Friday, July 30, 2010

Top Retirement Hotspots

As the Baby Boomer generation begins to hit retirement age, millions will be searching for places to retire. So what's the best location to settle down? The answer to that question is just as diverse as the needs, desires and expectations of Boomers themselves.

Although certain destinations may be particularly attractive- for reasons ranging from the weather and availability of health care to tax advantages and property values - there's a wide variety of cities and towns consistently considered the top places to retire.
To find out where these places are, AARP Magazine over the years has ranked retirement destinations under a variety of criteria, from "The Best Places to Live a Simple Life," to the "Healthiest Hometowns" and "The Best Places to Reinvent Your Life". From these lists, has focused on a selection of towns and cities recognized as top places to retire, picking the best and most unique locations from AARP Magazine's overall reviews.

Loveland, Fort Collins, Colorado

Identified as the #1 "place to reinvent your life" by AARP Magazine, Loveland, Colorado, nicknamed "The Sweetheart City," is a retiree's paradise. Located 45 minutes from Denver, the small city of just under 60,000 features has a small town feel, with large areas of single-family homes enjoying the natural shade of abundant trees. The outlying neighborhoods offer spectacular views of the prairie and the front range of the Rocky Mountains, under vast Colorado skies.

The area has close proximity to the Rocky Mountain National Park, with access to skiing, hiking and fishing that led AARP Magazine to describe it as an "outdoor Eden." Colorado State University, located in Fort Collins, gives the town a lively, youthful feel, while Lake Loveland, located only a few blocks from the center of the city, offers sandy shores, a tranquil sculpture garden, museums, miles of bike paths, golf courses and a vibrant art scene. Although housing prices are above the national median, they are lower than you would find in the nearby cities of Denver or Boulder, although the cost of living in the area as a whole is expected to increase in the next decade.

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Selected by AARP Magazine as one of America's "Dream Towns" for seniors, Las Cruces is set at the foot of the Organ Mountains and enjoys a relatively mild climate and picturesque landscape. Although it is New Mexico's second most populous city, residents describe the small-town feel, relaxed pace and affordable prices.

The city has low property taxes, and New Mexico residents 65 and older may exempt up to $16,000 (if married, filing jointly) in taxes from any income source if it's under $51,000. And if you're over 100, you pay no taxes whatsoever in Las Cruces. The town features four golf courses, nearby mountains for hiking and camping and is approximately four hours from Santa Fe, another prime retirement spot. Nearby Mexico State University also offers a range of activities, from symphonies and theatrical performances to sporting events. Las Cruces also boasts an average of 330 sunny days per year.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

For people living in the area between Southern New Jersey and Washington DC, a popular weekend and retirement destination lies near the Delaware shore. A three-hour drive from both Philadelphia and Washington DC, the Rehoboth Beach area has been a magnet for retirees over the past several years and Delaware expects the 65+ population to increase by 75 percent over the next 25 years.
The beaches feature dolphins throughout the summer months, a mile-long boardwalk and more than 70 restaurants. Although living in Rehoboth is quite expensive, residents living in nearby communities are only several miles from the beach and can take advantage of Delaware's favorable tax environment: low property taxes, no sales tax on food and entertainment, social security benefits are exempt from income tax and taxpayers aged 60 and older can exclude up to $12,500 of investment and pension income, according the AARP Magazine.

Provided by Donna Antonucci
Prudential Castle Point Realty

Portland, Oregon

Another major city, Portland is attractive to retirees because of its small town, at times bohemian feel. AARP Magazine describes the lifestyle as "European charm meets environmental nirvana," which offers miles of bike lanes, world-class art museums, waterfront parks and diverse shopping in the city's Pearl District.

Residents enjoy pedestrian access to many attractions in the city and a light rail system called the "MAX" that connects the city and suburbs. The city's blocks are small in length, which adds to the European feel and helps make navigating the city on foot more manageable. For those looking for scenic views, Mount Hood is strikingly visible on clear days, and the city also features an aerial tram that descends to the South Waterfront district.

Greenville, South Carolina

For many retirees, relocation means a migration south, to warmer climates, and Greenville, South Carolina is a top destination. Described as having a "family-friendly" vibe, Greenville experiences an average of 220 sunny days per year, in a place where median home values remain below the national average.

The town features a pedestrian-friendly main street, a performing arts center that hosts events such as touring Broadway shows, and an historic west end. Greenville town also boasts the Liberty Bridge, and offers wide sidewalks and walking paths that connect various portions of the city. It was identified by AARP Magazine as one of the best places to "live the simply life," nearby are also the mountain woodlands of Jones Gap State Park, which is only 25 miles outside this pristine South Carolina town.

Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota is perhaps one of the most popular retirement destinations in the most popular US state for retirees. Located on the Gulf Coast, Sarasota has 35 miles of beaches and offers residents opportunities from golfing to boating and gourmet dining. The town also offers a range of activities, including an opera, symphony, film society and a range of art galleries.
One caveat about this destination is that because of its climate and natural surroundings, it attracts plenty of vacationers in the winter months. The area also finds median home values at $185,200, which is slightly above the national average. Regardless, AARP Magazine has identified Sarasota, a city with the nickname "Paradise," as #4 on its list of "best places to reinvent your life.”

Ann Arbor, Michigan

When considering retirement locations, moving northwards shouldn't be discounted, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, identified by AARP Magazine as the #1 in its list of "Healthiest Hometowns," is a great option. Retirees in the area maintains an active lifestyle, as the city features 150 parks, the 123-acre Nichols Arboretum and miles of shoreline along the Huron River.
The city also offers an affordable bus system, and it is estimated that 86 percent of residents get regular exercise. Ann Arbor is identified as a "healthy hometown" by AARP Magazine, in part, because of the University of Michigan Health Center, one of the largest medical centers in the world, which is a center for medical innovation. The area also boasts 580 physicians per 100,000 people, which is above the US average of 223, according to AARP.

Honolulu, Hawaii

If you're looking for a good place to retire, why not choose a location in paradise? AARP Magazine selected Honolulu as one of its top retirement destinations for "warm weather and postcard-ready scenery," an environment that encourages people to exercise more frequently, resulting in one of the highest life expectancy rates in the country.

Honolulu also offers a robust health care system, where 95 percent of residents have health insurance, and one resident AARP Magazine interviewed described aging in Hawaii in an unique way: “In island culture, people feel more natural about aging, in general. They have a lot of respect for their elders, and older people have a higher status,” she says. “They don’t see growing older as a negative.” However, it's not cheap to live in paradise, as the median home values are $569,500 in Honolulu, over three times the national average, and may not necessarily be for everyone.

Northampton, Massachusetts

A northeastern retirement destination, Northampton Massachusetts is described by AARP Magazine as a "liberal enclave with rural roots." The town is built around a college environment, but it shouldn't be overlooked as simply a destination for university students. The town is set near the picturesque Berkshire Mountains, and is in close proximity to the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mount Tom State Reservation.

Northampton also hosts the twice-yearly Paradise City Arts Festival, Smith College's art museum and boasts a vibrant music scene, with numerous groups calling the town home. Northampton is also several hours from Boston and New York City, so the lights of a metropolis are never too far away.

Provided by Donna Antonucci
Prudential Castle Point Realty

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