Best places to retire in every state

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August 23, 2020
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Best places to retire in every state

Florida’s sandy beaches and Arizona’s green golf links aren’t the only ideal places to settle down after retirement. As towns and cities across the country make themselves adaptable for aging populations, there are now more wonderful communities than ever before in every one of the 50 states to enjoy one’s golden years.

From coast to coast, each state offers dozens if not hundreds of recreational activities and historical landmarks, as well as parts of the year with enviable weather (if not all year). Some of these cities have been settling spots since the 17th and 18th centuries—home to European colonizers and Native Americans before them—while others are relatively new gated communities specifically planned out to attract retirees looking to live their best lives.

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to retire in every state using 2020 data from Niche. The rankings include towns and cities with populations of more than 5,000 residents; all have earned their appeal based on several factors including weather, crime, tax rates, housing costs, and access to amenities. Several of the entries are also in convenient proximity to major cities, beaches, lakes, and mountain ranges.

If you’re a snowbird tired of the overpopulation of Miami and surrounding areas, a majority of the communities in this slideshow are less densely saturated. From Orange Beach to Green Valley, retirees have found their niche to create a peaceful nest egg without having to elbow their way past crowds of other senior citizens. There are also a few familiar names included, albeit not necessarily cities you’d immediately associate with retirement. Indian Wells, California, home to one of America’s most well-known tennis tournaments, has become a trendy landing spot. Cody, named after “Buffalo Bill” Cody, is home to one of Wyoming’s safest cities and huge rodeo festivals.

Click through to see where you might want to have the time of your life, for the rest of your life.

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Alabama: Orange Beach

- Population: 5,927
- Median household income: $81,506
- Housing: $295,500 median home value (69% homeowners), $1,103 median rent (31% renters)

Orange Beach is located on Alabama’s Gulf Coast and has a rich Native American and fishing heritage, which is on display at the Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum. Aside from Orange Beach’s boardwalks, the Sportsplex hosts a variety of local recreational and NCAA tournaments on its baseball, softball, and soccer fields.

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Alaska: Sitka

- Population: 8,738
- Median household income: $71,534
- Housing: $349,300 median home value (58% homeowners), $1,123 median rent (42% renters)

More than 200 years ago, before Sitka became a peachy place to retire, it was a center of Russian American life. Today, Sitka is a major Alaskan port city and launching point for cruises. For those that choose to spend more time in Sitka than traveling from it, the city has picturesque views of mountains, lakes, and forests.

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Jeremy pettitt // Shutterstock

Arizona: Green Valley

- Population: 21,723
- Median household income: $49,731
- Housing: $167,800 median home value (81% homeowners), $978 median rent (19% renters)

Green Valley is surrounded by copper deposits, but this mining area is becoming a hotbed for retirees. Along with lots of sun and warm temperatures, Green Valley is home to the Titan Missile Museum, a former military site that displays the history of aerospace and nuclear weapons.

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Samuel Grant // Wikimedia Commons

Arkansas: Hot Springs Village

- Population: 14,466
- Median household income: $60,995
- Housing: $203,300 median home value (87% homeowners), $1,130 median rent (13% renters)

Calling itself the “largest gated community in the United States,” Hot Springs Village is a panorama of pristine golf courses and manicured lawns. If that isn’t enticing enough, Hot Springs Village also has an abundance of lakes, trails, and over 200 social clubs for its residents.

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Matthew Stockman // Getty Images

California: Indian Wells

- Population: 5,317
- Median household income: $104,522
- Housing: $706,800 median home value (85% homeowners), $861 median rent (15% renters)

Indian Wells might be best known for its annual tennis tournament, but the city has been a favorite of visitors before Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic made regular visits. Bob Hope and Dwight D. Eisenhower often vacationed in Indian Wells, which also has notable golf courses, resorts, and spas.

