The 6 Best Small Towns to Retire In
There's something for everyone on this list, depending on what you value most for your golden years.
Depending on the priorities you have for your golden years, retired life might include the possibility of a move. Perhaps you've pictured yourself spending your retirement in a town you frequented as a kid or maybe you've always dreamt of a cabin nestled in the mountains. A lot goes into the decision-making process, and finding the best city or small town to retire in requires you to consider different factors, according to Clara Sutton, human resources manager of Healthier Trajectory.
"Some retirees might be looking for a location with a warm climate, while others might prefer a town with a lower cost of living," Sutton tells Best Life, adding that you should consider nearby healthcare facilities, town culture, and amenities as well. There are several U.S. towns that may fit your parameters, but experts say that certain spots are preferred choices for older adults. Read on to find out which six small towns are the best for retirees.
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Bar Harbor, Maine
Retirees who love the great outdoors will find solace in the small town of Bar Harbor, Maine, which has a population of just over 5,000 people.
"If you're looking for a picturesque place to retire, Bar Harbor may be the perfect fit," Alison Meacham, founder of the blog Everything Mouse, tells Best Life. "This charming town is known for its well-preserved architecture and stunning ocean views, as well as for its awfully hospitable people."
If you want to branch out, exploring is always an option at nearby Acadia National Park, but Meacham notes that in Bar Harbor, you'll have everything you need in close proximity.
"The community also has many interesting amenities made for making your retirement years safe and enjoyable, such as excellent healthcare, plenty of outdoor activities, and local events that promise to keep everyone entertained," Meacham explains. And when you have visitors, "the luxurious accommodations don't hurt, either!"
According to finance company SoFi, the cost of living in Maine is the lowest in New England, running you around $45,272 per year. That being said, Maine is known for its harsh winters, so consider that if you don't want to be shoveling or driving in snow.
Dillsboro, North Carolina
For those who want to stay on the East Coast but don't want to deal with bitter temperatures, consider checking out Dillsboro, North Carolina.
"It's near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so as to be expected, it's surrounded by beautiful nature and views, ideal for enjoying the peace and quiet," Jennifer Gregory, founder and CEO of Vegas Food & Fun, explains, adding that the town is a "quiet and charming" option for retirees.
History buffs will enjoy Dillsboro as well, as it's home to older businesses and maintains "a long-standing tradition of artisan art," Gregory says. In fact, the Visit Historic Dillsboro website even states that a visit "is like stepping back in time," and you'll embrace nostalgia while bopping in and out of mom-and-pop shops.
A slower pace certainly sounds appealing, but Gregory assures you that there's no shortage of things to do. You'll be just minutes away from some of "Western North Carolina's premier attractions," including the Cherokee Indian Reservation and the Nantahala River, per Visit Historic Dillsboro.
Looking to move somewhere more affordable? North Carolina is right in the middle when it comes to what you'll be spending: According to SoFi, it has the 24th-lowest cost of living in the U.S.
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A bit larger than your typical small town, Aspen, Colorado, is a perfect spot if you want to retire out West.
"Known for its stunning natural scenery and quiet, upscale town feel, Aspen is the perfect retirement hub," Meacham says. "With plenty of activities and events to keep you busy year-round, this mountain resort town has something for everyone."
You're not too far from the state capital in Denver, she notes, meaning you'll have your pick of entertainment options "when you're not out exploring the local attractions."
While Aspen is beautiful all year round, it is a bit pricier to settle down here. Aspen is a resort town, so it can be expensive, and the cost of living in Colorado is 12 percent higher than the national average, according to Uncover Colorado, which cites data from Colorado's Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Grab your cowboy boots and spend your retirement in Stonewall, Texas, situated in Texas Hill Country. This small town is the birthplace and death place of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and there's now a state park dedicated to the political figure.
"Stonewall is the perfect place for retirees who are looking for a quiet community with scenic views," Joshua Haley, founder of Moving Astute, tells Best Life. "This town is home to several golf courses, as well as a number of wineries and shops."
Houses in Stonewall are priced below the national median home value, averaging about $167,900. Annual tax payments in Stonewall are near the statewide average, at $5,243 and $4,945, respectively, according to 24/7 Wall St.
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Similar to Aspen, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, is a pricier paradise, but it's well worth the investment if you've been a lifelong saver.
"The city is quiet, quaint, and European-style in its architecture," Jason Dempsey, CEO and co-founder of Home City Living, says. "If you want to saunter around cobbled streets and old country cottages hand in hand with your loved one, there's no more romantic place in the U.S."
For those looking to catch up on reading they've been putting off for years, you can set up your beach chair on the white sand of Carmel Beach, Dempsey says. You can also visit one of the town's performing arts venues, viewing a matinée at a local theatre or booking tickets for an after-dinner concert.
The town has been a "haven for writers and artists alike, which helped mold it into the cosmopolitan-bohemian paradise it has now become," Dempsey says. "It really does feel like a protected area, taken out of time, and is potentially the most ideal place to retire in the U.S."
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Hood River, Oregon
If you're looking for a small-town feel with a slightly larger population, Hood River, Oregon, should be on your list of potential retirement locales. Roughly 8,300 people call this hub home, so it's a nice compromise if you want to make some friends once you've settled in.
Meacham notes that the location is quaint, but it also has a wealth of outdoor activities, including trails at nearby Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. There's no shortage of healthcare facilities, should you need access to them, and if retired life is a bit too lax for your liking, there's potential to secure part-time work.
"Hood River is known for its wine-growing industry, which offers retirees excellent opportunities to make a passive income," Meacham says. You'll want to keep this in mind, as cost of living can be high here. According to Living in Oregon, prices are steadily rising in Hood River specifically.