You work hard, you want to retire well.That’s assuming you ever get to retire. Or want to.
The government says nearly 7 million Americans at least 65 years old are still working full time. That’s 16 percent of everyone in that age group. The ratio is higher for men, where 1 in 5 is still on the job. Of course, 65 is the new 50.
However, when you finally decide to slow down and enjoy life, you want a place you can afford, one with outdoor wonders to stimulate the body and cultural events to stimulate the senses. You want low crime, excellent health care, nice weather and businesses that cater to older Americans.
Like Rapid City, South Dakota.
Before you spit out your 401(k)-funded latte over that suggestion, listen to the reasons Livability.com believes Rapid City and nine other towns are America’s best places to retire in.
#10 – SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
More than 20 golf courses. Year-round sunshine. Resort spas. One of America’s oldest and best food festivals. Lots of other people your age. In Scottsdale, “There are spas to relax in, golf courses to play, mountains to hike and nightclubs to dance until the morninglight,” said Livability. Housing’s not cheap — Zillow estimates the median home price is over $400,000 — but “Arizona doesn’t tax Social Security checks.”
#9 – RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA
If you like to experience all four seasons, you can certainly do that in Rapid City and enjoy affordable health care, clean air, NO STATE INCOME TAXES, performing arts venues and local sports teams straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. “Rapid City, S.D., offers a rugged retirement destination to those looking for new adventures, affordable housing and a sense of seclusion,” writes Livability. City data reports the median home price is $157,000, and you get to retire with four of the greatest Americans who ever lived. Visit them whenever you want … at Mount Rushmore.
#8 – CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA
Being in a college town has great benefits for retirees. Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, and locals can enjoy all kinds of cultural and educational opportunities (though the city also has a slightly elevated crime rate). Livability points out there are mountains nearby for recreational activities, Charlottesville has one of the longest outdoor pedestrian malls in the country, and its renovated Paramount Theater hosts Broadway shows. Forbes has the median home price at $263,000, and the cost of living is 5 percent higher than the national average. But here’s a throwback that some retirees may find very attractive: Charlottesville has over 20 bookstores.
#7 – LINCOLN, NEBRASKA
Peyton Manning may yell, “Omaha!” and the Oracle of Omaha may retire there as well (assuming Warren Buffett ever actually retires), but Livability says the town of Lincoln is Nebraska’s better bet for retirees. Lincoln is another college town, home to the University of Nebraska (I hope you like wearing red on Saturdays). “Downtown Lincoln continues to evolve into a trendy, artsy destination where people come to shop, eat and mingle.” An annual arts expo attracts 10,000 people, and if you like to go fishing, you won’t be disappointed. Sixteen percent of the population is at least 60 years old, and Zillow says the median home price is only $147,000.
#6 – HILLSBORO, OREGON
Where? I’ve never heard of Hillsboro, either. Which proves it’s a well-kept secret. The city is tucked between Portland to the east and the Tillamook State Forest to the west, with vineyards all around. Livability says Hillsboro’s growing tech and research companies are pouring money into amenities. “An extremely low crime rate, low health-care costs, walkable neighborhoods and a community that is engaged in the arts makes Hillsboro one of the top retirement destinations.” Zillow calls it a hot homemarket, where median prices of $285,000 jumped nearly 11 percent in the last year. One thing you need to keep in mind, however. This is not Scottsdale. It rains a lot in Hillsboro, creating a lush and verdant environment for biking, golfing and hiking. Pack an umbrella.
#5 – CARSON CITY, NEVADA
Carson City is no Las Vegas, but what happens in Vegas stays in Carson City. It’s Nevada’s state capital, the recipient of gaming revenues, and it is surrounded by the dramatic Sierra Nevada for snow skiing in winter, and gorgeous Lake Tahoe for water skiing in summer. Livability said nearly a fourth of the population is at least 60 years old, “but don’t think of this city as a sleepy little town.” With 300 days of sunshine, 21 city parks (including one with a well-stocked fishing pond and a city shooting range that boasts 40 rifle positions and 20 pistol stations), low crime, high quality health care, NO STATE INCOME TAXES, and word may be getting around. Zillow said the median home price in Carson City is $233,000, up almost 20 percent in a year.
#4 – TACOMA, WASHINGTON
Seattle’s neighbor Tacoma offers all the same amazing natural wonders from Mount Rainier to Puget Sound but at a more affordable cost. Livability says Tacoma has 20 retirement communities and excellent health care. “A free light rail system connects museums, glass studios and performance venues with restaurants and shops.” Trendy areas include 6th Avenue, “where visitors are likely to find yarn-bombed bike racks outside hipster-filled bars and ice cream shops and flavorful restaurants.” Retired hippies meet millennial hipsters! Plus, NO STATE INCOME TAXES. And while Zillow says the median home price in Seattle is over $520,000, it’s less than half that in Tacoma, at $205,000.
#3 – PLANO, TEXAS
This city north of Dallas lets you live close enough to enjoy the benefits of “Big D” without living there. Plano is headquarters to a variety of companies, including Frito Lay, J.C. Penney and EDS.” The city’s economic gains have allowed for the expansion of many quality-of-life amenities like parks, recreation centers and paths connecting neighborhoods with commercial areas,” says Livability. These include 35 miles of trails and hundreds of athletic fields. Plus, the crime rate is very low and there are NO STATE INCOME TAXES (are you seeing a trend?). However, it does cost more to own a home there, according to Zillow. The median price is $274,000 in Plano, versus $132,000 in Dallas.
#2 – SARASOTA, FLORIDA
Finally! Florida! Only one city in the Sunshine State is on the Livability list, which may be a surprise, since everyone seems to retire here. Sarasota stands out, however, not just because it was historically the winter home for Ringling Bros. circus. Now it’s better known for being a bargain considering all the golf courses, excellent health care, beautiful beaches and great weather. Zillow said the median home price is $254,000 for a city where there’s an annual film festival, a ballet company and opera house, the Baltimore Orioles come for spring training, and NO STATE INCOME TAXES.
#1 – SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA
Well, duh. Have you ever been there? Who wouldn’t want to retire in Santa Barbara? A perfect mix of weather, natural beauty, wineries, museums, a nearby university, I mean, come on! Ten retirement communities provide residents with daily excursions to paradise, and Livability writes, “An abundance of Spanish Mission-style adobe architecture gives Santa Barbara a European feel, which is why it’s often called the American Riviera.” Santa Barbara isn’t perfect. You are very likely to be panhandled while downtown, but the crime rate is about average. Living here is also not very affordable, unless you invested in Apple back when it went public in 1980. Median home prices top $1 million, according to Zillow and, yes, there are state income taxes —among the highest in the country. However, “Rarely is there a day in Santa Barbara that isn’t perfect for kayaking, snorkeling or strolling the coastline while looking for sea lions, dolphins, and whales.”