AARP has once again released its annual list of the best places to retire on a dime. The list doesn’t hit your mailbox until September so here’s your sneak preview because Monas think ahead, move ahead, and stay ahead of retirement planning.
Dream no more. You can retire and live well on $100 a day, or just $36,500 a year. At a 25 percent tax rate, that’s $27,375 in spendable income, or about $2,281 a month.
If you spent about a third of that—$720—on a mortgage payment, you could buy a home that costs $192,000. And guess what girlfriend? You don’t have to move to a third-world country to do it.
List below are 10 cites where $192,000 buys you a practical palace in a great neighborhood surrounded by culture, fun restaurants, and plenty to do.
First things first though. Before you dive into the fun of dreaming where you’re going to retire, make sure you have your retirement ducks in a row by reading
What Women Need To Know About Retirement. This fab 77-page publication was produced just for you by the Women’s Institute for Secure Retirement.
Why? Because a man is not a financial plan. Even if you have a fabulous husband save for your future in case life takes a twist like it did in India for Judi Dench in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
2012 Top Cities to Live or Retire
- San Antonio, Texas
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Gainesville, Florida
- Omaha, Nebraska
- Grand Junction, Colorado
- Eau Claire, WI
- Las Cruces, NM
- Roanoke, VA
- Spokane, WA
- Morgantown, WV
Why Each City Ranked High to Live or Retire
San Antonio, Texas
- Vibe: Old West; urban flair
- Mingle with the natives: By sharing a bike. The city’s new bike share program lets you pedal all over town for just dollars a day.
- Sunny days per year: 227
- Best daytime lark: El Mercado (which the city claims is the biggest Mexican marketplace outside Mexico) in Old Market Square.
- Median home price: $135,000
- Local flavor: Brunch at the Mad Hatter’s Tea House and Café, with a $10 fishbowl mimosa
- Impress friends and family with: The endless selection of restaurants and patio dining on the famous River Walk
- Vibe: Midwestern cozy with a high-tech spark
- Secret affordability sauce: Millionaires with a conscience. Thanks to civic-minded
executives, private donations fund parks, arts, and sports
- Mingle with the natives: Hoist a local beer at Mr. Toad’s, in the heart of the Old Market
- Sunny days per year: 220
- Best daytime lark: Seniors pay $12.50 at the world-class Henry Doorly Zoo; don’t miss walking the rope bridge in the Rain Forest exhibit
- Median home price: $123,500
- Local flavor: Wheatfields’ baked goods rock; so does its senior menu, where a Grandmere Scramble or a Dusseldorf casserole goes for $8.50
- Impress friends and family with: The area’s numerous start-up companies, earning it the “Silicon Prairie” nickname
Grand Junction, Colorado
- Vibe: Contemporary arts meet Western charm
- Secret affordability sauce: Two-thirds of the county land is public, making recreation a bargain; a recent 20 percent drop in housing prices
- Mingle with the natives at: The Rockslide Brewery downtown
- Sunny days per year: 260
- Best daytime lark: Wander among the extensive (and quirky) outdoor sculptures
- Median home price: $159,800
- Local flavor: Local vineyards get plenty of press, but make sure you snack on the region’s impressive strawberries, sweet cherries, and peaches. (An outlying town is even named Fruita.)
- Impress friends and family with: The views of the Grand Valley
- Vibe: Green not grimy, the city’s 88 distinct neighborhoods create a European atmosphere
- Secret affordability sauce: Stable, diverse economy—since 2008, only Austin and Houston have added jobs faster
- Mingle with the natives at: Frick Park, in the city. In the summer, check out the Bowling Green (lessons are free for beginners) and in the winter, sled down the hill near Beechwood Boulevard
- Sunny days per year: 161
- Best daytime lark: PNC Park, home of the Pirates, ranked as the No. 1 baseball field in the country by ESPN. Bleacher seats from $14
- Median home price: $106,500
- Local flavor: Eggs and kielbasa for breakfast at DeLuca’s in the Strip district
- Impress your friends and family with: The view as you emerge from the Fort Pitt Tunnel.
- The New York Times once pronounced Pittsburgh “the only city with an entrance.”
- Vibe: Funky hippie meets world traveler.
- Secret affordability sauce: The country’s sixth largest college—The University of Florida—fuels an economy more durable than most Southern cities.
- Mingle with the natives at: The Swamp, aka UF’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Tim Tebow isn’t the only person to get fit running up and down the stairs here. Walk or run all you want—for free.
- Sunny days per year: 242
- Best daytime lark: At the Florida Museum of Natural History, seniors pay $9 to watch butterflies released into the Butterfly Rain Forest Exhibit
- Median home price: $125,500
- Local flavor: A Cuban sandwich ($8.95) at Emiliano’s Café, a pioneer in the pan-Latin food movement
- Impress friends and family with: The dense urban canopy, where Northern hardwoods meet Southern tropics.
Eau Claire, Wisc.
- Median home price: $121,100
- Sunny days per year: 200
- Vibe: Family-friendly values with a progressive twist
- Local flavor: Cozy up to the bonfire and munch on Cheese Curds ($7) made from the region’s famed cheddar at the Livery, a converted stable downtown.
Las Cruces, N.M.
- Median home price: $148,000
- Sunny days per year: 287
- Vibe: A sunny cocktail of Old Mexico, the Wild West and high-desert casual living
- Local flavor: Head to the patio of De La Vega’s Pecan Grill & Bar, and nibble on the stuffed green chiles ($9)
- Median home price: $168,900
- Sunny days per year: 185
- Vibe: Small college city combines Appalachian roots with a strong local economy
- Local flavor: Tip back a cold Blue Moon beer ($4.50) at Mario’s Fish Bowl. Originally a candy store, the restaurant has been serving beer in fishbowl-size glasses (yep, made right here) since 1950.
- Median home price: $151,500
- Sunny days per year: 217
- Vibe: A bustling small city, amid the magic of the Blue Ridge Mountains
- Local flavor: Grab a $1.25 hot dog at the legendary Texas Tavern, a 24-hour fixture since 1930
- Median home price: $145,000
- Sunny days per year: 176
- Vibe: Lush green beauty meets smart urban planning
- Impress friends and family with: Its stunning Riverfront Park and its historic downtown.
What’s your destination come retirement? Big city, small town, abroad?
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Category: Career & Money