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Colorado: Redlands

- Population: 9,036
- Median household income: $72,556
- Housing: $291,600 median home value (86% homeowners), $1,228 median rent (14% renters)

Redlands is located next to the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area and Colorado National Monument. Both spaces are canvassed with trails for hiking, biking, and postcard-like views. Development is still going strong, with hundreds of acres being annexed for future development.

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Joe Mabel // Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut: Essex

- Population: 6,599
- Median household income: $87,000
- Housing: $371,300 median home value (76% homeowners), $1,031 median rent (24% renters)

Essex has geography in its favor, as it’s a short drive to New Haven, the Long Island Sound, and midway between Boston and New York. There are local attractions, too, like The Griswold Inn, one of America’s oldest and most esteemed bars. Essex is also home to museums and playhouses, providing a variety of local culture.

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Cschroeder // Wikimedia Commons

Delaware: Hockessin

- Population: 13,472
- Median household income: $125,847
- Housing: $446,000 median home value (87% homeowners), $1,807 median rent (13% renters)

Hockessin is located near the Pennsylvania border and is a short drive to Maryland. Hockessin is steeped in history and has four spaces listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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naplesrealestate // Flickr

Florida: Pelican Bay

- Population: 5,844
- Median household income: $127,571
- Housing: $912,300 median home value (95% homeowners), $1,529 median rent (5% renters)

Pelican Bay is a community located in Naples with access to beaches, outdoor activities, and boardwalks. For athletic retirees, Pelican Bay offers several options for tennis, golf, and water sports, while an open art studio and art classes are available as well.

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Georgia: St. Simons

- Population: 14,302
- Median household income: $85,350
- Housing: $366,100 median home value (75% homeowners), $1,409 median rent (25% renters)

A waterfront community near the Florida border, St. Simons was a point of interest in 18th-century European colonial land battles. Dolphin tours and sightseeing of other marine wildlife make it a popular attraction today, while history buffs can still explore a variety of sites of interest.

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Hawaii: Wailea

- Population: 5,656
- Median household income: $72,072
- Housing: $994,000 median home value (60% homeowners), $1,854 median rent (40% renters)

Wailea has 1,500 acres of beaches, resorts, and attractions, and is a 30-minute drive to a major airport. Several resorts dot the five major beaches of Wailea, with swimming and snorkeling among the available activities.

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Idaho: Garden City

- Population: 11,743
- Median household income: $46,311
- Housing: $213,200 median home value (59% homeowners), $808 median rent (41% renters)

Garden City’s history has been shaped by the Boise River, where salmon and trout fishing remain favored pastimes. Wildlife and nature are two of the big draws of Garden City, which originally attracted Chinese immigrants. While the Chinese influence is largely gone, Garden City has morphed into a city with a strong focus on the arts.

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Illinois: Lake Forest

- Population: 19,219
- Median household income: $167,404
- Housing: $851,900 median home value (85% homeowners), $1,750 median rent (15% renters)

A location near Lake Michigan makes Lake Forest appealing to many, but this small city in northern Illinois is also only about 30 minutes outside of Chicago and an hour south of Milwaukee. One of Lake Forest’s proudest histories is in polo, and the city also has a quaint college with even more well-manicured spaces.

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Carmel,Indiana // Wikimedia Commons

Indiana: Carmel

- Population: 90,163
- Median household income: $116,867
- Housing: $330,600 median home value (77% homeowners), $1,199 median rent (23% renters)

Located just north of Indianapolis, Carmel is one of the bigger cities on this list. Still, Carmel has some small-town charm with its farmers’ markets and Japanese gardens. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Carmel was showing tremendous economic growth.

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Dsmspence // Wikimedia Commons

Iowa: Clear Lake

- Population: 7,644
- Median household income: $55,674
- Housing: $157,500 median home value (71% homeowners), $628 median rent (29% renters)

Centered around Clear Lake, this Iowa town by the same name has a thriving marina, campgrounds, and a state park. Rock aficionados remember Clear Lake as the site of the last show of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson. Today, that site, the Surf Ballroom, hosts a full slate of local cultural events.

