5 amazing (and affordable) places to retire
Looking for a wonderful place to retire that won’t destroy your nest egg? For most people, that goal includes a combination of culture, sports, relaxing pastimes, community and a beautiful setting. These five unsung meccas offer all the above with relatively low real-estate prices and below-average costs of living.
In Tucson you’ll find 350 days of sunshine a year. That means retirees can enjoy the area’s 42 golf courses and renowned bird-watching (Tucson is home to 500 species of birds) nearly year round. Hikers and bikers of all skills also like that the city is surrounded by mountain ranges.
You can enjoy cacti and desert sands in the morning and ponderosa pine forests come afternoon. There’s also a professional theater, symphony, opera, ballet company and dozens of locally owned restaurants in the area, says Jessica Stephens, a spokeswoman for the Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Tucson also boasts a major airport and seven hospitals. But perhaps most appealing is the price tag. The cost of living in Tucson is nearly 10 percent below the national average, and the median home costs just over $100,000, according to Sperling’s Best Places.
St. Augustine, Florida
If you’re looking for a place in Florida that’s full of culture and history, check out St. Augustine. Founded by a Spanish admiral in 1565, the city is believed to be the nation’s oldest continuously occupied European settlement. Over the years, it has housed Native Americans, Spaniards and Brits as well as U.S. aristocrats. This heritage manifests itself nearly everywhere you go in the cobblestone-street-lined city, from the historic city gates to the Spanish fortress Castillo de San Marcos to the 19th-century hotels built by railroad tycoon Henry Flagler.
Atlantic coast recreation spots range from the serene Crescent Beach, located on the wildlife refuge on Anastasia Island, to the lively St. Augustine Beach, a grandkid-friendly spot with volleyball courts, a fishing pier, shopping and restaurants. Plus, you’ll find world-class golf, says Kirk Wendland, president of the area Chamber of Commerce. (Fun fact: The World Golf Hall of Fame is here.) The hospital in town rates highly, and the city is just a 45-minute drive from Jacksonville International Airport and an hour from Daytona Beach International Airport. St. Augustine has a lower-than-average cost of living with a median home price of just over $130,000, according to Sperling’s Best Places.
Midwest retirees looking for culture will take a liking to this artsy college town, home to Indiana University. Its Jacobs School of Music hosts more than 1,100 performances each year, and its drama department produces everything from Shakespeare to Sondheim. There are more than a dozen art galleries in town and live music just about any night of the week. The city, a finalist in the “best food” category in Rand McNally’s Best of the Road contest, has more than 100 locally owned restaurants, including unique fares such as Thai, Ethiopian and Mediterranean cuisine, as well as the largest winery in the state.
Retirees won’t get bored in Bloomington. The university offers more than 100 non-credit courses on a variety of subjects including politics and current events, music, art and literature. The city is also home to the state’s largest inland lake as well as miles of hiking and biking trails. In addition, Bloomington has a major hospital and boasts a cost of living below average for the nation.
Spokane is a little-known golf paradise, with 33 courses in the area, including resort-style offerings like the Coeur d’Alene — a par-71 course with the world’s only floating green. Eight of the city’s courses are public with greens fees averaging less than $30, accommodating golfers of all abilities and budgets.
Beyond the links, you’ll find dozens of other outdoor delights in and around Spokane, including 76 lakes, five ski areas, the two largest state parks in Washington and miles of hiking and biking trails. Added perks: Spokane has a cost of living that’s nearly 10 percent below the U.S. average and a median home price just over $120,000, according to Sperling’s Best Places.
Because Spokane serves as the regional hub for the area, it also has excellent health care, a major airport and quality shopping.
With its historic red brick buildings, Victorian homes, cobblestone streets and scenic harbor buzzing with fishing boats, Portland dishes up a charming New England experience at a price that’s reasonable for the area.
“Downtown Portland isn’t all spit-shined and polished up,” says Barbara Whitten, president of the area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s rustic and authentic. You’ll find lawyers and lobstermen mixing together. We say Portland is ‘where grey flannel meets plaid flannel.’”
The city has a thriving culinary scene (Bon Appetit named it one of the “foodiest small towns in America”), good regional theater and quality health care. For local retiree Tom Simmonds, 79, Portland’s convenience is another big perk, with the Portland International Jetport and Amtrak service straight into Boston.
True, the cost of living in Portland is 16 percent above the national average and the median home price is $203,700, according to Sperlings Best Places. But these numbers are reasonable for the Northeast. Consider that cities like Burlington, Vermont and Saratoga Springs, New York, have a cost of living more than 26 percent above average, and larger cities like New York and Boston are 69 percent and 49 percent above average, respectively.
Where do you dream of retiring? Your Ameriprise financial advisor can help you get there. Talk to your advisor today about steps you can take to live where you want to when you retire.
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