Best rural counties for retirees in America

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October 28, 2020
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Best rural counties for retirees in America

The retirement years are meant to be the golden years—a period in life when your time is truly your own to enjoy. For many retirees in the United States, that means finding the perfect location that meets at the intersection of low cost of living with a high quality of life.

By the time people reach 65 years, they've started to consider where they want to live out the best years of their lives. Many factors come into consideration in addition to cost of living: there's health care facilities, weather, outdoor activities, cultural and entertainment opportunities, dining, and much more. While some retirees opt to kick back in a cosmopolitan setting, there are others who are looking to get back to nature, find a bit of space to call their own, and unplug.

Stacker compiled a list of the best rural counties for retirees in America based on Niche's best counties for retirees list from 2020. Rural areas are generally difficult to define. While the Census Bureau considers all areas non-urban to be rural, other government organizations define rural differently. To maintain consistency, in this analysis, counties are considered rural if their population is less than 50,000.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 20% of older Americans live in rural areas, and 17.5% of the rural population in America is 65 years and older. The perks of retiring to a rural community usually include small town charm, historic architecture, local restaurants, farmers markets, state parks, and towns that emphasize community engagement. Retirees have the option to keep to themselves, if they so choose. In fact, 18 of the 100 counties on this list have fewer than 10,000 residents.

Whether it's a region defined by lakes and rivers, nestled in rolling mountains, or paved with historic cobblestone streets, retirees looking to find their slice of happily ever after should look no further than these 100 counties recommended by Niche.

Read on to discover the best 100 counties in each state for retirees.

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#100. Gladwin County, Michigan

- Population: 25,289
- Median home value: $104,700 (84% own)
- Median rent: $610 (16% rent)
- Median household income: $43,290

Gladwin County is located in the north-central part of the state of Michigan. The county seat is the town of Gladwin. It was named in 1831, but remained largely unsettled until the 1880s. Today it's a thriving community, rooted in the automotive industry and agriculture. Tourism is big here, as well, especially on its many rivers from the Tittabawassee to the Tobacco and Cedar. The Tittabawassee River State Forest is a popular spot for hiking and hunting.

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#99. Colorado County, Texas

- Population: 21,022
- Median home value: $116,300 (82% own)
- Median rent: $702 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $49,504

Named for the Colorado River, Colorado County, Texas is a historic community in Texas' southeast section. The area in which the county sits has actually been inhabited by humans for about 12,000 years. Today it's a great place to retire, thanks to recreational options and the affordable median home value of $116,300, which is lower than the national median ($184,700).

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#98. Gilmer County, Georgia

- Population: 29,922
- Median home value: $171,000 (75% own)
- Median rent: $741 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $49,389

North Central Georgia's Gilmer County covers 431 square miles in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Most of the county is located near the Coosawattee River. The cost of living is less than the national median. The median home value is $171,000, according to Niche. Residents are drawn to the potential for outdoor living, from the temperate climate to the hiking trails within the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.

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#97. Montague County, Texas

- Population: 19,409
- Median home value: $112,700 (71% own)
- Median rent: $819 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $51,774

Located in north Texas, Montague County was founded in 1857. Today it makes a great spot for retirement thanks to its low cost of living—the median home value is $112,700. The county shares a portion of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland, which is a protected area located in the Great Plains. It's a wonderful spot for camping, fishing, hiking, and hunting.

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#96. Attala County, Mississippi

- Population: 18,581
- Median home value: $76,000 (71% own)
- Median rent: $518 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $34,756

Almost smack dab in the center of Mississippi sits Attala County. The rural county is ideal for retirees thanks to its supremely low median home values, as well as its outdoor attractions. The famous and historic Natchez Trace Parkway, one of the most scenic drives in the nation, runs right through the county.

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#95. Marshall County, Kentucky

- Population: 31,166
- Median home value: $123,000 (79% own)
- Median rent: $670 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $50,731

One of the main draws to Marshall County, Kentucky is the stunning Kentucky Lake, affectionately referred to as The South's Great Lake. Much of local life revolves around the lake, providing a high quality of living to its residents, from boating and fishing, to nearby hiking, biking, golf, shopping, and nightlife.

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#94. Ritchie County, West Virginia

- Population: 9,932
- Median home value: $85,800 (80% own)
- Median rent: $569 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $44,472

Spanning 454 square miles of northwestern West Virginia, Ritchie County is one of the most affordable rural places to retire in America. In addition to a low cost of living, the county is brimming with activities in nature. The North Bend State Park offers a 305-acre lake, fishing streams, hiking trails, and everything from lodges and cabins to campgrounds.

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#93. Montour County, Pennsylvania

- Population: 18,294
- Median home value: $181,500 (69% own)
- Median rent: $742 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $57,183

Montour County is the smallest county by area in the state of Pennsylvania. In fact, nearly half of the county is forested. Montour County is perched on the Susquehanna River watershed and thus is full of things to do for retirees and their families. Montour County has Ricketts Glen State Park, home to 22 waterfalls and miles of hiking trails. There is also the Montour Preserve, which has year-round activities from a fishing pier and visitors' center to pavilions and playgrounds.

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#92. Putnam County, Georgia

- Population: 21,503
- Median home value: $165,300 (78% own)
- Median rent: $712 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $51,245

Central Georgia's Putnam County is a great spot for retirees, due to its low cost of living and high quality of life. The county is near Lake Oconee, which is one of the top recreation areas in the state. Putnam County is also wonderful for architecture lovers, due to its high concentration of Antebellum structures. The county has a national forest, which has 37,000 acres of wilderness to explore, plus 15 miles of trails for motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.

