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retire

Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Saranac Lake, New York

Nestled Within Scenic Adirondack Park, Saranac Lake Boasts Outstanding Outdoor Recreation, a Nice Downtown and Reasonable Prices

The picturesque village of Saranac Lake (population 5,800) is about two and a half hours north of Albany in New York's Tri-Lakes region. It is tucked within scenic Adirondack Park, the largest forest preserve in the U.S., and sits along the shores of pretty Lake Flower. Upper, Middle and Lower Saranac lakes after which the village was named are nearby.

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While Saranac Lake is recognized for its natural beauty, it also stands out for its trove of historic structures, nearly 200 of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The village has a friendly reputation and has landed on "best places to live" lists.

The cost of living is 27% below the national average, and the median home price is $250,000, reflecting a 11% increase since last year. Thirty eight percent of residents are age 45 or better, and locals lean to the left politically. The crime rate is below the national average. The population has stayed steady during the last decade.

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Started as a logging settlement in the early-1800s, Saranac Lake later gained fame as a vacation spot for the nation's elite, including Al Jolson, Albert Einstein and Mark Twain. It was also known for a prominent tuberculosis sanitarium that treated patients from around the world. Today the facility is named the Trudeau Institute, and it specializes in biomedical research (cartoonist Garry Trudeau is the great grandson of the sanitarium's founder).

The surrounding landscape is a lush tableau of forests, hills, rivers and lakes. During the summer, residents and tourists enjoy hiking, canoeing, golfing and camping. In the winter, locals are out cross country skiing, snow shoeing and down hill skiing at Mt. Pisgah Ski Area.

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The downtown is well kept and touristy with shops, art galleries and eateries. Locals also enjoy a year-round professional theater and live concerts. Third Thursday Artwalk is a great way to see local artists' works, and during the last weekend of every September, more than 30 area artists open their homes and studios for the ArtWorks Studio Tours. One of the nation's largest rugby tournaments also takes place every August.

The cozy Saranac Lake Free Library has a lecture series, and North Country Community College's Center for Lifelong Learning has non-credit courses in a variety of topics.

The Village Mercantile is locally owned and carries everything needed for life in the Adirondacks. Fusion Market has a deli, and there are two farmers' markets.

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The Saranac Lake Adult Center offers a number of services, including legal aid, insurance counseling, energy assistance, housekeeping assistance and daily meals.

The county offers limited van transportation within village limits and travels to neighboring villages. Cape Air, based out of Adirondack Regional Airport, is the only commercial air carrier in and out of the village and connects to Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts.

Adirondack Medical Center is the primary medical facility and serves five counties. It is accredited by the Joint Commission and accepts Medicare patients. The village has a VA outpatient clinic, but the closest VA hospital is 100 miles away in White River Junction, Vermont.

Winters are long, and summers are short. June, July and August temperatures are in the 60s and 70s. Winter temperatures are in the single digits, teens and 20s, occasionally dipping below zero degrees. On average, the area receives 120 inches of snow and 40 inches of rain each year. Black flies are a nuisance in the summer. Autumns are simply spectacular.

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Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is New York Tax-Friendly at Retirement? No

A remote location and long, cold winters might be considered drawbacks, but beautiful scenery, abundant lake and mountain recreation, a solid medical facility, a good senior center and a low crime rate make Saranac Lake worth a look when retirement time comes.

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