Retirement Havens Across the U.S.

couple sitting on porchSearching for new surroundings in retirement?

Many parts of the country are available to you, from Alabama to Florida, and Arizona to Idaho. Factored into the following list of 10 top retirement choices are housing and other costs of living, taxes, crime rates, weather, doctor availability and opportunities for an active lifestyle. Enjoy a slice of Nirvana in your later years.

1. Decatur, AL
While the median home value is $176,700 for the nation as a whole, it’s just $120,400 in Decatur. The tax situation is equally attractive. Alabama doesn’t tax Social Security or most pension income, and homeowners 65 and older are exempt from state property taxes (and some, if not all, local property taxes). For enjoyment, the Tennessee River offers inexpensive options for outdoor recreation, including some of the state’s best bass fishing.

2. Abilene, TX
This West Texas outpost has a robust economy, a cost of living that is 17% below the national average and a median home price of $156,000. Crime rates are low while the number of doctors is high. Abilene also ranks high on the Milken Institute’s list of best cities for successful aging, aided by a warm climate and good air quality.

3. Apache Junction, AZ
This growing Phoenix suburb has a good economy and a cost of living 6% below the national average. Apache Junction has a favorable tax climate for retirees, the median home price is $129,000 and crime is low. Add in a warm climate and scenic terrain and you have a retiree’s paradise.

4. Athens, GA
This enclave boasts a strong economy and a cost of living that is 1% below the U.S. average. Athens enjoys Georgia’s beneficial state tax climate for retirees, and its median home price is $145,000. The city has an extremely high Milken Institute aging rank and walkability index, aided by good air quality and warm climate.

5. Hot Springs, AR
You won’t need to travel far for rest and relaxation if you settle in this retirement hotspot. Hot Springs National Park, which has 47 hot springs and two bathhouses, offers opportunities to drink from fountains and soak in the water. Even your wallet can de-stress. Housing and health care for retirees are particularly low, at 24.1% and 12.2% below the national average, respectively. The median home value in Hot Springs is $115,600—far below the national median.

6. Prescott, AZ
Prescott eases the stress on your retirement kitty by being in a state that has low income taxes and no state tax on Social Security. This helps Prescott’s below-average living costs. But affordable doesn’t mean boring: Prescott has an active cultural scene with numerous theaters and music venues, as well as things to do outdoors, including golfing and hiking.

7. Lexington, KY
The cost of living for retirees is 7.8% below the U.S. average and Lexington has more than 100 parks, six public golf courses and a 734-acre nature preserve with more than 10 miles of hiking trails. For indoor entertainment, you can check out the numerous galleries and theaters. The University of Kentucky offers the Singletary Center for the Arts, too.

8. Grand Junction, CO
You can enjoy hiking, biking and rafting in the warmer months, and skiing and snowshoeing when the snow falls. Indoors, you can take advantage of the intellectual and cultural offerings of Colorado Mesa University. Also, the Highest State keeps taxes low for retirees. Residents age 55 and older get a generous retirement-income exclusion from state income taxes. There’s no inheritance or estate tax, either.

9. Punta Gorda, FL
Florida is filled with popular retirement destinations and Punta Gorda consistently ranks as one of the best. Because nearly half of its residents are age 65 and older, the city is wise to recognize its strong senior presence and do all it can to satisfy them. You can find numerous retirement communities that offer waterfront sites, golfing, fishing and other activities. In town, the Harborwalk along Charlotte Harbor is just a portion of the 18 miles of bike trails and pedestrian pathways you can enjoy.

10. Boise, ID
The cost of living for retirees is 7.3% below the U.S. average, while Boise State University provides plenty of intellectual stimulation to help keep an aging mind sharp. The Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts hosts symphony concerts, dance performances and Broadway shows. Off campus, you can walk, run or bike the more than 20 miles of paved trails of the Boise River Greenbelt. Other outdoor activities include kayaking, boating, fly-fishing, golfing and skiing.

Resources: Forbes.com, Kiplinger