There's something about that "Open House" sign that acts like a magnet. Whether you're looking for a new place to live, keeping tabs on real estate in your neighborhood, or just angling for a sneak peek at someone else's private domain, the lure of an open door is strong indeed.
This week we explore homes in some of the best cities in the nation for retirement, as rated by Kiplinger.com. Using a wide range of considerations, including affordability, access to health care and tax perks, Kiplinger identified the best cities for retirees to call home. Below are just a few of the hot properties on display this weekend.
Open Houses for Nov. 19-20
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 20 Location: 246 Big Springs Drive Price: $375,000 Property details: At over 2,400 square feet, this one-story brick home isn't for empty nesters looking to downsize. But who says all retirees want smaller? And with taxes per capita at $700 below the national average, you can afford the extra space. Did we mention that older homeowners aren't required to pay property taxes in Birmingham?
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 20 Location: Not listed Price: $1,795,000 Property details: Yes, Tucson fully exempts Social Security benefits, and yes, it also has a huge inventory of affordable housing -- but we couldn't help but show off this pricey desert stunner. This over 5,000-square-foot home has breathtaking views of the desert landscape and amenities to rival anything in the big coastal cities. But if it's not your cup of tea, browse any number of other Tucson homes for sale below.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 20 Location: 115 Konnoak Village Circle Price: $98,400 Property details: See past the more popular city of Charlotte and give "The City of the Arts" a chance. Winston-Salem boasts a rich history of arts and entertainment and offers it up for a fraction of big city prices. Take this brand new three-bedroom home for under $100,000, for instance.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 20 Location: 107 Dallaire St. Price: $229,900 Property details: Without sales, income, estate and inheritance taxes, Manchester is an ideal location for retired homebuyers. While there are certainly cheaper housing markets to be found, good luck finding a community with as many attractions -- and in such close proximity to New York and Boston -- as Manchester. Pictured left is a charming 1950s-era two-bedroom with cathedral-style ceilings and brand new roofing. Click through the photos to see the rest of the home's hidden gems.
Open house: Saturday, Nov. 19 Location: 23 W. 36th Price: $225,000 Property description: With gorgeous weather, beautiful landscapes and no state income tax to speak of, Spokane should rank high on any homebuyer's list -- especially those on a fixed income. This three-bedroom home includes refinished oak floors, arched doorways, coved ceilings, two fireplaces, and attractive built-ins throughout the home. Take the full tour in the listing below.
Open House: Saturday, Nov. 19 Location: 101 Stone Bluff Court Price: $234,900 Property description: For outdoorsy home buyer, Knoxville is just little more than an hour's drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Mountains. And feel free to splurge at the gas station mini-mart -- Knoxville's living costs are among the lowest on the list. This recently built four-bedroom home puts you right in the center of the great wide open without breaking the bank.
Open house: Friday, Nov. 18 Location: 268 Abello Road S.E. Price: $81,000 Property description: Of course you were expecting a Florida entry on the list, but did you expect the less assuming city of Palm Bay? In the absence of a state income tax, the senior population has grown to more than 20 percent, according to Kiplinger. Seafarers take note: Palm Bay also has the second-busiest cruise port in the world, so setting sail to far off destinations is never out of the cards. Best of all, housing in Florida remains dirt cheap due to the lingering effects of the housing bubble. This three-bedroom home can be yours for just $81,000.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 20 Location: 2 Graybridge Lane Price: $999,000 Property description: What retirement list would be complete without some love for the Midwest? Starting in 2012, Mound City will cover 100 percent of income tax exemptions for Social Security benefits, according to Kiplinger. Combine that with a low cost of living and plenty of attractions, and you have one of the best all-around retirement cities in the nation. But that doesn't mean you can't find big-sticker real estate in this popular burg. Coming in just shy of a million, this four-bedroom looker might be more than many retirees are looking for, but once you see the interior you'll understand its inclusion.
The Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metropolitan area’s greatest strength for those without an automobile is the prevalence of dense, easily manageable communities. This makes it exceptionally easy for residents to reach amenities such as groceries, restaurants, shopping and schools. The metropolitan area’s primary city, Boston, has the third-highest walk score in the country. The area’s public transit also has a relatively high service frequency rate, making its use that much more convenient for the city’s residents.
> Transit coverage: 96 percent (second highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 6.2 (second lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 25.6 percent (69th highest)
> Walk score: 65.9 (14th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.87 percent (14th highest)
Los Angeles is the second largest city by population in the United States, and its metropolitan area is fairly spread out. Due to its extensive public transit system the area has avoided a complete automobile-based culture. The metro area’s 19 transit systems have more than 500 bus routes. As a result, 96 percent of neighborhoods are within 0.75 miles to a transit stop -- the second highest rate in the country. Better still, commuters can catch a form of public transportation from their nearest stop every 6.2 minutes.
