Retirement represents a period of change. For most people, that means less income, but more time to do what they choose. One logical response to both: move to a place with lower costs and attractive lifestyle features–such as good weather, rich cultural and educational offerings, and ample opportunities to stay physically active and to engage in volunteer work.
With that in mind, Forbes presents our list of The 25 Best Places To Retire In 2016. This year’s picks are situated in 19 states across all four continental time zones. The list skews toward warm or moderate climates, in line with research by the National Association of Realtors and the U.S. Census showing baby boomers approaching retirement favor sunnier weather when they move. So four of our choices are in Florida, three in Texas and two in North Carolina. For those who like (or at least, can tolerate) especially hardy winters we include Fargo, N.D.; Pittsburgh and–a newcomer to our annual list–Traverse City, Mich.
Thanks to the aging of the Baby Boomers–that huge generation born between 1946 and 1964–there probably never has been more interest in retirement issues than now. Last year, there were 57 million Boomers age 55 or older. By 2020, when the youngest Boomers have passed the big 55, that number will swell to 71 million. Sure, saving for retirement is best approached as a lifelong affair. But 55 is the age at which many Americans start thinking seriously about when and where they’d like to retire.
To help you in those deliberations, we sifted through information on about 500 communities. Our primary objective: to identify places that provide what we think, all things considered, is the best retirement value. As in previous years, we didn’t rank our 25 picks. That means no place on this list can claim to be No. 1, but each can rightfully boast that Forbes considers it a terrific place to retire.
Some of the most significant factors in our rating are financial and economic, which is one of the reasons towns come and go from this list. Including Traverse City, an area of special beauty in the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, 14 of the 2016 entries didn’t make the 2015 list, although some have been on our earlier-year or more specialized retirement place lists. The newbies include a trio in the Pacific Northwest: Corvallis, Ore.; Meridian, Idaho; and Walla Walla, Wash.
We compare the local cost of living and home prices with national norms. We also take into account the general state tax climate for retirees. Expenses (including high taxes) is the major reason we’ve selected so few locations in pricey places like the Northeast and California.
Since two-thirds of Americans now say they expect to work for pay at least part-time in retirement, we also look for places with low unemployment and a vibrant economy. Indeed, if you’re planning on moving to a new community, doing so before you fully retire will give you more years to make new friends, benefit from a moderate cost of living and enjoy what your new hometown has to offer.