Here are 11 surprisingly affordable cities where people are flocking to retire

Last year, there were nearly 20 million Americans between the ages of 60 to 64. If you’re one of them, you’re probably starting to think about retirement.

There are plenty of ways to make sure you’re prepared for the golden years. There are tools to help you optimize your 401(k) like Blooom and calculators like Finhabits that will show you how to save hundreds of thousands of dollars for retirement, both of which can offer a big boost if you’ve fallen behind in savings. (Spoiler: Most of us have.)

But once you get your retirement income settled, the next big question is where will you spend the autumn of your years? Boca Raton? Palm Springs?

Balderdash! Most of the popular retirement spots in the U.S. are overpriced, and in my humble opinion, boring. When I retire, I want to be around active peers who enjoy the outdoors — and can actually afford a retirement home.

This generation of retirees still prefers to age in their own community. But if they were to move, they’re looking for walkable cities where they don’t need a car to get around, said AARP Senior Strategic Policy Advisor Jana Lynott.

“They want places with a little bit of life to them,” she said.

So I set out to find some unsung, affordable (and cool) cities to which new retirees are flocking, and I found some surprising towns in the process.

To formulate this list of the best places to retire on a budget, I tapped into the latest available data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as research by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Here are the factors we considered:

  • Percentage of retirees.

  • Percent change in ratio of retirees from 2012 to 2016.

  • Percentage of retirees who moved within the past year.

  • Percentage of healthy people.

  • Annual property taxes.

  • Median home values.

  • Property-tax to retirement-income ratio.

  • Annual health care costs.

  • Per capita assisted living facilities.

  • Annual cost of assisted living facilities.

  • Violent crime rate.

  • Civic associations per capita.

  • Doctors per capita.

  • Access to exercise opportunities.

  • Food-availability index.

Some quick notes on the methodology: 2016 is the latest year available from the census and for “retirees,” we looked at the population of folks who are 65 and older.

We then used a statistical technique to weight many of these factors to bring you the list of the best affordable places to retire. So… ready to find your dream retirement city?

Here Are the 11 Best Places to Retire on a Budget

You may not have heard of some of the best places to retire on a budget, so we compiled some fun facts and cool things to do for each city on the list.

I have to admit, I was surprised by some of these, since when I think of retirement I tend to think of Florida. Especially since I grew up in Sarasota, where the median age is 46 years old — nine years older than the U.S. median.

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