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#91. Towns County, Georgia

- Population: 11,417
- Median home value: $205,600 (81% own)
- Median rent: $764 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $43,927

Spanning the North Georgia mountains, Towns County is packed with unspoiled natural beauty. The county borders South Carolina and its county seat is Hiawassee. It sits amid the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain in Georgia, is located in the southwestern corner of the county.

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#90. Charlevoix County, Michigan

- Population: 26,219
- Median home value: $162,900 (81% own)
- Median rent: $713 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $53,207

Northern Michigan's Charlevoix County is mostly made up of water. In fact, it is actually the fourth-smallest county in Michigan by land. As such, the waterfront is one of the main draws to the county. Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix are just a few of the prime waterfronts, with access to beautiful beaches, boat launches, trails, and parks.

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#89. Pickens County, Georgia

- Population: 30,832
- Median home value: $185,700 (76% own)
- Median rent: $843 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $64,512

Nestled in the North Georgia Mountains, Pickens County consists of 232 square miles of land. The highest point in the county is Mount Oglethorpe, which is the southernmost peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition to fantastic outdoor options, Pickens County is known for its lovely boutiques and wineries.

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#88. Vilas County, Wisconsin

- Population: 21,593
- Median home value: $206,900 (77% own)
- Median rent: $692 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $44,285

Perched at the top of the state of Wisconsin, Vilas County is steeped in Chippewa Native American history. Its first European settlers were primarily from New England. Today it is a haven for outdoor adventurists, making it a beautiful place to retire. There are more than 1,300 lakes and 73 rivers and streams throughout the county. It's a paradise for fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, tubing, and so much more.

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#87. Benzie County, Michigan

- Population: 17,552
- Median home value: $172,000 (90% own)
- Median rent: $755 (10% rent)
- Median household income: $56,639

Located in the northwest of Michigan's lower peninsula, Benzie County is known for its gorgeous natural scenery, from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, to Crystal Lake, the Platte River, and Lake Ann. The county is also home to portions of the Pere Marquette State Forest.

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#86. Curry County, Oregon

- Population: 22,507
- Median home value: $251,500 (70% own)
- Median rent: $870 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $46,396

Curry County is a coastal county in the state of Oregon, right on the northern border of California. Ridged with mountains, forest trails, rivers, and miles of pristine oceanfront, it is a picture-perfect place for retirees to get in touch with nature. The county is also home to Coastline Neighbors, a group of volunteers who are committed to helping the seniors in the county.

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#85. Patrick County, Virginia

- Population: 17,859
- Median home value: $116,400 (76% own)
- Median rent: $549 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $40,486

Patrick County is a county in southern Virginia—a region known for its rolling mountains and beautiful valleys. The 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway slices through the county, offering ample views of the stunning Appalachian Mountains. The parkway is peppered with pullouts for beautiful hiking trails, farmers markets, historic sites, and campgrounds.

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#84. Caldwell Parish, Louisiana

- Population: 9,996
- Median home value: $74,100 (74% own)
- Median rent: $590 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $32,174

Caldwell Parish, aside from being one of the most affordable counties in the country, is also one of the most cultural and naturally beautiful. Not only is it home to the Copenhagen Hills Preserve, it also has been home to The Louisiana Art and Folk Festival for decades.

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#83. Choctaw County, Alabama

- Population: 13,075
- Median home value: $75,200 (80% own)
- Median rent: $533 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $34,884

Southwestern Alabama is home to Choctaw County, a rural county that dates back to the days of the Choctaw tribe of native Americans. The county is praised for its recreational options, from Bladon Springs State Park to the Black Belt Birding Trail, a popular route for bird watchers.

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#82. Covington County, Alabama

- Population: 37,351
- Median home value: $95,500 (74% own)
- Median rent: $608 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $40,601

Covington County is located in south central Alabama in the Gulf Coastal Plain region. Andalusia is the county seat. The county has a stretch of coast that touches the Gulf of Mexico, and is known for its balmy temperatures, white sand, and beautiful views. The beach area is known for its fresh Gulf Coast dining, water sports, and music and art festivals.

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#81. Robertson County, Texas

- Population: 16,890
- Median home value: $104,000 (76% own)
- Median rent: $702 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $54,201

Located in eastern Texas, Robertson County is an affordable Texas county with a high quality of life. Between Twin Oaks Reservoir, Camp Creek Reservoir, the Brazos River and the Navasota River, there is ample opportunity for hunting, fishing, trails, and exploring nature, according to the Texas Almanac.

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#80. San Augustine County, Texas

- Population: 8,327
- Median home value: $86,700 (80% own)
- Median rent: $544 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $35,509

East Texas’ San Augustine County was founded in the early 18th century with the establishment of Mission Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de los Ays by Spanish missionaries. Today the Deep Texas county is known for its low cost of living, arts and entertainment, great outdoors, and historic homes.

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#79. Morgan County, Missouri

- Population: 20,137
- Median home value: $122,300 (78% own)
- Median rent: $581 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $37,727

Morgan County, Missouri’s southern portion touches the Lake of the Ozarks. Missouri's most popular attraction, the Lake of the Ozarks has more than 1,000 miles of coastline, surrounded by mountains, and teeming with recreation for retirees, from golf and horseback riding to wineries, spas, and fine dining.

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#78. Lincoln County, New Mexico

- Population: 19,482
- Median home value: $206,600 (77% own)
- Median rent: $691 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $42,267

Located in central New Mexico, Lincoln County is steeped in Wild West History, with roots that trace back to Billy the Kid. Today the county is known for its national protected areas, which offer ample opportunity for outdoor exploration and high quality of life. The protected areas include Cibola National Forest, Lincoln National Forest, and Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area.

