Best Places to Retire Young: How we picked 'em

Bert Sperling of Bestplaces.net describes the criteria he used to select the best places for those retirees whose lifestyle is active and engaged.


NEW YORK (Money) -- Young retired people are still active, with a need for travel and recreation as well as for taking a well-earned rest. They don't have to fight the crowds of commuters each day, so they can live beyond the borders of major metropolitan areas.

Still, a range of leisure activities is important. Accordingly, each town on this list of Best Places to Retire Young had to be near a sizable city or urban cluster, which can provide the young retired with resources like a major airport, great dining and shops, sports and an active music scene.

In those few cases where a metropolitan area wasn't within 100 miles, we looked for an outdoor lifestyle compelling enough to overcome the relative isolation.

We wanted places that were healthy economically, so we screened for low unemployment and long-term job growth. The cost of living is always important, so we searched for places that were near the average home price for the United States. In some cases, we were willing to include those places that are worth their higher price tag through their unique mix of resources.

Many of these places also have a significant college presence, which can add a great deal of color and dimension to even the smallest town.

Specific criteria used in making up the list of best places follow:

  • Population growth: We wanted positive growth since 1990.
  • Near major metropolitan area: within 100 miles.
  • Housing cost: below $350,000, with a few exceptions. We're showing current median housing prices (asking prices) for single-family houses.
  • Cost of living: No more than 20 percent above the national average.
  • Economic health: current unemployment rate below 4 percent and job growth greater than 10 percent for the past five years.
  • College presence: one or more major and/or highly competitive college in the vicinity.
  • Recreation and arts and culture score in the top third for nearby major metropolitan areas.

In some cases, we made exceptions for places that may not strictly fit our criteria but that offer unique benefits that may be worth the higher home cost or relative isolation.

See the Best Places to Retire Young Top of page

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.