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50 Best Places to Retire in the U.S.

Stacy Rapacon, Online Editor, Kiplinger.com

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Thinking about moving in retirement? You're not alone. About two-thirds of retirees plan to relocate or already have, according to a survey by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, a research firm focused on the aging population. And while most pre-retirees expect to stay in the same state or region once they retire, 40% want to take the opportunity to try someplace completely different.

Luckily, no matter which state you land on for retirement, you can pinpoint a promising place within state lines to settle down. To help you narrow the choices, here we highlight one great retirement destination in each state that offers attractive advantages for retirees. We've taken into account living costs, safety, median incomes and poverty rates for seniors, as well as residents' sense of well-being and the availability of recreational and health care facilities. Take a look at our 50 picks for top places to retire around the country and see which ones fit your dreams for retirement.

See Also: Where to Retire: All 50 States Ranked for Retirement

Huntsville, Ala.

Courtesy Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau

City population: 190,501

Share of population 65+: 15.2% (U.S.: 14.9%)

Cost of living for retirees: 6.1% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $51,853 (U.S.: $56,453)

Community score: 63.3 (U.S.: 61.9)

State's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

As one of the 10 Cheapest States Where You'll Want to Retire, the Heart of Dixie boasts many great spots for affordable living. And Huntsville, in northern Alabama, is one of the best. It offers all the low-cost, low-tax advantages as the rest of the state, but adds more generous incomes among retirement-age residents. The average household income for 65+ households in Alabama is $46,318, according the Census Bureau.

Home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, the Redstone Arsenal and the Huntsville campus of the University of Alabama, the city offers a robust economy and a highly educated population. There are plenty of cultural attractions, from a sculpture trail to a symphony orchestra, as well as opportunities for outdoor recreation (think bass fishing). In fact, Alabama at-large offers many of Florida's popular retirement attractions--warm weather, nice beaches and plenty of golf--all at a typically lower price.

See Also: 11 Reasons You Don't Want to Retire in Florida

Anchorage, Alaska

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City population: 298,225

Share of population 65+: 9.4%

Cost of living for retirees: 26.8% above the national average

Average income for population 65+: $70,291

Community score: 62.1

State's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax Friendly

Older folks don't seem too interested in facing the Last Frontier in retirement. Only 10.1% of the entire state's population is age 65 and up compared with 14.9% of the whole U.S. But if you crave adventure--and don't mind long winters and vast swaths of wilderness--it pays to live in Alaska. Literally. A state fund fueled by oil wealth gives all permanent residents an annual dividend. In 2018, the payment was $1,600 per person.

And residents could certainly use the extra cash. Living costs throughout Alaska are significantly higher than is typical across the continental U.S. But Anchorage is the least expensive metro area in the state, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. Plus, being the largest city in Alaska, it offers more amenities including numerous theaters, museums and shopping centers, on top of all the outdoor recreation you'd expect. It also has an abundance of health care facilities, more than 41 establishments per 1,000 seniors in the metro area compared with just about 19 per 1,000 seniors in the U.S.

See Also: 13 States That Tax Social Security

Phoenix

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City population: 1.6 million

Share of population 65+: 10.0%

Cost of living for retirees: 1% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $54,681

Community score: 62.5

State's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Undoubtedly, many of you have considered the Grand Canyon State for its retiree-friendly climate and beautiful natural scenery. Unfortunately, the financial setting is not quite as picturesque: Average living costs in Arizona are 12% above the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces, while median incomes for seniors with earnings are below average at $50,254. Phoenix, though, offers a pocket of affordability, plus typically higher incomes.

And being the capital city, you can find plenty of attractions to keep you busy--world-class restaurants, professional sports teams and an array of museums, theaters and other cultural attractions. Of course, outdoor enthusiasts have more than enough to enjoy, too, with many hiking and biking trails within the city limits and even more to explore in nearby Scottsdale, Glendale and Tempe.

See Also: 9 Things You Must Know About Retiring to Arizona

Fayetteville, Ark.

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City population: 81,889

Share of population 65+: 9.1%

Cost of living for retirees: 13.8% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $85,436

Community score: 66.3

State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

The metro area of Fayetteville, which includes Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville, offers low costs but plenty of attractions. The surrounding Ozark Mountains afford residents outdoor recreation and natural wonders to enjoy while the downtown area, home to the University of Arkansas, provides restaurants, shops and a lively music and arts scene, including the Walton Arts Center.

Locals seem happy with what they have at their fingertips. Fayetteville ranks 11th for community well-being on the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index with residents reporting high levels of liking where they live, feeling safe and having pride in their community.

See Also: College Towns: 12 Smart Places to Retire

Carlsbad, Calif.

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City population: 113,147

Share of population 65+: 16.0%

Cost of living for retirees: 40.6% above the national average

Average income for population 65+: $70,348

Community score: 64.3

State's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Part of the San Diego metro area, Carlsbad offers a small-city feel with easy access to big-city amenities. It has a vibrant cultural community, ocean-side living and sunny climate. You can also find 40 parks, more than 50 miles of hiking trails and a full calendar of artsy offerings, including Foreign Film Fridays in the spring and free concerts in the summer. (Not that there are really seasons in Carlsbad: Throughout the year, average highs fall between 62 and 71 degrees Fahrenheit, and average lows only go down to between 45 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Weather.com. And rainy days are rare.) Plus, you can choose among a host of retirement communities with ocean views.

Of course, you have to be able to afford it. Like much of California--where living costs are 69% above the national average, making it the second-most expensive state in the country behind only Hawaii--Carlsbad and the whole metro area is a pricey place to live. For example, the median home value in the U.S. is $229,000, according to Zillow; in California, it's $548,600; and in Carlsbad, it's (brace yourself) $860,700. And taxes throughout Cali also weigh heavily on your wallet.

SEE ALSO: 25 Small Towns Where Millionaires Live

Denver

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City population: 678,467

Share of population 65+: 11.2%

Cost of living for retirees: 9.4% above the national average

Average income for population 65+: $59,601

Community score: 63.4

State's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Colorado ranks fifth in the United Health Foundation's senior health rankings, and Denver plays a healthy role in that rating. Indeed, the Milken Institute, a think tank, ranked the metro area the 12th best big city for successful aging in large part due to Denver's healthy and active senior population.

