10 Best Places to Retire

Love the culture and excitement of urban life, but loathe the congestion and cost? One of these 'second cities' could be your first-choice retirement spot.

Lexington, Ky.

best retire lexington
Considering Lexington? It has great access to continuing education and affordable downtown housing. The downside: The airport is small and there are a limited number of arts venues.
  • Population: 304,300 (29% over age 50)
  • Housing costs: $162,400 to buy a home/ $900 a month to rent
  • Cost of living index: 88 (100 is average)

Retirees looking to mix city activities with country charm will find a lot to love here. Lexington's historic downtown is packed with galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. But drive just a few minutes and you're in the rolling hills of Bluegrass Country.

The city is also home to one of the country's oldest and most robust lifelong-learning programs, as well as the top-scoring University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital, which has received accolades from the American Heart Association and National Cancer Institute.

Where to live
Downtown: Over the past decade, a crop of new condos and loft conversions has transformed the center of Lexington. Indeed, developers got a little overzealous during the boom years, says realtor Casey Weesner, so prices stagnated and condos sat empty in the wake of the housing crash.

The market has picked up in the past year, he says, but there are still some downtown bargains to be had. Expect to see modern two-bedroom condos priced around $200,000.

What to do
Sports: Welcome to basketball heaven. The Wildcats, the University of Kentucky's powerhouse team, play at Rupp Arena, which also hosts shows and big music acts.
Education: Locals age 65 and older can sit in on university classes, sans tuition, whenever there are open seats. The school's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers classes for the 50-plus set.
Arts: The campus also boasts the Singletary Center for the Arts. Downtown, the Kentucky Theatre shows independent and classic films.
Outdoors: Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, is 90 minutes away. Bikers can hop on the 12-mile Legacy Trail, which leads to the equine events at Kentucky Horse Park.

Taxes
Up to $41,110 per person in retirement income is exempt. Homeowners 65 or older get a property tax break. Some family members are exempt from the inheritance tax.

  • Income tax: Top rate is 6%
  • Sales tax: 6%
  • Median property tax: $1,620

NOTE: Median home price and rent data are from June 2013 to August 2013.
SOURCES: Trulia, the Census Bureau, the Council for Community and Economic Research, MONEY research
  @Money - Last updated October 29 2013 11:26 AM ET
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