How To Find The Best Place To Enjoy Your Retirement In 2022


s Karen and David Griffiths were nearing retirement, they knew one thing for sure. “We were done with Los Angeles,” explains David, now 70, a Brit with dual US citizenship. Sure, they’ve lived and worked in America’s second largest city for nearly three decades—Karen as a NICU nurse and David as an investment banker-turned-software company CEO, screenwriter, and producer. But they were willing to move to a smaller town provided they could still satisfy their love of theater and dining out.

Karen, now 69, a native of upstate New York, has been visiting Ashland, Oregon for more than 15 years to enjoy the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival — and to meet up with her sister, who lived in Portland. David came along at times and came to appreciate the festival (which now runs nine months of the year and includes productions beyond the bard) and the local restaurant and arts scene.

Ashland, a growing foothills town of 22,000 amidst vast national forests in southern Oregon just north of the California border, is one of the favorites on the new Forbes list of the 25 Best Places to Enjoy Your Retirement in 2022 . Our selections, spread across all four continental time zones and 16 US states, cover seven different passions for retirement: (1) arts/culture, (2) fine dining, (3) lifelong learning, (4) volunteering, (5) water outdoor activities, (6) land outdoor activities, and (7) golf, a subcategory of land activities.

The full list can be found here. Almost all places that vary greatly in population excel in more than one area of ​​interest. Austin hits all seven while Seattle and Boston are good for six. On the other hand, Pinehurst, NC is here for only one reason — golf — while newcomer Flagstaff, Arizona, makes the cut solely for its extensive range of outdoor activities on land, including skiing and hiking.

Along with arts/culture and fine dining, Ashland is also on the list for outdoor country activities and lifelong learning. Southern Oregon University (which employed the theater professor who founded the Shakespeare Festival in 1935) allows seniors to attend most classes for free, space permitting.

Gallery: In Pictures: The 25 Best Places to Enjoy Your Retirement in 2022

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When deciding where to relocate for retirement, the Griffiths, who have now been married for 48 years, gave serious consideration to two other places – both of which, as luck would have it, also make our list. One of these was Boulder, Colorado, which we cite for arts/culture, good food, lifelong learning, outdoor activities on land, and volunteerism. “A little too big,” says David of the 108,000-person city that borders the Rockies. The other was the mountain state capital of Santa Fe, NM (population 86,000), with fine dining, land-based outdoor activities, and a large arts and cultural scene, but, David said, shed some light on the theater productions he and his wife to like. “Santa Fe was close behind,” he says.

The Griffiths gave themselves plenty of time to explore before taking the plunge. One day in Ashland, they found their real estate agent by simply walking down E. Main Street, stopping outside the Ashland Homes Real Estates office to look at the sales flyers taped to the windows, and then walking inside, where they found agent Jesse Donovan met . “He tickled us with emails from charming houses for two years,” says David. Eventually they bought a 134-year-old Eastlake Victorian that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a short walk from the home of the Shakespeare Festival. “It was a real fixer-upper,” says David. It was also a stark contrast to her Spanish home in LA.

Our annual signature list of the 25 Best Places to Retire — the last one released in May — aims to find affordable retirement places that offer something special. This list, with its focus on serious hobbies, is different. We don’t consider economic factors like average home cost, cost of living, and state taxes, although we do include these data and more in each write-up. One result is the presence of some expensive locations like San Francisco, Boulder, Boston and Hilton Head, SC. But with the average home price in the US now up to $404,000, according to the National Association of Realtors, seven places on our list are no more than 15% higher or lower. Those in this area are Asheville, NC; Fayetteville, Ark.; Gainesville, Florida; Traverse City, Michigan; Walla Walla, Washington; Tampa and Pinehurst, NC Ashland’s median home price is $599,000, 48% higher than the national average.

An unusual factor that we consider is climate change vulnerability/natural hazard risk. A few years ago, Forbes was the first media company to include such risks in its methodology for regularly selecting retirement places, eliminating places with the highest risk. Now such concerns have become a mainstream retirement issue. Such risks have eliminated a number of places featured on our previous passion lists, including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC. But with new third-party reviews, some are delisted for this reason, returning this year, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Sarasota, Florida.

Our selection is listed alphabetically, with the particular passions noted for each location.

This is how we compiled the list. We surveyed more than 500 locations across the country and reviewed lots of data, which we subjected to our rating metrics. We eliminated places with fewer than 10,000 residents based on the theory that if everyone rushed in, there would be insufficient housing supply. For the specific passions and the best places to do them, we’ve reviewed numerous published reviews from experts and enthusiasts.

While economics was not critical in this list, other factors played a role. These include physicians per capita, air quality, and how easy it is to walk or bike to a particular location. A disqualifying factor is an excessively serious crime rate, which we define as being several times or more than the national average. Two locations in particular on this list, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, have been in the news for public safety issues. But the data suggests serious crime rates well below hype, some of which may have political overtones. Both cities have a lot to offer when it comes to retirement.

We include a description of state taxation because movers want to know about it. Seven locations on the list have no state income tax: Austin, Gainesville, Naples, Sarasota and Tampa, Florida, and Seattle and Walla Walla. Three have no sales tax: Ashland, Bend and Portland, Ore. We determine if any portion of Social Security income is taxed at the state level (most places aren’t, but out of luck in Boulder and Santa Fe) and if there is a state estate or inheritance tax (found in Ashland , Bend, Boston, Portland, Ore; Seattle and Walla Walla, with Annapolis having both).

The data is collected from several places. Median property prices come primarily from Realtors and Cost of living information comes from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Serious crime statistics come from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Air quality metrics are collected by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Ratings of walkability (the ability to easily stroll to basic retail stores and public transportation for everyday needs) and bikeability (same idea when pedaling) come from and the League of American Bicyclists. Ambience for volunteering comes from and Information on government taxes comes primarily from The Tax Foundation.

On the climate change/natural hazards component, FEMA’s National Risk Index for Natural Hazards calculates a relative vulnerability measure for each county in the country to 18 natural hazards, including floods, hurricanes, landslides and earthquakes. The ratings also consider the preparation of a place to deal with problems.

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