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#77. Lincoln County, Maine

- Population: 34,067
- Median home value: $213,300 (78% own)
- Median rent: $779 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $55,180

Lincoln County sits on Maine's mid coast, just north of the city of Portland. Residents are avid sailors, with Boothbay Harbor being one of the main attractions. The county is also home to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and the Maine State Aquarium.

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#76. Dawson County, Georgia

- Population: 23,861
- Median home value: $215,500 (82% own)
- Median rent: $857 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $65,805

Georgia's Dawsonville County is a mountain community surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains. It is packed with outdoor recreation options, making it one of the places in Georgia with the best quality of living. Other natural sites include the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, Lake Lanier, Amicalola Falls, Dawson Forest, and the Appalachian Trail.

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#75. Henry County, Alabama

- Population: 17,124
- Median home value: $115,100 (83% own)
- Median rent: $608 (17% rent)
- Median household income: $48,610

Henry County sits in the southeastern corner of Alabama. The county seat is Abbeville, known as the City of Dogwoods for its many beautiful Dogwood trees. The town is a historic community where the vibe swings vintage, from old-fashioned soda shops to buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s also great for retirees because of its low cost of living.

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#74. Suwannee County, Florida

- Population: 43,924
- Median home value: $95,200 (72% own)
- Median rent: $721 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $42,686

Suwannee County in northern Florida is all about Southern charm and hospitality, as well as beautiful outdoor opportunities. The Suwannee River, which flows through the county, is peppered with natural springs and underground caves, and dotted with campsites. The county is also known for its live music venues and delicious barbecue restaurants.

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#73. Fayette County, Texas

- Population: 25,066
- Median home value: $165,000 (81% own)
- Median rent: $767 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $56,297

Southeastern Texas' Fayette County covers 950 square miles. Its communities are known for its performing arts and live entertainment, from classical music to country. There is a vibrant dining scene, as well as green spaces like golf courses and parks.

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#72. Gulf County, Florida

- Population: 16,055
- Median home value: $150,300 (75% own)
- Median rent: $1,057 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $44,291

Tucked right on the Florida Panhandle, hugging the Gulf of Mexico, is Gulf County. The county features more than 244 miles of tranquil shoreline, and a tropical climate makes it attractive for retirees. With so many miles of coastline, there is ample opportunity for kayaking, fishing, boating, snorkeling, or simply relaxing on the sand.

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#71. McCormick County, South Carolina

- Population: 9,606
- Median home value: $117,700 (77% own)
- Median rent: $579 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $42,262

McCormick County in the Savannah River basin is the smallest county in South Carolina by land, according to the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. A mild climate and relatively low cost of living makes it attractive for retirees. Add to that the Sumter National Forest, which is veined with hiking trails and waterways, and it becomes an outdoor paradise for adventurers, as well.

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#70. Burnet County, Texas

- Population: 45,750
- Median home value: $182,600 (75% own)
- Median rent: $816 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $59,238

Central Texas' Burnet County spans nearly 1,000 square miles of beautiful Texas nature. It's right in the heart of Hill Country, home to beautiful lakes and endless amounts of walking and nature trails. Within the county is the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. It's a haven for bird watchers and is lush with hill country vegetation.

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#69. Freestone County, Texas

- Population: 19,709
- Median home value: $98,800 (75% own)
- Median rent: $699 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $48,731

Founded in 1850, Freestone County in east central Texas is an historic Texas community known for its affordable cost of living and access to the great outdoors. The Fairfield Lake State Park, for example, covers nearly 15,000 acres in Freestone County. Activities include camping, backpacking, horseback riding, or boating on the 2,400-acre lake.

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#68. Beaufort County, North Carolina

- Population: 47,243
- Median home value: $128,300 (70% own)
- Median rent: $713 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $43,688

Coastal North Carolina's Beaufort County is steeped in Southern charm and hospitality, making it a great place for retirees. Residents are drawn to the historic town of Bath or the restored waterfront in the town of Washington. There is also the Goose Creek State Park, and various waterways, from the Pamlico River to Blounts Creek.

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#67. Rains County, Texas

- Population: 11,473
- Median home value: $121,100 (79% own)
- Median rent: $719 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $49,872

Rains County, Texas is one of the smallest in the state, anchored by the county seat, Emory. Emory sits between two of the county’s most popular fishing areas: Lake Fork and Lake Tawakoni. Parks and gardens abound, from the Rubye McKeown City Park to Scarborough Haven, a nature preserve known for its beautiful flora and manicured gardens.

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#66. Trinity County, Texas

- Population: 14,569
- Median home value: $79,700 (79% own)
- Median rent: $763 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $40,407

The county seat of Trinity County, Texas is Groveton, a community established in 1881. Today Groveton, and the surrounding county, is known for its outdoor activities, specifically in the Davy Crockett National Forest. There is also the 45-acre Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area, as well as Lake Livingston and the Trinity River.

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#65. Stone County, Missouri

- Population: 31,527
- Median home value: $165,400 (82% own)
- Median rent: $724 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $46,443

Southwestern Missouri's Stone County spans 464 square miles and is home to the Mark Twain National Forest. The forest is one of the most spectacular draws to the region for retirees, thanks to its 750 miles of hiking and biking trails. Sections of the Ozark Trail run through the forest, as well.