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Kansas: Leawood

- Population: 34,570
- Median household income: $149,736
- Housing: $447,100 median home value (90% homeowners), $1,699 median rent (10% renters)

Leawood is a suburb of Kansas City and has its state’s wealthiest zip code. The town features an aquatics center, six parks, tennis courts, and a golf course, not to mention a garden club and arts council.

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Kentucky: Oakbrook

- Population: 9,301
- Median household income: $76,123
- Housing: $170,700 median home value (87% homeowners), $860 median rent (13% renters)

Oakbrook is less than a 30-minute drive to Cincinnati and boasts a 27-hole golf course that is rated as one of the best in Kentucky. Oakbrook is conveniently located near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, and a series of arboretums and parks.

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Infrogmation of New Orleans // Wikimedia Commons

Louisiana: Inniswold

- Population: 6,777
- Median household income: $87,110
- Housing: $282,700 median home value (65% homeowners), $1,027 median rent (35% renters)

Recreation in Inniswold often revolves around Jefferson Terrace Park, which is geographically located in the center of town. However, Inniswold is nearby many other options for nature and games, as Baton Rouge is only a few miles away. Close proximity to several hospitals and the Mall of Louisiana, the largest shopping mall in the state, are other noted attractions.

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Maine: Belfast

- Population: 6,696
- Median household income: $60,993
- Housing: $189,700 median home value (66% homeowners), $812 median rent (34% renters)

Belfast was settled in 1770, and for the past 250 years, has been a small seaport community oozing in history. Belfast sports a theater company, actors’ studio, and harbor fest, while locals can compete annually to become Belfast’s Poet Laureate.

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Uriah923 // Wikimedia Commons

Maryland: South Kensington

- Population: 8,769
- Median household income: $181,941
- Housing: $736,300 median home value (90% homeowners), $2,164 median rent (10% renters)

South Kensington is a suburb of our nation’s capital, covering about 2.1 square miles. It’s proximity to Washington D.C. and other Montgomery County suburbs and their abundance of resources compensate for the small size of this community, but South Kensington is not devoid of its own landmarks. The Washington D.C. Temple hosts a festival of lights each winter.

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Matt Wade // Flickr

Massachusetts: West Yarmouth

- Population: 5,271
- Median household income: $60,162
- Housing: $281,300 median home value (73% homeowners), $1,373 median rent (27% renters)

This quaint town on Cape Cod has a stunning coastline and even its own pirate museum. Other sites celebrate the area’s connection to the Plymouth Colony and American Revolution. Antiquing and an inflatable park for kids are among the other attractions to keep kids and grandkids occupied during visits.

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GeorgeVezza // Wikimedia Commons

Michigan: Bloomfield Charter Township

- Population: 42,155
- Median household income: $127,553
- Housing: $409,100 median home value (89% homeowners), $1,236 median rent (11% renters)

This Detroit suburb is surrounded by a wealth of culture and beauty. The Cranbrook Art Museum and the Cranbrook Institute of Science are major attractions, as is the nearby Oakland Hills Country Club, which has hosted six U.S. Opens.

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Jsaz974 // Wikimedia Commons

Minnesota: Lake City

- Population: 5,165
- Median household income: $57,541
- Housing: $160,700 median home value (72% homeowners), $868 median rent (28% renters)

Much of Lake City borders Lake Pepin, a popular waterway along the Mississippi River, which is supposedly the birthplace of water skiing. If water skis aren’t your cup of tea, each year Lake City hosts the Tour de Pepin, a popular biking race. Birding and fishing are also popular outdoor activities in town.

