Whether you’re thinking of moving or retiring in the very near future, you are most likely wondering how to get the most for your money.
Of course, what suits one person certainly won’t work for someone else. If you hate snow, then you won’t be interested in our pick for #25 on this list of best retirement cities, however, for those who love a change of season, this small town might be perfect for you.
We’ve based our list on several factors, including:
- Cost of Living
- Healthcare Facilities
- Tax Rate
Check out our list of what we think are 25 of best wallet friendly and all-around great places to live or retire to in 2018.
#25 Cedar Rapids, Iowa
We can already hear some of you saying “Seriously?!”, but to be honest, this small town of only 128,000 has a lot to offer. Like almost all cities in America, Cedar Rapids has some rush hour traffic issues, but for the retired set, who cares? There is very little traffic other than during typical worktime rush hour. With an average income of $53,000, housing is inexpensive, with an average 2-bedroom apartment going for $729.
Yes, winters are cold, and summers are hot and humid, but if you love to see the seasons change, you will find plenty scenery here for that. Iowa has a 6% state tax rate with the county charging an additional 1% tax rate, making taxes a modest 7% and with 16 healthcare centers, you can rest assured that you will have easy access to medical care without leaving town.
#24 Las Cruces, New Mexico
For those who love the sun, you can’t beat Las Cruces. It’s a comfortable 60 in December and January during the days, but still chilly enough at night (average of 29) to enjoy those bonfires! Summers are hot, usually in the mid-90’s, but comfortable enough at 63 in the evenings that you can sleep without the A/C!
Las Cruces is a small town of 100,000, with many of these being college students from New Mexico University. This hasn’t raised rents, however, with an average 2-bedroom apartment going for only $668. The combined tax rate is 8.31%, but cost of living is very low, with the median income only $41,000. This small town boasts an incredible 18 large healthcare centers, making healthcare easy to access.
#23 Richardson, Texas
This is another small city that most people have never heard of! Richardson boasts a very low crime rate and a population of about 100,000. It might be a bit more expensive than other areas we mentioned, with an average income of $72,000, but the beautiful, upscale homes make for pleasant surroundings. The tax rate is a reasonable 8.25% and the average 2-bedroom apartment rent about $1400.
If you like it warm, Richardson will give you plenty of sunshine, with average summer temps in the mid-90’s and comfortable evening temps in the low 70’s. Winters are a warm 58/37, so don’t plan on growing anything that needs to freeze! Did we mention that this small town has at least 15 medical centers and 3 hospitals right in town, so you never need to travel far for health services.
#22 Las Vegas, Nevada
You might think that Las Vegas is only about gambling, but that’s only half of the story. Las Vegas has tons of retirement friendly housing! The average 2-bedroom apartment goes for only $1,000, the average price of a 1350 square foot housing averaging $260K. This city isn’t only for rich gamblers, in fact the average income is only $58,000 and the tax rate only 8.25%.
If you hate the rain, Vegas is right up your alley, with only about 12 days of measurable rain every year! It does get hot in the summer, however, with average temps of 105/79. Winters are very mild with daytime temperatures in the low 60’s and nights in the upper 30’s. Las Vegas is a medium sized town of about 632,000, which means that it has more than 10 hospitals and an untold number of health care clinics, so you have easy access to medial care.
#21 Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
College towns somehow tend to remain small and friendly and Bethlehem is no different. This small town of only 75,000 does not tax certain retiree pensions, no matter how big they might be, making this town very retirement friendly! The state sales tax isn’t bad either at only 6%. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is a mere $1250 and housing prices average only $150k! Most people can live in this retirement friendly town for less than $40K a year!
It can be cold in the winters and muggy in the summers, with average temps in July in the mid-80’s and 8 average days of rain, and January averaging temps of 36/20, but when you are retired, who cares? Healthcare gets a big plus from us as well because even though the population is small, there are more than 10 hospitals and numerous health care centers to choose from.
#20 Athens, Georgia
Oh, that small town Southern charm! Athens has a small town feel with only 120,000 residents and the tree lined streets make it seem like a page out of time. This town has numerous locations listed as Historical Sites, but the number of retirees is actually quite small. With plenty of golf courses, state parks, and more than 10 local hospitals, Athens is the place for the active retiree!
