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7 Great Places to Retire You Haven’t Considered

Sarah Stevenson
By Sarah StevensonJuly 25, 2013

Try some lesser-known retirement living destinations and you’ll find the same great conveniences, with a lower cost of living and lower crime rates than the usual places to retire in Arizona and Florida.

Great Places to Retire You Haven’t Considered

If you Google “best places to retire,” it seems like everyone’s got an opinion, — and often, these lists are populated with the usual suspects: Florida beach towns, dense urban centers with ample conveniences and Arizona retirement meccas.

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But what if you or your loved ones are looking for something a bit more off the beaten path, but which still offers safety, security and affordability?

A city doesn’t have to be well known as a retirement haven to be senior-friendly.

We’ve scoured recent research from Forbes.com, USA Today, and the Milken Institute and come up with a list of seven locations you might not have considered before.

1. Ames, Iowa

This college town made the Forbes.com “25 Best Places to Retire in 2013” list as well as being ranked 6th on the list of small metro retirement areas for ages 65-79 by the Milken Institute in their July 2012 report Best Cities for Successful Aging. Although Ames could offer more in the way of health care services for seniors, it boasts an educated workforce, college-town amenities like great public transit, high community engagement for seniors, and a reasonably low cost of living.

2. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge is the state capital, home of Louisiana State University, and also ranks high with both Forbes and the Milken Institute. Its low cost of living and state tax burden combined with high overall income levels makes for a thriving economic climate with fewer reverse mortgages than many other locations. Transportation and health care resources for seniors are abundant, and senior living options are relatively inexpensive.

3. College Station, Texas

Not everyone thinks of Texas as a retirement destination, but think about it: the climate is warm, housing costs are low, there’s no state income tax, and College Station itself is centrally located between Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. The median home price is an appealing $149,000, according to Forbes, and it also has a low crime rate. The population gets bigger when Texas A&M is in session, but that also means residents get all the advantages of a college town.

4. Columbia, Missouri

Home to University of Missouri, this town has fewer cultural opportunities but is a real winner in medical amenities, with a high rate of doctors, nurses, and hospital beds per capita as well as a high number of hospitals with geriatric, rehabilitation, and continuing care services. It’s got a low rate of senior poverty, too. “University-sponsored research is an incubator for innovation and new businesses, which gives seniors access to cutting-edge technology in health care and supports entrepreneurial activities,” reports the Milken Institute, which ranked Columbia Missouri 4th on its list of small metro areas for adults aged 65-79 and 5th for those 80 and above.

5. Gainesville, Florida

Ranked 5th and 6th respectively for ages 65-79 and ages 80+, Gainesville isn’t far behind Columbia. It’s got the good weather and no state income tax that other Florida retirement destinations offer, but it also boasts excellent air quality and one of the best-rated health care systems in the nation, the Shands HealthCare System, affiliated with the nearby University of Florida. There aren’t currently as many seniors living in the metro area, but with perks like a very low cost of living, that may soon change.

6. Provo-Orem, Utah

The Milken Institute ranked Provo as the number one large city for seniors aged 65-79 thanks to a long list of reasons: residents have a healthy and active lifestyle, with low obesity and diabetes rates; it has seven medical centers and a large number of continuing care communities; it has low senior poverty rates, low crime rates, and high economic growth; and it has an active college and university community that includes the famous Brigham Young University. The only downside is cost of living, which can be pricey.

7. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

This was the Milken Institute’s top pick for small metro areas, in part because of its thriving economy with high employment rates for adults 65 and older. Commute times and unemployment rates are low, investment in public transportation is high, and the service sector is large; that makes Sioux Falls a good choice for seniors looking for a second career. Health care for seniors is also a priority: inpatient expenses are low, many hospitals offer geriatric, rehabilitation, and hospice care, and the city has a strong Medicare enrollment base.

If your city or town is a great place to retire, we’d love to hear about it! Join the discussion in the comments below.

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