Let’s face it: Today’s woeful economy may keep you from retiring in the style you imagined. Nest eggs are shrinking. Housing prices have plunged by a third in some markets, robbing homeowners of their equity. Baby boomers who once dreamed of cashing out and moving to Maui are scaling back their goals, concerned about how long their savings might last.
Fear not. There are still plenty of great places to retire where you don’t have to be rich to afford a home. SecondAct’s 2011 list of top retirement towns places a special emphasis on affordability. Whether you prefer an idyllic, throw-back town on a distant seashore or a forested hamlet in the mountains, you can find houses for under $300,000. The lower price tag will mean lower property taxes, too -- a classic win-win.
We also considered attributes such as architectural charm, culture, recreation and public transportation. Climate matters. So do parks, bike trails and green sensibilities. Often, the best retirement towns also are college towns. Besides offering educational opportunities, college campuses are typically surrounded by walkable streets boasting coffeehouses, bistros, art galleries and bookstores.
Today’s retirees seem particularly drawn to that ambiance, especially in modest-sized cities, notes Warren Bland, author of Retire in Style: 60 Outstanding Places Across the USA and Canada.
”College towns are becoming more popular than they were 10 or 20 years ago,” Bland says. “They offer a wide range of amenities, typically without the air pollution, traffic congestion and high crime rates often found in larger cities. And the cost of living is much lower in smaller college cities.”
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