This beautiful little town boasts a low cost of living index and an average income of $33K, which makes housing very affordable. The average 2-bedroom apartment is $1250 and the average home price $171K. Taxes are reasonable as well, at a tiny 4%, but it’s the weather that gives Athens the extra boost on this list. Average July temps are in the upper 80’s but cools down to a nice 70 or so in the evenings. Winters are chilly at 53/33 but since it rains at least a few days out of every month, you get beautiful greenery almost all year.
#19 Boise, Idaho
You might think Idaho is all about potatoes, but Boise is nicknamed the city of trees! This is because, like Athens, it rains here at least 1 day every single month. Temps make the nearby mountains a breathtaking site at the change of seasons. In July, you can count on highs in the upper 80’s and comfortable nights at about 60. Winters are cold, averaging 37/23 in January, but that just means that it’s time to take up skiing.
This is a medium sized town of about 223,000 residents, but an average income of $29,000 and a tax rate of only 6% means the cost of living is a dream. Rent on the average 2-bedroom apartment is $1,000 and housing prices vary from $162-$263K. Like most larger cities, Boise has more than 10 hospitals in town, so healthcare should be in your neighborhood, no matter which part of town you choose to call home.
#18 Savannah, Georgia
Are you thinking of Gone with the Wind? This town truly boasts old time charm and grace, as well as being called one of the most beautiful cities in America. Savannah is a popular tourist spot due to it’s numerous public squares and historical places. It’s also popular with retirees. While some might find the weather a bit wild, with summers hot and humid and winters wet but mild, many people believe Savannah has perfect temps.
The average income is a modest $51K and housing is very affordable. Home sale prices average $104K and rent on a 2-bedroom apartment is $1200. This is a growing town of 146,000 is graced with more than 10 hospitals and numerous healthcare centers. The tax rate is 7% so most retirees find they can have their peach pie and eat it too.
#17 Lawrence, Kansas
Yes, Dorothy, you might want to return to dusty old Kansas once you visit Lawrence. This is another small-town college community with fewer than 100,000 residents, but unlike the majority of Kansas, this tree filled town will win you over. Imagine no snow in the winter and very warm summers – you get both in this pretty little place. With an average income of only $26K a year, this is one of the most inexpensive places you could park your horse. Rent on the average 2-bedroom apartment is $830 and average home prices are less than $200K. Sales tax is a bit high at 9% but the low cost of everything else more than makes up for it.
There are more than 10 hospitals in this tiny town, so healthcare is not an issue. It does rain here, however, at least a few days out of every month, but that’s what keeps it so green and gorgeous. Temps in January average 40/21 and July Is a very warm 90/71, but no snow gives this town a little extra plus in our book.
#16 Brevard, North Carolina
If you want privacy, small town life and true country living, this little charmer might be just the ticket for you. With a population of only 8,000, you will get well-acquainted with everyone in your neighborhood fairly quickly. Many refer to Brevard as the town of waterfalls and if you love hiking, you can get plenty of it in the mountains that surround you. The average age here is 45 so seniors should feel right at home. Cost of living is low, with the average income only $38K. You can find a 2-bedroom apartment for about $1,000 and the average housing price for a 1400 square foot home is $122,000. The sales tax is a reasonable 6.75%.
There is one large medical facility and hospital in Brevard, but with only 8,000 residents, this shouldn’t be an issue. In addition to the low cost of living and outstanding recreational features, it’s the temps that really put Brevard on the map. Summer temperatures average 83/61 and even winters are mild at 49/25 in January. We can’t stop thinking that this little town will probably grow substantially once people discover it!
#17 Clemson, South Carolina
As we head on down south, we must stop at this small town (population 16,000) of Clemson, South Carolina, where the cost of living is easy with an average income of $37K and taxes are a reasonable 7%. This city is home to the popular Clemson Tigers football team, which gets loud during the school year, so rent can vary, depending on which part of town you live in. We found average rents for 2-bedroom apartments in the $1,000-$1300 and the average housing price of about $200K.