Other strengths of the area include high employment and economic stability, as well as quality infrastructure, with well-funded transit for older adults, highly rated nursing homes and ample continuing care. Indeed, the Denver metro area is home to more than 24 health care facilities per 1,000 seniors, compared with just about 19 per 1,000 seniors in the U.S.

See Also: 31 Kirkland Signature Products Retirees Should Buy at Costco

Middletown, Conn.

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City population: 46,747

Share of population 65+: 14.4%

Cost of living for retirees: 19.2% above the national average*

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: 59.8*

State's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

Like much of the Northeast, Connecticut is known to be a high-cost area, and Middletown is no exception. But the Hartford metro area, of which Middletown is a part, is at least more affordable than other major metro areas in the state, including Stamford and New Haven, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. And local residents tend to pull in high enough incomes to make it work. The city's average income for all households is $90,977 a year, and it's even better for the older population with incomes for residents age 60 and up averaging $92,851 a year.

Plus, being home to Wesleyan University, Middletown offers all the benefits of retiring to a college town, including numerous restaurants, shops and cultural attractions. You can also take advantage of the Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning, which offers no-credit courses, lectures and other educational opportunities at minimal cost and is open to the entire community. And while the nearby city of Hartford has an alarmingly high crime rate--with 1,093.8 violent crimes per 100,000 residents reported, compared with the national rate of 473.2 for cities of similar size--Middletown is far safer with a mere 49 violent crimes total reported for the year.

*Data for the Hartford metropolitan statistical area, which includes Middletown.

Milford, Del.

Courtesy VisitDelaware.com

City population: 10,654

Share of population 65+: 19.7%

Cost of living for retirees: n/a

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

If you're thinking about heading to one of Delaware's popular beach towns for retirement, brace yourself for sticker shock. Better yet, consider instead the more affordable Milford, where overall living costs are about the same as the national average, according so Sperling's BestPlaces. By comparison, the cost of living in popular Bethany Beach, about 40 miles south of Milford and right on the coast, is a whopping 83.2% above the national average. Indeed, median home values in Milford are far lower than in Bethany Beach at $224,500 and $436,100, respectively, according to Zillow.

The small inland city is about 10 miles from Slaughter Beach, so you can still hit the shore with a 15-minute drive. And if you do want to visit the more popular Delaware beaches, it takes about 40 minutes to drive to Rehoboth or Dewey and another 10 to 20 minutes to Bethany. You can also enjoy some waterfront views in town along the Mispillion River. Downtown, there are numerous restaurants and boutiques, as well as the Milford Museum and the Riverfront Theater, where the Second Street Players, a community theater group, produces and performs a variety of shows and hosts movie nights.

SEE ALSO: 12 Cheapest Small Towns in America

Cape Coral, Fla.

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City population: 173,679

Share of population 65+: 21.9%

Cost of living for retirees: 2.4% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $42,123

Community score: 64.8

State's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax Friendly

With its desirable climate and favorable tax status, Florida is filled with popular retirement destinations. Many of our favorite retirement spots in the Sunshine State can be found along the Gulf Coast including St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Punta Gorda.

Cape Coral's metro area includes Fort Myers, yet another great place to consider for your retirement. But Cape Coral is unique in its waterway access, offering more than 400 miles of canals for all your boating, fishing and water sports dreams. And land lovers can enjoy the area's beaches, golfing, tennis, parks and other recreational offerings.

See Also: 10 Things You Must Know About Retiring in Florida

Augusta, Ga.

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City population: 196,899

Share of population 65+: 12.8%

Cost of living for retirees: 9.5% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $44,141

Community score: 62.7

State's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax Friendly

With its low living costs and generous tax breaks for seniors, Georgia ranks third among our Best States for Retirement, behind only Hawaii and (surprisingly) South Dakota. And Augusta is ripening into a particularly peachy city. Revitalization efforts have been pushing especially hard over the past several years, looking to expand the area's appeal beyond the annual Masters golf tournament in April and its accompanying celebrations and tourism revenue. In a walkable downtown, retirees can enjoy new restaurants, museums, galleries and nightlife venues. And even more is on the way with a $94 million plan in the works to redevelop a historic train depot property on the riverfront into a modern mixed-use complex of offices, apartments, retailers and restaurants.

In the meantime, you can already enjoy running, walking and biking along the Augusta Canal and kayaking and cruising along the Savannah River. Augusta University, along with other area schools, adds some nice college-town amenities, including free classes for Georgia residents age 62 and up. The University also supplies the region with a top-notch health care network, including three hospitals and numerous specialists focused on oncology, geriatrics and senior health.

See Also: 8 Places That Will Pay You to Live There

Hilo, Hawaii

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City population: 45,703

Share of population 65+: 18.5%

Cost of living for retirees: n/a

Average income for population 65+: $54,503

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

Hawaii is well known for its beautiful beaches, enviable climate and high prices. In Hilo, on the Big Island, the overall cost of living is 36.4% above the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces. But at least that's more affordable than capital city Honolulu, on Oahu, where living costs are a steep 101.1% above the national average. The median home value in Hilo is $339,800, according to Zillow--still pricey, to be sure, compared with the U.S. median of $229,000, but much more reasonable than the $676,100 median in Honolulu.

And the local lifestyle is still priceless. The colonial town's mood is quiet and calm, but its location on the eastern coast of the island and near active volcano Mauna Loa offers plenty of opportunities for adventure. You can explore rainforests and waterfalls, as well as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. In the downtown and waterfront areas, enjoy galleries, shops, restaurants and museums, including the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center.

See Also: Great Places to Retire Early Near the Beach

Idaho Falls, Idaho

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City population: 59,414

Share of population 65+: 12.9%

Cost of living for retirees: 8.3% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $42,795

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

If retirement for you means putting up your "gone fishin'" sign indefinitely, Idaho Falls may be your choice destination. The area is famous for its fly fishing opportunities, with the convergence of two popular trout rivers, Henry's Fork and the South Fork of the Snake River, which sees more than 300,000 anglers, campers, hikers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts visiting each year.

And when you're done fishin', you can enjoy the downtown area, home to an eclectic collection of restaurants, shops and art installations--with more on the way. Revitalization projects are working on refurbishing old buildings and developing new ones to offer more retail, dining and housing options for everyone, including retirees. The Museum of Idaho, long among the city's most popular attractions, is also growing, opening a new 200,00-square-feet addition in September 2019 and modifying current space by the summer of 2020. Even the health care scene in Idaho Falls is on the rise: The new Idaho Falls Community Hospital is scheduled to open in November 2019, set to offer 88 private rooms, an emergency room, in-patient services and an intensive care unit. And that's on top of the offerings already available at the adjacent Mountain View Hospital and the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, as well as numerous specialists throughout the city.

