Best Places To Retire In 2022: Sioux Falls And Other Hot Spots

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Forbes compared more than 800 locales in America on everything from housing costs and taxes to healthcare, air quality, crime and climate change and natural hazard risk. These are the top 25 cities for retirees.

After 30 years in Orange County, Calif., Rex and Barbara Scott picked up last year and moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They’re now a three-hour plane ride from their two kids and six grandkids in California, but Rex, now 66, and Barbara, now 62, found the economics of the move compelling. By selling their two-story, 4-bedroom, 2-bath house just a few miles from the beach and Disneyland for nearly $1 million, they were able to buy a slightly larger split-level house in Sioux Falls mortgage free—at a fourth the price per square foot, Rex figures—with plenty of cash left over to help finance their retirement in a lower-cost, lower-tax locale.

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Barbara, who worked in human resources for a health care system (particularly stressful during Covid-19), now happily puts in 25-to-30 hours a week as a grocery store clerk. As for Rex, after 20 years toiling away at Home Depot, he has returned to his first love—performing in a musical group. In fact, the couple met 45 years ago in Sioux Falls, while Rex was a drummer and vocalist for a short-lived hard rock band, ROX, that was inducted last year into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Not every sixty-something is looking to return to their rock ‘n roll roots. But many baby boomers are now, as the Scotts were, sitting on huge gains in home equity that could provide a cushion in retirement—if they’re ready to move to lower-cost areas.

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That, and the current inflationary pressure on retirees’ budgets, makes Forbes’ 2022 list of the Best Places to Retire particularly timely. The latest report from the National Association of Realtors puts the country’s median home price at $375,300, up a sharp 15% from a year before. But Sioux Falls, one of our 25 picks for the second-straight year, has a median home price of just $296,000, about average for our list. In fact, only three of our picks have prices above the national median and two of our 2021 favorites—Asheville, NC, and Wenatchee, Wash.—were knocked off this year mainly for their steep home prices. That’s because this list aims to highlight places that provide a high quality of retirement living at an affordable price.

The Scotts used the Forbes list, among others, to research potential spots. They ruled out nearby Arizona. “Too hot,” Rex says. Same with Florida, plus the threat of hurricanes worried them. Undeterred by cold winters, the Scotts considered the Lake region of western Minnesota, Rex’s home state, but balked at its high state income tax. South Dakota has no state income tax.

Another consideration in today’s hot real estate market: the Scotts had a Sioux Falls real estate agent they trusted—Rex’s cousin, John Maurer of Weichert Realtors—The Agents. After the Scotts were outbid on three homes, Maurer found them a house that was about to be listed and helped them fashion an above-asking-price all cash offer good for only 12 hours. It worked.


Fargo, ND remains the only city on the list for all 12 years we’ve put it together.


Not up for cold winters? The majority of our picks are in warmer climates, though we do include choices in 18 states across all four continental time zones. Far-north Fargo, ND remains the only city on the list for all 12 years we’ve put it together.

Perhaps 11 of the places on our new list could be considered college towns, which offer convenient opportunities for lifelong learning and great cultural and dining options, particularly for their size. In the early days of the pandemic, some of these spots became near ghost towns, leading us to knock many of them off the 2020 list. But now life in these towns is back close to normal. For the third year in a row, we take climate change and natural hazard risks into account, along with such longer-standing metrics as living costs, taxes, air quality, crime and availability of doctors. You can read more about our methodology and sources below the list.


AF

Athens, Georgia

Classic college town (University of Georgia) of 130,000, 70 miles east of Atlanta.

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PROS: Median home price of $289,000 is 23% below national median. Big culture scene. Good climate and air quality. Social Security benefits plus up to $65,000 per person of other retirement income exempt from state income tax. No state estate tax.

CONS: Doctors per capita below national average. Not very walkable. Serious crime slightly above average. So-so economy.


Charlotte, North Carolina

Thriving banking and business center of 899,000 in the Piedmont Plateau center of the Carolinas.