The climate here is a beauty, with average summertime temps in the upper 80s, but a cool 65 in the evening for easy sleeping. Winters aren’t too bad, either, averaging 52/31 in January. There is only 1 main hospital in Clemson, but plenty just a few miles away in other towns, such as Greenville.
#16 Bella Vista, Arkansas
Bella Vista means Beautiful view in Spanish and this town is appropriately named. Surrounded by hardwood forest, waterfalls, 7 lakes, and numerous nature trails, this is the perfect place for active retirees who love the outdoors. With only 27,000 residents, you can be as social or reclusive as you like. This town also has golf courses, public swimming pools, and tennis courts! The cost of living here is a very nice $62K, which means beautiful surroundings, but it might cost you a bit more than other places.
Bella Vista has only 28,000 residents, who enjoy a tax rate of 7.5%. The average home sells for $165K and renting a two-bedroom apartment will set you back about $1000. The weather is also pretty good for this small town, with July temps running about 89/69 and January temps dipping down to 48/28. There are 7 hospitals and even more medical centers, so healthcare is as easy to find as the nearest golf course.
#15 Ocean Pines, Maryland
The name alone is enough to make you want to breathe in deep, right? This small city of 12,000 has everything, such as beaches, golf clubs, tennis, even yacht clubs! The average cost of living is a bit higher than some cities ($70K) but with so much to offer, you can understand why. To help offset these costs, Maryland has no state tax on your Social Security income and the sales tax is only 6%. The average home sells for $284k and rent for a 2-bedroom apartment runs $1400.
If you hate the heat, this is the place for you! Temps in July top out at 81 and nights are a soothing 68. Even January isn’t too bad, with average temperatures about 41/30. In addition to all the amenities the city has to offer, it has a higher number of doctors than other nearby cities, as well as a minimum of 10 hospitals. Healthcare and good times on the beach are right around the corner in this town.
#14 Lincoln, Nebraska
Now here is a city (and state) you probably never thought you would see here. Don’t knock Nebraska until you’ve been there! The average income is just shy of $60K, which makes it a bargain for a medium sized town of 280,000. At 7.25%, the tax rate is comfortable, and homes sell for an average of $175. You could opt to rent a 2-bedroom apartment, however, for $900.
This city has tons of parks and historical neighborhoods that can keep your interest for years to come. The weather isn’t too bad either, if you don’t mind a bit of a range. Summers are 89/68 and January is a chilly 33/14. You will no trouble finding hospitals or healthcare facilities in a town this size.
#13 Columbia, Missouri
This is a small town with multiple colleges, so the nightlife is good, but the rents are low! With 120,000 residents, you can rent a two-bedroom apartment for $780 but check out the cost of living in this little beauty of a town; just under $34k! Talk about cheap! Now the tax rate is a bit higher than some at 8.47% but you can’t beat the cost of owning a house, which averages $155k.
By the way, this town has more doctors than average living here, so finding healthcare close by isn’t an issue. This tree filled town will also charm you with the colorful change of seasons. Winters average 40/23 and summers top out at about 89, but nights are a comfortable 69, so sleep with the windows open!
#12 Harrisonburg, Virginia
This is a small but friendly little town of about 52,000 and it’s nestled right in the breathtaking Shenandoah Valley. The cost of living here is only $40K, which is about 4% below the national average and the tax rate is a low 5.3%. This is another college town, but not nearly as rowdy as some larger cities. You are surrounded by mountains for hiking and other outdoor activity, not to mention the beautiful Shenandoah river for picnics and fishing.
This town has old fashioned style charm and grace, with a notable historic center and terrific shopping. The average house is selling for $180,000 and a 2-bedroom apartment averages $900. The weather is darn near perfect, with summers topping out at about 86/62 and winters 42/22. For a small town, Harrisonburg has plenty of hospitals and healthcare centers right in town, so you don’t have to go to the big city for treatment.
