10 Affordable Places To Retire in the Desert

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Newtonian / Shutterstock.com

The desert has long been a popular destination for retirees. The weather is warm, but has plenty of mild climates scattered across the U.S. southwest and beyond. Of course, deserts can provide some of the lushest natural scenery and outdoor activities for people looking to make the most of their post-work years. 

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While the favorable climate and natural beauty are a big part of the appeal of retiring in these desert towns, there are also factors like affordability, cost of living, accessibility, and how each state handles different types of retirement income. Taking all this into consideration, here’s a look at 10 of the best places to retire in the desert.

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Tuscon, Arizona

A town well-known for appealing to retirees, Tucson has a cost of living lower than the national average, ranging from everything to groceries to medical care. Being in Arizona also means there’s no inheritance or state income tax. It also boasts three hospitals, 15 golf courses, and 120 parks. While the weather is known to get incredibly hot, the lack of humidity (and its many amenities) helps explain why retirees make up a significant portion of the population. 

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St. George, Utah

Found near the spot where Utah, Arizona, and Nevada meet, St. George is known as the golf capital of Utah. The state’s cost of living is lower than the national average, and St. George is actually lower than that, which is ideal for anyone on a fixed income. Social Security benefits are taxed but the state does have lower property taxes. There’s also a 45 percent exemption for retirees, adding to its appeal.

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Las Vegas, Nevada

What was once known as Sin City and synonymous with the glitz and gambling of the Vegas strip, the city has gradually transformed itself into a well-rounded metropolis that’s drawing in people from all walks of life. Along with 300 days of sunshine, there’s Nevada’s lenient tax policy, a robust food scene, and an abundance of communities geared toward retirees. 

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Palm Desert, Florida

Located two hours outside of Los Angeles, Palm Desert has more than 100 golf courses, 150 restaurants, and the mile-long shopping district El Paseo – all of which are drawing in people looking for a place to retire. It’s surrounded by a trio of mountains, which helps keeps it a year-round paradise. 

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El Paso, Texas

One of the most affordable cities in Texas is also one of the best cities to retire. Located along the Rio Grande and just across from Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, the city’s stunning natural beauty is celebrated with the largest urban park in the U.S. It’s also consistently ranked as one of the safest places to live in the country, and has no state income tax. 

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Boise, Idaho

For those who crave a more outdoor-centric lifestyle in their retirement years, Boise is worth considering. Already known for its walkability, parks and trails cover the city, including the 25-mile stretch of greenbelt along the Boise River and a part of Yellowstone. Just outside the city limits, you’ll find plenty of hiking, skiing, and camping, as well. Additionally, prescription drugs and social security aren’t taxed, and the cost of living is below the national average. 

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Cody, Wyoming

Tucked away in northwest Wyoming, Cody is a quiet, remote town that’s known for its appeal to retirees. Founded by Wild West superstar Buffalo Bill Cody, the town maintains its old west aesthetic to this day. Near the Big Horn Mountains, it’s also the eastern entrance to Yellowstone. Fiscally speaking, the cost of living is slightly above average, but there’s no state income tax, and no retirement income is taxed at all. 

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Missoula, Montana

Once called “Paris of the ’90s” by author John Updike, Missoula is another destination geared toward nature lovers, partly for being at the Bitterroot mountain range. While there’s no state sales tax, the cost of living is higher than the national average, and social security and other retirement income are taxed, though at a generally lower rate with more incentives for lower- or fixed-income residents. 

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Prescott, Arizona

Another town with a deep connection to the old west, the once rough-and-tumble mining town has become a sought-after destination for those aging out of the workforce. Unlike other parts of the Grand Canyon State, Prescott actually has four distinct seasons, with snowfall in the winter and (relatively) mild summers. Utilities and groceries cost below the national average – and the latter isn’t taxed at all. 

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Santa Fe, New Mexico

A city with its own brand of rustic sophistication, Santa Fe has long been a sought-after destination for those seeking an idyllic spot for their golden years. Its high elevation and mild climate go perfectly with the city’s overall laid-back ambiance. Social Security and other retirement income is taxed, though there are numerous exemptions in place for retirees. 

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