Where to Buy a Retirement Home for Under $600 a Month

The crash has created some nice deals for folks looking for a new place to spend their golden years.

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In Pictures: 10 Major Cities Where Buying Beats Renting

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5. Boise, Idaho: With a population of 206,000, Boise, Idaho is a wonderful retirement spot for art lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Residents can explore the 25-mile Greenbelt river path in the fall and head to the nearby mountains for skiing come winter. Boise State University offers continuing education programs and plenty of sporting events. Meanwhile, the city has a full menu of museums, theater groups, and other performing arts offerings. The median home price in the Boise area was $140,000 in the second quarter of 2010, a decline of roughly 13 percent from a year earlier. Buyers who put 20 percent down—or $28,000—on a median-priced home in the Boise area will have monthly payments of around $559.

6. Corpus Christi, Texas: Along the Gulf of Mexico in the Southeastern portion of Texas lies Corpus Christi. The community of 287,000 residents is located just outside the Padre Island National Seashore, an undeveloped, 130,000-acre playground of sand dunes and beaches. Visitors are permitted to drive along its shoreline or toss a fishing line in the water in the hopes of landing a saltwater catfish. The median home price in Corpus Christi increased slightly, to $136,000, from the second quarter of 2009 to the same period of 2010. After making a down payment of 20 percent—or $27,200—buyers will have monthly payments of around $543 for a median-priced home in Corpus Christi.

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7. Tampa, Fla.: Whether it's boating on the bay, bass fishing in the Hillsborough River, or scanning for dolphin from its white-sand shorelines, the Tampa area has plenty of activities to offer retirees. Like many other markets in Florida, real estate values in Tampa have tanked in recent years, plummeting 42 percent since July 2006. The median home price in the Tampa area was $141,000 in the second quarter of 2010, a slight increase from a year earlier. Buyers who put 20 percent down—or $28,200—on a median-priced, Tampa-area home can expect to make payments for mortgage principal and interest of about $563 each month.

8. Columbia, Mo.: With 102,000 residents, Columbia, Mo., is the home of the University of Missouri. On account of Columbia's affiliation with the university, area residents can enroll in continuing education programs and cheer on the Tigers at football or basketball games. The median home price in the area was $147,000 in the second quarter of 2010, a slight increase from a year earlier. Buyers who make a down payment of 20 percent—or $29,400—on a median-priced, Columbia-area home will have monthly payments of about $587.

9. Tucson, Ariz.: With 350 days of sunshine a year, Tucson residents don't have any excuses for staying indoors. Retirees can hike through the five surrounding mountain ranges, explore a nearby cave, visit a Native American archaeological dig, or check out the Center for Creative Photography. The median home price in Tucson declined 14 percent, to $150,000, from the second quarter of 2009 to the same period of 2010. Buyers that put 20 percent—or $30,000—down on a median-priced Tucson home will pay roughly $599 a month in mortgage principal and interest payments.

10. Ft. Myers, Fla.: Located along the southwest coast of Florida, Ft. Myers is another affordable spot for retirement property in the Sunshine State. The median home price in Ft. Myers has increased 12 percent, to $94,000, from the second quarter of 2009 to the same period of 2010. After making a down payment of 20 percent— or $18,800—buyers will have monthly payments of about $375 on a median-priced home in Ft. Myers.