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Mikeiamunion21 // Wikimedia Commons

Mississippi: Diamondhead

- Population: 8,149
- Median household income: $71,411
- Housing: $172,100 median home value (85% homeowners), $883 median rent (15% renters)

Almost 15 years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged Diamondhead, this small Gulf Coast community is rebounding. Diamondhead is less than an hour away from New Orleans, but more local entertainment exists at the Hollywood Casino and Bridges Golf Club. Diamondhead’s motto says it all: "Where living is easy."

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Missouri: Town and Country

- Population: 11,066
- Median household income: $178,000
- Housing: $726,600 median home value (86% homeowners), $1,114 median rent (14% renters)

With a name like Town and Country, you might expect this St. Louis suburb to be quite rustic. However, Town and Country has one of the highest median incomes in the state and is home to Bellerive Country Club, which has hosted a bevy of major PGA golf tournaments.

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Montana: Whitefish

- Population: 7,309
- Median household income: $51,059
- Housing: $348,600 median home value (62% homeowners), $953 median rent (38% renters)

Whitefish is home to a popular ski resort and is located near the Canadian border and Glacier National Park. Downtown features a mishmash of saloons, coffeehouses, B&Bs, and cabin lodges. The Huckleberry Days in the summer and annual Winter Carnival draw thousands.

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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

Nebraska: York

- Population: 7,859
- Median household income: $54,724
- Housing: $125,000 median home value (63% homeowners), $680 median rent (37% renters)

For only hosting about 8,000 residents, York is home to a diverse number of entertainment offerings. There’s the expansive marbles exhibition, or for more traditional entertainment, the York Auditorium hosts sports tournaments, car shows, concerts, and other large scale events. The Clayton Museum of Ancient History includes exhibits from Mesopotamia and Ancient Rome.

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Nevada: Mesquite

- Population: 17,904
- Median household income: $50,597
- Housing: $216,000 median home value (71% homeowners), $849 median rent (29% renters)

Mesquite is about an hour northeast of Las Vegas, but now boasts several of its own casinos and resorts. Golf is a favored pastime in Mesquite and the Virgin Valley Heritage Museum celebrates the area’s pioneer settlers.

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New Hampshire: Peterborough

- Population: 6,524
- Median household income: $82,721
- Housing: $256,100 median home value (67% homeowners), $953 median rent (33% renters)

This New England town is well known for its connection to the arts. The MacDowell Colony has supported creatives for over a century, including Alice Walker and James Baldwin. For more permanent residents, Peterborough has become known as a green energy leader and is celebrated for its trails and proximity to several state and national parks.

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New Jersey: Englewood Cliffs

- Population: 5,356
- Median household income: $145,729
- Housing: $1,041,200 median home value (86% homeowners), $3,259 median rent (14% renters)

Just a few miles west of New York City, Englewood Cliffs has long been a popular landing spot for professional athletes and celebrities. However, retirees are flocking to the town for its low property tax rates, high land values, and a specific board for senior citizens. Recently, electronics giant LG built a huge headquarters in the borough, and Englewood Cliffs has become home to a growing Korean American community.

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TravelingOtter // Flickr

New Mexico: Ruidoso

- Population: 7,757
- Median household income: $43,353
- Housing: $214,400 median home value (76% homeowners), $694 median rent (24% renters)

Ruidoso is surrounded by the Sierra Blanca mountains, casinos, ski slopes, and now condos, which makes the town one of the fastest-growing in New Mexico. A variety of spas, campgrounds, and lodges draw tourists, while local history enterprises feature the local impact of the Apache and outlaw Billy the Kid.

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Fred Hsu // Wikimedia Commons

New York: Manhasset

- Population: 8,138
- Median household income: $133,456
- Housing: $1,057,500 median home value (76% homeowners), $1,426 median rent (24% renters)

Billy Joel fans may know about Manhasset’s Miracle Mile, which remains a destination shopping and dining location in this tiny Long Island town. Located near the water, Manhasset offers a variety of boating and fishing options and is a short train ride from Manhattan on the Long Island Rail Road.

