Asheville is a prosperous small city of just over 75,000 (400,000 in the metro) in the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina. Because of its charming environment and mild weather it has long been a desirable retirement community — from the rich and famous to ordinary people in quest of beautiful environment.
Sarasota is a town of 52,000 (the metro is much bigger) on Florida’s central west coast. Sarasota features the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and charming ambience with historical background to the 1920s.
The Cincinnati Reds hold spring training here. Bobby Jones laid out the city golf course and many buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. On the downside, Sarasota tends to have a lot of tourists and traffic in winter and summers are hot.
3. Venice, Florida
Venice attracts a community of slightly older retirees who want to live in a planned community. Many come here for the beach or the laid-back downtown. Others have a strong interest in golf or tennis.
4. Beaufort, South Carolina
Beaufort is located on Port Royal Island and the Beaufort River. This area between Charleston and Savannah is often referred to as the Sea Islands or Low Country because it has so much water and so little elevation. This diverse city has a mild climate in the winter — the average January low is 39 degrees and the average July high is 91.
(MORE: How to Retire All Over the World)
5. Fort Myers, Florida
There is a considerable range here in real estate prices. Since 2006, demand has been in a free fall and inventories have soared. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median Cape Coral/Fort Myers selling price in early 2012 had fallen to $117,600, about one-third the value of just three years earlier ($322,200).
Short sales and foreclosures are dominating and distorting the market. In late 2013, the NAR reported the median home sale price to be $165,200, and Zillow reported it as $149,000.
6. Charleston, South Carolina
“The Holy City” is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. as well as being one of its top tourist attractions. Located on the coast of South Carolina, this city of many prominent churches was founded in 1670. Historic pastel-colored homes look out over the waterfront. The city is also an important port, boasting the second largest container seaport on the east coast.
7. Austin, Texas
The University of Texas and its array of cultural and other activities is perhaps the biggest draw for Austin. Its cosmopolitan and high-tech, quirky soul is another reason.
The area is a hotbed of semiconductor and software industries. Austin, with a population of a 758,000 is large, but not so big that it is overwhelming. Retirees will find plenty to do in the robust cultural scene of the live music capital of the world.
8. Prescott, Arizona
Dubbed “Everybody’s Hometown,” this old mining town and now popular active adult retirement community borders the Prescott National Forest to the south and west. Prescott and the nearby towns of Chino Valley and Prescott Valley form what is known locally as the Tri-City area.
9. Naples, Florida
Naples represents the gold coast of southwest Florida. People who say they don’t like Florida might not have seen this upscale retirement community. Its downtown is as sophisticated as any in the world, but charming too — you can pull up to a five-star hotel’s valet parking,and then walk 50 feet to an old-fashioned bar where you can listen to Irish singers.
10. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach has every type of retirement community option — from living in the heart of the city to all types of planned communities farther out from town. It has one of the world’s longest sections of perfect beach, a tremendous variety of shopping and restaurants, a popular theater with big name acts every day of the year and 120 golf courses. South Carolina is considered a tax-friendly state for retirement.