TEN BEST RETIREMENT CITIES IN U.S.–PART 1

Dec 17th, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Finances

Criteria for ‘Best Retirement City’

AARP recently announced its choices for the ten best cities to retire in the United States.  Their examination included over 350 cities.  They looked at financial data, including property and sales-tax rates, median housing prices, cost of living and tax rates on pensions and Social Security.   AARP also included recreation, climate, and arts and culture.

Here are the results with a description of each city:

Winchester, Virginia

Just 75 miles from Washington, DC, this community is known for a slower pace, less city noise and rich history. Median housing price: $151,500.  State tax: On pensions, partial; on Social Security, no.  Sales tax: 5%.  Best way to spend $10: Shenandoah Conservatory has exceptional music, theater, and dance programs (tickets range from $5 to $25).  Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall in downtown Winchester is full of little antiques stores.  Proximity to Skyline Drive, a 105-mile scenic highway through awe-inspiring Shenandoah National Park.

Portland, Maine

Portland is described by a resident as “…diverse, fun and evolving…”  Median housing price: $202,800.  State tax: On pensions, yes; on Social Security, no.  Sales tax: 5%.  Best way to spend $10: Pack a picnic and hop the ferry to Peaks Island (the fare is just $7.70 round-trip).  Shakespeare in Deering Oaks Park; free.  A baker’s dozen raw oysters at J’s Oyster, overlooking the bay; $12.  Eating a lobster roll next to the oft-photographed Portland Head Light in nearby Cape Elizabeth.

Gainesville, Georgia

AARP says Gainesville has, “…the sleepy charm of a prosperous southern town, including brick sidewalks and a constantly humming square that attracts shoppers from throughout northern Georgia.”  Median housing price: $141,800.  State tax: On pensions, yes; on Social Security, no.  Sales tax: 7%.  Best way to spend $10: Grab a drink and small plates at Recess Southern Gastro Pub on the square, then check out events downtown, including free concerts.  The Gainesville Symphony Orchestra; tickets: $20 to $30.  Two outlet centers within a 30-minute drive.  Fast access to the Blue Ridge Mountains and their panoramic hiking trails, lush with rivers, waterfalls, and richly diverse ecosystems. Gainesville is near the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests, which comprise 843 miles of trails.

Wenatchee, Washington

A nature-laden spot with a river flowing through town and surrounded by mountains, Wenatchee is a desirable spot for senior retirement. Median housing price: $192,000.  State tax: On pensions, no; on Social Security, no.  Sales tax: 8%.  Best way to spend $10: Have a milkshake downtown at Owl Soda Fountain & Gifts, founded in 1926, then check out “Art on the Avenues,” a collection of more than 70 unique outdoor sculptures scattered throughout Wenatchee.  Fall in love with baseball all over again with the AppleSox, part of the West Coast League, a wooden-bat summer collegiate league.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa is a small city with big city culture and entertainment.  Median housing price: $125,600.  State tax: On pensions, yes; on Social Security, no.  Sales tax: 5.5%.  Best way to spend $10: Admission to the Philbrook Museum of Art, an Italian Renaissance villa built in the 1920s, is just $7.50.  Although Tulsa offers plenty of big acts (Elton John and Paul McCartney have both played the BOK Center), it’s got smaller quirky pleasures, too. Try a Mexican dinner with local and organic ingredients at Eloté.

Check out the next five cities in this column next!



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  1. [...] week SCJ began a two-part post on the ten best cities to retire in the United States, chosen by AARP.  Their examination included [...]

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