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Pablo Rogat // Shutterstock

North Carolina: St. James

- Population: 5,133
- Median household income: $101,563
- Housing: $449,400 median home value (96% homeowners), $1,711 median rent (4% renters)

This coastal community entices retirees with its beaches, marina, and beach club. Multiple golf courses operate year-round, and more than 76% of residents are age 62 and over.

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chief_huddleston // Wikimedia Commons

North Dakota: Valley City

- Population: 6,487
- Median household income: $49,194
- Housing: $110,000 median home value (58% homeowners), $667 median rent (42% renters)

Valley City proclaims itself as the state’s “Most Beautiful Town.” Camping, bridge tours, museums, and unique parks lend credence to that claim, and each year Valley City hosts the North Dakota Winter Show, an annual livestock and agriculture gathering.

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Nheyob // Wikimedia Commons

Ohio: Centerville

- Population: 23,821
- Median household income: $71,221
- Housing: $183,000 median home value (71% homeowners), $886 median rent (29% renters)

Although Centerville’s historic stone houses usually aren’t available on the market, many retirees are flocking to other dwellings in this city just south of Dayton. Heart of Centerville is a popular meeting place for community, dining, and shopping. More than a third of Centerville’s residents are over 60 years old.

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Oklahoma: The Village

- Population: 9,385
- Median household income: $58,651
- Housing: $129,800 median home value (67% homeowners), $1,133 median rent (33% renters)

The Village is surrounded by Oklahoma City but has plenty to offer within its boundaries. Bird watching is one of many popular outdoor activities at nearby Lake Hefner, along with sailboat and yacht racing.

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Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington // Wikimedia Commons

Oregon: Raleigh Hills

- Population: 5,892
- Median household income: $74,474
- Housing: $647,900 median home value (55% homeowners), $1,150 median rent (45% renters)

Raleigh Hills is along the 30-mile Wildwood Trail, which is replete with trails for hiking, running, and bird watching. One-third of the residents of this suburb of Oregon are over 60 years old.

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User:ifly6 // Wikimedia Commons

Pennsylvania: Penn Wynne

- Population: 5,758
- Median household income: $131,161
- Housing: $366,200 median home value (88% homeowners), $1,473 median rent (12% renters)

Penn Wynne is a short drive to Philadelphia and has a notable Jewish population. Almost 30% of residents are older than 60, and there are several nearby parks and golf courses, along with public transportation options into Center City Philadelphia.

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Lori Ellis // Shutterstock

Rhode Island: Jamestown

- Population: 5,496
- Median household income: $108,737
- Housing: $641,800 median home value (84% homeowners), $1,633 median rent (16% renters)

Jamestown is located on Conanicut Island, an island on the southern end of Rhode Island with a rich history dating back to Colonial America. Jamestown offers walking tours around several lighthouses, fishing, and other maritime activities. Parts of the Wes Anderson film “Moonrise Kingdom” were filmed on Jamestown’s beaches.

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South Carolina: Garden City

- Population: 10,070
- Median household income: $43,920
- Housing: $140,200 median home value (77% homeowners), $975 median rent (23% renters)

Located just south of Myrtle Beach, Garden City has withstood several hurricanes and is now a prime spot for pier fun including live music and karaoke gatherings. Almost 30% of all residents in Garden City are over 60, and these senior citizens can take advantage of a wealth of recreational and social activities available throughout the Myrtle Beach area.

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South Dakota: Madison

- Population: 7,203
- Median household income: $51,215
- Housing: $114,300 median home value (60% homeowners), $539 median rent (40% renters)

Locals in Madison enjoy fishing, hunting, and snowmobiling. The Madison Arts Council assists in maintaining local museums and a prairie village, and Sioux Falls is less than an hour away.