SEE ALSO: What's the Social Security COLA for 2020?

Peoria, Ill.

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City population: 115,424

Share of population 65+: 14.3%

Cost of living for retirees: 5.9% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $53,116

Community score: 58.6

State's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

A big draw for this relatively small city is its affordability. Housing costs for retirees are particularly low, 20.8% below the national average. Indeed, the median home value is a rock-bottom $89,000, compared with the $229,000 median for the U.S. And a private room in a nursing home costs just $6,798 a month; the median across the U.S. is $8,365 a month.

And yet, plenty of money has been pumping through the city, in a bid to further to develop the downtown area. The Downtown Development Corporation of Peoria recently assisted a number of projects, including the issuance of 714 construction permits in downtown with an estimated value of $74 million. Already the Riverfront area offers a vibrant setting with a number of eateries, shops and attractions, including the Peoria Riverfront Museum complete with its Giant Screen Theater and Dome Planetarium. The museum hosts a senior program with a free bi-monthly morning lecture series and free admission to the museum every second Wednesday of the month to guests age 60 and up. Also, the Peoria Park District offers 64 park sites with miles of hiking trails, golf courses, nature center and more.

See Also: How All 50 States Tax Retirees

Fort Wayne, Ind.

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City population: 262,450

Share of population 65+: 13.4%

Cost of living for retirees: 11.5% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $47,848

Community score: 59.7

State's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

The Fort Wayne metro area's affordability will not cost you in amenities. Despite being home to a nice collection of quiet neighborhoods, it also houses a thriving arts scene and hosts a number of festivals and events throughout the year, including the family-friendly Three Rivers Festival in the summers. Indeed, the three local rivers--the St. Marys, the St. Joseph and the Maumee--are a main feature of the area, providing ample opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and cruising. More outdoor attractions: Fort Wayne is more than 80 parks and 100 miles of hiking and biking trails.

Fort Wayne is by no means a metropolis, but if you ever feel the need for a small-town escape head two hours south to Richmond, the cheapest small town in America. Its claim to fame (other than being budget-friendly): Some of the earliest jazz records were recorded in Richmond by such greats as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.

See Also: Cheapest U.S. Cities for Early Retirement

Des Moines, Iowa

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City population: 214,778

Share of population 65+: 11.7%

Cost of living for retirees: 9.4% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $48,740

Community score: 65.7

State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

For retirees looking to live in a big city on a small budget, Des Moines is a good choice. Affordability is just one reason the Milken Institute ranked the state capital fifth out of 100 large U.S. metro areas for successful aging. Des Moines also boasts a strong economy and plenty of health care facilities specializing in aging-related services.

Retirees won't lack for things to do, either. There are numerous museums and arts venues, including an outdoor sculpture park, a zoo and botanical gardens. There's even a casino and racetrack in nearby Altoona that hosts annual camel, ostrich and zebra races (sorry, no wagering on these exhibition races allowed).

See Also: 10 Cheapest States Where You'll Want to Retire

Manhattan, Kan.

Courtesy Manhattan Convention & Visitors Bureau

City population: 55,427

Share of population 65+: 8.2%

Cost of living for retirees: 8.4% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

The Little Apple may not have all the bright lights and major metropolitan allure of New York City, but it has plenty to recommend itself, as well as significantly lower costs. (The cost of living for retirees in New York's Manhattan is 123.5% above the national average with housing a ridiculous 406.2% above average.) Housing costs for retirees in this Manhattan are particularly affordable at 17.2% below the national average. And yet, the average income for all households with earnings is a comfortable $64,135 a year.

Home to Kansas State University, Manhattan affords residents attractive college-town amenities, including the privilege of calling the school's top-notch athletics program your home team. One particularly senior-friendly offering: The university, in collaboration with the local UFM Community Learning Center and the University of Kansas Osher Institute, offers courses year-round for $50 each, along with special events, aimed at encouraging lifelong learning, especially for locals age 50 and older. The city is also developing an expanded trail system--beyond the existing 40 miles of trails throughout the city--for walking and biking throughout the city.

Lexington, Ky.

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City population: 315,109

Share of population 65+: 12.2%

Cost of living for retirees: 6.6% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $61,323

Community score: 62.9

State's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax Friendly

As you'd expect, the Bluegrass State holds plenty of appeal for horse lovers and bourbon aficionados. But retirees can pursue other interests here as well. Lexington has more than 100 parks, five public golf courses and a 734-acre nature preserve with more than 10 miles of hiking trails. For indoor entertainment, check out the numerous galleries and theaters, including the Lexington Opera House and its schedule of ballets, Broadway musicals, comedy shows, operas (of course) and other performances. The University of Kentucky offers the Singletary Center for the Arts, too.

You can also satisfy your academic pursuits at the University of Kentucky. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers various courses, forums, interest groups, trips and events to people age 50 or older; annual membership costs $35. The Donovan Fellowship allows Kentucky residents age 65 and older to take university classes free, space permitting.

See Also: 12 States That Won't Tax Your Retirement Income

Lafayette, La.

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City population: 126,476

Share of population 65+: 13.1%

Cost of living for retirees: 8.3% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $64,729

Community score: 62.4

State's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

Laissez les bons temps rouler. That's Cajun French for "let the good times roll" and a phrase you ought to learn--and live by--when retiring to Lafayette. Known as the "Cajun Capital City," it's rich in history, distinctive foods, two-stepping tunes and, of course, Cajun and Creole culture. Nature lovers have plenty to appreciate in the area, too. Located on the Mississippi Flyway and the Atchafalaya Loop of America's Wetland Birding Trail, Lafayette offers an abundance of wildlife to observe, as well as plenty of rivers, swamps and bayous for paddling, fishing and exploring.

Plus, it's more affordable than the more (in)famous Louisiana city of New Orleans, which is about 130 miles east of Lafayette and comes with living costs 1% above the national average for retirees. So if you're hoping for a retirement that's like one long Mardi Gras celebration, and you want help your budget to stretch as long as the party keeps rolling, Lafayette is the place for you.

