Where to retire in style
We get it: You're consumed with golf. Or fly-fishing. Or you dream of retiring someplace where the surf is up - but taxes aren't. Whatever your fixation, we found the best place in the country to make your retirement fantasy a reality.
by Ellen Florian Kratz, FORTUNE Magazine

(FORTUNE Magazine) - Best Place for Outdoor Addicts

Boulder

The draw: With over 300 sunny days a year, more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails, 43,000 acres of preserved open space, the Rocky Mountain National Park in its backyard, and a river popular with fly-fishers running through it, Boulder defines the great outdoors.

Resident bonus: Eldora Mountain Resort, a ski area about 21 miles outside Boulder, offers $35 lift tickets to retirees. If you're 75 or older and still hitting the slopes, you can ski all day for just $5.

Hotly anticipated new amenity: A redeveloped open-air retail district called Twenty Ninth Street, opening this fall.

Person to know: Gary Neptune, owner of Neptune Mountaineering, a Boulder outfitting store that has been a local fixture since 1973. He knows just about every hiking route in the area (plus he has serious outdoors creed: He climbed Everest in 1983).

Off-hours activity: Sipping tea. Boulder is home to herbal teamaker Celestial Seasonings, the intricately carved and painted Boulder Dushanbe Tea House (a gift from its sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan), and the annual Rocky Mountain Tea Festival, where tea lovers can steep themselves in all sorts of classes on the beverage--from reading tea leaves to distinguishing between black, oolong, and green.

Most-wanted real estate: Mountain-view homes in the Mapleton Hill historic district, within walking distance of downtown. Prices start at $1.6 million.

Typical Friday night: A stroll along the Pearl Street Mall, a four-block pedestrian-only area in downtown Boulder, followed by dinner at the Kitchen (where ingredients are sourced locally and the menu changes daily), and drinks on the rooftop bar at Bacaro, where you can watch the sun set over the Flatirons.

Bet you didn't know: Of the 103,000 people who live in Boulder, 93,000 own bicycles--and every public bus has a bike rack.

Population: 103,000

Average daily temperature: 51 degrees

Highlights: 300 days of sun, mountains in your backyard

Best Place for Golfers

Kiawah Island, S.C.

The draw: A barrier island 21 miles from Charleston, Kiawah boasts seven vastly different golf courses designed by the likes of Tom Fazio and Pete Dye, and is often host to major tournaments. Scenes from The Legend of Bagger Vance were filmed on the links-style Ocean Course, site of the infamous Ryder Cup "War by the Shore" in 1991.

Resident bonus: Any property owner on Kiawah Island may join the Governor's Club, which gets you an automatic 15% off food, beverages, and merchandise at most places on the island. Members pay $83 for a round on the Ocean Course and $24 for the four other public courses, compared with fees of $200 to $300 for nonmembers. The two private courses, River Course and Cassique, are for Kiawah Island Club members only. (Memberships are assigned to a limited number of Kiawah Island homeowners and typically change hands when properties do.)

Hotly anticipated new amenity: The 24,000-square-foot, $23 million Robert A.M. Stern--designed clubhouse now under construction near the 18th green of the Ocean Course. It should be finished in plenty of time to host the 2012 PGA Championship.

Person to know: Carol Preisinger at the Kiawah Island Club--she's ranked among the top 100 teachers by Golf Magazine.

Off-hours activity: Volunteering for the Turtle Patrol, which helps hatchlings evade predators and get to the sea safely.

Most wanted real estate: Flyway Drive, flanked by the beach and Osprey Point Golf Course. Right now the cheapest house on the market is just north of $3 million (also part of the deal: a coveted Kiawah Island Club membership).

Typical Friday night: Meeting for mint juleps in the bar at the chic Sanctuary.

Population: 1,100

Average daily temperature: 65 degrees

Highlights: 7 highly rated golf courses, ten miles of beaches

Best Place for Singles

Sarasota, Fla.

The draw: Thirty-five breathtaking miles of white-sand beaches. Its own opera, ballet, and symphony. Lots of opportunities to meet that significant other. Yes, when it comes to potentially desirable mates, Sarasota is one of the few counties that sits among the top ten in America when you screen for singles (of both sexes) ages 55 to 74 who have an income of more than $200,000, according to Robert Katz of EASI Demographics, who crunched the numbers for FORTUNE.

Resident bonus: Countless activities and clubs geared toward singles and organized around interests from wine tasting to ballroom dancing. The endless parade of black-tie events means lots of opportunities for a night on the town with your date.