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#64. Pawnee County, Kansas

- Population: 6,709
- Median home value: $75,300 (68% own)
- Median rent: $607 (32% rent)
- Median household income: $42,853

Pawnee County is a sparsely populated, rural community in central Kansas. The county seat is Larned, home to the protected Fort Larned National Historic Site. The community has many outdoor facilities, from Jordan Park to the Larned Municipal Golf Course, a nine-hole public golf course.

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#63. Stephens County, Georgia

- Population: 25,676
- Median home value: $94,300 (70% own)
- Median rent: $713 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $43,416

Tucked in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Stephens County, Georgia is wonderful for retirees, thanks to its opportunities for adventure, as well as relaxation. From Lake Hartwell to the Tugaloo River, and Henderson Falls Park, there are many outdoor recreational facilities available to residents. Culture aficionados will love the historic Ritz Theatre or the Currahee Vineyards.

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#62. Monroe County, Arkansas

- Population: 7,249
- Median home value: $64,300 (60% own)
- Median rent: $514 (40% rent)
- Median household income: $35,190

Monroe County in eastern Arkansas spans 607 square miles in the Arkansas Delta. It is known for its thick forests and bayous. Outdoor living is vitally important to the community, who take advantage of the three large protected areas that preserve bald cypress forest. These include the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, the Dagmar Wildlife Management Area, and White River National Wildlife Refuge.

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#61. Fulton County, Arkansas

- Population: 12,139
- Median home value: $93,500 (78% own)
- Median rent: $550 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $36,184

Arkansas' Fulton County is truly a land of natural beauty. Home to at least 20 lakes and reservoirs, life for locals is all about being on the water. One of the most beloved aquatic playgrounds is Mammoth Spring State Park. The 10-acre lake flows into the Spring River and has created a wonderful environment for retirees and their families, from hiking and picnic areas to a baseball field.

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#60. Mitchell County, Kansas

- Population: 6,222
- Median home value: $85,300 (74% own)
- Median rent: $556 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $45,221

Nestled in Kansas' Solomon Valley, Mitchell County, Kansas offers an affordable way of life in a community teeming with nature. Mitchell County is home to Waconda Lake, one of Kansas' most popular outdoor attractions. Waconda Lake and nearby Glen Elder State Park are primed for swimming, camping, boating, hunting, and fishing. The Glen Elder Wildlife Area features 13,000 acres of land and 12,586 acres of water.

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#59. Washington County, Kansas

- Population: 5,525
- Median home value: $78,200 (79% own)
- Median rent: $467 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $48,889

Composed of 12 cities in northern Kansas, Washington County is a small, rural community with a low cost of living and high quality of life. The community is primarily agricultural, and visually pleasing thanks to its acres and acres of beautiful sunflower fields. The community prides itself on mom and pop shops, museums, and community events like the Lighted Horse Parade.

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#58. Brown County, Texas

- Population: 37,834
- Median home value: $97,500 (72% own)
- Median rent: $759 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $45,457

Right in the heart of Texas, Brown County spans 944 square miles and is home to the cities of Brownwood (the county seat), Early, and Bangs. One of the most popular draws for residents in Brown County is the beautiful Lake Brownwood. This 7,300-acre reservoir has nearly 100 miles of shoreline and is a popular place for locals and visitors to swim, fish, boat, and even ski.

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#57. Emmet County, Michigan

- Population: 33,039
- Median home value: $178,300 (73% own)
- Median rent: $805 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $54,055

Located at the northernmost tip of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, Emmet County is bound by Lake Michigan and the Straits of Mackinac. Residents pride themselves on their public parklands, trails, and open spaces. The county has dozens of parks along the Lake Michigan shoreline, as well as wooded areas inland that are webbed with hiking trails, dotted with campgrounds, and zig-zagged with snowmobile trails.

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#56. Hutchinson County, South Dakota

- Population: 7,315
- Median home value: $84,700 (78% own)
- Median rent: $543 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $54,868

Hutchinson County in southern South Dakota is a sparsely populated rural community praised for its low cost of living. The median home value is $84,700. The national mean is more than $184,000, according to Niche. It's also one of the safest communities in the country. There are virtually no violent or property crimes committed in the community on a yearly basis.

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#55. Dickinson County, Iowa

- Population: 17,056
- Median home value: $179,300 (79% own)
- Median rent: $771 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $58,099

Northwestern Iowa's Dickinson County is the smallest county by land area in the state, according to USA.com. Its claim to fame are the Iowa Great Lakes, which include West Okoboji Lake, East Okoboji Lake, and Spirit Lake. These are the largest natural lakes in the state and provide natural playgrounds for residents and visitors alike.

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#54. San Juan County, Washington

- Population: 16,473
- Median home value: $470,500 (74% own)
- Median rent: $986 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $60,711

A county of islands in the Salish Sea off the coast of Washington, San Juan County is among the most beautiful in the country. It is made up of the world-famous San Juan Islands, including San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island. The idyllic temperatures peak around 70 degrees in the summer and only go as low as 40 degrees in the winter. Retirees are drawn to the outdoorsy way of life, beautiful views, organic dining, and adventure.

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#53. Cherokee County, North Carolina

- Population: 27,668
- Median home value: $152,200 (80% own)
- Median rent: $718 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $40,294

The westernmost county in North Carolina, Cherokee County is known as the “Gateway to the Smoky Mountains.” The area is perfect for retirees looking to breathe in fresh mountain air, frolic on the waterways, and enjoy the ample hiking, biking, and whitewater rafting. The area is also replete with breweries and wineries, restaurants, and museums.

