Small towns appeal to many people looking for a slower pace, and they also have big advantages, such as lower costs of living and higher livability scores. With inflation at a four-decade high, these towns might become even more appealing to people approaching retirement.
Indeed, a recent GOBankingRates survey found that because of inflation, 50% of Americans plan to relocate when they retire. And the No. 1 choice for relocation — 26% — is to retire in small towns, the survey found.
Small Town USA doesn’t need to equate with boring anymore. Many of these smaller enclaves offer a mix of bustling downtowns, a slew of outdoor activities and a closeness to bigger metros.
- Population: 125,944
- Monthly cost of living: $1,969
Allentown, on the Lehigh River, was founded in 1762 by William Allen. The city says it has a “diverse nightlife, fine dining, golf — and other activities abound.”
The town has many museums, historic sites and colleges, including Cedar Crest College and Muhlenberg College. It also has an extensive parks system that “boasts the highest acreage of any American city its size,” according to Discoverlehighvalley.com.
- Population: 125,070
- Monthly cost of living: $2,001
Abilene has a walkable downtown cultural district, with several live music venues, museums, performing arts centers, an historic theater, shopping, dining and the largest collection of storybook sculptures in the world.
The town was created by the T&P Railway and established in 1881, has three private universities, an Air Force base and a downtown revitalization underway, according to its tourism website.
Willoughby Hills, Ohio
- Population: 9,970
- Monthly cost of living: $2,055
Willoughby Hills, which was incorporated as a village in 1954, became a city in 1970 and is said to be one of the most picturesque communities in Northeastern Ohio.
Its motto is “Where the City Meets the Country,” which the city explains means that it strives to preserve its rural atmosphere while still meeting the needs of a growing suburban community.
It is also home to Squire’s Castle, a popular destination gatehouse built in the 1890s.
- Population: 11,484
- Monthly cost of living: $2,091
Farmington, located in Southeast Michigan in the southern part of Oakland County, is 25 miles from Lakes St. Clair and Erie, close to the Detroit River.
The city has a vibrant and walkable downtown area and is also home to the old-school Farmington Civic Theater, which has been a fixture in Metro Detroit since the 1940s, and the Farmington Brewing Company, according to LetsDetroit.com.
Farmington also has six city parks, including Downtown Riley Park, which hosts Rhythmz in Riley Park, a summertime concert series.
- Population: 40,592
- Monthly cost of living: $2,092
Lynnwood is another town offering the best of both worlds, being just 16 miles north of Seattle and minutes from many Puget Sound sights.
Lynnwood offers outdoor recreation, including hiking, as well as wine tastings, art and shopping.
Auburn Hills, Michigan
- Population: 24,686
- Monthly cost of living: $2,157
Auburn Hills, just 30 miles north of Detroit, is one of the fastest growing suburban cities in Southeastern Michigan and is known for its 22 high-technology parks.
“Auburn Hills’ residents enjoy the amenities of city and suburban living with parks, a revitalized downtown district and a welcoming city complex with a library and community center,” according to Michigan.org.
The city also has four colleges and universities.
- Population: 13,560
- Monthly cost of living: $2,290
Seabrook is located in the heart of Bay Area Houston, just 30 minutes from downtown Houston, 20 minutes from the Hobby Airport and 40 minutes from Galveston Island.
The town says it offers “resort-style experiences” along Clear Lake and Galveston Bay.
The town is also great for outdoors enthusiasts as it has an extensive hike and bike trail system, and for bird lovers, as it is home to 300 diverse species.
Winter Garden, Florida
- Population: 46,502
- Monthly cost of living: $2,339
If you, your children or your grandchildren are Disney fans, Winter Garden, just west of Orlando, might be the place for you.
Its historic downtown is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It is on the West Orange Trail, part of the 250-mile Coast to Coast Connector Trail across Central Florida — great for cycling aficionados.
Winter Garden is a former citrus town incorporated in 1908.
White Rock, New Mexico
- Population: 5,751
- Monthly cost of living: $2,958
White Rock is in Los Alamos County and is said to be one of the best places to live in New Mexico, if you like the outdoors. Living in White Rock offers residents a rural feel and many parks, and most residents own their homes, according to Niche.com.
La Crescent, Minnesota
- Population: 5,138
- Monthly cost of living: $2,962
La Crescent, “The Apple Capital of Minnesota,” is on the Mississippi River and located on three scenic byways: Apple Blossom Scenic Byway, National Historic Bluff Country Scenic Byway and the Great River Road all pass through La Crescent.
This town is also well-suited for outdoors enthusiasts, offering hiking, bicycling, boating, kayaking, fishing, birding and snowshoeing.
Foodies will be happy as well, as the town has several wineries and orchards. It is also conveniently close to the La Crosse, Wis., municipal airport.
AARP gives it a 69 livability score.
- Population: 5,791
- Monthly cost of living: $3,052
Salida, in Chaffee County, is in the heart of the Rockies in central Colorado and is surrounded by the Sawatch Range, the Arkansas River and Monarch Mountain.
The town was founded in the 1800s, and its downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the largest historic district in the state.
If you love hiking, you’re in luck, as the surrounding area offers many trails, as well as hot springs.
AARRP gives it a 68 livability score.
New Milford, Connecticut
- Population: 6,465
- Monthly cost of living: $3,234
New Milford is located in Litchfield County and is conveniently 90 miles from Manhattan.
The town says it has “an unsurpassed quality of life with our New England small-town friendliness and charm.”
The town offers boating on Candlewood Lake, hosts the August Jazz on the Green and has a historic downtown.
Great Neck Plaza, New York
- Population: 7,140
- Monthly cost of living: $4,206
Great Neck Plaza is a town on the Great Neck Peninsula in Nassau County, on the North Shore of Long Island. It was incorporated in May 1930.
Great Neck Plaza has a commercial district, three parks and residential sections. Conveniently, it has a railroad station (Great Neck Branch of the Long Island Rail Road).
AARP gives it a livability score of 71.
Falls Church, Virginia
- Population: 14,128
- Monthly cost of living: $4,225
Falls Church has the best of both worlds. The small town has easy access to Washington, D.C. — its City Hall is only nine miles from the White House.
The historic town was established around The Falls Church, founded in 1734, and then became a township in 1875 and an independent city in 1948.
- Population: 7,431
- Monthly cost of living: $4,418
Aspen is located in Pitkin County in the central Rocky Mountains. The town is considered an outdoors lovers paradise, but it also has a bit of everything for everyone. According to its Chamber of Commerce website, the town has “renowned arts and culture, exceptional cuisine and world-class accommodations.”
It is also agreeable year round, with skiing in winter and hiking, biking and rafting in every season.
AARP gives the town a livability score of 72.
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