#11 Fargo, North Dakota
Let’s be right up front and say that winters are cold, cold, cold here, but for winter sport enthusiasts, this is an ideal location. Winters average 17/1 and it’s not uncommon to go below zero. Summers are so nice, however, with July temps reaching 82/60. The cost of living is very attractive, with an annual income of about $30K and a tax rate of 7.5%, but housing is the biggest expense, with house prices averaging $225K. You can still rent a two-bedroom apartment for about $700, which is rather low.
With a small-town feel, Fargo has a population of 120,000 and more than enough doctors and hospitals to go around. Fargo is the largest town in North Dakota, so if you love cold weather sports, you could move outside of town and save on housing.
#10 Grand Prairie, Texas
For those of you who might be interested in warmer temps and like living in a smaller town but with a big city feel, Grand Prairie might be up your alley. Cost of living is middle ground, about $60K and the tax rate is 8.25%. Housing for this income level is reasonable at $184K and rent for a two-bedroom apartment runs $1,000 on average.
Grand Prairie is very popular with retires due to its beaches, marina, race track, public fitness centers, and parks. Yes, summers are hot and humid (96/76) and winters cold and wet (55/35) but for some reason, Mother Nature seems to spare Grand Prairie from hurricanes. You are a short 20-minute drive to the Dallas airport and there are numerous hospitals, including a woman’s specialty medical center and a trauma center.
#9 Green Valley, Arizona
This small town of 32,000 is where many senior citizens retire to for numerous reasons. First, it has an extremely low crime rate, and there is no state inheritance or estate taxes. Cost of living here is 4% below the national average, with annual income in the $46K and a low tax rate of 6.1%. The average house is $176K and rent for a huge two-bedroom apartment with 1300 square feet for only $1200.
Yes, it is hot, hot, hot in the summer, with July temps average 100, but nights cool down to 69 due to the 3,000 feet in elevation. Winters are very mild, with January temps in the 67/37 range. Retirees love Green Valley because it has 13 public recreations centers with gymnasiums, golf courses, swimming pools, and community get-togethers. With thousands of retirees, you can bet that all the hospitals in this city are top notch and offer easy access.
#8 Jefferson City, Missouri
This often-overlooked city of 43,000 is in the middle between Kansas City and St. Louis and boasts a seriously low cost of living that is 10% below average. Average incomes are $49K and the tax rate is 7.72%. With the average home price only $152K and a two-bedroom apartment only $500, your money goes a lot further here.
Jefferson City really knows how to treat retirees, with more than 30 retirement communities and plenty of top rated hospitals and healthcare centers. This historic town also has plenty to offer in the way of weather, with summers a warm 89/87 and winters about 40/19. You can easily afford to travel to the big cities for nightlife and weekend getaways when you retire here!
#7 Iowa City, Iowa
This is another small town you might not have imagined would make this list, but how could it not? With an average cost of living of only $35K and zero tax on social security earnings, not to mention a lower state tax rate for persons living on a pension, this college town is one of the most retirement friendly places around! Did we mention that the tax rate is only 6%?
Iowa City has an extremely low crime rate and good air quality, not to mention plenty of hospitals and healthcare centers. People here are known for being neighborly and volunteering is one of the most popular ways people get together here. The average house price is $204K or you could rent a two-bedroom apartment for about $980. If you like warm weather, however, this might not be the place for you. Summer temps only hit the low to mid 80’s and winter days are almost always below freezing.
#6 Jacksonville, Florida
Most people think that Florida is filled with overpriced tourist or retiree spots, and although this is the largest city in Florida, it seems to be a secret. The population of 880,000 has an average income of only $25K, which is about 8% below average. Housing is affordable as well, with the average house price around $158K and rent on a two-bedroom apartment only $1100. The sales tax rate is also a reasonable 7%. Another big plus? No state income tax or estate taxes.
For those interested in healthcare, as you can imagine, in a town this size, you won’t have any trouble finding a hospital or doctor close to home. Like most cities, it has a problem with crime, but it’s not due to overcrowding as this city is largest in the US, land wise. Hurricanes tend to miss this part of Florida, more often than not, but that’s not to say that it isn’t hot as…well, as only Florida can be! Temps in the summer average 92/72 with high humidity, but Jacksonville makes up for it with beautifully mild winters that have lows averaging 66/46.