See Also: 14 Retirement Mistakes You'll Regret Forever

Portland, Maine

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City population: 66,715

Share of population 65+: 13.7%

Cost of living for retirees: 17.1% above the national average

Average income for population 65+: $44,769

Community score: 65.8

State's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

The largest city in Maine, Portland offers a lively downtown and plenty of urban-esque amenities amidst the great outdoors of the Pine Tree State. You can enjoy museums, theaters and an array of eclectic dining. The flagship L.L. Bean store in nearby Freeport is a must-see for many visitors, but resident shoppers also flock to Portland's unique boutiques and outlets.

All the while, you're never too far from the area's many beaches. That means ample opportunity to lounge on the shore or dive into water-based activities including fishing, kayaking, sailing and even surfing. And of course, hiking and biking trails abound--perfect in the (much) colder months, too, for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

See Also: 8 Steps to a Happy Retirement

Easton, Md.

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City population: 16,606

Share of population 65+: 23.5%

Cost of living for retirees: n/a

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

On the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, this small town is packed with history, charm and senior residents. You can find a surprising number of eclectic dining options in town, as well as an array of boutique shops, art galleries and other cultural attractions. In fact, in July 2019, Easton was named one of two new Arts and Entertainment Districts in Maryland, joining the 26 existing Districts in the state in offering tax incentives to local artists and creative businesses. Qualifying developers and organizations will get a property tax abatement for artistic-related improvements to their buildings, and local artists can score a state income tax deduction for all art created and sold within the 110-acre district.

And you could use the extra opportunity to save. Maryland is, by and large, a wealthy area, home to a great number of millionaires, and the living costs reflect that. The cost of living for all residents in Easton are 13.8% above the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces, which makes it at least more affordable than Annapolis, on the opposite shore of the bay, where living costs are 41% above the national average. And water-loving retirees still have access to the same torrent of activities, such as kayaking, canoeing, boating and fishing, common on the Chesapeake Bay.

SEE ALSO: 6 Super-Agers' Secrets to Keeping Your Brain Sharp

Pittsfield, Mass.

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City population: 43,289

Share of population 65+: 19.0%

Cost of living for retirees: 7.9% above the national average

Average income for population 65+: $58,231

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

New England is notoriously expensive, but Pittsfield, located in the western part of Massachusetts, offers a small pocket of relative affordability--more reasonably priced than Boston and Cambridge, where living costs are, respectively, 48.1% and 38.1% above the U.S. average. Housing is notably affordable: The median home value in the city is $173,200, compared with $407,400 for all of Massachusetts and $592,300 for Boston proper, according to Zillow.

Leaf peeping in the fall may be enough to draw you to the Berkshires. But you have plenty to enjoy all year round, including excellent sites for camping, fishing, hiking and skiing. Nearby, enjoy musical performances at the Tanglewood Music Center, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. There's also world-class art at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCa, for short) in North Adams.

See Also: 33 States with No Estate Taxes or Inheritance Taxes

Ann Arbor, Mich.

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City population: 119,303

Share of population 65+: 11.3%

Cost of living for retirees: n/a

Average income for population 65+: $82,971

Community score: 66.3

State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

Another college town well suited to retirees, Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan with all its educational programs (including the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), sporting events and cultural affairs. The university also runs the Geriatrics Center & Institute of Gerontology, which focuses on health care issues that come with aging. Along with its research facilities, medical facilities and staff, the Center offers programs and classes to help older adults maximize their good health and independence.

In fact, Ann Arbor's health care facilities are top-notch, helping to earn it a sixth-place ranking among small metro areas for successful aging, according to the Milken Institute. The area's public transportation options are another noted winning attribute for older residents. A downside, however, is affordability. Overall living costs are 27.1% above the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces, and the median home value is $378,600, versus just $153,000 for the rest of the state, according to Zillow.

Mankato, Minn.

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City population: 41,241

Share of population 65+: 11.0%

Cost of living for retirees: 4.4% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

If the cold winters and equally harsh tax situation don't put you off of the North Star State, consider retiring in Mankato, about 90 miles southwest of the Twin Cities. It's still a small city, but development is on the rise, and the local economy is growing fast. Revitalization projects have added a nice mix of restaurants, shops, entertainment venues and more to the downtown area in recent years, and the city's five-year strategic plan aims to spread that level of development throughout the Minnesota River Valley. Some goals of the plan include adding housing, specifically within walking distance of where jobs and shops are; expanding Riverfront Park and other recreational land; and possibly building a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Minnesota River to North Mankato.

So far, all that growth has yet to push up living costs. While other metro areas in Minnesota come with above-average expenses, Mankato's cost of living for retirees (and others) remains below the national average. By comparison, Minneapolis has living costs for retirees 5.7% above the national average. Unfortunately, typical incomes in Mankato are also lower, with the overall annual income for residents with earnings at $62,776, on average, compared with $64,626 in Minneapolis. Still, the poverty rate for residents 65 and older is lower at 7.8% in Mankato, compared with 12.6% in Minneapolis and 9.3% in the whole U.S.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things Retirees Should Never Keep in Their Wallets

Jackson, Miss.

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City population: 170,393

Share of population 65+: 11.6%

Cost of living for retirees: 10% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $47,876

Community score: 57.8

State's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax Friendly

Low costs and friendly tax policies can make for a sweet retirement in the Magnolia State, and the capital is particularly alluring. Jackson is a surprisingly eclectic city that holds appeal for Civil War buffs, blues music aficionados and even ballet fans. Every four years, dancers from around the world flock to Jackson for the two-week USA International Ballet Competition to compete for medals, scholarships and spots in ballet companies. Similar competitions are held only in Russia, Bulgaria and Finland.

The Milken Institute ranks Jackson eighth among the best large cities for successful aging due to its affordability and an abundance of nurses, nurse practitioners and orthopedic surgeons, as well as caregiving options and geriatric facilities. Note, however, that the area's residents are prone to unhealthy habits that you don't want to pick up in retirement, including low levels of activity and high levels of fast-food dining.

See Also: Put Your Retirement IQ to the Test

Kansas City, Mo.

