Does the thought of retiring to a sleepy beach town or country hamlet bore you silly? Spending your post-work years in a city has plenty of perks, including easy access to the arts, cutting-edge health care, and a diverse set of neighbors. That said, the cons of urban living (like cost) can be daunting. There is a happy medium. We set out to find places that won’t ding your nest egg with high taxes and nosebleed prices, yet still have great attractions and plenty of your peers. Read on for five affordable small cities (populations of 150,000 to 500,000) you may one day want to call home.
Raleigh, North Carolina
- Population: 431,700
- Population 62 and over: 11.3%
- Median home price: $210,000
- Cost of living index: 92.3
Like all the states in this story, North Carolina does not tax Social Security benefits. The state has no inheritance or estate tax.
- Income tax: 5.8% flat
- Sales tax: 6.75% (combined state and local)
- Median property tax: $1,800
WHY IT STANDS OUT
This state capital’s thriving economy and proximity to top universities have long made it a prime relocation destination. And recently more of those new faces have had a few wrinkles: from 2000 to 2010 the city’s population of 55- to 64-year-olds shot up by 97%, according to the Brookings Institution. It’s not hard to see the draw: Raleigh provides a big-city feel with a low cost of living; mild, four-season weather; and, thanks to all those medical schools, world-class health care.
WHAT TO DO
- Food: The city has a diverse restaurant scene, with everything from Afghan cuisine to Southern barbecue.
- Music: The 5,000-seat Red Hat Amphitheater hosts the big acts, while the opera and symphony perform at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Art: A range of work is on display in galleries, public spaces, and parks. Or take in the 30 Rodin sculptures at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
- Education: North Carolina State University’s lifelong-learning program offers affordable courses and study trips on topics including American poetry, digital photography skills and Civil War history.