10 Affordable Places to Retire

Boost your retirement prospects by picking a low-cost locale.


[See The Class Goes Gray.]

Sports fans will be drawn to the Division I sports at the University of Notre Dame. Admirers of the Fighting Irish have a block party in downtown South Bend, Ind., every Friday evening before a home football game. Ray McFadden, 88, a retired Dow Chemical Co. manager and his wife, Marion, 85, recently moved from Arizona to Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame, a retirement community affiliated with the university. "We are within walking distance of three colleges: Notre Dame, Holy Cross College, and St. Mary's," he says. "The activity level here is almost more than one person can handle at a time." Affordable housing is just an extra perk. The median South Bend home price, $81,396, will give you plenty left over to spend on hot dogs.

Yet, many baby boomers will not be able to give up working entirely. "People are living longer in retirement, and you may need to live in a location where you might be able to pick up some employment, should you need it," says Schiller. But work can be difficult to find, unless you live in San Antonio—one of just three large areas in the United States that saw significant gains in employment in the past year. And with a median home price of just $142,310 and no state income tax in Texas, your nest egg will stretch even farther.

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Affordable transportation should also be an important consideration, especially if you can't or don't want to drive. Downsizing from two cars to one or even going automobile free can boost your budget if there are other ways to get around town. Senior citizens age 65 and over in Pittsburgh can ride Port Authority buses and trains for free at all times if they have a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Senior Citizen Identification card or a Medicare card. And Montgomery, Ala., seniors who need to can take a cab to medical appointments or the nearest pharmacy for just $3 each way, and the Montgomery Area Council on Aging funds the remaining fare. But while housing, taxes, and transportation costs are important, a variety of other factors should be weighed before you move. Consider the quality of healthcare available, proximity to grandchildren, access to an airport if you plan to travel, and even the weather, before you move.

Many of the most exciting activities, of course, cost barely anything at all. Be on the lookout for low-cost and free things to do, like learning about comets, quasars, black holes at the Goddard Planetarium or hiking through the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Roswell, N.M. And don't forget to ask for a senior discount. One of 67-year-old Jan Clarkowski's favorite things to do in Eau Claire, Wis., is go out for a simple drive with her husband, Richard. He drives his antique Harley, and she rides in the sidecar.

Here are 10 great affordable places to retire.

  • Binghamton, N.Y.
  • Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Cocoa, Fla.
  • Eau Claire, Wis.
  • Montgomery, Ala.
  • Omaha
  • Pittsburgh
  • Roswell, N.M.
  • San Antonio
  • South Bend, Ind.