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#52. Van Buren County, Arkansas

- Population: 16,684
- Median home value: $101,600 (77% own)
- Median rent: $652 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $36,897

Central Arkansas' Van Buren County spans an area of 708 square miles. Not only is it an affordable place to retire, with median home values below the national median, but it places a big emphasis on the great outdoors. Home to the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, the park offers 1.2 million acres of nature to explore.

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#51. Kendall County, Texas

- Population: 41,982
- Median home value: $326,800 (73% own)
- Median rent: $1,154 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $82,390

Central Texas' Kendall County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. From 2015 to 2016 the county grew by more than 5%, gaining more than 2,000 people in a single year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The county seat is Boerne, which is a thriving community packed with attractions, farmers markets, museums, wine bars, parks, and trails.

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#50. Middlesex County, Virginia

- Population: 10,700
- Median home value: $263,900 (80% own)
- Median rent: $868 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $51,917

Water-bound Middlesex County is a beautiful slice of Virginia. The county is surrounded by the Rappahannock River, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Piankatank River. Water is a way of life for residents, whether it's kayaking or paddle boarding, feasting on local oysters, or docking in Deltaville, which is a boating capital for the Chesapeake Bay.

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DwayneP // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Pulaski County, Virginia

- Population: 34,234
- Median home value: $144,800 (72% own)
- Median rent: $657 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $52,638

Pulaski County, Virginia spans a total of 319 square miles in the southwestern corner of the state. It's a county surrounded by majestic natural beauty, from the Blue Ridge mountains to Clayton Lake State Park. The park features nearly 500 acres for camping, swimming, and picnicking. The lake has a popular marina, as well.

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#48. Morris County, Texas

- Population: 12,424
- Median home value: $86,300 (74% own)
- Median rent: $670 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $42,961

Morris County, Texas is a great place for retirees, as it is one of the most affordable counties in the country. According to Best Places, the cost of living is 27.5% lower than the national average.

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#47. Oconee County, Georgia

- Population: 37,017
- Median home value: $268,100 (83% own)
- Median rent: $970 (17% rent)
- Median household income: $88,308

Oconee County is an affluent county in northeastern Georgia with low crime rates and a median household income of $88,308. The agricultural community is known for its pick-your-own produce farms, hiking and biking rails, art galleries, and many parks like the Hardigree Wildlife Sanctuary and the Harris Shoals Park.

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#46. Prairie County, Arkansas

- Population: 8,244
- Median home value: $68,000 (72% own)
- Median rent: $593 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $41,846

Prairie County in Central Arkansas is heralded for its low cost of living and high quality of life. The county seat is DeValls Bluff. Within the county are two wildlife centers: Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area and Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, making the county a paradise for anglers, hunters, boaters, and lovers of the great outdoors.

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#45. Tyler County, Texas

- Population: 21,496
- Median home value: $85,400 (85% own)
- Median rent: $720 (15% rent)
- Median household income: $43,936

East Texas' Tyler County spans 924 square miles. The county seat, Woodville, is known for its culture, heritage, and wildlife preservation. Tyler County is a haven for artists, as well, and even has its own Tyler County Art League. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy Lake Tejas, as well as the Martin Dies Jr. State Park and the Big Thicket National Preserve.

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#44. Eastland County, Texas

- Population: 18,270
- Median home value: $68,500 (76% own)
- Median rent: $582 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $35,325

Smack in the heart of central Texas, Eastland County is known for its cultural, natural, and historic attractions. There are several museums in the county, from the Conrad N. Hilton Center to the Outdoor Art Museum. Golf enthusiasts have four golf clubs to choose from, and the many lakes in the area, like Lake Cisco, offer acres of hiking, boating, fishing, and swimming.

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#43. Glades County, Florida

- Population: 13,363
- Median home value: $76,400 (79% own)
- Median rent: $746 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $39,879

Glades County, Florida embraces life on the water. The county has more than 30 miles of coast on Lake Okeechobee, and 60 miles of riverfront along the Caloosahatchee River. Residents love the county for its bass fishing and biking along the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail. The county is also home to the Seminole Brighton Casino, which is a popular attraction for locals and visitors.

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#42. Stone County, Arkansas

- Population: 12,446
- Median home value: $113,900 (73% own)
- Median rent: $590 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $36,162

Stone County, Arkansas is nestled in the majestic Ozark Mountains. In fact, a large portion of the county is part of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. It's a wonderful place for retirees who are looking to escape into the rugged, natural environment. In addition to the national forest, there are six other protected areas, including the Blanchard Springs Caverns and the Ozark Folk Center State Park, which preserves the traditional folk music and crafts of the Ozark people.

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#41. Marshall County, Oklahoma

- Population: 16,376
- Median home value: $88,000 (72% own)
- Median rent: $668 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $45,828

Southern Oklahoma's Marshall County is the smallest county in the state, according to USA.com. Its shared boundary with Texas is Lake Texoma, one of the top spots in the nation for bass fishing. But the lake provides other opportunities for residents to enjoy the community, from swimming and hiking to wildlife.

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#40. Little River County, Arkansas

- Population: 12,417
- Median home value: $72,200 (72% own)
- Median rent: $567 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $45,388

Historic Little River County, Arkansas, is less than three hours from the state capital, Little Rock. The rural county is known for its wonderful outdoor opportunities, like Millwood Lake and Millwood State Park. The historic county is also known for its architecture, like the Little River County Courthouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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#39. Coleman County, Texas

- Population: 8,391
- Median home value: $70,000 (71% own)
- Median rent: $666 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $43,981

Central Texas' Coleman County spans more than 1,200 square miles. The agricultural community is perched between the iconic Rolling Plains of Texas Big Country and the northern edge of Texas Hill Country. The county has golf, lakes, and parks, plus is one of the more affordable counties in the nation.

