With millions of Baby Boomers turning 65 each year, the massive generation is redefining retirement. Since half of boomers tell pollsters they expect to work at least part-time in retirement, the term is no longer synonymous with an end to paid employment.
One thing retirement does mean to a large majority of boomers: the freedom to choose where they want to live, without regard to the location of a full-time job or the best school district.
presents its new list of The Best Places To Retire In 2018
it, we highlight 25 places of varying size and character across the country, all of which we believe offer excellent retirement value—that is, a high quality of retirement living at an affordable price. (After all, while you may want to work part-time
in retirement, your goal ultimately is to be able to live well without a regular paycheck.)
A majority of our choices are in warm or moderate climates; that's because those retirees who move from one region to another tend to head for the sun. But we also recognize that many retirees opt for shorter distance moves or chose new regions based
on where their kids reside. So this year’s roster includes entries in 18 states in all four continental time zones. If frigid winters don't bother you, Fargo, N.D.. has made our best list for the eighth straight year. Other cold spots on this year's list
include Colorado Springs and Iowa City.
For the complete list, click here
. Our list is in alphabetical order. In effect, every entry is tied for No. 1. So Wenatchee,
Wash. is just as worthy as Asheville, N.C.. Nine of our picks were also on last year’s list. Others have been on previous best lists, or on Forbes' specialty retirement lists, including the most scenic retirement places;
best places to live without owning a car
; and the best spots for pursing your individual passions,
from the arts and learning to fine dining to land or water sports. Absolute newcomers to any Forbes
list include Boone, N.C., Sun City, Ariz. and Vancouver, Wash.
There are many reasons why towns may appear on or disappear from our list, and there are close calls. Every year we look at more cities, and so the competition intensifies. This year, we looked at data on more than 600 cities drawn from every state,
as well as the District of Columbia. Since the focus of this best list is retirement value, the most significant factors we weigh involve money. Among them: median home prices, the cost of living compared with the national average and state taxes.
These factors largely rule out expensive Northeast and West Coast cities, although the list does include Pittsburgh, Pa. and two cities in Washington State—Vancouver and Wenatchee. (Note: If you can handle sky high taxes and housing costs,
New York City and San Francisco both appear on our specialty lists of places to pursue your passions in retirement and places to retire without a car.)
Housing prices came from a variety of sources: quarterly reports of the National Association of Realtors, zillow.com, trulia.com and realtor.com. Cost of living data was drawn primarily from bestplaces.net. The latest Realtors report puts the national
median home price at $244,000. Eleven places on our list come in at less than $175,000. They are: Athens Ga., $156,000; Bella Vista, Ark., $167,000; Columbia, Mo., $159,000; Green Valley, Az., $168,000; Jacksonville, Fla., $158,000; Largo, Fla, $173,000;
Lexington, Ky., $169,000; Lincoln, Neb., $166,000; Pittsburgh, $129,000; Roanoke Va., $145,000 and Sun City, Az, $164,000.
Cost-of-living is calculated as an index. By definition, 100 is the national average. We generally look for places with indexes no higher than 110. Four of our choices boast indexes below 90, meaning living costs there are more than 10% beneath the national
average. They are Bella Vista (87), Pittsburgh (88), Roanoke (87) and San Marcos, Tex. (87). Another seven are under 95: Athens (92), Columbia (93), Jacksonville (92), Largo (93), Lexington (92), Lincoln (92), and Sun City (91).
Since a growing number of "retirees" work at least part-time, we also weigh estimates of current and future economic prosperity. These economic conditions could also affect your home price if you eventually decide to sell. The statistics we use include
local unemployment rate as collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and growth projections made by the Milken Institute.
State tax issues we look at include state income taxation of pension or Social Security income, existence of a state estate/inheritance tax and existence of a state income tax. Six places on this list sit in states without a state income tax. They are
Jacksonville, Largo, San Marcos, Vancouver, Venice, Fla.; and Wenatchee. But beware: These states often make up for this with higher sales and real estate taxes, which can fall disproportionately harder on seniors than income levies.
Our list, of course, is about not only living affordably, but living well. So we look at a raft of quality of life indicators, both positive and negative. For example, we use the rate of violent crime (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault)
for individual jurisdictions as compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to eliminate cities with over-the-top carnage. And we look for places that support healthy aging, ruling out those that are way below the national average when it comes
to physicians per capita or air quality. We also take note of the latest Milken Institute report on “Best Cities for Successful Aging.” The study ranks 352 metropolitan areas using such factors as wellness, health care, transportation and economics. While
we consider a high Milken ranking a plus, a lower score, in and or itself, doesn't exclude a place from our list. (If it did, there would be no Florida picks on our list.)
We also weigh attributes that foster an active--and hence healthier-- retirement. One is Walkscore.com ratings for walkability, that is, how easy it is to shop and get to places on foot. Top marks go to Bluffton, S.C.; Boone, Lexington, Madison, Pittsburgh
and Salt Lake City. Another attribute is bikeability, places that encourage use of bicycles through dedicated lanes and other measures. Drawing data from a number of sources, high grades go to Colorado Springs, Fargo, Lincoln and Salt Lake City. Still
another lifestyle factor we consider is a city's rank for volunteering--an activity that is playing a growing role in Boomers' search for a meaningful retirement. This is based on data compiled for the Corporation for National and Community Service.
For this list, we don’t rate our picks on intangible qualities like culture and scenic attributes. But they don't hurt. Notably, 11 cities on the list are college towns, which usually means they offer added cultural and educational opportunities.
These places are: Athens (University of Georgia), Boone (Appalachian State University), Columbia (University of Missouri), Iowa City (University of Iowa), Lexington (University of Kentucky, Transylvania University), Lincoln (University of Nebraska),
Madison (University of Wisconsin), Pittsburgh (Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Chatham University), Raleigh (North Carolina State University, Shaw University), Salt Lake City (University of Utah), and San
Marcos (Texas State University) A majority of the 25 are graced with water or mountain environments. They include Asheville, Bella Vista, Bluffton, Boone, Colorado Springs, Jacksonville, Largo, Madison, Roanoke, Salt Lake City, Vancouver, Venice
and Wenatchee. If a retirement with a view is high on your priority list, check out the Forbes list of 25 Great Scenic Places To Retire