In today’s financial uncertainty, retirement no longer necessarily means totally leaving the workforce and living on pensions, Social Security and any other accumulated nest egg. It can also mean transitioning to part-time work. Here, in no particular order, is our list of the top 25 U.S. cities for a working retirement. We looked at job growth potential and current unemployment rates as well as cost of living issues, tax environment, violent crime rates, climate and-—since you want to stay healthy enough to work—-physicians per capita.
Another place with cold winters, Fort Collins has a terrific economic growth record and 6.2% unemployment. The presence of Colorado State surely helps. Cost of living matches the national average and homes are slightly more (median: $218,000).
One of the least populated areas on the list, Cheyenne has a 6.5% unemployment rate, rosy job growth and below-average cost of living and housing prices. Crime rate is low and physicians are numerous. Winters, though, are brisk.
Great Falls, Montana
A smaller market, Great Falls enjoys a 5.6% unemployment rate and a sterling job and economic growth record. Cost of living and home prices are at the U.S. average. But Montana’s tax climate is outstanding. Great Falls is another time with many doctors and little crime.
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Forty miles from Mexico but a world apart, Las Cruces has a 6.3% unemployment rate and top job and economic growth marks. Average home price: just $116,000. Another college town (New Mexico State), the city benefits from the state’s favorable tax climate. However, doctors per capita are a little light.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Utah’s largest city ranks No. 6 on the Milken Institute job and economic growth index. A 5.6% unemployment rate, a cost of living 5% below the national average, and a favorable state tax climate provide added heft. At $182,000, homes are above the $164,000 median nationwide.
The home town of Brigham Young University sports a 5.4% unemployment rate, and a top job/economic growth rating while enjoying Utah’s favorable tax climate. Cost of living is average, but homes, averaging $210,000, cost more than most other places.
With a state government employment base augmented by tech, the Texas capital ranks extremely high on the Milken index and sports a 6.66% unemployment rate. Other pluses include a cost of living 7% below the national average, a low crime rate and no state income tax (although other levies like property and sales taxes are high). At $195,000, homes prices are above the national average but not outrageous.
Bismarck, North Dakota
Okay, the winters are cold. But it’s tough to argue with Bismarck’s 2.8% unemployment rate and rosy job-growth prospects. Cost of living is 9% below the U.S. average, although home, at $167,000, are a tad above. Doctors per capita are a surprising 50% about the national norm.
Rapid City, South Dakota
With unemployment down to 4.1% and a high job-growth track record, this Black Hills gateway city to Mount Rushmore is appealing. Home prices average $152,000. South Dakota also has a good tax climate.
At $211,000, average home prices are above the national average. But low unemployment (5.4%) and solid economic growth makes this college town (Oregon State) a winner. Added pluses: a lot of doctors and a low violent crime rate. And there’s no state sales tax.
One of many college towns on this list, the home of the University of Georgia enjoys a high ranking on the Milken Institute’s Job and Economic Growth Index, and a 6.9% unemployment rate, well below the U.S. average of 8.5%. On top of Georgia’s favorable tax climate and weather, home price average just $130,000, below the U.S. average of $164,000. Cost of living mirrors the national average.
The scenic Smokey Mountains adorn a pretty economic scene. Elements include a 6.6% unemployment rate, cost of living a tenth below the national norm, and median homes for $144,000. There are a lot of doctors, too. One downside: the highest crime rate on this list.
The presidential candidates are gone. But a 3.8% unemployment rate and top job growth numbers remain. Cost of living is at the national average. Thanks to the University of Iowa medical school, there are six times as many physicians per capita as the national average.
This northern Alabama town has it all: good economic prospects, unemployment nearly two percentage points below the country and below average cost of living. An extra plus is the state’s favorable tax climate.
The glow of Mizzou—-the University of Missouri—-extends to its community, with a 5.0% unemployment rate and a good track record of job and economic growth. The average house sells for just $150,000. The physicians per capita rate is more than three times higher than the national average.
In the northeastern corner of Arkansas, Jonesboro offers a heady mix of good economic characteristics, including a 6.4% unemployment rate, and dirt-cheap living. Cost of living is 13% below the national average, and a median home sells for under $100,000.
Thanks partly to tech, this rust-belt city is getting a second wind. Unemployment rate is 6.6%, and job growth is solid. Cost of living is 6% below the national average, with homes averaging $121,000. The physicians-per-capita is among the nation’s highest. Caution: the winters are cold.
State College, Pennsylvania
With Penn State driving its economy, this central Pennsylvania city has a 4.9% unemployment rate and a high ranking for job growth. At $210,000 median home prices are above the national average.
College Station, Texas
Another college town as its name suggests, the central Texas home of Texas A&M get high marks for job and economic growth, as reflected by its 5.8% unemployment rate. Other advantages include reasonable living costs, adequate doctors and a warm climate.
San Angelo, Texas
With a diversified job base, this West Texas city has a 5.7% unemployment rate—-one-third less than the national average. The cost of living is way under the national average and median home prices barely top $100,000.
Smack dab in the middle of Illinois, Bloomington enjoys a solid economy as the headquarters city of State Farm. Unemployment is 6.8% and the job growth trend is good. Average home price is just $162,000. Cost of living sits at the national average.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
With its unemployment rate at only 5.5% and high Milken Institute economic growth stats, things are OK in OC. A typical home goes for $143,000, and living costs are cheap. The state has a top-rated tax climate, too.
Nestled in the scenic Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg sports a 5.3% unemployment rate and a high Milken Institute job and economy rating. Two local colleges help. At $215,000, home prices are above average but the cost of living is not. Doctor availability is adequate, and the crime rate is among the lowest on this list.
Horse country and University of Kentucky basketball combine in a good way for this central Kentucky city. Cost of living is 11% below the national average, while homes average $144,000. Kentucky also has a favorable tax climate. Lexington has a lot of doctors.
By morphing from oil into a services-based economy, Shreveport has enjoyed high economic growth prospects and a 6% unemployment rate. Cost of living trails the nation by 4%. A local medical school helps ensure a high ratio of physicians per capita.
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