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City population: 476,974

Share of population 65+: 12.4%

Cost of living for retirees: 3.7% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $47,657

Community score: 62.1

State's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

The Kansas City metro area straddles two states and offers a wide range of attractions for people of all ages including retirees. The music and arts scene is particularly vibrant, being home to legendary jazz musician Charlie Parker as well as the American Jazz Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Kansas City Art Institute. For foodies, authentic barbecue is big, too. And you can entertain visiting grandkids with Legoland, the Sea Life aquarium and the Kansas City Zoo.

Also, while the University of Missouri's main campus is about 125 miles east in Columbia, the school brings more than 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students, as well as all the amenities of college life, to its Kansas City campus. It even offers an all-volunteer education program called Communiversity, offering a wide variety of classes and seminars to the entire metro area. Class fees range from just $10 to $18, plus a $3 registration fee, but students age 65 and older can skip the registration fee and get a discount of $1 off the first class and $2 off all subsequent classes.

See Also: 5 Retirement Lessons From the Great Recession

Bozeman, Mont.

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City population: 43,132

Share of population 65+: 8.6%

Cost of living for retirees: 3.2% above the national average

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

If you've ever dreamed of retiring to the mountains, here's your chance. Bozeman is in southern Montana, nestled in the Gallatin Valley and surrounded by majestic ranges and national forests. Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks sit due south of Bozeman. The geography means you have to be comfortable hiking, mountain biking, skiing and backcountry exploring your way through retirement. Hunting and fishing are also popular local activities.

But don't expect total isolation. Montana State University's Bozeman campus is home to about nearly 17,000 students. Exuberant co-eds might not be the neighbors you pictured in your mountain-view retirement destination, but you may enjoy the dining, culture and entertainment options that come with a college town.

Lincoln, Neb.

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City population: 277,315

Share of population 65+: 12.5%

Cost of living for retirees: 6.1% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $50,654

Community score: 64.2

State's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

Lincoln may not be home to financial guru Warren Buffett like Omaha, which is about an hour north, but it has plenty of other notable points to recommend it. The capital city offers an abundance of attractions, including more than 130 parks, fine restaurants, an active nightlife and a number of museums and theaters. Highlights include the Sunken Gardens (for budding horticulturalists) and the Museum of American Speed (for car enthusiasts).

Being a college town, home to both the University of Nebraska's Lincoln campus and Union College, the population may skew young. But the city is also prepared to assist its aging residents with about 30 health-care and social service facilities per 1,000 seniors, compared with about 19 per 1,000 seniors in the U.S.

See Also: 10 Scams That Will Ruin Your Retirement

Reno, Nev.

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City population: 239,732

Share of population 65+: 13.8%

Cost of living for retirees: 10.4% above the national average

Average income for population 65+: $51,061

Community score: 61.2

State's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax Friendly

Whether or not you like to gamble, retiring to Reno can make you feel like you've hit the jackpot. Boasting a small-town feel with big-city amenities, the locale proclaims itself "The Biggest Little City in the World." And it backs up the claim, offering a downtown full of restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries and music venues, on top of its well-known casinos.

Outdoor enthusiasts also win. The nearby Sierra Nevada mountain range and Lake Tahoe provide ample opportunities for hiking, biking and boating in warm weather, and skiing in winter. The area's resorts and marinas are also popular among residents of Gardnerville Ranchos, a small Nevada town near Lake Tahoe that's home to a surprising number of millionaires.

See Also: 9 States With No Income Tax

Laconia, N.H.

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City population: 16,237

Share of population 65+: 20.5%

Cost of living for retirees: n/a

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax Friendly

Tiny Laconia offers a big bargain for your retirement destination. The overall cost of living is 1.2% below the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces, making it much more affordable than Manchester--about 50 miles south--where living costs are 13.2% above average. But local average incomes are still high, averaging $71,605 for residents across all ages. That adds up to favorable odds for a balanced budget. And the Granite State's tax situation for retirees is solid, too.

Tucked between Lake Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam Lake, Laconia has been dubbed "The City on the Lake," home city to New Hampshire's Lakes Region. That means plenty of beaches and water-related activities for you in the warmer months. Other outdoor recreation abounds nearby, too. Gunstock Mountain Resort in neighboring Gilford, for example, offers camping, ziplining and snow sports, as well as fairs, events and dining options. Local crime may be worth noting: While the state sports a low rate of 1.99 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, Laconia's rate is 4.68, even slightly higher than the national median of 4 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, according to NeighborhoodScout.com. On the bright side, between 2009 and 2018, there have been only two murders in town, according to the community's police department. The site lists Parade Road-Old North Main Street and Weirs Beach-Lakeport as the safest neighborhoods in Laconia.

Ocean City, N.J.

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City population: 11,328

Share of population 65+: 29.3%

Cost of living for retirees: n/a

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

The Garden State offers a number of appealing retirement destinations for those who can afford it. Ocean City is a particularly attractive spot, evidenced by the high share of seniors who have already chosen to reside there. Family-friendly beaches, a fun three-mile boardwalk and proximity to Atlantic City are notable draws.

But yes, it's going to cost you. Living costs and taxes are notoriously high all over Jersey. In Ocean City, the cost of living for all residents is a whopping 62.2% above the national average, according to Sperling's BestPlaces. And housing is particularly expensive with the median home value within city limits at a hefty $611,100, compared with $327,800 for the state and $229,000 for the U.S., according to Zillow. Plus, you have to budget extra for insurance to protect against possible storm and flood damage. Note, too, that Ocean City is a dry town, but you don't have to travel far to buy your booze.

See Also: 10 States With the Highest Sales Taxes

Albuquerque, N.M.

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City population: 556,718

Share of population 65+: 14.2%

Cost of living for retirees: 3.1% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $49,684

Community score: 57.5

State's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

You can find a bright retirement in Albuquerque. The city tends to get 310 sunny days each year through all four seasons. That gives you plenty of opportunities to explore the many hiking and biking trails in and around the city, go hot air ballooning and plat the variety of golf courses in the area. And when the sun goes down, local casinos--complete with concert venues, restaurants and more, along with table games, slots and bingo--help energize the local nightlife.

All that comes with below-average costs, but also below-average incomes. And many people aren't able to strike a balance: The poverty rate in Albuquerque among residents age 65 and up is 9.9%, compared with 9.3% for the U.S., but better than the 11.9% rate for New Mexico.

Rochester, N.Y.

