The top 25 retirement hot spots for active seniors

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For the second year in a row, Wilmington, Delaware, has ranked No. 1 for seniors seeking an active retirement.

While it might lack the sunny allure of the South, the city offers retirees low taxes and a high "walkability" score, according to SmartAsset's latest annual study of the best cities for an active retirement.

For the study, the financial data site examined a host of characteristics and gave the 575 largest cities in the U.S. an overall score out of 100. Those characteristics include the:

  • Number of retirement communities per 1,000 residents
  • Number of doctor's offices per 1,000 residents
  • Senior population percentage
  • Average effective tax rate based on income taxes, sales taxes and applicable rules and deductions for a retiree earning $35,000 per year
  • Number of fitness-related businesses — like recreation centers and gyms — as a percentage of all local businesses
  • Number of golf courses per 100,000 residents
  • Walk score from Walkscore.com, which is a measure of each city's walkability

SmartAsset describes Delaware as a "tax-friendly state for retirees" and gave Wilmington an average effective tax rate of roughly 9.4 percent.

The city has a walk score of 72 out of 100. That falls within a range that Walkscore.com describes as "very walkable," meaning most errands can be accomplished on foot.

Overall, Wilmington earned a perfect score of 100 from SmartAsset. It was followed by Portland, Maine, with 97.05 and Santa Barbara, California, with 96.88.

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All of the top 25 cities — which do include plenty of sunny destinations, if you prefer them — earned scores of more than 85 out of 100. They are:

  1. Wilmington, Delaware
  2. Portland, Maine
  3. Santa Barbara, California
  4. Bethesda, Maryland
  5. Missoula, Montana
  6. Rockville, Maryland
  7. Pompano Beach, Florida
  8. Erie, Pennsylvania
  9. West Palm Beach, Florida
  10. Newport Beach, California
  11. Boynton Beach, Florida
  12. Miami Beach, Florida
  13. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  14. Boca Raton, Florida
  15. Medford, Oregon
  16. Bend, Oregon
  17. Bellingham, Washington
  18. Fort Myers, Florida
  19. Delray Beach, Florida
  20. Schenectady, New York
  21. Carmichael, California
  22. Portland, Oregon
  23. Clearwater, Florida
  24. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
  25. Roanoke, Virginia

Now see the most popular retirement destinations abroad:

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5 most popular retirement destinations abroad
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5 most popular retirement destinations abroad
1. Canada
2. Japan
3. Mexico
4. Germany
5. United Kingdom
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Of course, no one should base a life-changing decision like where to retire on a single list. As we explain in "11 Critical Things to Consider When Choosing Where to Retire":

"Lists are fun reading. But when it comes to making your own decisions, things get personal. Then, it's time to evaluate what matters most to you, not to the list-makers."

If you're among the growing number of Americans preparing to retire abroad, also check out "11 Places in the World Where You Can Afford to Retire in Style."

What's most important to you in a retirement destination? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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