The 10 Best Lesser-Known Cities to Retire In
They may not be as popular, but they've got their perks for an older crowd.
When you're inching closer to retirement, it's not unusual to start thinking about relocating. Maybe you're done with the cold weather and shoveling snow, or perhaps you're looking for a lower cost of living. Both of these reasons are why so many retirees head for popular Florida locales such as Sarasota and Boca Raton. However, many other fantastic cities across the country also make great retirement destinations. Keep reading to learn about the 10 best lesser-known cities to retire in.
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The 10 Best Lesser-Known Cities to Retire In
1. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
In its ranking of the best places to retire in the U.S. in 2022-2023, U.S. News & World Report put Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the number-one spot. "Expansive farms rub elbows with manicured suburbs, which lead right into the bustling city," the report details. "Each area boasts its own unique groups of inhabitants: farmers, families, college students and young professionals."
But it's not just this lovely mix of country and city that makes Lancaster an ideal retirement destination. Home prices are below the national median sale price, and there's very good access to healthcare. Pennsylvania also is considered one of the most tax-friendly states for seniors.
2. Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Mississippi's fourth largest city, Hattiesburg is a charming mix of a historic hamlet and a bustling college town. As for the latter, it's home to the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University and, therefore, offers sporting events, cultural activities and performances, and educational opportunities (you're never too old to learn something new!).
But the city was also named a Certified Retirement Community. It's home to a wealth of healthcare facilities, including Forrest General Hospital and Merit Health Wesley; homes are very affordable; Mississippi provides several real estate and income tax exemptions for seniors; and there's a plethora of outdoor recreational activities.
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3. McAllen, Texas
Located in southern Texas, McAllen rivals the state's better-known cities as a great place to retire. According to a StorageCafe ranking of the U.S.'s retirement hotspots, the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area "has the distinction of having not only the lowest cost of living but also the highest provision of healthcare workers and social assistance among all the nation's large metros."
In addition to a thriving dining and cultural scene, McAllen also is a key destination for birdwatching, an activity that's growing in popularity among retirees. To date, 540 bird species and 330 butterfly species have been documented at dozens of birding hot spots in the area.
4. Eugene, Oregon
Whether you're in the city or the suburbs, Oregon has no state or local sales tax. Two hours south of Portland, the city of Eugene is a wonderful retirement destination for those who love the outdoors. It comes in 25 on U.S. News & World Report's list since the housing market is not exactly affordable. But with the Pacific Ocean an hour west and the Cascade Mountains less than two hours east, the Pacific Northwest lifestyle can't be beaten.
Hiking, running, and biking trails of all levels are almost everywhere in Eugene. There's also a strong farm-to-table community, which is showcased on the many food and beverage trails in the Willamette Valley (which is also an amazing destination for wine lovers).
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5. Carmel, Indiana
A suburb of Indianapolis, Carmel contains a wonderful mix of arts and culture, outdoor recreation, and mouthwatering cuisine. For instance, the city is home to its own orchestra, a performing arts center, many museums, and a wealth of public art. There's also the 25-mile Monon Trail, which can be traversed on foot or by bike, as well as three golf courses.
These are just some of the lifestyle attributes that garnered Carmel a spot on Money's list of the 10 best places to retire in 2022. Forty percent of the city's population is 50+ "and it's known as the Roundabout Capital of the U.S.," according to Money, which makes it "a pioneer in road safety."
6. Augusta, Georgia
Situated east of Atlanta at the Georgia-South Carolina border, Augusta may be small, but it is mighty. It's the second-largest metropolitan area in the state, meaning you get all the same attractions as Atlanta but without the larger crowds and traffic.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the city has a low cost of living, a large number of healthcare facilities, and more than a few golf courses (including August National, where the Masters is played)—quite the combination for retirees. Mild weather and low-key outdoor activities, such as the Augusta Riverwalk and farmer markets, are additional draws.
7. Madison, Wisconsin
While Madison may be familiar to those looking for a great college, it's not necessarily on people's radars as a place to retire. But there's a lot to love about the capital of America's Dairyland. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the 200+ miles of biking and hiking trails and the 260 parks and beaches. And cultural fans will revel in the many free museums, including the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA), and the Henry Vilas Zoo.
According to U.S. News & World Report, Madison's median home sale price is slightly higher than the rest of the country, but it's "much more affordable compared with other Midwest regions, such as Chicago."
8. Akron, Ohio
Chosen as No. 27 on StorageCafe's list, Akron offers the most age-restricted accommodations in 50-plus unit communities, which is a good indicator of a city's preparedness for senior living. In an interview with The Center Square about a Sep. 2022 ranking of the best places to retire, WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said, "This is mostly because of the state's lack of an estate or inheritance tax. The cities also have many bingo halls, strong age-friendly communities, plenty of family medicine physicians, and top-rated geriatrics hospitals."
City dwellers will find more than enough entertainment downtown thanks to the many museums, theaters, and full schedule of concerts. Those who thrive in the great outdoors will love that they are just minutes from the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the state's only national park.
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9. Boise City, Idaho
While it is the state capital, Boise, Idaho tends to fly under the radar for those looking for a place to retire. But it did capture the attention of StorageCafe, who placed it No. 36 on its list due to the city's low crime rate and self-storage rate, which offers retirees a place to put their belongings when relocating or downsizing.
And while Boise is located in the Gem State instead of the Sunshine State, it does have 210 days of sunshine each year, so you'll still have plenty of opportunities to get outside and soak up the sun.
10. Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Located in the northern part of the state, Winston-Salem, North Carolina offers retirees a low cost of living, including housing prices that are below the national median sales price. This is a key reason U.S. News & World Report named it the 36th-best place to retire. The report notes that the metro area hasn't seen the same population boom as other North Carolina cities, which "has preserved the region's small-town feel while allowing for improvements, such as repurposing old textile and tobacco factories into loft apartments."
The city also has a large artsy side and many hiking trails and parks. The weather is mild, but for those who enjoy having all seasons, you may still get a few snowy days in the winter.