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City population: 209,463

Share of population 65+: 10.3%

Cost of living for retirees: 0.7% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $47,912

Community score: 61.1

State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

While much of New York comes with above-average living costs, Rochester proves more affordable, slightly below average for retirees. Housing costs are notably cheap at about 10% below average for retired residents. Indeed, the median home value is a mere $79,000, according to Zillow, compared with $229,000 for the entire U.S. and $303,600 in New York state.

That can leave plenty of room in your budget for warm coats, snow shovels and other winter gear. The average snowfall is a heavy 99 inches a year. In January alone over the past two winters, nearly 33 inches of snow fell on Rochester, according to the National Weather Service. Luckily, you have plenty of local wine options to help keep you warm year-round. The surrounding Finger Lakes Region is home to more than 100 wineries, all within a 90-minute drive of Rochester, and Casa Larga Vineyards is located just 20 minutes from downtown.

SEE ALSO: 20 Most Expensive U.S. Cities to Live In

Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.

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Metro population: 550,281 (Durham: 257,170)

Share of population 65+: 13.6% (Durham: 10.8%)

Cost of living for retirees: 10.5% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $63,046 (Durham:$59,567)

Community score: 64.1

State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

Duke University and the University of North Carolina may be bitter sports rivals, but their hometowns of Durham and Chapel Hill, respectively, team up to form a powerhouse metro area, and a great place to retire. Indeed, the Milken Institute ranks Durham-Chapel Hill as the third best large metro area for successful aging--crediting the area's economic strength, as two-thirds of North Carolina's Research Triangle (the other third being Raleigh), and quality health care. The universities play a big role in those two advantages and also boost up the local cultural and recreational scenes, like in many college towns.

Though not a deal-breaker for every retiree, it's worth noting that violent crimes are more prevalent in Durham than they are for the nation as a whole. The rate of violent crime is 8.6 per 1,000 residents, according to the Neighborhood Scout, compared with a national median of 4 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. Chapel Hill rates safer, with just 1.8 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. And the real estate values reflect it: The median home value is $382,900 in Chapel Hill and $229,900 in Durham, according to Zillow.

SEE ALSO: 5 Ways to Avoid Taxes on Social Security

Fargo, N.D.

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City population: 118,099

Share of population 65+: 11.1%

Cost of living for retirees: 0.5% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $57,580

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

With its low costs and generous tax situation, North Dakota has consistently ranked highly among our best states for retirement. So we believe spending your golden years in the Peace Garden State to be a financially savvy choice for your retirement destination (albeit perhaps an unorthodox one). And Fargo fits the bill for affordability, with particularly low housing costs for retirees, 14.3% below the national average. Indeed, while the average cost for a private room in a North Dakota nursing home is $11,690 a month, it's just $9,644 a month in Fargo, according to Genworth.

North Dakota State University is based in Fargo and, along with a number of other area colleges, brings with it attractive amenities for retirees and co-eds alike. That includes sporting events and cultural attractions, such as numerous musical and theater performances. Just be sure to bundle up if you venture out in the winter months. The average low temperature in January is literally 0 degrees Fahrenheit, according to U.S. Climate Data, only goes up to an average low 6 degrees Fahrenheit in the surrounding months.

SEE ALSO: Best States for Low Taxes: All 50 States Ranked

Columbus, Ohio

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City population: 852,144

Share of population 65+: 9.8%

Cost of living for retirees: 7.8% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $46,941

Community score: 61.2

State's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

The biggest city in the Buckeye State comes with some of the smallest costs. Housing is particularly affordable: The median home value in Columbus, the state capital, is just $157,500, compared with the national median of $229,00, according to Zillow.

But low costs doesn't equate to a lack of activities. Home to Ohio State University, locals can enjoy the co-ed culture, including big sporting events, concerts and cultural diversions. It also offers Program 60, which invites Ohio residents age 60 and older to take university courses free. Off campus, the downtown area has a lively scene with an eclectic mix of shops, galleries and restaurants. The Short North and German Village neighborhoods, in particular, are worth exploring.

Oklahoma City

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City population: 629,173

Share of population 65+: 11.9%

Cost of living for retirees: 13.8% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $57,615

Community score: 60.3

State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

The biggest city in the Sooner State charges residents little in living costs. Housing-related expenses are particularly affordable, at 28.1% below average for retirees. Indeed, the median home value across all ages is $131,700, well below the nation's median of $229,000, according to Zillow. And a private room in a nursing home costs a median $66,248 a year, compared with a median $100,375 a year for the U.S., according to Genworth.

Cowboys may feel particularly at home in Oklahoma City--it has one of the largest livestock markets in the world, after all--but given the area's downtown revitalization efforts over the past several years, everyone can find something to enjoy. The Bricktown Entertainment District has a variety of restaurants and nightlife options. And in neighboring Norman, the University of Oklahoma plays host to bigtime sporting and cultural events.

QUIZ: True or False? Test Yourself on Social Security Basics

Corvallis, Ore.

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City population: 56,224

Share of population 65+: 11.5%

Cost of living for retirees: n/a

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

The small city of Corvallis, located about 85 miles south of popular Portland, offers a similarly laidback lifestyle, but with smaller crowds and relatively lower costs. The overall cost of living is 19.8% above the national average--still pricey to be sure, but much more affordable than Portland's living costs at 47.8% above average. And average incomes are comparable at $68,589 a year in Corvallis and $68,125 in Portland for all residents.

Beyond financials, the area has plenty to recommend itself. You can enjoy the great outdoors, hiking or biking along the more than 60 miles of surrounding trails, observing the local wildlife, or taking advantage of nearby fishing, kayaking and swimming spots. You can also indulge in the more intoxicating offerings of the area. Coravllis is home to more than a dozen wineries--naturally, being in the heart of the Willamette Valley--as well as four craft distillers for whiskey, vodka and more and six breweries right in town.

Pittsburgh

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City population: 305,012

Share of population 65+: 14.2%

Cost of living for retirees: 1.7% above the national average

Average income for population 65+: $55,885

Community score: 62.5

State's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax Friendly

The Steel City is a good deal for retirees. While overall living costs for retirees are slightly above the national average, their local health care costs--a particularly big concern for the aging population--fall 4.3% below average. Indeed, the median monthly cost of an assisted living facility is $4,000 in the U.S., but just $3,750 in Pennsylvania and $3,150 in Pittsburgh, according Genworth. Plus, the Keystone State offers some nice tax breaks for retirees--Social Security benefits and most other retirement income are not subject to state taxes.

