I love sharing information about the best places to retire. My recent focus has been on foreign countries where retirees can spend their golden years comfortably. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from folks who say, while these places look splendid, they would never retire outside the US.
So, I’ve put together my short list for places to retire in America that are scenic, community-focused and rich in culture. I’ve taken into account living costs, safety, median incomes for retirement-age residents, the happiness of residents, and availability of recreational centers and healthcare facilities.
Many happy retirees call Phoenix home. At Capital Investment Advisors, we love this city so much we are in the process of opening an office there. Phoenix is chock full of restaurants, museums, theaters, and professional sports teams. Outdoorsy folks will appreciate the miles of hiking and biking trails, and the proximity to Tempe, Scottsdale, and Glendale.
While the scenery is picturesque, the financial landscape isn’t as idyllic. The average living costs in Arizona are above the national average and the median senior income of $47,973 is about 10.8% below the national figure. But Phoenix offers up a pocket of affordability and typically higher incomes, with the cost of living coming in at 5% below the national average. And the Average Income for Households 65+ is a healthy $52,414.
This Southern city is full of charm and home to a slew of recreational activities. The US Space & Rocket Center houses space travel artifacts, while the Huntsville Botanical Garden features a butterfly house. At Monte Sano State Park, outdoor enthusiasts will find mountain trails, azaleas and stone cabins. Home to the Huntsville campus of the University of Alabama, this city has a robust economy, highly educated population, and plenty of cultural attractions.
The Heart of Dixie has a handful of spots for affordable living. And Huntsville, nestled in northern Alabama, is one of the most financially friendly. It has all of the low-tax, low-cost advantages of the rest of the state, with the addition of more generous incomes among retirement-age residents. The average household income for those 65+ in Huntsville is $52,469.
When I think of Alaska, I think of beautiful landscapes and so much adventure. I can’t wait to travel there. I understand that most people aren’t looking to be pioneers during retirement, but for those who crave adventure, Anchorage can be the perfect place to set up house. As the largest city in Alaska, it offers more amenities than other areas in the state, including an abundance of theaters, museums and shopping centers, on top of all that glorious outdoor recreation. Anchorage also has a wealth of healthcare facilities; there are more than 43 establishments per 1,000 seniors, compared to an average of just 19 per 1,000 seniors in the US overall.
So, if you’re a lover of the wilderness and winter weather, it pays to live in Alaska – all permanent residents receive an annual dividend from state fund fueled by oil wealth. In 2017, the payment was $1,100 per person. The cost of living is a bit high – about 28% above the national average, but household incomes of those 65+ are higher, too, at about $62,650.
Fayetteville is home to bustling restaurants and shopping options, plus a vibrant cultural scene that includes the University of Arkansas and the Walton Arts Center. The metro area, which includes Rogers, Springdale and Bentonville, offers plenty of attractions. Living in an area surrounded by the Ozark Mountains lets residents revel in the downtown area while partaking of rich outdoor recreation and natural wonder.
Residents here are happy. According to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, locals ranked Fayetteville 11th for community well-being – they like where they live, feel safe and have pride in their community. And, with the cost of living at 10.6% below the national average and average income for household 65+ at $49,168, you can live here comfortably.
I love the West Coast – particularly the San Diego area. Carlsbad is right in the heart of this metro district, offering both a small-town feel with access to big-city living.
There are an impressive 25 parks, nearly 50 miles of hiking trails and a full calendar of artsy offerings in Carlsbad, including Foreign Film Friday and free summer concerts. Overall, the city is a highly desirable community, complete with ocean-side living and sunny climate.
Of course, such delights don’t come cheap. California has the second-highest living costs in the country. While the median home value in the US is $184,700, in Carlsbad, it’s $674,400. But, the average household income for folks over 65 is a healthy $62,681.