“I want a place where people are friendly.” “I’m tired of the cold winter weather.” “We need a place where we can afford to live on our retirement income.” “It’s too hot here!” These are the laments of the Baby Boomer and older Gen X person as they ponder what they will do with (hopefully) the 25 post-career years of their lives. No two retirees are the same, and so finding the best retirement locale is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. That’s why Gildshire checked in with all of the big names in life-planning. We wanted to form a list of the places that fit as many criteria as possible. Every town on this three-part best retirement cities list will not be for you. But we will be surprised if one of them isn’t.
First, a word about population numbers. The number of people in your retirement city is a real thing for most retirees. I couldn’t convince someone who loves Fertile, Iowa that Boston is their best choice. Neither could I talk someone who loves Seattle into Bridgeville, CA. So, we have separated our list into population categories. Pick the size and find the categories that matter most to you. Today, we’re talking about the best small retirement cities, set at populations under 35,000. The bigger towns will come up in future pieces.
Gildshire will help you move! Or, we would if we had a pickup…or our back wasn’t hurting…grandson’s all-important 2nd birthday…you understand.
Winchester, Virginia: Population 26,587.
Deep in the Shenandoah Valley, 75 miles west of D.C., find the place that many government employees are discovering. With a cost of living index of 108 (the national average is 100,) Winchester is appealing. The air quality this far outside of the congested Beltway is crisp and clear. There are neither estate nor inheritance taxes, and no state income tax on Social Security income.
Wenatchee, Washington: Population 33,962.
The rain shadow of the Cascade Range, on the dry side of the state, is the side to choose for the rain-phobic among us. The cost of living index is 106, and the serious crime rate is low. There is a good ratio of doctors per capita, and clean, fresh air to breathe.
Maryville, Tennessee: Population 28,765.
Eighteen miles south of Knoxville, find this little burg in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The cost of living index here is actually a tick below the national average, and the state of Tennessee does not tax Social Security or pension income. As is the case with all of our small towns, the air quality is well above average and the “Hey Joe, whaddya know” factor downtown is high, as well.
Brevard, North Carolina: Population 7,890.
Maybe you have always lived in a small town and are hesitant to move into a bigger one now. Perhaps you loathe the city in which you work and want a Mayberry kind of life. Brevard could be the answer for those who checked one of those boxes. Waterfalls and hills dot the area around the town. The climate, by comparison to the rest of North Carolina, is pleasantly moderate. The lack of Social Security income tax is a plus, as well. The cost of living index is a handleable ninety-nine.
That’s our list of best small retirement cities. Did one, or more, make you want to start packing up? If not, our medium or large cities will probably do the trick. Look for them coming up.