With three institutions of higher learning inside its borders, Columbia, Missouri, is a classic college town. Highly ranked hospitals offer both rehab services and geriatric care. The cost of living is a plus. Minuses include walkability and weather.
Des Moines, Iowa, has a lively downtown. Its farmers markets and food festivals are gaining a regional reputation. The city's healthcare system is one of the best in the country. For those who love the great outdoors, there are 600 miles of trails within the greater metropolitan area.
Not interested in Phoenix or Tucson, but still want to move to Arizona? The best place to retire to may be Prescott. Tucked in the Bradshaw Mountains, the city has a higher elevation and cooler summers. It also has less traffic and a slower life style. Golf courses are still nearby, but so is the Prescott National Forest and its 450 miles of trails.
Asheville, North Carolina may be on everyone's list. It has a University of North Carolina campus, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Great Smokies, good healthcare, a strong economy, an affordable cost of living, and great 4-season weather.
Portland, Oregon takes its seniors seriously. Neighborhood designs are compact and pedestrian friendly. Public transportation is cheap. Both Mount Hood and the Pacific are close. If you want to audit a class at a local college, it's free for those 62 and better.
With 283 days of sunshine, 250 art galleries, 12 museums, and a stunning outdoor opera house, Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the the best place to retire to for sun and culture. Residents are also minutes away from ski slopes and hiking in the Sangre De Cristos. Warning – the cost of living may be on the expensive side.
Boise, Idaho is also rich in culture. It supports a philharmonic, a ballet company, an opera company, an art deco art museum, and an outdoor Shakespeare festival. You'd think this might translate into added costs for residents. It doesn't. The cost of living is still quite affordable.
At the confluence of the Yakima and Columbia Rivers, Richland, Washington, is the best place to retire to for kayaking, fishing, boating, birding, and biking. Richland shares baseball, football, and ice hockey teams.
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