Best Places to Retire According to Those Who Know

Do you ever read those best-places-to-retire pieces that many magazines run once a year? If so, did you ever wonder if the author is a been-there-done-that retiree, or more likely is 29 year old whose true interests are social networking and bungee jumping?

The cities picked as retirement paradises vary from year to year, in part because the magazines don’t want to run the same list year after year. That said, Austin, Tx. and Asheville, N.C. always seem to make most of the top 10 lists.

But what about asking been-there-done-that retirees the best-places question? How would that work out? Narrow it down to retired or retirement-planning federal workers and see what they think.

Well that’s exactly what the National Active and Retired Federal Employees organization did. The September issue of NARFE’s Retirement Life magazine features an article by John Brady. NARFE polled 500 active and retired members. Many of them are well-traveled. Many better educated and more affluent than non-federal neighbors who have retired. Some live in RVs and travel constantly.

The most often-cited retirement “perk” was to find a state that does not tax federal annuities. (A friend of mine, a former GSA official, retired some years ago. Although he was not a hiker or outdoors type and hailed from the midwest, he picked Washington State. Why? It did not have a state income tax and he could drive across the river to Portland to shop because Oregon did not have a sales tax.) Others have found their own sweet spots. So where are they?

The “runaway favorite,” the magazine said, is The Villages, near Ocala, Florida. NARFE said it’s the worlds largest retirement community, with lots of free golf courses.

Also high on the list of 55-plus communities were various Sun City franchises around the country. Author Brady said NARFE members picked places in New Mexico, Colorado and Florida including Air Force Village, Terra Vista, Bella Vista, Solivita, Robson Ranch, Fairfield Glade, Green Valley and Carolina Shores.

Las Cruces, N.M. made the NARFE list because of its climate and low-cost of living which includes median home prices of $160,000.

New Braunfels, Tx. was a favorite because of median home prices ($180,000), friendly people, its German heritage and proximity to San Antonio’s Riverwalk and the Alamo.

Asheville, N.C. (naturally) made the list because of its “mild summers, beautiful mountains”, also its home to UNC-Asheville.

Sarasota, Fl. was top pick in the Gulf region and honorable mentions went to Vancouver, Wash.; Chatham, Mass (the elbow of Cape Cod); Prescott, Arizona; and Georgetown, Texas near Austin.

John Chester, one of the people polled said he favored Washington, D.C., but not for our climate, traffic or house prices. He likes D.C., he said, because one can “walk to Capitol Hill, carrying tar, feathers and a rail, if a reduction in retirement benefits is ever seriously considered.”

To read the full article and find out how to get more information on best-retirement spots, click here.

Taxes/Estate Planning

Those are the topics on today’s For Your Benefit show (10 a.m EDT) here on Tax pro Bob Leins, benefits strategist John Elliott and estate expert Tom O’Rourke will talk about getting the most out of your benefits package and how to manage your 2010, 2011 taxes. You can also listen in the DC area at WFED 1500 AM.

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