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#38. Thayer County, Nebraska

- Population: 5,098
- Median home value: $66,800 (79% own)
- Median rent: $566 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $50,734

Thayer County sits in southern Nebraska on the border with Kansas. The historic county was once a stop along the Oregon Trail, as well as the Pony Express. Today it's one of the top places to retire in the nation, thanks to its natural attractions like Alexandria State Lakes. The county seat, Hebron, has the Arrowhead Garden arboretum, a nine-hole golf course, and three parks.

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#37. Greene County, Georgia

- Population: 16,976
- Median home value: $207,700 (71% own)
- Median rent: $691 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $49,755

Greene County in Central Georgia is known as the state's Lake Country. That's because it's perched right on the beautiful Lake Oconee and bordered by the Oconee National Forest. The town of Greensboro has 10 golf resorts, as well. The community has its own performing arts society, which has a calendar of cultural events throughout the year.

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#36. Gillespie County, Texas

- Population: 26,208
- Median home value: $276,100 (73% own)
- Median rent: $931 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $58,325

Gillespie County, Texas is located right in the heart of Texas Hill Country. The county seat is Fredericksburg, a thriving community known for its dining, wineries, local shopping, parks and nature trails. Fredericksburg has a vibrant nightlife, as well, with live music venues, bars, and breweries.

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#35. Cleburne County, Arkansas

- Population: 25,230
- Median home value: $132,400 (75% own)
- Median rent: $679 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $43,391

Cleburne County is a county in northern Arkansas, where the Ozark Mountains meet the Delta region. Anchored by the county seat, Heber Springs, the county is known for its natural attractions, like Magness Lake, where beautiful Trumpeter swans migrate every year. Heber Springs is also known for its seven natural springs, for which the town was named. Some springs still receive travelers looking to soak in the medicinal properties from the water.

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#34. Atchison County, Missouri

- Population: 5,270
- Median home value: $85,600 (70% own)
- Median rent: $542 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $48,385

Atchison County sits at the most northwestern tip of the state. Its main boundary with Nebraska is the Missouri River. The county is one of the most affordable in the nation, with home values well below the national median. According to Niche, it is also one of the safest counties in the country.

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#33. Delaware County, Oklahoma

- Population: 42,112
- Median home value: $114,900 (76% own)
- Median rent: $673 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $39,742

Historic Delaware County, located in northeastern Oklahoma, sits perched on the Ozark Plateau, which is an area known for its forests and prairies. Two rivers flow through the county, as well—the Grand River and Elk River. There are also several lakes, like Lake Eucha and Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, which provide ample recreational opportunities for residents.

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#32. Comanche County, Texas

- Population: 13,495
- Median home value: $101,400 (79% own)
- Median rent: $546 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $47,893

Perched on the Edwards Plateau in Central Texas, Comanche County is one of the more beautiful counties in the country. Its main feature is Proctor Lake, which affords residents endless opportunities for boating, fishing, camping, and swimming. The county has a golf course, historical landmarks, and parks.

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#31. Mathews County, Virginia

- Population: 8,796
- Median home value: $224,800 (87% own)
- Median rent: $953 (13% rent)
- Median household income: $67,009

The coastal Mathews County, Virginia is one of the nicest beach counties on the East Coast. It is home to the major beach destinations like Norfolk and Newport News. Local favorite beaches include Haven Beach, known for its lagoon and shorebirds, and Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve, a wind-swept 83 acres of low dunes and salt marshes.

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#30. Roscommon County, Michigan

- Population: 23,877
- Median home value: $102,700 (83% own)
- Median rent: $674 (17% rent)
- Median household income: $40,302

Roscommon County in northern Michigan is an affordable, rural county that thrives on its beautiful natural features. The county is home to many lakes and rivers, which provide countless recreational activities for residents and visitors. Houghton Lake, for example, is a haven for canoeing and kayaking, fishing, hiking, golf, and boating.

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#29. Henry County, Tennessee

- Population: 32,279
- Median home value: $101,200 (76% own)
- Median rent: $629 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $40,837

Henry County sits on the northwestern border of Tennessee. The county seat is Paris, which is a draw for retirees thanks to its history and Southern culture. Residents love the annual fish fry, which is touted as the world's largest. The week-long event brings the community together for contests, a rodeo, parade, and, of course, fish dinners. The local Paris Civic Center is a big draw for active residents, as well, with its Olympic-sized pool, basketball court, walking track, and gym. The county is near the Kentucky Lake area, which has miles of walking paths and campgrounds.

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#28. Bandera County, Texas

- Population: 21,763
- Median home value: $167,600 (84% own)
- Median rent: $872 (16% rent)
- Median household income: $53,683

Bandera County, Texas is a cultural melting pot thanks to the part it has played in history throughout the centuries. It's a mix of Native American, Mexican, Polish, and Western culture. Today the county is wonderful for retirees thanks to the sheer volume of things to do, from horseback riding and live music, to parks, scenic drives, and a vibrant nightlife.

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#27. Jasper County, Texas

- Population: 35,504
- Median home value: $104,600 (77% own)
- Median rent: $746 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $46,088

Jasper County, Texas is an East Texas county known for its culture and nature. The county seat, Jasper, is 85% covered in forest. The historic town of Jasper is known for its local art galleries, outdoor art, antiques, and calendar of annual events that bring the community together.

