The Top 10 Places to Retire

Well, the 100 most favourite retirement towns for 2010 are — no surprise — mostly located in the Sun Belt states, according to TopRetirements.com. In fact, 68 of the 100 top positions were occupied by warm-climate towns. Florida dominated the list, taking 23 of the spots, followed by North Carolina (11) and South Carolina (8).
But there are 25 new towns on the list, according to John Brady, editor of the second edition of 100 Ideal Retirement Towns. Some of the 25 new cities on the list include Boulder, Colo., Eugene Ore., Santa Fe N.M., Chattanooga Tenn., Cheyenne Wyo., Portland, Maine, Smyrna Del., and Cape Coral, Fla.
According to Brady, the 100 most favourite retirement towns list is compiled by calculating the 100 towns with the most online visits of the 450 cities reviewed at Topretirements.com. The list is essentially a popularity contest; it reflects the towns that site visitors are the most interested in for retirement.
“One thing is clear,” Brady stated of the trends he’s noticed in this year’s list. “The Sun Belt is so dominant because people are interested in retiring to where it’s warm.” In addition, he stated this year’s list is dominated by college towns. People are looking for place to retire where they have access to intellectually challenging activities.
That said, the towns with the most online visits include:
1. Asheville, N.C. Asheville is a long-time favorite, stated Brady. Part of its ongoing appeal is its climate (it’s mild year round); its location (it’s in the Blue Ridge Mountains; there’s water everywhere for fishing and boating, and its downtown is walkable and dynamic); its housing stock (there’s a wide range of upscale housing opportunities for seniors). What’s not so special is that Asheville gets crowded in the summer and overdevelopment is coming.
2. Sarasota, Fla. According to Brady, Sarasota is the cultural capital of Florida. Part of its appeal is that is has one of Florida’s ideal downtowns, a downtown that includes an impressive array of cultural facilities such as the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. On the downside, there are a lot of tourists and traffic in winter, and summers are hot. Of note, the Ringling Brothers located the winter quarters of their circus in Sarasota.
3. Prescott, Ariz. An old mining town, Brady says retirees select this location for its warm climate and interesting setting. The town, which borders the Prescott National Forest, features 525 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places and Whiskey Row. On the downside, there are a lot of tourists. At an elevation of 5,400 feet, the winters are colder here than the rest of Arizona. Plus, there are watering restrictions, according to TopRetirements.com.
4. Paris, Tenn. According to Brady, retirees come to Paris, which is roughly equidistant from Nashville and Memphis, because they like living near one of the largest manmade lakes in the world. “People go there to fish and relax,” stated Brady of Paris. (By way of background, the city also claims to have the world’s largest fish fry.) Plus, Paris has a low cost of living compared with other retirement hot spots. The median income price of a home here in 2009 was well below 0,000. On the downside, huge city amenities are two hours away.
5. Austin, Texas. Austin is becoming a favourite retirement community for a variety of reasons, according to TopRetirements.com. The University of Texas and its array of cultural and other activities is perhaps the biggest draw for Austin, its cosmopolitan and high-tech, quirky soul is another reason. Plus, it has a relatively low cost of living, stated Brady. On the downside, the summers are hot and humid and the city might be too huge and fast-paced for those seeking peace and quiet.
6. Green Valley, Ariz. According to Brady, Green Valley, which is 20 miles south of Tuscon, has one of the largest active adult communities in the world. The average age, by the way, is 72. Consider: It has nine golf courses; two recreation centers with over 126,000 square feet of facilities; countless swimming pools and spas; numerous tennis courts, fitness centers, and classes; and each type of crafts and clubs. “There are so many things going on there,” he said. “There’s something for everyone.” On the downside, it’s a bit remote. In fact, it’s just 40 miles north of the border of Mexico. “… so close that there have been a few scenes with federales and desperados running through Green Valley,” reports TopRetirements.com.
7. Winston-Salem, N.C. Why Winston-Salem is the seventh most visited place on the TopRetirements.com’s Web site is a bit of a mystery to Brady. To be sure, there’s culture (Reynolda Gardens and the Reynolda Home Museum of American Art) and a downtown that features the Wachovia Center. And the cost of living is low (0,000 is the average home price). But on the downside, Brady’s Web site reports that development is proceeding very quickly, with meeter traffic. And some young professionals state there is not enough to do in the Twin Cities. Plus, crime is a concern in Winston-Salem.
8. Beaufort, S.C. Beaufort is a terrific place to love, not far from Hilton Head and Savannah, stated Brady. What’s special about this city? It’s a charming old town in the Sea Island. It’s won tons of awards, including “Best Small Southern Town,” “Small Town Arts” and “Best Fishing Town.” It has plenty of golf courses. The city has 304 acres designated as a National Historic Landmark. And the winters are mild. What’s not so special, according to TopRetirements.com: It can be over run by tourists in season Not for people in the fast lane.
9. San Diego. To Brady, San Diego has the “most perfect weather in the country.” Its scenery, climate (there’s only 10 inches of rain on average per year), and lifestyle (the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Gas Lamp District and Torrey Pines Golf Course) are second to none and appeal to active adults 55+, reports TopRetirements.com. On the downside, it’s costly and the traffic — well, it is California.
10. Ft. Myers, Fla. Now that the housing market has crashed, Ft. Myers has become a less costly place in which to retire. The median selling price at the end of 2009 was ,000, reports Brady. What else is so special about Ft. Myers? Well, there’s the beach, a charming old downtown area, the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford winter estates, world-class shopping. golf and fishing; and something for everybody. Plus, it’s the spring training home for Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. On the downside: Oppressively hot, humid summers; traffic; way too much development, now in a bust cycle; too many strip malls.
According to Brady, there are two other cities/towns that retirees might want to think about from the top 100 list. Those include Portland, Maine, which if you don’t mind winters is an up and coming retirement spot, and Smyrna Del., which is a small, former farming town of about 8,000 in north central Delaware midway between Wilmington and the oceanside community of Lewes. The latter town has plenty of active adult communities, beaches and land, and an captivating tax structure.

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