> Transit coverage: 89 percent (eighth highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.5 (11th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 58.9 percent (2nd highest)
> Walk score: 57.6 (29th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.78 percent (17th highest)
Utah’s population is expected to grow from 2010’s approximately 3 million to 4.4 million in 2030. Salt Lake County accounts for more than one-third of the state’s population. To accommodate this growth, the Utah Transit Authority has plans to add four more lines to its light rail system, TRAX, up from its current three lines. This investment is meant to improve transportation for the suburban and exurban population to the city. In the winter, the UTA runs ski transit lines in addition to its rail and bus services.
> Transit coverage: 83.7 percent (12th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.1 (10th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 47.5 percent (10th highest)
> Walk score: 60.4 (23rd highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.79 percent (16th highest)
Denver has bus service, light rail lines and an airport shuttle service. The city is currently undergoing a multibillion dollar expansion of its transit system, called the FasTracks Expansion. This plan is meant to increase light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid-transit lines. The project, which is expected to be completed in 2019, currently faces a $2 billion shortfall.
> Transit coverage: 95.6 percent (third highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 6.9 (fifth lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 58.4 percent (third highest)
> Walk score: 54.5 (34th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.56 percent (seventh highest)
The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area’s public transportation is overseen by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. Like Los Angeles, the area relies heavily on buses, running about 100 routes. Public transit covers 95.6 percent of neighborhoods, the third greatest in the country. Public vehicles also run under seven minutes apart, the fifth smallest frequency. The metro area also has the seventh highest rate of commuters who travel to work by bicycle.
> Transit coverage: 85.3 percent (11th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.8 (15th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 33.4 percent (35th highest)
> Walk score: 73.6 (sixth highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.07 percent (ninth highest)
Seattle’s public transportation system not only includes bus and rail transit, but a monorail in the city center, as well as ferries. The city also has the sixth highest walk score in the country, due to its high number of easily accessible amenities. According to Bicycling magazine, Seattle is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country and “has a 10-year, $240-million bike master plan that seeks to triple the number of journeys made by bike and add 450 miles of bike paths.”
> Transit coverage: 97 percent (the highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 9 (18th highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 59.8 percent (the highest)
> Walk score: 63 (19th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.95 percent (12th highest)
Honolulu currently does not have an urban rail system, but its bus system helps cover 97 percent of neighborhoods — the highest rate in the country. Additionally, almost 60 percent of jobs are accessible within 90 minutes to those who live in neighborhoods covered by transit. This is also the highest rate in the country. Nevertheless, the city is planning a $5.5 billion rail project called the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. This will include 20 miles of track, connecting East Kapolei with the Honolulu International Airport and downtown Honolulu and will end at Ala Moana Center.
> Transit coverage: 89.6 percent (seventh highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 4.5 (the highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 36.6 percent (25th highest)
> Walk score: 85.3 (the highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.52 percent (32nd highest)
New York City and its surroundings rank first in the nation for total number of passenger trips and government spending per capita on public transit, according to U.S. News. It also has the highest rate of service frequency. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2010 operating budget was $13.4 billion. The average weekday ridership for the city is estimated to be over 8.4 million trips. The city also has the highest walk score on this list, thanks to the ability of city dwellers to reach just about any amenity on foot.
> Transit coverage: 83.5 percent (13th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 7.4 (eighth lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 39.9 percent (16th highest)
> Walk score: 66.3 (13th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 2.23 percent (second highest)
Portland is such a good place for people to live without a car due to both its public transit system and the ease of walking and biking around the city. The metropolitan area is served by TriMet, which in addition to other services offers a Free Rail Zone — a region that includes most of downtown Portland and where light rail and streetcar rides are always free. The city has a number of benefits for bike riders, including designated bike-only areas at traffic signals and free bike lights. It has the second highest rate of commuters who ride bikes to work in the country.
> Transit coverage: 91.7 percent (fifth highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.5 (12th highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 34.8 (30th highest)
> Walk score: 84.9 (second highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.65 percent (sixth highest)
San Francisco is held in high regard for its many successful transit systems, including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority and the Bay Area Rapid Transit district. These systems cover nearly 92 percent of neighborhoods -- the fifth highest rate in the country. San Francisco also has the second highest walk score and is excellent for bicyclists. Commuter rails within the city allow bicyclists to mount with their bicycles, and there is a bike shuttle across the Bay Bridge to help cyclists during rush hour.