Despite being light on costs, Pittsburgh is still heavy on attractions. You can enjoy the Andy Warhol Museum, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, a plethora of jazz joints and all the offerings of local universities, which include Duquesne, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. And if watching all the collegiate and professional sports isn't enough activity for you, you have plenty of opportunities nearby to golf, hunt, fish, bike, hike and boat.

Providence, R.I.

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City population: 179,509

Share of population 65+: 9.6%

Cost of living for retirees: 21.9% above the national average

Average income for population 65+: $64,657

Community score: 59.3

State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

Home to Ivy League Brown University and the world-renowned Rhode Island School of Design, as well as a handful of other colleges, Providence can be a great fit for retired intellectuals and artists. They'll have no shortage of things to do, with the schools offering gallery nights, performing arts events, educational opportunities and more. And the schools' presence has helped draw a variety of restaurants and businesses to the area, too.

Unfortunately, living costs and an unfriendly tax environment can be prohibitive throughout the tiny state, and Providence is no exception.

See Also: Ways to Make Your Home More Age-Friendly

Charleston, S.C.

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City population: 120,903

Share of population 65+: 12.0%

Cost of living for retirees: 2.1% above the national average

Average income for population 65+: $45,574

Community score: 64.5

State's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

Southern charm, a rich history, city living and nearby beaches combine to make Charleston a uniquely attractive retirement destination. History buffs, in particular, can appreciate the city's Civil War sites, including Fort Sumter, and well-preserved antebellum architecture. The Preservation Society of Charleston is the oldest community-based historic preservation group in the country.

Foodies, too, can find plenty to enjoy along Charleston's cobblestone streets, especially in the brunch and comfort food areas. And if you need to work off some of those calories, water sports, including surfing, paddle boarding and kayaking, are popular local activities--along with boating and fishing.

See Also: 16 Small Towns Where You Can Retire Early

Sioux Falls, S.D.

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City population: 170,401

Share of population 65+: 12.0%

Cost of living for retirees: 3.7% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $46,123

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax Friendly

If you've never considered moving to South Dakota in retirement, perhaps you should. We recently ranked it the best state for retirees. And Sioux Falls is a particularly great spot to settle. It is filled with advantages, including a booming economy, low unemployment and hospitals specializing in geriatric services. For all these reasons, plus the city's recreational activities (including regularly scheduled morning walks and pinochle for the senior program, run by the city's Parks and Recreation department), the Milken Institute dubbed Sioux Falls the fifth best small metro area for successful aging.

And all that comes pretty cheap for retirees. Along with low living costs in Sioux Falls, the median home value is $192,900, compared with $193,700 for the state and $229,000 for the U.S., according to Zillow. Plus, the state's tax picture is one of the best for retirees.

Knoxville, Tenn.

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City population: 184,465

Share of population 65+: 13.2%

Cost of living for retirees: 17.1% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $46,685

Community score: 64.2

State's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

The Volunteer State, which we rank as the fifth-best in the nation for retirement, is a good choice for retiree nest eggs of all sizes. On top of its friendly-tax status, most parts of Tennessee have below-average living costs across the board for retired residents.

Knoxville is particularly affordable for retirees, compared with, say, Nashville, where living costs among retired people are about the same as the national average. Housing costs for retirees in Knoxville are the biggest factor bringing down costs, at nearly 30% below the national average. The city's median home value is just $173,900 versus $262,900 in Nashville and $229,000 throughout the country. Indeed, Knoxville is one of the cheapest U.S. cities to live in. Still, being the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains and home to the University of Tennessee, the city is rich in activities and attractions to fill your retirement years.

See Also: 9 States With No Income Tax

Round Rock, Texas

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City population: 116,369

Share of population 65+: 7.5%

Cost of living for retirees: 5.9% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $72,762

Community score: 64.2*

State's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

Nothing weird about retiring to this suburb of Austin. After all, being part of the same metro area, Round Rock gives you easy access to all the same amenities as the capital city, but at a more affordable price. Austin is already relatively cheap, with living costs for retirees 1% below the national average, but its housing costs for retirees are actually 5.8% above the national average. In Round Rock, on the other hand, they're 4.6% below average. Indeed, the median home value in Austin is a pricey $371,900 while in Round Rock, it's just $277,500, according to Zillow. (Both are higher than the national median of $229,000.)

On top of the attractions of nearby Austin, Round Rock has a lot to offer right in town, too. (Good thing because traffic in this metro area can be pretty frustrating, to say the least.) The downtown area hosts a long list of dining options, many of which stay open to lend themselves and their bars to the local nightlife. And developing the local arts and culture scene has been a focus for the city with the introduction of a growing collection of public art and art-centric events such as the Chalk Walk, SculpFest and regular artist workshops.

*Data for the Austin-Round Rock metro area.

Provo, Utah

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City population: 116,199

Share of population 65+: 6.0%

Cost of living for retirees: 1.7% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: 64.7

State's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

The Beehive State, 10th in our 2018 rankings of the best states for retirement, is a sweet spot for active retirees. And Provo, with mountain peaks within the city limits and Utah Lake on its doorstep, is particularly buzz-worthy. Brigham Young University offers intellectual stimulation to complement the physical activity. Plus, living costs are low while incomes are high, at an average $97,958 a year for residents age 60 and up.

Another feather in its cap: The Milken Institute rates Provo as the best large city for successful aging, noting the area's vibrant economy and safety, as well as the population's healthy lifestyles and high levels of volunteering among older adults. The metro area also has an abundance of health care facilities, about 32 establishments per 1,000 seniors compared with about 19 per 1,000 seniors in the U.S.

SEE ALSO: 25 Cheapest U.S. Cities to Live In

Burlington, Vt.

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City population: 42,453

Share of population 65+: 10.7%

Cost of living for retirees: 16.4% above the national average

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: 64.2

State's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

This small mountain city on the shores of Lake Champlain is a picturesque setting for tree-hugging retirees. Outdoor recreation is plentiful with miles of hiking and biking paths, nearby beaches where you can swim, kayak or paddleboard in the warmer months, and numerous skiing options in the area. An eco-friendly vibe permeates the town, from the businesses bolstering the city's economy, such as household-products maker Seventh Generation, to the local food movement feeding the neighborhood.

