 30-mile radius, says Money, and the cost of living in this small, historic town is very hard to beat.
The average population of the over-50 set in Prattville is 32 percent. If you want to buy a single-family home here, you’ll only pay about $150k. That’s the median price, says Money, and property tax is only about $490 annually.
Prattville is located just outside Montgomery and near the beautiful Alabama river, and it’s right in the middle of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail “which stretches across 11 sites in Alabama,” says Money. It’s proud of its “hometown” vibe says mayor Bill Gillespie, Jr.
Aside from golf and affordable housing, Prattville also offers some history, and outdoor activities. There’s a wealth of historic places to visit on walking tours, plus boating and fishing, and other outdoor activities.
5. Seattle, WA: Hip, Eco-Friendly and Progressive
There’s a lot more to Seattle than Starbucks, which is why AARP includes this city among it’s most desirable destinations and top places to retire. It’s beautiful. And it’s green. The weather is comparably mild, and it’s urban areas are surrounded by lakes and mountains.
There are over 65,000 residents over the age of 65. And AARP says that Seattle has “an embarrassment of play space” for people who love hiking, jogging, cycling, kayaking and basically all things nature-oriented. With its ecologically-minded bent, residents are keen on keeping this city’s natural resources and beauty intact.
As for affordability, Seattle isn’t perfect. The cost of living is higher than the national average, and the average price for a single-family home is about $549k, says AARP. But if you’re looking for places to go and things to see, there really is no shortage.
World-famous Pike Place Market offers fresh fish and, of course, coffee from the first Starbucks ever opened. There are lots of shops to stroll through, the Seattle Science Center to visit, and another famous attraction: the Space Needle. This city also hosts the Seattle Symphony, ballet and numerous theatrical companies.
Where is Your Top Place to Retire?
The perfect retirement means different things to different people. Some really do want little more than to tend a garden and relax for a while in a slow-paced hometown area. And then some want a wealth of culture and intellectual stimulation. Some people love fishing. And some are devoted to golf. And some folks can’t wait to retire where the weather is warm and the gulf breezes blow.
One thing is for certain, your retirement destination options are anything but limited. This is an enormous country with an equally enormous wealth of possibilities. You could stay right where you are and enjoy a retirement that many would envy. Or you could do what many retirees do: pack up and move to where life is a lot more like what you dream about.
Need a little guidance in your retirement planning? NewRetirement can help with that. The NewRetirement Retirement Calculator is a detailed but easy to use calculator. Enter your information, then get sophisticated analysis of your situation. Next, try out different scenarios.
You can compare how downsizing or a different cost of living might impact your overall retirement financial plan. This is considered to be one of the best retirement calculators online today.