Person to know: Sarasota writer and adman George Blake, author of Single Again and Married Again. He writes a local column called For Singles Only and has organized over 1,400 singles events since 1980.

Hotly anticipated new amenity: A $20 million renovation of the Sarasota Opera House, due to be completed by 2008.

Off-hours activity: Tailgating with champagne and ceviche in one of 64 spots at the Sarasota Polo Club (Sundays, December to April).

Most-wanted real estate: Longboat Key, just north of the city. Prices range from $550,000 to $12 million. Westway Drive on Lido Key also attracts the well-heeled. Adrienne Vittadini recently designed and sold two homes there, one for $8.9 million.

Typical Friday night: Dinner for two at Michael's on East, "sleek, stylish, and consistent" according to Zagat's 2006 survey of America's top restaurants.

You probably didn't know: Sarasota is a circus haven, thanks to John Ringling's decision to move his winter quarters there from Bridgeport, Conn., in 1927. Today the city has its own one-ring circus, and seven circuses spend their winter months there every year.

Population: 53,000

Average daily temperature: 73 degrees

Highlights: Big-city culture, vibrant singles scene

Best Place to Recapture Your Youth

Athens, GA.

The draw: Forget Botox and fast sports cars. The easiest way to recapture the energy and vitality of being 21 again is to surround yourself with people who actually are 21. Athens, home to the University of Georgia, has the intellectual stimulation of a college town, combined with a rockin' music scene (it's the birthplace of such bands as R.E.M., Indigo Girls, and the B-52's) that will ensure frequent visits from the younger generation.

Resident bonus: If you're 62 or older, you can take courses at the University of Georgia free. A local nonprofit called Learning in Retirement offers an array of classes--everything from personal finance to raising prize chickens--for just $35 a year. Many are taught by UGA professors.

Hotly anticipated new amenity: A vastly improved UGA golf course, just closed for a six-month renovation.

Person to know: Nash Boney, a professor emeritus of history at UGA, who is a prolific author and one-man encyclopedia of UGA trivia. His Learning in Retirement class is packed.

Typical Saturday: UGA football, of course. With an overall record of 10 and 3 and a trip to the Sugar Bowl last season, the Bulldogs home and away games attract hordes of retirees.

Most-wanted real estate: Antebellum houses in the charming Five Points neighborhood, within walking distance of the university. Prices tend to run between $300,000 and $700,000.

You probably didn't know: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (about 80 miles from Athens) is the world's busiest passenger airport, with 678 nonstop international flights leaving weekly.

Population: 103,000

Average daily temperature: 62 degrees

Highlights: Free college classes, lively music scene

Best Place to Lighten Your Tax Load

Maui

The draw: We'll start with the obvious attributes of Hawaii's second-largest island: The beaches. The palm trees. The climate. But what you might not know is that Hawaii is the most wealth-friendly place in the country for retirees, according to trade magazine Wealth Manager. Though the income tax can reach 8.25% for top earners, the seventh-highest state in the country, Hawaii doesn't tax Social Security or pension income.

Property taxes are also incredibly low because schools in Hawaii are funded by the state, not by local governments. (On Maui one $12.9 million home for sale has an annual property tax bill of $36,000; in San Diego a $10.9 million home for sale comes with a $110,000 annual tax bill.) Also, as Hawaii homeowners grow older, a bigger portion of their property tax bill becomes exempt. One caveat: the cost of living tends to be higher than on the mainland.

Hotly anticipated new amenity: Oprah. Since 2003 she has bought 451 acres in an upcountry town called Kula.

Person to know: Your neighbors. Finding the right people to get work done--a computer specialist, carpenter, lawyer, whatever--is one of the biggest challenges on Maui.

Most-wanted real estate: Anything in Wailea, in south Maui. Basic one-bedroom condos start at a steep $800,000, while a beautifully appointed oceanfront condo with a few bedrooms can run anywhere from $3 million to $7 million. Oceanfront homes start at around $8 million. If you have more guests than guest bedrooms, send overflow visitors to stay at the nearby Four Seasons, which was recently purchased by Michael Dell.

Typical Friday night: Early dinner at Spago, Ferraro's, or Nick's Fishmarket. In Maui, 9:30 is considered midnight.

Bet you didn't know: Starting in November, more than 50% of the world's humpback whales swim down from the Alaskan coast to mate and give birth on the leeward side of Maui.

Population: 140,000

Average daily temperature: 74 degrees

Highlights: Tax breaks that increase with age, great food

Find out how much your lifestyle will cost in dozens of major cities with our cost of living calculator at fortune.com.

Reporter Associates Jia Lynn Yang and Regina Castro contributed to this article. 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.