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#26. Lyon County, Kentucky

- Population: 8,186
- Median home value: $134,100 (81% own)
- Median rent: $567 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $50,097

Lyon County is a small county in Western Kentucky with an affordable cost of living and high quality of life. The county is home to the beautiful Lake Barkley, a stunning stretch of pristine lake that draws anglers, cyclists, hunters, and drivers looking to cruise the scenic byways. The community is replete with museums and historical attractions, as well as public parks and wildlife refuges.

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#25. Montgomery County, Arkansas

- Population: 8,993
- Median home value: $106,700 (83% own)
- Median rent: $446 (17% rent)
- Median household income: $37,855

Montgomery County, Arkansas has less than 9,000 residents in an area of about 800 square miles. Known for its natural beauty, the county is attractive to retirees because of Lake Ouachita, the largest lake in the state. The county is less than two hours from Little Rock's shopping, dining, and culture.

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#24. Northumberland County, Virginia

- Population: 12,223
- Median home value: $285,900 (85% own)
- Median rent: $820 (15% rent)
- Median household income: $58,677

Located on the Northern Neck of Virginia, Northumberland County is bound by the Chesapeake Bay, Rappahannock River and Potomac River. It’s among one of the more historic places in the nation and is packed with historical sites. The county is also known for its winemaking tradition, as well as its parks and nature trails.

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#23. Transylvania County, North Carolina

- Population: 33,513
- Median home value: $211,300 (77% own)
- Median rent: $720 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $46,629

Located in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina, Transylvania County is called the "Land of Waterfalls." That's because 250 waterfalls can be discovered throughout the county, including Whitewater Falls, which is one of the highest in the U.S. Retirees love Transylvania County for its natural splendor, as well as its rich culture, from the Brevard Philharmonic to the Brevard Community Band and Transylvania Choral Society.

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#22. Haskell County, Texas

- Population: 5,809
- Median home value: $51,400 (76% own)
- Median rent: $609 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $46,013

Haskell County in north central Texas is a great option for retirees, thanks to its low cost of living and low crime, according to Niche. The majority of residents are older than 65.

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#21. Izard County, Arkansas

- Population: 13,559
- Median home value: $81,500 (79% own)
- Median rent: $610 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $40,218

Izard County, Arkansas is top choice among retirees because of the low cost of living. Crime rates are low, as well, according to Niche. The majority of residents are over the age of 65. One of the top attractions is the beautiful Mirror Lake, a three-acre body of water known for its trout population, nearby caverns, and ample amount of hiking trails.

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#20. Greenwood County, Kansas

- Population: 6,156
- Median home value: $63,500 (74% own)
- Median rent: $574 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $42,595

Greenwood County is in the southeastern corner of Kansas. It contains the towns of Eureka, Climax, Hamilton, Virgil, Madison, Fall River, and Severy. The county is small, at just over 6,000 people, and cost of living is low. The county is home to several outdoor recreational areas, like Cross Timbers State Park, Fall River State Lake & Wildlife Area, and West Creek Recreation.

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#19. Talbot County, Maryland

- Population: 37,211
- Median home value: $331,500 (70% own)
- Median rent: $1,103 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $67,204

The eastern, coastal Talbot County in Maryland is steeped in American history. It offers more than 600 miles of Chesapeake Bay waterfront, as well as a calendar of events that include art, food, and music festivals. The county has waterfront villages and towns, as well as ample opportunities for sailing enthusiasts to get out onto the water.

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#18. Leon County, Texas

- Population: 17,098
- Median home value: $110,100 (79% own)
- Median rent: $730 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $44,818

Leon County, Texas is an East Texas county anchored by the seat of Centerville. Located halfway between Houston and Dallas, Leon County is close enough to major city facilities, but far enough away to retain that slice of small town living. The historic county is steeped in tradition, from local community festivals to antique shops, and holiday celebrations that bring the community together.

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#17. Leelanau County, Michigan

- Population: 21,639
- Median home value: $256,300 (88% own)
- Median rent: $865 (12% rent)
- Median household income: $63,831

Leelanau County, Michigan sits perched on the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula. It affords one of the most picturesque locations on sparkling Lake Michigan. In fact, the county is its own peninsula, which has many leisure attractions for residents and visitors alike, from the famous Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore to local wineries and ferry access to the Manitou Islands.

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#16. Lancaster County, Virginia

- Population: 10,804
- Median home value: $237,700 (76% own)
- Median rent: $817 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $50,739

Located on the tip of the Northern Neck Peninsula, Lancaster County offers 290 miles of Chesapeake Bay shoreline, attracting water enthusiasts, seafood lovers, and boaters of all levels. Lancaster County is also home to Belle Isle State Park, which has hiking, fishing, and camping areas. The historic county, which was founded in the mid-17th century, has beautiful colonial architecture, including one of the oldest colonial churches in the state.

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#15. Levy County, Florida

- Population: 39,961
- Median home value: $99,400 (77% own)
- Median rent: $707 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $37,634

Located where the Panhandle meets the peninsula, Levy County hugs the Gulf coast in the northern part of Florida. Retirees love the county because it offers a little bit of everything of the state, from long, beautiful drives to fishing villages, small towns, and natural wildlife. Cedar Key, for example, is one of the best examples of Old Florida, with beautiful beaches, natural preserves, and delicious Floridian cuisine.

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#14. Rabun County, Georgia

- Population: 16,457
- Median home value: $164,900 (75% own)
- Median rent: $678 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $40,902

The northeastern most county in Georgia, Rabun County is heralded for its natural features, including the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. The area is ruled by mountains, as the county sits on the Eastern Continental Divide. The region is home to several spectacular waterfalls, as well as a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

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#13. Sharp County, Arkansas

- Population: 17,043
- Median home value: $81,000 (76% own)
- Median rent: $549 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $33,708

Sharp County is a county located in northern Arkansas. The county seat is Ash Flat, which today is a paradise for outdoor lovers, particularly the Strawberry and Spring Rivers, as well as the Harold E. Alexander Spring River Wildlife Management Area. There is also the town of Hardy, founded in 1883, and today a retreat area filled with historic buildings, galleries, museums, and restaurants.

