This list goes in the opposite direction –- the 10 cities that your financial adviser would least like to see you make your home in retirement. They feature high taxes, high home prices, a high cost of living and a host of other negatives that will wear away at both your retirement income and investment portfolio. To rank the cities, we scored them on the following objective criteria:
Seeing weather and traffic congestion on the list might surprise you, if you think of those as nothing more than annoyances. But both have the potential to weigh on your finances. Climates that are too hot or too cold will increase heating and air conditioning costs, and can wreak havoc on your car. Protracted summer heat can also increase water bills for anyone trying to maintain a green lawn and healthy foliage.
Likewise, spending a lot of time in bumper-to-bumper traffic can wear down an automobile a lot faster than driving a lot of highway miles, to say nothing of the fuel it wastes. As a retiree, you may not need to commute every day, but in the cities with the worst traffic, congestion can be a problem at any hour.
Reality Check: Millions "Choose" to Retire to These Cities
By default, hundreds of thousands of pending and current retirees "choose" these high-cost cities every year -- by staying in the same place as they lived when they were working. And there are plenty of reasons to stay put:
Tradition: You've lived there for decades and can't conceive of living anywhere else.
Your family is there.
Financial entanglements, such as business interests or real estate.
Emotional entrenchment: You can't bring yourself to leave your house, especially if you raised your kids there.
Inertia: You just never get around to moving anywhere else.
But if your careers brought you to one of these cities, and those careers are over, start thinking about getting out.
The Fine Print
One complication in compiling a list of cities that are hazardous to retirees' financial health is that the top contenders tend to be the biggest cities. Locations that appear on lists of best cities to retire in are typically small and fairly uniform from one end of town to the next. Although this list may identify an individual city, we're actually looking at its general metropolitan area.
Big metro areas are diverse places, well-stocked with positives and negatives. While the core city may have many negatives, quiet and comfortable suburbs can make perfect retirement locations. Keeping that in mind, we're going to look at the cities in the most general sense. And from a retirement point of view, you generally find the big-picture financial characteristics –- like high property values, taxes and cost of living –- are fairly uniform across a metropolitan area.
Can you think of other cities that should be on this list? Tell us about them in the comments section below.
House Rich: Neighborhoods With the Biggest Price Jumps
10 Cities Your Financial Adviser Is Begging You Not To Retire To
Year-over-year gain: 21.5%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $224,450
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $272,750
Residents enjoy hundreds of nearby hiking trails, as well as indoor culture at the Fine Arts Center and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.
Year-over-year gain: 22%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $318,375
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $388,500
This neighborhood, bounded by the Schuylkill River and 20th Street, and by South Street and Christian Street, was viewed as a slum in the 1970s, when Philadelphia's Redevelopment Authority took over abandoned properties.
Year-over-year gain: 24.2%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $516,450
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $641,500
Magnolia covers 4 square miles, making it the second-largest Seattle neighborhood by area. It features a lighthouse built in 1881 and is home to Seattle's largest park, at 534 acres.
Year-over-year gain: 32.1%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $210,446
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $277,898
Paradise Valley, in the heart of the Scottsdale-Phoenix area, gets an average 294 days of sunshine a year -- hence, the more than 200 golf courses.
Year-over-year gain: 32.2%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $344,750
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $455,835
The Washington Post listed Sunset Hills among "the shortest commute" category of Virginia neighborhoods, with an average commute time of just over 21 minutes. And Dulles International Airport is about six miles away.
Year-over-year gain: 44.5%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $247,735
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $357,900
This once-seedy area has become hot in recent years. It's packed with art galleries and chic retail shops, as well as new upscale bars and restaurants next to venerable family-owned cafeterias.
Year-over-year gain: 46.9%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $284,750
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $418,250
Brighton, once the center of New England's cattle trade, is in the northwest corner of Boston, on the Charles River. The Brighton Branch Library is Boston's first renovated LEED Green Building. The Brighton Police station is shown here.
Year-over-year gain: 47.5%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $223,175
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $329,100
South Loop joins a number of other once-blighted neighborhoods on this list that have been redeveloped and are now hot. The site of former rail yards, it was known for many years more for its vices (as in brothels, burlesques) than its residential virtues.
Year-over-year gain: 48.7%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $241,000
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $358,450
Also: Fairgrounds, San Jose (41.4%); La Jolla, San Diego (40%); Woodland Hills, Los Angeles (37.5%); Southwest Anaheim, Anaheim (35.2%); Berryessa, San Jose (34.4%).
Newhall, the southernmost and oldest district of Santa Clarita, was the first permanent Anglo settlement in the valley. Ranches-turned-film studios dot the area, including the Melody Ranch, which was once owned by Gene Autry. The ranch hosts the annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival.
Year-over-year gain: 48.8%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $504,250
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $750,275
This is the most affluent neighborhood in Charlotte; the median income is $79,737, according to Zillow. That compares with a median of $46,975 for Charlotte. A high point of the area is the Duke Mansion, built in 1915 by tobacco magnate James Buchanan Duke.
Year-over-year gain: 57.4%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $167,450
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $263,615
People who live here, according to classifications Zillow uses to characterize residents, are likely to be: Corporate Climbers, Multi-lingual Urbanites or in a category called "Bright Lights, Big City," which Zillow uses to describe "singles ranging in age from the early 20s to mid-40s who have moved to an urban setting."
Year-over-year gain: 97.3%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $668,250
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $1,318,301
New York City’s 92-acre planned community includes areas built on more than 3 million cubic yards of soil and rock, some of which was excavated during the construction of the World Trade Center.
Bloomberg ranked neighborhoods in U.S. cities based on the year-over-year increase in median home sale prices from January 2013 to January 2014. Percentage increases were based on Zillow calculations of median sale prices of all home types and calculated only for neighborhoods with at least 10 sales per month. Only neighborhoods with median home sale prices of at least $250,000 in January 2014 were included. Data were rounded.