But being green isn't easy on your wallet. Taxes and living costs are high. While the median home value is a low $206,000 in the Green Mountain State, compared with the median $229,000 for the U.S., it climbs to $326,500 in Burlington. A private room in a metro area nursing home costs a median $11,498 a month, compared with $8,365 a month for the U.S. At least you can save money on academic pursuits. The University of Vermont will cover tuition costs for state residents age 65 and older who wish to take a class, even if it's for credit.

See Also: 13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits

Charlottesville, Va.

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City population: 46,487

Share of population 65+: 10.4%

Cost of living for retirees: 0.2% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: 66.0

State's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

Renaissance man Thomas Jefferson laid the foundation for the well-rounded city his hometown has become. From his University of Virginia's hollering Hoos to the artists on the downtown promenade, the Charlottesville community is an unexpected blend of Southern charm and liberal edge, a nice choice for a range of retiree personalities. And beyond the college campus and city center, you can find plenty of options for outdoor recreation in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, including more than 100 miles of of the Appalachian Trail in nearby Shenandoah National Park.

In August 2017, Charlottesville captured national attention when a gathering of white nationalists to protest the removal of a monument to Robert E. Lee turned into a violent rally, injuring dozens of counter-protesters and killing one, Heather Heyer. In general though, the city's violent crime rate is a low 175.4 reported incidents per 100,000 residents, compared with a 297.8 rate for all U.S. cities of similar size, according to the FBI. Charlottesville also ranks fifth for overall well-being, out of all 187 metro areas included in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, with above-average scores in all categories, including physical health and resident satisfaction.

Richland, Wash.

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City population: 53,991

Share of population 65+: 15.5%

Cost of living for retirees: 1.7% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $70,059

Community score: 65.1

State's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

Richland's metro area includes Kennewick, both of which qualify as great retirement destinations. But the smaller of the two, Richland, has an older population with a higher average income (Kennewick's is $57,989) and lower poverty rate (7.6% compared with 8.3% in Kennwick--both lower than the national poverty rate of 9.3% for people age 65 and older).

Whether you're partial to exploring the great outdoors or focusing on wine country, you have plenty of options--you don't even have to choose one over the other. You can enjoy boating and fishing on the Columbia, Yakima and Snake Rivers, and hiking or biking on the 23-mile Sacagawea Trail. There are also more than 200 wineries within a 50-mile radius, offering beautiful views and many wines to sample.

SEE ALSO: Millionaires in America: All 50 States Ranked

Morgantown, W.V.

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City population: 30,099

Share of population 65+: 9.4%

Cost of living for retirees: 7.2% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: n/a

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

West Virginia University offers a number of benefits to older Morgantown residents. If you're age 65 and up, you can take WVU courses, for credit or not, at a discount. Or if you're 50 or older, you can join the local chapter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. A $30 annual membership gets you access to interest groups, trips, social gatherings and program classes, including local and international history, music, computers and yoga.

The University also helps boost local health care services with its many medical facilities, including the Eye Institute, Heart Institute and Ruby Memorial Hospital. The Milken Institute actually credits the area's abundance medical services--including orthopedic surgeons, primary-care clinicians and home-health-care professionals--for contributing to Morgantown's high ranking (18th) among small metro areas.

SEE ALSO: Great Places to Retire Early Near the Mountains

Green Bay, Wis.

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City population: 104,796

Share of population 65+: 12.3%

Cost of living for retirees: 10.2% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $35,380

Community score: 66.2

State's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

The University of Wisconsin brings all the benefits of retiring in a college town to the industrial city of Green Bay. That includes a thriving cultural and arts scene, quality medical care, a walkable downtown with an array of dining and shopping options and of course sports.

And while the state's tax situation leaves something to be desired, low living costs are attractive. Green Bay is particularly affordable, with below-average costs for retirees across all spending categories. Housing expenses are notably low, with costs for retirees falling 20% below the national average. Indeed, the median home value in Green Bay is just $146,500, compared with $229,000 for the U.S., according to Zillow.

See Also: 15 Things Retirees Should Buy at Costco

Cheyenne, Wyo.

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City population: 62,986

Share of population 65+: 15.3%

Cost of living for retirees: 8.7% below the national average

Average income for population 65+: $44,323

Community score: n/a

State's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax Friendly

Loner types should love the Cowboy State. It has a population of 583,200--that's just about six people per square mile. (By comparison, the country's smallest state in size, Rhode Island, hosts more than a million people--about 871 people per square mile.) But while Cheyenne is hardly a bustling metropolis by headcount, the population density is much higher at about 2,200 people per square mile.

Upside of the relative crowds of the capital city: no lack of activities. Train aficionados can enjoy the area's railroad history and displays of locomotives, including the world's largest steam engine (also retired). Another big local attraction: Every summer since 1897, Cheyenne hosts the world's largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration, Frontier Days, now a 10-day event. You also have plenty of outdoor diversions, such as miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding; fishing and boating; and birding and other wildlife viewing.

See Also: 37 States That Don't Tax Social Security Benefits

How We Picked the 50 Best Places to Retire

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To pinpoint one great retirement destination in each state, we weighed a number of factors:

See Also: Where to Retire: All 50 States Ranked for Retirement

  • Cost of living for retirees for major metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, with data provided by the Council for Community and Economic Research, includes overall costs, housing, food and groceries, transportation, utilities, health care and miscellaneous expenses.

  • Household incomes, poverty rates and number of health care facilities are from the U.S. Census Bureau.

  • Community well-being and physical well-being scores are provided by digital health company Sharecare, in collaboration with Gallup. These are two of the five elements of well-being that make up the overall Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. (The other three elements are purpose, social and financial well-being.) The index is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100 and based on more than 2.5 million nationally representative surveys. Community well-being is defined as "liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community." Physical well-being is "having good health and enough energy to get things done daily." We display the community score for each place we chose.

  • Population data, including the percentage of the population that is age 65 and older, is also provided by the Census Bureau. The figures are highlighted in these rankings for the benefit of readers, but were not factors in our methodology for ranking the best places to retire.

  • Taxes on retirees, based on Kiplinger's Retiree Tax Map, which divides states into five categories: Most Tax Friendly, Tax Friendly, Mixed, Not Tax Friendly and Least Tax Friendly. This information is provided for the benefit of readers but was not factored into our selections within each state.

SEE ALSO: 50 Great Places for Early Retirement in the U.S.

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Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors