Retirees who want to move when they're ready to quit their day jobs face a conundrum: They'd like to live in a slower-paced, budget-friendly small or midsize city, but they don't want to travel for an hour or two to get first-class health care.
These cities solve the problem. All have at least one hospital that has received five stars--the highest rating--from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (based on up to 57 measures, ranging from infection rates to patient satisfaction surveys). Most are located in states that exempt retirement income from state taxes (or have low tax rates) and offer homes that are affordable, whether you're looking to buy or rent. Major airports aren't far away. And although some of our cities are small, they all offer a wealth of cultural amenities and plenty of ways to stay in shape and commune with the great outdoors.
What $300,000 will buy: 3-bedroom, 2-bath single-level house with a large master suite with its own exit to the pool
Best place to exercise: Superstition Mountains
5-star hospital: Banner Heart Hospital
Arizona is known for its sunshine and golf courses, and Mesa has plenty of both. But the city has much more to attract retirees, such as its proximity to top-rated hospitals, a cost of living that's lower than the national average and a range of activities for lovers of nature, sports and the arts.
Golfers, for instance, can choose from more than 200 courses in the metro area. And the weather is favorable most of the year for many other outdoor activities. Those who prefer spectator sports won't be disappointed. During spring training, baseball fans can check out the prospects of the Chicago Cubs at Mesa's Sloan Park and the Oakland Athletics at Hohokam Stadium. Mesa's downtown is anchored by the Mesa Arts Center, with four performance theaters, a contemporary art museum and about 1,000 art classes a year.
You can drive through Mesa and quickly find yourself in Phoenix or Scottsdale without noticing you've crossed city limits. Some locals say they like the ease with which they can get to other cities' attractions, such as high-end shopping in Scottsdale to the north or college sports at Arizona State University in Tempe to the west.
Mesa also has many 55-plus communities, says real estate agent Irene Hammond. One of the nation's fastest-growing communities--for all ages--is Eastmark in southeast Mesa. One section, called Encore at Eastmark, is designed for adults age 55 and older, with the base price of single-family homes ranging from about $265,000 to $479,000. Retirees seeking to rent can find two-bedroom condos near downtown Mesa for $1,100 to $3,000 a month.
Area residents have many health care options. Mesa's Banner Heart Hospital, a 111-bed heart specialty facility, received Medicare's top five-star rating.
Kiplinger gives Arizona a mixed grade on taxes for retirees. Social Security benefits aren't taxed, but withdrawals from 401(k)s and IRAs are--although at a low rate.
Copyright 2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors