Small Towns To Retire In – When a small town has a high quality of life and a good economy, it begins to attract new residents. Smaller cities allow you to escape the crowds and traffic of larger metro areas but still retain the shops, services and health care options that make retirement life easier. According to Census Bureau data, the U.S. has between 50,000 and 100,000 residents. Here’s a look at the fastest growing small cities in These potential retirement destinations offer natural beauty, recreational options, and convenient access to the big city whenever you need it.
Georgetown is a haven for the old and the young. This college town is home to Southwestern University, the oldest institution of higher education in Texas. There is a huge retirement community for people 55 and older called Sun City Texas with over 15,000 residents. Georgetown’s population has grown 10.5% over the past year to 75,420 people in 2021. The city has a charming town square with historic buildings that is often bustling with festivals and events. Georgetown provides convenient access to the beautiful rivers and lakes of the Texas Hill Country. Plus, Austin’s live music and barbecue is just 30 miles away.
Small Towns To Retire In
Updated July 18, 2022: This story was published on an earlier date and has been updated with new information
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Don’t overlook the big benefits of retiring to a small town. On top of the peace and quiet you expect, smaller places to live can also offer tight-knit communities, active senior groups and low crime rates. Plus, many small towns come with a relatively low cost of living compared to their big-city neighbors.
To identify the best places to retire in America—one big retirement city in every state—we favored places with the best choice of health care facilities, as well as numerous recreational options, above-average median incomes among older residents, and other factors that are critical to retirees. Of those 50 great retirement cities, a dozen have populations of less than 50,000. Take a look at our 12 top picks for small-town retirement. Each is worth an extended visit to see if the local vibe and pace of life might suit your next venture.
The list is ordered by city population, from largest (46,747) to smallest (10,654). See “How We Picked the Best Places to Retire” at the end of the list for details on our data sources and methods.
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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 less expensive 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 pull in enough income to work. The city’s median income for all households is $90,977 per year and is best for residents 60 and older with an average income of $92,851 per year.
Plus, home to Wesleyan University, Middletown offers all the benefits of retiring to a college town, including numerous restaurants, shops and cultural attractions. You can take advantage of the Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning, which offers no-credit courses, lectures, and other educational opportunities at minimal cost and open to the entire community. And while the nearby city of Hartford has an alarmingly high crime rate—1,093.8 reported violent crimes per 100,000 residents, compared to the national rate of 473.2 for cities of the same size—Middletown is far safer, with only 49 violent crimes. The total is reported for the year.
Thomas Jefferson, a renaissance man, laid the foundation for a well-equipped city as his hometown. From the hollering hoes of the University of Virginia to the artists of the downtown promenade, the Charlottesville community is an unexpected blend of Southern charm and liberal edge, making it a great choice for a range of retirees. And beyond the college campus and city center, you’ll find plenty of options for outdoor recreation in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, including 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail in nearby Shenandoah National Park.
In August 2017, Robert E. Charlottesville gained national attention when a gathering of white nationalists to protest the removal of Lee’s monument turned into a violent rally, injuring dozens of protesters and killing Heather Heyer. Generally though, the city’s violent crime rate is the lowest in all of the U.S., with 175.4 reported incidents per 100,000 residents, according to the FBI. Compared to a rate of 297.8 in cities of the same size. Of all 187 metro areas included in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, Charlottesville ranks fifth for overall well-being, with above-average scores in all categories, including physical health and resident satisfaction.
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Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches, desirable climate and high prices. According to Sperling’s BestPlaces, in Hilo on the Big Island, the overall cost of living is 36.4% higher than the national average. But at least it’s more affordable than the capital, Honolulu, where living costs on Oahu are 101.1% steeper than the national average. The median home value in Hilo is $339,800, according to Zillow, still pricey, to be sure, compared to the US average of $229,000, but more reasonable than Honolulu’s $676,100 average.
And the local lifestyle is still precious. The mood of the colonial town is calm and relaxed, but its location on the east coast of the island and near the 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 ‘Imilova Astronomical Center.
New England is notoriously expensive, but Pittsfield, located in western Massachusetts, offers a small pocket of relative affordability—more reasonably priced than Boston and Cambridge, where costs of living are 48.1% and 38.1% higher than the US average, respectively. Housing is remarkably affordable: The median home value in the city is $173,200, compared to $407,400 for all of Massachusetts and $592,300 for Boston proper, according to Zillow.
Fall leaf peeping can be enough to draw you to the Berkshires. But there’s plenty for you to enjoy year-round, including excellent sites for camping, fishing, hiking and skiing. Nearby, enjoy musical performances at Tanglewood Music Center, 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 Moka, for short) in North Adams.
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If you’ve ever dreamed of retiring to the mountains, here’s your chance. Bozeman is located in southern Montana, nestled in the Gallatin Valley and surrounded by majestic ranges and national forests. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are south of Bozeman. The geography means you have to explore your way through comfortable hiking, mountain biking, skiing and backcountry retreats. Hunting and fishing are also popular local activities.
But don’t expect complete isolation. Montana State University’s Bozeman campus is home to about 17,000 students. Lively co-eds won’t be the neighbors you pictured at your mountain-view retirement destination, but you’ll enjoy the dining, culture, and entertainment options that come with a college town.
This small mountain town on the shores of Lake Champlain is a picturesque setting for tree-hugging retirees. Outdoor recreation includes miles of hiking and biking trails, nearby beaches where you can swim, kayak or paddleboard in the warmer months, and several skiing options in the area. An eco-friendly vibe permeates the town, from businesses that fuel the city’s economy, such as home goods maker Seventh Generation, to a local food movement that feeds the neighborhood.
But green isn’t easy on your wallet. Taxes and cost of living are high. While the median home value is a low of $206,000 in the Green Mountain State, compared to a U.S. average of $229,000, it rises to $326,500 in Burlington. A private room in a metro area nursing home costs an average of $11,498 per month, compared to $8,365 per month in the U.S. At least you can save money on educational pursuits. The University of Vermont covers the cost of tuition for state residents age 65 and older who want to take the class, even for credit.
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If cold winters and an equally tough tax situation don’t keep you away from the North Star State, consider retiring in Mankato, about 90 miles southwest of the Twin Cities. It is still a small city, but the development is increasing, and
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