AARP The Magazine Names Its Top 10 Places to Live on $100 a Day

Two people eating and drinking wine on the San Antonio River Walk (Alamy)
Two people eating and drinking wine on the San Antonio River Walk (Alamy)

What makes a town a good place to live? Which features are essential? Cultural institutions, proximity to natural beauty, recreation opportunities-to a rich, fulfilled existence? Do you need a sports team to be happy, or a symphony orchestra? A ballpark or a ballet? Bustling neighborhoods or bucolic parks?

Of course, cost of living enters the equation -- especially for those, like retirees, living on a fixed income. Mindful of the distinction "between living cheaply and living well," AARP The Magazine has compiled its annual list of the best places to live for Americans over 50, choosing cities that offer affordable amenities in addition to low-cost essentials.

The editors posited an income of $100 a day, or $36,500 a year, and assumed a tax rate of 25%. That left $27,375, or $2,281 per month. Next, they sought out cities with a median housing cost of $192,000, which translates to a mortgage payment of approximately $719 a month. So after paying for housing, their theoretical retirees would have $1,562 a month left over for everything else -- food, leisure, entertainment, cultural enrichment, the works.

An initial list of 200 cities was culled down to 10 by a focus on "things that make life worth living: the arts and culture, colleges, restaurants, community." Click through the gallery below to see which places made the cut.