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PROS: High number of doctors per capita. Good climate and air quality. Strong economy. No state estate tax or income tax on Social Security.

CONS: Median home price of $378,000, 1% above national median. Serious crime rate above national average. Not very walkable.


College Station, Texas

Home of Texas A&M University and a population of 124,000, 85 miles northwest of Houston.

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PROS: Median home price of $304,000, 19% below national median. Abundant doctors. Good air quality, relatively low natural hazard risk. Low crime rate. Very bikeable. No state income or estate tax. Good economy.

CON: Not very walkable


Columbia, Missouri

Multiple college town (University of Missouri, Stephens College, Columbia College) of 125,000, midway between St. Louis and Kansas City.

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PROS: Median home price of $259,000, 31% below national median. Lots of doctors Comfortable climate, good air quality, low natural hazard risk. Good economy. No state estate tax.

CONS: State income tax on Social Security. Higher than average crime rate. Not very walkable.


Fargo, North Dakota

North Dakota’s largest city, population 126,000, adjoining Minnesota on the Red River of the North.

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PROS: Median home price of $271,000, 28% below national median. Plenty of doctors. Good air quality. Very bikeable. No state estate tax. Relatively low natural hazard risk.

CONS: Cold winters. State income tax on Social Security. Serious crime slightly above national average for city.


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Greenville, South Carolina

Blue Ridge Mountains foothill city of 76,000 in South Carolina’s Upstate region, midway between Atlanta and Charlotte.

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PROS: Median home price of $281,000, 25% below national median. High number of doctors per capita. Good climate and air quality. Strong economy. No state estate tax. Social Security, plus $25,000 per person of other retirement income exempt from state income tax.

CON: Serious crime rate above national average.


Iowa City, Iowa

Famous college town (University of Iowa) of 76,000 in southeastern Iowa.

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PROS: Median home price of $260,000, 31% below national average. Lots of Physicians. Comfortable climate, good air quality. Very bikeable. Low serious crime rate. Good economy. No state income tax on Social Security.

CONS: Cold winters. State inheritance tax.


Jacksonville, Florida

With a population of 939,000, Florida’s largest city, sitting in northeastern corner on Atlantic Ocean.

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PROS: Median home price of $288,000, 23% below national median. Somewhat less prone to hurricanes than most coastal Florida cities. Plenty of doctors. Lots of parks. Good air quality No state income or estate tax.

CONS: Serious crime above national average. Not very walkable.


Knoxville, Tennessee

Vibrant college town (University of Tennessee) and navigable river city of 193,000 in scenic eastern Tennessee.

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PROS: Median home price of $308,000, 18% below national average. Abundant doctors. Comfortable climate. Good air quality. Strong economy. No state income or estate tax.

CONS: City’s serious crime rate is above national average.


Lawrence, Kansas

Classic college town (University of Kansas) of 101,000, 40 miles west of Kansas City.

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PROS: Median home price of $279,000, 26% below national median. Good ratio of physicians per capita. Good air quality and comfortable climate. Very bikeable. Good economy. No state estate tax. Relatively low risk for natural hazards.

CONS: Serious crime above national average. Social Security benefits taxed for those earning above $75,000.


Lexington, Kentucky

Self-styled “Horse Capital of the World” and college town (University of Kentucky, Transylvania University) of 325,000, in central Kentucky.

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PROS: Median home price of $273,000, 27% below national median. Excellent ratio of physicians per capita. Low serious crime rate. Social Security, plus up to $31,100 per person of retirement income, exempt from state income

CONS: So-so economy. State inheritance tax.


Lincoln, Nebraska

Double-duty state capital and college town (University of Nebraska) of 298,000, 50 miles southwest of Omaha.

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PROS: Median home price of $259,000, 31% below national median. Good air quality, comfortable climate. Very bikeable. Strong economy. No state estate tax.

CONS: State income tax on Social Security. Serious crime rate slightly above national average.


Madison, Wisconsin

Lake-festooned state capital and college…

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