Every year, AARP The Magazine offers a list of the best places to live. This year, the August/September issue offers “The Best Places to Live on $100 a Day.”
For baby boomer consumers looking for a city where they can get the most for their retirement dollars, the analysis provides helpful information.
The editors wanted to find places where retirees could live well on $100 a day, or $36,500 a year. At a 25 percent tax rate, that’s $27,375 in spendable income, or about $2,281 a month.
If retirees spent about a third of that – $720 – on mortgage payments, they could buy a home that costs $192,000. In the cities selected, $192,000 buys a nice home in a good neighborhood, plus culture, fun restaurants, and entertainment.
The magazine offers information on important features such as the vibe, best daytime lark, local flavor, and number of sunny days per year. The median home income and “special affordability sauce” are also factors.
This year’s top cities are:
- San Antonio, Texas
- Gainesville, Florida
- Grand Junction, Colorado
- Roanoke, Virginia
- Morgantown, West Virginia
Here’s why the cities were chosen.
San Antonio, Texas
- Vibe: Old West; urban flair
- Mingle with the natives: By sharing a bike. The city’s new bike share program lets you pedal all over town for just dollars a day.
- Sunny days per year: 227
- Best daytime lark: El Mercado, which the city claims is the biggest Mexican marketplace outside Mexico) in Old Market Square.
- Median home price: $135,000
- Local flavor: Brunch at the Mad Hatter’s Tea House and Café, with a $10 fishbowl mimosa
- Impress friends and family with: The selection of restaurants and patio dining on the famous River Walk
- Vibe: Midwestern cozy with a high-tech spark
- Secret affordability sauce: Thanks to civic-minded citizens, private donations fund parks, arts, and sports
- Mingle with the natives: Drink a local beer at Mr. Toad’s, in the heart of the Old Market area
- Sunny days per year: 220
- Best daytime lark: Seniors pay $12.50 at the world-class Henry Doorly Zoo; don’t miss walking the rope bridge in the Rain Forest exhibit
- Median home price: $123,500
- Local flavor: Wheatfields’ baked goods are excellent; so is its senior menu, where a Grandmere Scramble or a Dusseldorf casserole goes for $8.50
- Impress friends and family with: The area’s numerous start-up companies, earning it the “Silicon Prairie” nickname
Grand Junction, Colorado
- Vibe: Contemporary arts meet Western charm
- Secret affordability sauce: Two-thirds of the county land is public, making recreation a bargain; a recent 20 percent drop in housing prices
- Mingle with the natives at: The Rockslide Brewery downtown
- Sunny days per year: 260
- Best daytime lark: Wander among the extensive and quirky outdoor sculptures
- Median home price: $159,800
- Local flavor: Local vineyards get plenty of press, but make sure you snack on the region’s impressive strawberries, sweet cherries, and peaches. An outlying town is named Fruita
- Impress friends and family with: Views of the Grand Valley
- Vibe: Green not grimy, the city’s 88 distinct neighborhoods create a European atmosphere
- Secret affordability sauce: Stable, diverse economy – since 2008, only Austin and Houston have added jobs faster
- Mingle with the natives at: Frick Park, in the city. During the summer, check out the Bowling Green, where lessons are free for beginners, and in the winter, sled down the hill near Beechwood Boulevard
- Sunny days per year: 161
- Best daytime lark: PNC Park, home of the Pirates, ranked as the No. 1 baseball field in the country by ESPN. Bleacher seats from $14
- Median home price: $106,500
- Local flavor: Eggs and kielbasa for breakfast at DeLuca’s in the Strip district
- Impress your friends and family with: The view as you emerge from the Fort Pitt Tunnel.
- Vibe: Funky hippie meets world traveler
- Secret affordability sauce: The country’s sixth largest college – The University of
- Florida – fuels an economy more durable than most Southern cities
- Mingle with the natives at: The Swamp, also known as UF’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Sunny days per year: 242
- Best daytime lark: At the Florida Museum of Natural History, seniors pay $9 to watch butterflies released into the Butterfly Rain Forest Exhibit
- Median home price: $125,500
- Local flavor: A Cuban sandwich for $8.95 at Emiliano’s Café, a pioneer in the pan-Latin food movement
- Impress friends and family with: The dense urban canopy, where Northern hardwoods meet Southern tropics.
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
- Median home price: $121,100
- Sunny days per year: 200
- Vibe: Family-friendly values with a progressive twist
- Local flavor: Sit by a bonfire and munch on Cheese Curds, $7, made from the region’s famed cheddar at the Livery, a converted stable downtown
Las Cruces, New Mexico
- Median home price: $148,000
- Sunny days per year: 287
- Vibe: A sunny cocktail of Old Mexico, the Wild West, and high-desert casual living
- Local flavor: Go to the patio of De La Vega’s Pecan Grill & Bar, and try stuffed green chiles, $9
Morgantown, West Virginia
- Median home price: $168,900
- Sunny days per year: 185
- Vibe: Small college city combines Appalachian roots with a strong local economy
- Local flavor: Drink a cold Blue Moon beer, $4.50, at Mario’s Fish Bowl. Originally a candy store, the restaurant has been serving beer in fishbowl-size glasses since 1950.
- Median home price: $151,500
- Sunny days per year: 217
- Vibe: A bustling small city, amid the magic of the Blue Ridge Mountains
- Local flavor: Enjoy a $1.25 hot dog at the Texas Tavern, a 24-hour fixture since 1930
- Median home price: $145,000
- Sunny days per year: 176
- Vibe: Lush green beauty meets smart urban planning
- Impress friends and family with: Its stunning Riverfront Park and its historic downtown