How we picked the Best Places to RetireFor Money's annual selection of best places to retire, we sought out tax havens - cities that have particularly low burdens for residents. But we weren't just looking for cheap places to live. We were looking for amazing places - cities with access to quality health care, rational home prices and lots of cultural and leisure activities - that don't soak their taxpayers.
In defining tax havens, we looked beyond income levies. As it turns out, many of the states with no income tax, including Florida and New Hampshire, hit residents hard with other taxes instead. We took income tax, property tax and sales tax into account and focused on those states in which the sum of all three is relatively low.
Within those states, we looked at cities with high concentrations of people over age 60, low local property taxes and the amenities mentioned above that make for a great place to live at any age. After narrowing the field, we visited the towns, chatted up the locals and made our final selections based upon the community's vibrancy and residents' satisfaction.
Feedback on the Best Places to Retire list? E-mail the editors
Online notes and sourcesUnless otherwise indicated, all data as of 2005 from OnBoard. Projections are based on available U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Average annual state auto insurance premium are 2005 figures as reported by Insurance.com. Note: no values were available for AK, HI, MA, NJ.
Median home sale price is actual sales collected from county and municipal assessor's offices for 2005. Only includes sales within the place boundaries.
Quality of Life
Violent crime risk index is a comparative measure of the risk of a violent crime occurring. Violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery and assault. (100 = the national average. 200 = twice the national average.) Note that a risk of 100 reflects a safe area. Crime risk index is based upon a comprehensive modeling of FBI crime reporting jurisdictions for the most recent seven years available weighted toward the current year and applied to a census block level geography incorporating several highly correlated demographic variables. Risk is NOT equivalent to incidence. Trends since the last FBI UCR may not reflect accurately.
Property crime risk index is a comparative measure of the risk of a violent crime occurring. Property crime includes larceny, burglary and motor vehicle theft. (100 = the national average. 200 = twice the national average.) Note that a risk of 100 reflects a safe area. Crime risk index is based upon a comprehensive modeling of FBI crime reporting jurisdictions for the most recent seven years available weighted toward the current year and applied to a census block level geography incorporating several highly correlated demographic variables. Risk is NOT equivalent to incidence. Trends since the last FBI UCR may not reflect accurately.
Personal crime incidents are per 100,000 from 2004 FBI and State Crime Reports.
Property crime incidents are per 100,000 from 2004 FBI and State Crime Reports.
Leisure and culture
Number of arts and leisure activities (including museums, restaurants, hiking and camping spots, and golf courses) within proximity of each city is calculated by OnBoard. Data sources: InfoUSA, MRI and InSource marketing survey data, Trails.com, American Public Gardens Association, American Hiking Society, American Association of Museums, Symphony.org, Reserve America, Ticketmaster, American Zoo and Aquarium Assocation, GoSki.com.
Weather data from NOAA National Weather Center observation reporting stations.
Health statistics (BMI, heart disease, cancer, cardiac rates) are for the county from Bert Sperling's bestplaces.net. Data sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and 2003/2004 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey from the CDC.
Number of doctors' offices within the county is calculated by OnBoard from InfoUSA business counts. Number of hospitals within a proximity of each city is calculated by OnBoard. Data sources: InfoUSA, American Hospital Assocation, Association of American Medical Colleges.
Meet the neighbors
Percent of city population that is divorced from U.S. Census.
OnBoard feeds this information into its statistical modeling process. As with all content based on public, private and governmental sources, these projections and estimates can only be as accurate as the underlying source materials. Errors and omissions in these sources may result in incomplete or inaccurate projections. While we make every effort to identify such issues, neither OnBoard nor CNNMoney.com guarantees the accuracy of this information.
Map data detailsCity stats from Money, OnBoard.
Map location sourcesLocations and data for colleges, hospitals, museums, wineries, gardens, ski resorts, and zoos and aquariums are from OnBoard (www.onboardllc.com) -- which maintains a data warehouse of community, demographic, school, school performance, local businesses and amenities, and property transaction data -- and its aggregation of data from public sources and the organizations below:
American Association of Museums - names and addresses of their 3,100 member institutions. (www.aam-us.org)
American Public Gardens Association - names and addresses of their member institutions. (www.aabga.org)
American Symphony Orchestra League - names and locations of member symphonies and orchestras. (www.symphony.org)
American Zoo and Aquarium Association - names and addresses of their member institutions. (www.aza.org)
Festival Network Online - the names, locations and types of all registered festivals and events. (www.festivalnet.com)
GoSki.com - names and locations of North American ski resorts. (www.GoSki.com)
Great Schools - NCLB test scores. (www.GreatSchools.net)
Hoovers, Inc - names, address, and employee site counts for North American employers. (www.hoovers.com)]
InfoUSA - listings and counts of businesses by type including doctors offices, recreational facilities, hospitals and more (www.infoUSA.com)
Insurance.com - average auto insurance rates. (www.Insurance.com)
Note: Only four-year colleges and graduate schools are displayed.
All content based on public, private and governmental sources – and while we make every effort to identify errors or omissions in these sources, neither OnBoard nor CNNMoney.com guarantees the accuracy of this information.
Find your best place to live -- How it worksAffordable housing based on median home price.
Plentiful leisure activities based on number of: events located in the city (source: Ticketmaster), movie theaters in the city, restaurants within 15 miles (source: InfoUSA), family arts events within 30 miles (source: Ticketmaster), and festivals in the city (source: Festivals.com).
Plentiful cultural options based on number of: museums in the city, arts theaters in the city (source: InfoUSA), orchestras in the city (source: Symphony.org), events located in the city and family arts events within 30 miles (source: Ticketmaster), and festivals in the city (source: Festivals.com).
Low crime rate is based on risk of violent crime, including robbery and assault. Source: OnBoard, modeling of FBI crime reports for the most recent 7 years.
Sunny weather based on number of clear days per year.
Good health-care access based on number of teaching hospitals in the area.
Money Magazine's Best Places to Retire 2006