Talk about a comeback. At the turn of the 20th century Pittsburgh was an economic and cultural hub, home to Andrew Carnegie and other captains of industry. Then came deindustrialization and job losses in the 1980s. Now the city is polishing its rusty image by converting old mills and factories into office space, galleries, and lofts.
The once-dwindling population is also bouncing back; the city took the top spot in U-Haul's 2012 relocation survey, with a 9% jump in transplants. For retirees, Pittsburgh offers a true urban experience, including good public transportation, pro sports, and a host of top universities, all at a bargain price.
Where to live
The Northeast and South: Jim and Deborah Bogen moved to Pittsburgh from California in 2000, when Jim, now 78, retired from the philosophy department at Pitzer College.
During a teaching stint at the University of Pittsburgh, he fell in love with the town, its 90 eclectic neighborhoods, and the green, hilly landscape. For Deborah, the move to a more affordable city had major practical implications. "If we hadn't come here, I'd still be working," says Deborah, 63, who retired from her paralegal job at age 50 and now writes poetry and novels.
Homes in popular neighborhoods like Highland Park (where the Bogens live) or the South Side are now fetching more than $300,000 or so, double what the Bogens paid. Still, many remain a bargain by other big-city standards. Plus, the area is easy to navigate on foot, providing an extra perk: "I lost 20 pounds the first year we lived here," says Deborah.
What to do
Museums: The four Carnegie Museums span art, science, natural history, and a collective 1.3 million square feet. The Andy Warhol Museum is a local favorite (the artist grew up here).
Performance: Renovated concert halls are home to a thriving symphony, ballet, and opera.
Sports: Thanks to the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates (who recently made the playoffs for the first time since 1992!), superfans can stay busy all year.
Outdoors: There are five large city parks, including the 561-acre Frick Park, where you can try lawn bowling or tennis.
Distributions from most retirement plans, including qualifying 401(k)s and IRAs, are largely exempt. There is an inheritance tax, but there is no estate tax.