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#12. Aransas County, Texas

- Population: 24,763
- Median home value: $158,400 (78% own)
- Median rent: $942 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $44,865

Aransas County is a gulf county in the state of Texas. The laid-back coastal community thrives on oil industries, tourism, sport hunting and fishing, fine art, and nature. Retirees enjoy the warm, year-round temperature, which averages between 51 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. Climate Data, as well as the relaxed beach lifestyle and the affordable cost of living.

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#11. Camden County, Missouri

- Population: 45,096
- Median home value: $183,500 (80% own)
- Median rent: $757 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $52,087

Perched right on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, Camden County is full of activities for retirees. The county is also home to Ha Ha Tonka State Park, which is a fascinating natural playground filled with sinkholes, caves, and the ruins of an old castle that overlook the Lake. The park is veined with trails and walking paths, as well.

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#10. Pamlico County, North Carolina

- Population: 12,742
- Median home value: $154,500 (75% own)
- Median rent: $706 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $44,947

Pamlico County sits right in the heart of North Carolina's central coast. Life in Pamlico County is all about making the most of the forest and the water, with marshlands and both pine and hardwood forests. The county is surrounded by water, creating a wide range of activities for residents, from boating on the Pamlico Sound, to cycling, fishing, or experiencing live performance art.

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#9. Franklin County, Florida

- Population: 11,736
- Median home value: $139,500 (76% own)
- Median rent: $803 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $42,855

Nestled under the Florida Panhandle, Franklin County is part of Florida's "Forgotten Coast." It's affectionately called this because it remains one of the last vestiges of undeveloped, pristine Floridian coast. The county seat is the city of Apalachicola, which is known for its art galleries, boutiques, and maritime history. Golfers flock to Carrabelle to play on the championship course, while beach lovers head to St. George Island to tap into the tranquil, uncharted beaches.

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#8. Union County, Georgia

- Population: 22,775
- Median home value: $197,200 (78% own)
- Median rent: $731 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $44,978

Union County is a northern county in the state of Georgia, near many of the region's natural landmarks, like Brasstown Bald mountain, the Hiwassee River, and Vogel State Park. The county is peppered with waterfalls, local restaurants, and a calendar of festivals throughout the year.

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#7. Macon County, North Carolina

- Population: 34,410
- Median home value: $165,800 (73% own)
- Median rent: $747 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $43,597

Perched on the Nantahala River in the state of North Carolina, Macon County spans 515 square miles, much of which is within the Nantahala National Forest. It's an area rife with natural beauty, peace, and quiet. The area is also known for its many waterfalls, like Cullasaja Falls, which is part of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway.

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#6. Polk County, North Carolina

- Population: 20,458
- Median home value: $212,300 (73% own)
- Median rent: $828 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $48,834

Polk County sits at the southwestern edge of North Carolina, in prime mountain country, with both the Blue Ridge Mountains and Piedmont ranges. This opens up a world of possibilities for retirees to experience the great outdoors, from kayaking and tubing to scenic drives, hiking, fishing, parks, golf, and horseback riding.

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#5. Wood County, Texas

- Population: 43,815
- Median home value: $130,200 (80% own)
- Median rent: $764 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $48,534

Wood County is a county located in East Texas, known for its stunning lakes, cultural events, performing arts, and golf courses. Its most notable landmark is the expansive Lake Fork Reservoir, spanning 27,690 acres with 315 miles of shoreline. 

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#4. Llano County, Texas

- Population: 20,640
- Median home value: $186,100 (80% own)
- Median rent: $840 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $52,178

Llano County, Texas sits in the center of the state on the Edwards Plateau. It’s affectionately known as the “Deer Capital of Texas,” and prides itself on its outdoor living, music, and cuisine. Locals of Llano are proud of the small town living, and natural attractions like Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and Lake Buchanan.

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#3. Sabine County, Texas

- Population: 10,458
- Median home value: $101,200 (88% own)
- Median rent: $600 (12% rent)
- Median household income: $33,257

East Texas' Sabine County was founded in the early 19th century, and named for the Sabine River that forms part of its eastern border. The county's crown jewel is Toledo Bend Lake, which straddles the border with Louisiana and offers more than 180,000 acres of recreational opportunity. There is also the Sabine National Forest, which offers 28 miles of hiking trails.

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#2. Baxter County, Arkansas

- Population: 41,219
- Median home value: $128,800 (76% own)
- Median rent: $678 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $41,481

Arkansas’ Baxter County sits at the northern border of the state. It’s often referred to as the Twin Lakes Area because it is bordered by two of the state’s largest lakes: Bull Shoals Lake and Norfork Lake. The county seat is Mountain Home, a quaint community tucked in the Ozark Mountains. Mountain Home is a haven of activity for water sports, outdoor activities, local restaurants, and shopping.

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#1. Brewster County, Texas

- Population: 9,216
- Median home value: $134,300 (58% own)
- Median rent: $687 (42% rent)
- Median household income: $43,894

The number one rural county in the United States for retirees is Brewster County, the southernmost county in West Texas. The county spans a sweeping 6,183 square miles and is home to Big Bend, one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. This county is one of the best spots in the country for outdoor adventure, striking scenery, small towns, Mexican handicrafts, and long, scenic drives.

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