Heading into your golden years, but you don't want to sit around a play bridge all day? Today's retirees, mostly baby boomers, don't follow the retirement paradigm of old; nowadays they want to explore the world, whether through a rock climbing excursions or extensive travels. Boomers looking for adventure right outside their front door, should consider these four leisurely locations. Chosen by the website Find Your Spot, these small towns (between 5,500 and 17,000 people) boast four seasons with cold winters, costs of living that are between 5% below and 5% above the national average, small, local arts and culture scenes, and crime rates that are well below the national average.
Green Valley, Arizona
Average Home Price: $188,000
Average Annual Precipitation: 16 inches
Average Temps: July - 89; Jan - 30
When one considers Arizona, it's hard not to think about heat. Green Valley will change that mindset. Golfers, swimmers, and hikers enjoy 300+ sunny days a year, with average temperatures in the 80s. A lower cost of living results, in part, from a low average housing price of $188,000, but Green Valley's aesthetic value and amenities exceed expectations. Despite being geared toward relaxation, activity abounds. Stay busy close to home with billiards, shuffleboard, or horseshoes. With at least a half-dozen outstanding local golf courses, and many others nearby, Green Valley is a golfer's paradise. Tennis buffs find "Love" on one of many city courts, where they can play night or day. For the non-athlete, take advantage of the numerous and well-equipped painting, drawing and sculpture studios, concerts, and/or theater. Whatever the decision--relaxing by the pool, playing golf, or hiking up Helmet Peak--all activities are achievable with Green Valley's adaptable climate.
Boone, North Carolina
Average Home Price: $212,000
Average Annual Precipitation: 49 inches
Average Temps: July - 76; Jan - 21
Down-home music echoes through the hollers; and the southern twang of the banjo and fiddle's Bluegrass music lifts the locals' spirits downtown. But it's not just the musicians lighting up this town. Summertime temps also bring out the lightning bugs, earning Boone the reputation of "Firefly Capital of America." Boone, named after frontiersman, Daniel Boone, enjoys lush vegetation and spectacular scenery all year. Hiking and biking enthusiasts enjoy the Appalachian mountain trails from May through October. In addition, Appalachian State University presents the Appalachian Summer Festival, named one of the "top ten events in the Southeast." This and others add to the summer-long excitement. Partake in winter and summer activities all in the same day at the Hawksnest Golf and Ski Resort. Indulging in powdery slopes in the morning, then lush, verdant fairways in the afternoon encourages fun and fitness all day long. With the added bonus of having attractive housing costs, whether a condominium or large luxury estate, retirees can't afford not to live here.
Median Home Price: $295,000
Average Annual Precipitation: 10 inches
Average Temps: July - 82; Jan - 11
The Old West resonates through the streets of Salida where stagecoaches and covered wagons were once the only means of transportation. Off in the distance, the "fourteeners" jut up halfway to heaven, quietly calling to those who might brave the ever-changing weather patterns well known to Coloradoans. Every summer the town sponsors Art Walk where local artisans look forward to featuring their finest artwork, whether in the form of sculpture, jewelry, or fine art. When winter snows turn into spring runoff on the Arkansas River, enjoy the thrills and spills of whitewater rafting or kayaking. Or try the 50 Mile Run held in April, testing the fittest of the fit. According to citytowninfo.com, Salida ranks in the top 16% nationwide in the category of low property tax rates. As well, rents run just slightly above the national average. Members of the 50+ crowd that prefer hiking trails over bumper-to-bumper traffic, but still need access to the information highway, will find that Salida offers a relaxing commute, no matter where the road takes them.
Plymouth, New Hampshire
Median Home Price: $180,000
Average Annual Precipitation: 43 inches
Average Temps: July - 80; Jan - 10
Come autumn, the trees are ablaze with color. Having spent a long, warm summer on the Pemigewasset River and Lake Winnepesaukee, the boaters, kayakers, and tubers resign themselves to the onset of cooler weather and reluctantly pull their watercraft out for the season. But all is not lost. Bigger boats are at full capacity as they head out on the Atlantic Ocean to view the humpback whale as it migrates north. For those 50 and over with an adventurous side, glacial caves await, offering the brave explorer six different self-guided tours. Once on dry land, check out a variety of arts and cultural activities, from the New Hampshire Music Fest to the Karl Drerup Gallery. For a unique event, visit the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in nearby Holderness. Plymouth offers plenty in the way of continuing education as well. Plymouth State College has a variety of programs in areas such as education, business, and computer systems. Even though the cost of living is slightly above the national average, not having to pay sales tax makes a huge difference. With its natural beauty, history, and character, it's no wonder Plymouth has gained status as a community of choice for retiring professionals.