Place to launch a second career: Lincoln, Neb.
Clague Hodgson, 65, retired early from a faculty position at the Creighton University School of Medicine and founded his own biotech company, Nature Technology Corporation, in 1998. His Lincoln-based business now employs eight people who investigate the use of DNA as a medicine. Hodgson says the city's low unemployment rate and proximity to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln make it an excellent place to launch a second career. "The University of Nebraska Technology Park really takes a lot of the weight off your shoulders," he says. "For an entrepreneur, remaining affiliated with the university is a good source of information, the library is very helpful, and occasionally we collaborate with researchers there." Nebraska's state capitol had an unemployment rate of just 3.5 percent in 2010, among the lowest in the country. According to Onboard Informatics data, the city has added more than 15,000 jobs since 2000, many of which are in fields known to hire older workers, including government, higher education, and healthcare.
Best mix of affordability and amenities: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Pittsburgh has a low cost of living coupled with a wide variety of amenities that retirees will need as they age. The median home sale price was $97,900 in 2010, which is unusual for a city with a large university and top-notch hospitals. Senior citizens age 65 and older with proper identification are entitled to ride Port Authority buses and trains for free. You'll just have to decide whether you want season tickets to the ballet, symphony, or Steelers games, assuming all three won't fit into your retirement budget.
Best place for affordable housing: Port Charlotte, Fla.
Port Charlotte home prices were battered by the housing bust, which could mean bargains for retirees new to the area. The median home sale price was a shockingly low $59,950 in 2010. And many of these homes are located along canals and waterways. "There are a tremendous number of houses on the water, and everybody's got their boats in their backyard," says retiree Chris Zwirner, 78. "All the people who live on water essentially have access to the Gulf of Mexico, and from there you can go around the world." The Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park spans 42,000 acres, including 70 miles of shoreline along the Charlotte Harbor. An added bonus: Florida has no state income tax.
Best place for single retirees: Pittsfield, Mass.
Dating is increasingly becoming a part of the retirement years. And Pittsfield is the only metro area where the majority of the 55-and-older population (52 percent) is single, according to Census Bureau data. Carol Scott, 60, an event planner who has been widowed for three years, likes to connect with new people online and has arranged five in-person dates so far this year. "I usually like to meet for a coffee or a drink," she says. "If we find we enjoy each other's company, perhaps it runs over into dinner." But even if you move to Pittsfield, we can't guarantee that dating will be easy. There are nearly twice as many single women (14,237) age 55 and older as single men (7,869). "A lot of my women friends are single," says Scott. "And while I have met some very nice people, I have not met someone I am interested in pursuing."
Best place for recreation and culture: Santa Fe, N.M.
At more than 400 years old, Santa Fe is the country's oldest state capital. The city is known for its unique culture and art galleries, including the New Mexico Museum of Art and Institute of American Indian Arts. "Santa Fe has a character that is unlike other cities," says Karen Ralston, 67, a retired director of marketing for a publisher. She moved to Santa Fe in 2006. "The cultural mix that we get here—the Anglo culture and the Indian culture and the Hispanic culture—blends very beautifully here. We really love that mix," she says. An art history minor in college, Ralston rediscovered that interest by volunteering at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and the Center for Contemporary Arts. The creations of artists worldwide are also celebrated at a variety of annual festivals and markets, such as the Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival and the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.