#5 Lewiston, Maine
Tiny Lewiston, Maine, population 36,000, has a lot to love. With multiple museums, the Androscoggin river, a theater, and a home-town brewery, this town might be just the place for you. Lewiston has a low crime rate, not to mention a low cost of living. Average incomes are $38K and the sales tax rate is a small 5.5%. Housing is just as reasonable, with houses averaging $141K and the average two-bedroom apartment going for $840.
As you can imagine, temps are downright on the low side, with summers rarely topping 80/60 and winter days rarely coming close to even the freezing level, with January temps in the 29/11 range. There are plenty of hiking trails, bike trails, and both indoor and outdoor activities to keep seniors active and engaged. There are 3 hospitals in town, which should make at least one of them close enough to you to be convenient.
#4 Largo, Florida
It’s amusing to know that Largo was named after a lake that was later drained to build the city. Still, this small town of 82,000 is a great place to retire, since the cost of living is 7% below the national average, while the weather is above average. For those who hate winter, Largo is the place to be since January temps rarely go below 56 at night and they remain a comfortable 66 in the day. Summers can be hot, but not as extreme as say Key Largo, with temps averaging 86/79.
It’s not just the weather that makes this a terrific place to be; the cost of living is very low, with annual income only $39K. Florida has no state taxes and a decent sales tax rate of 7%. You can pick up a house here for around $185K and rent for a two-bedroom apartment is in the $1100 range for a spacious 1,000 square foot pad. There are 3 local hospitals and plenty more in nearby towns that are very close.
#3 Lexington, Kentucky
Beautiful Kentucky, land of whiskey and horses! This is a college town that is medium in size, with a population of 318,000. It is quickly becoming one of the top spots for retirees due to good air quality, a low crime rate, no state taxes social security earnings and a tax break on pensions! The cost of living is good here, with average incomes only hitting $29K, making it 8% below average. The average house will set you back only $169K, with the standard 2-bedroom apartment going for $889.
Lexington get high marks for the volunteerism attitude of the community, plenty of walking friendly areas, bike paths, and a moderate climate. Temps in July average 86/66 and even winter is a reasonable 40/24. Perhaps the only drawback is that there are only two hospitals in town currently.
#2 Colorado Springs, Colorado
Time to get our Rocky Mountain High on! While Colorado Springs might be the second largest city in the state with 415K residents, the surrounding mountains makes it feel much smaller. The cost of living is reasonable at $55K and the super low sales tax is 8.25%. Housing seems to be the biggest cost, with the average house about $276K. You can still rent a two-bedroom apartment for only $1200.
Colorado Springs gets high marks for its breathtaking scenery and change of seasons. Temps in summer are a super 85/57, which means sleeping with the windows open! Winters can be snowy and cold, with January temps in the low 40’s and only 17 at night, but how can you have spring flowers without snow? Regardless of what you like, summer activities or winter fun, you can have it here. There are also two hospitals in town and numerous other healthcare centers, so you probably won’t have issues getting quality health care. Did we mention that recreational use of marijuana is legal in Colorado?
#1 Sun City, Arizona
While not perfect, we think Sun City, Arizona, comes darn close. The cost of living has got to be one of the strong points for this city at $32K. This makes it 9% below the national average. This suburb of Phoenix has a small population of 40,000 and it seems that there are more doctors than patients! The state sales tax is only 6.3% and better still, there are no state taxes, no taxes on social security and no state inheritance taxes!
Housing is very reasonable, with the average house going for $164K and rent on a two-bedroom apartment only $1,100. Sun City is the country’s first community planned around retirees, so there’s always something to do and something just for you! Ok, except for skiing. Let’s face it, it’s downright hot in the summer, with July temps hitting 106 and even nighttime temps in the low 80’s. Winters are so nice, though, averaging 67/41.
There is a low rate of crime, but the air quality isn’t always the best in the summer, due to big city Phoenix next door, and if you don’t like it hot, this obviously won’t be your cup of tea.
However, with numerous golf courses, shopping malls, activity centers for seniors, a low cost of living and even lower taxes, Sun City is a great place to retire for those who want to stay warm and stay active!