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

Tennessee: Farragut

- Population: 22,260
- Median household income: $106,032
- Housing: $350,300 median home value (90% homeowners), $1,114 median rent (10% renters)

Farragut has more than 15 miles of greenway trails and is located on the outskirts of Knoxville for those seeking a getaway to the city. The nearby Smoky Mountains and local shopping centers provide a variety of weekend activities. For those more interested in science and history, the Manhattan Project National Park is a 20-minute drive away.

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Fairsaka // Wikimedia Commons

Texas: Fairview

- Population: 8,665
- Median household income: $92,159
- Housing: $374,300 median home value (77% homeowners), $1,308 median rent (23% renters)

Although Fairview is a stone’s throw away from the skyscrapers of Dallas, nature is a big selling point for this small community. The Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary is a short drive away, and the city has a strong commitment to green energy. Nearby outlet malls and golf courses are other big draws for this affluent suburb.

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Arlene Waller // Shutterstock

Utah: Ivins

- Population: 8,211
- Median household income: $57,282
- Housing: $267,100 median home value (83% homeowners), $1,113 median rent (17% renters)

With the natural wonders of Snow Canyon State Park surrounding Ivins, this small Utah community provides an ideal backdrop to wake up to every morning. The Tuacahn Center for the Arts hosts a variety of music and entertainment acts, and Las Vegas is about a two-hour drive away.

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Magicpiano // Wikimedia Commons

Vermont: Hartford

- Population: 9,678
- Median household income: $62,317
- Housing: $227,000 median home value (69% homeowners), $1,080 median rent (31% renters)

Hartford offers many outdoor activity options along the White and Connecticut Rivers. There are plenty of indoor options for fun, too, like the Montshire Museum of Science and Sugar Bush Farm, where visitors can take part in the state’s storied history of maple syrup production.

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Virginia: Massanetta Springs

- Population: 5,517
- Median household income: $88,158
- Housing: $382,600 median home value (75% homeowners), $1,221 median rent (25% renters)

Massanetta Springs has become popular with those with a strong connection to the Presbyterian Church. Locals also enjoy the close proximity to Shenandoah National Park, which offers over 200,000 acres of trails, recreation, lodging, and history.

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cdrin // Shutterstock

Washington: Port Townsend

- Population: 9,428
- Median household income: $52,000
- Housing: $308,600 median home value (59% homeowners), $953 median rent (41% renters)

Port Townsend sits at the top of the Quimper Peninsula, near Olympic National Park. Despite its proximity to Seattle and Vancouver, Port Townsend’s geographic location makes it somewhat isolated from those major cities. However, there are plenty of maritime activities available (like seal watching), as well as spas, shopping, and an aero museum.

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Chris Keane // Getty Images

West Virginia: Bridgeport

- Population: 8,466
- Median household income: $80,666
- Housing: $220,100 median home value (78% homeowners), $1,058 median rent (22% renters)

Bridgeport is home to the North Central West Virginia Airport and is conveniently located between Charleston, the West Virginia state capital, and Pittsburgh. In warmer temperatures, locals enjoy the Pete Dye Golf Club, one of America’s top-rated courses. Almost 30% of Bridgeport residents are over 60 years old.

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Porterhse // Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin: Elm Grove

- Population: 6,172
- Median household income: $115,972
- Housing: $362,200 median home value (93% homeowners), $955 median rent (7% renters)

A low poverty rate, good schools, and high median household income has earned Elm Grove accolades as one of America’s top suburbs. Situated just west of Milwaukee, Elm Grove is a haven for bird watchers and boasts garden clubs, women’s clubs, and a playhouse.

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Debby Ford // Shutterstock

Wyoming: Cody

- Population: 9,761
- Median household income: $60,401
- Housing: $226,500 median home value (65% homeowners), $900 median rent (35% renters)

Sitting just east of Yellowstone National Park, Cody was founded by “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Several art galleries and rodeos give Cody a unique flavor, in addition to its status as one of Wyoming’s safest cities.

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