1. Eureka, CA
Cost of Living: 3.6% lower than national average
Median Home Cost: $200,000
Top State Income Tax: 13.3%
Retiring along the California coast can be a pricey move, but Eureka remains one of the state’s anomalies: a small, affordable, waterfront town in Northern California. This port town of just over 27,000 residents is set along Humboldt Bay and boasts a quiet charm, complete with well-preserved Victorian, Colonial Revival and Greek Revival architecture.
The town’s Victorian homes are plentiful; Eureka could be a good option for retirees hoping to move into or renovate this style home. Eureka tends to attract artists, writers and other creative types and has a very laid-back feel. The town is located in the midst of redwood forests and near the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, meaning backpacking, hiking, biking, fishing and bird-watching are all popular activities.
Cultural organizations and festivals keep the town’s residents active, including Morris Graves Museum of Art, the Redwood Coast Jazz Festival and Blues by the Bay festival. This quiet town has shops and restaurants, though not as many as some larger communities, which can feel isolating for some retirees. For those seeking a peaceful locale away from crowds and traffic, it can be ideal.
2. Walla Walla, WA
Cost of Living: 14.2% lower than national average
Median Home Cost: $161,350
Top State Income Tax: No state income tax
The so-called Napa of the North, Walla Walla has gained notoriety in recent years for its burgeoning wine industry. Retirees with a taste for a tipple can visit some of the area’s 100-plus vineyards, indulging in tastings amidst the breathtaking scenery of Washington’s Blue Mountains.
With just over 32,000 residents, the locals here are warm and friendly, unlike some of the stuffier towns in the Napa Valley. Weather can also be a factor when retirees choose to settle in Walla Walla. While many folks associate Washington with dreary and cool weather, Walla Walla actually has much drier and warmer summers than some towns, like Seattle, though winters can be colder.
Retirees can attend performances by the Walla Walla Valley Bands, Walla Walla Symphony, and the Walla Walla Choral Society. The quaint town is home to a number of locally-owned boutique shops, galleries, bookstores and restaurants. It also hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including a Shakespeare festival. Outdoors lovers can take advantage of the town’s eight parks and five golf courses, in addition to miles of hiking and bicycling trails.
3. St. George, UT
Cost of Living: 11.1% lower than national average
Median Home Cost: $184,100
Top State Income Tax: Flat 5% income tax rate
St. George has been recognized as a popular retirement enclave, and the town has been one of the fastest growing in the nation over the last few years. Tucked into the state’s southwest corner, the town’s landscape is a jaw-dropper: vistas of red rocks and jagged cliffs with a backdrop of bright, blue sky abound. The town boasts 10 public golf courses, and is located in close proximity to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and many state parks.
Athletic retirees may want to sign up for the Huntsman World Senior Games, open to those age 50 and older and held annually in St. George. Additionally, St. George hosts the annual Utah Shakespeare Festival which runs from June through October, and is home to the St. George Art Museum and the Tuacahn Amphitheatre, a venue for concerts, plays and musical performances.
A number of retirement communities have sprung up in the area, attracting many active adults. Still, Utah is one of few states that does tax Social Security benefits. Utah’s population is more than 60% Mormon, although St. George tends to be more religiously diverse than some of Utah’s other towns.
4. Coeur d’Alene, ID
Cost of Living: 6.7% less than national average
Median Home Cost: $224,900
Top State Income Tax: 7.4%
Tucked into Idaho’s panhandle, the small town of Coeur d’Alene offers big perks for retirees. The region’s beauty is marked by shimmering lakes, nearby ski resorts and 18 world-class golf courses – many of which enjoy a waterfront location. Outdoors lovers will find no shortage of activities to keep them busy, including skiing, hiking, and miles of bicycle trails.
The main attraction here is Coeur d’Alene Lake, with more than 100 miles of shoreline, and ample opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming or simply unwinding. The small town center is extremely walkable, and retirees will find shops, restaurants and even breweries, as well as a nearby casino and shopping and entertainment complex. Though the town of Coeur d’Alene is tiny, it is situated only a half hour from Spokane, Wash., where retirees can find all manner of stores and amenities.
Retirees hoping to enroll in continuing education courses can look into courses at nearby North Idaho College, which offers many classes, including foreign language, gardening and creative writing.
5. Medford, OR
Cost of Living: 2.1% lower than national average
Median Home Cost: $164,000
Top State Income Tax: 9.9%
Located in Oregon’s Rogue Valley, between the Siskiyou and Cascade Mountains, the small town of Medford tends to be hotter and drier than the rest of the state — meaning retirees have ample opportunity to enjoy the region’s outdoor activities. Medford is most often known as being neighbor to the creative hub of Ashland, a popular but pricey destination. Though it lies just 15 miles down the road, median home prices in Medford are nearly $200,000 less than in Ashland.
The town offers many creative and cultural outlets for retirees. In addition to gaining recognition as a burgeoning wine region, downtown Medford is home to a number of galleries and boutiques. The town also hosts festivals throughout the year, including the popular Art in Bloom and Medford Jazz Festival.
Medford’s scenic environs owe much to the local economy. Agriculture and timber play a large role in Medford’s economy, and the region is blanketed with sprawling orchards and trees. Outdoor lovers can also explore nearby attractions such as Oregon Caves National Monument, Crater Lake, Table Rocks and the Rogue River Valley. Anglers can drop lines in more than 150 stocked streams and 17 lakes within an 80-mile radius of town.