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.

Raleigh, N.C.

best retire raleigh
The pros of retiring in Raleigh: temperate weather and a strong economy for encore careers. The cons: There are fewer retirees than in other cities. Plus, some pension tax breaks will expire in 2014.
  • Population: 431,800 (25% over age 50)
  • Housing costs: $200,000 to buy a home/ $1,000 a month to rent
  • Cost of living index: 93 (100 is average)

This state capital's thriving economy and proximity to top universities have long made it a prime relocation destination. And recently more of those new faces have had a few wrinkles: From 2000 to 2010 the city's population of 55- to 64-year-olds shot up by 97%, according to the Brookings Institution.

It's not hard to see the draw: Raleigh provides a big-city feel with a low cost of living; mild, four-season weather; and, thanks to all those medical schools, world-class health care.

Where to live

Midtown/North Hills: Retirees looking for a good deal and a practical location should shop north of downtown, says local real estate agent Kim Crump. There you'll find spacious townhouses starting at around $200,000.
Downtown: Those willing to pay about twice that price may consider the new condos and lofts downtown. "It's stimulating to be around a young and diverse population," says Jim Belt, now 62, who retired from finance in 2006 and along with his wife, Donna, moved from London to downtown Raleigh.
The couple say living in the center of things made it easy to get involved. Jim founded a downtown residents group. Donna, 59, started BEST Raleigh, a group that puts art in vacant storefronts.

What to do

Food: The city has a diverse restaurant scene, with everything from Afghan cuisine to Southern barbecue.
Music: The 5,000-seat Red Hat Amphitheater hosts the big acts, while the opera and symphony perform at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
Art: A range of work is on display in galleries, public spaces, and parks. Or take in the 30 Rodin sculptures at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Education: North Carolina State University's lifelong-learning program offers affordable courses and study trips on topics including garden ecology and classical music.

Taxes

Like most of the states in this gallery, North Carolina does not tax Social Security benefits. The state has no inheritance or estate tax.

  • Income tax: 5.8% flat (starting 2014)
  • Sales tax: 6.75%
  • Median property tax: $1,800

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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