Do your retirement dreams involve more surf than turf? Then we have five beach towns that are perfect for you! These five towns are the best places to retire for those sun worshippers and nature lovers who picture spending their golden years near the water.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Considered one of the world's best beach towns for retirement by U.S. News and World Report, Puerto Vallarta's gorgeous weather and beaches are a big draw for retirees. Years of investment from developers and the Mexican government have made this town pretty high end when it comes to amenities and infrastructure. Expenses here can be comparable to the U.S. But with easy access to the U.S. and high-quality health care providers, retirees looking for beach living abroad may want to consider Puerto Vallarta.
San Juan Islands, Washington
Nature lovers can have the best of both worlds -- land and sea -- by retiring to one of the San Juan Islands in Washington State. Bird and whale watching, hiking and kayaking are just some of the activities one can enjoy in any of the small and quiet towns on the Islands. And with weather topping at 70 and 40 degrees in the summer and winter respectively, you can count on being comfortable while out and about all year round. Four of the 172 San Juan Islands have ferry service, and each island has their own distinct personality. Travel + Leisure recommends Friday Harbor, the county seat of the Island.
If seclusion is what you're looking for in your next home, maybe this small beach town located in Northern California is for you. The town's main airport is 20 miles away and only makes flights within three counties (hello, San Diego, Portland and Sacramento); the nearest international airport is 200 miles away in Sacramento. But you may never want to leave your new home. Eureka is a gem of a town: once an important port city, the town is rich with awe-inspiring 19th and 20th century historical homes. It's also rich in natural beauty -- redwood trees are plentiful. While the average existing-home price in California is a backbreaking $400,000, homes in Eureka are slightly under the national average at $207,300.
Corpus Christi, Texas
This coastal town was named one of the 25 best places to retire by Forbes last year, due to its growing economy, low cost of living and low average home price. And with 113 miles of Gulf shore at your disposal, Corpus Christi is perfect for anyone looking for a beach experience in their retirement.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
This beach town is big with military retirees and what MarketWatch calls "half backs" -- those Yankee retirees who didn't like it in Florida so settled somewhere in between. With 35 miles of shoreline and free beach access, Virginia Beach is one of the best beach towns for retirement. Virginia has one of the lowest combined state and local tax rates at 5 percent; a low unemployment rate if you're interested in supplementing your Social Security income with work (5.2 percent); and though Virginia's cost of living is more than 9 percent above the national average, groceries, housing, transportation and health care are considerably more affordable compared to fellow beach town, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Add the beauty of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and your bags have practically packed themselves.
San Antonio, Texas
<strong>Vibe:</strong> Old West; urban flair <strong>Mingle with the natives:</strong> By sharing a bike. The city's new bike share program lets you pedal all over town for just dollars a day. <strong>Sunny days per year:</strong> 227 <strong>Best daytime lark: </strong>El Mercado (which the city claims is the biggest Mexican marketplace outside Mexico) in Old Market Square. <strong>Median home price:</strong> $135,000 <strong>Local flavor: </strong>Brunch at the Mad Hatter's Tea House and Café, with a $10 fishbowl mimosa <strong>Impress friends and family with: </strong>The endless selection of restaurants and patio dining on the famous River Walk
<strong>Vibe:</strong> Midwestern cozy with a high-tech spark <strong>Secret affordability sauce: </strong>Millionaires with a conscience. Thanks to civic-minded executives, private donations fund parks, arts, and sports <strong>Mingle with the natives: </strong>Hoist a local beer at Mr. Toad's, in the heart of the Old Market area <strong>Sunny days per year:</strong> 220 <strong>Best daytime lark:</strong> Seniors pay $12.50 at the world-class Henry Doorly Zoo; don't miss walking the rope bridge in the Rain Forest exhibit <strong>Median home price:</strong> $123,500 <strong>Local flavor:</strong> Wheatfields' baked goods rock; so does its senior menu, where a Grandmere Scramble or a Dusseldorf casserole goes for $8.50 <strong>Impress friends and family with:</strong> The area's numerous start-up companies, earning it the "Silicon Prairie" nickname
Grand Junction, Colorado
<strong>Vibe:</strong> Contemporary arts meet Western charm <strong>Secret affordability sauce:</strong> Two-thirds of the county land is public, making recreation a bargain; a recent 20 percent drop in housing prices <strong>Mingle with the natives at:</strong> The Rockslide Brewery downtown <strong>Sunny days per year:</strong> 260 <strong>Best daytime lark: </strong>Wander among the extensive (and quirky) outdoor sculptures <strong>Median home price:</strong> $159,800 <strong>Local flavor: </strong>Local vineyards get plenty of press, but make sure you snack on the region's impressive strawberries, sweet cherries, and peaches. (An outlying town is even named Fruita.) <strong>Impress friends and family with:</strong> The views of the Grand Valley
<strong>Vibe:</strong> Green not grimy, the city's 88 distinct neighborhoods create a European atmosphere <strong>Secret affordability sauce:</strong> Stable, diverse economy--since 2008, only Austin and Houston have added jobs faster <strong>Mingle with the natives at:</strong> Frick Park, in the city. In the summer, check out the Bowling Green (lessons are free for beginners) and in the winter, sled down the hill near Beechwood Boulevard <strong>Sunny days per year:</strong> 161 <strong>Best daytime lark: </strong>PNC Park, home of the Pirates, ranked as the No. 1 baseball field in the country by ESPN. Bleacher seats from $14 <strong>Median home price: </strong>$106,500 <strong>Local flavor:</strong> Eggs and kielbasa for breakfast at DeLuca's in the Strip district <strong>Impress your friends and family with: </strong>The view as you emerge from the Fort Pitt Tunnel. <em>The New York Times</em> once pronounced Pittsburgh "the only city with an entrance."
<strong>Vibe:</strong> Funky hippie meets world traveler. <strong>Secret affordability sauce:</strong> The country's sixth largest college--The University of Florida--fuels an economy more durable than most Southern cities. <strong>Mingle with the natives at:</strong> The Swamp, aka UF's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Tim Tebow isn't the only person to get fit running up and down the stairs here. Walk or run all you want--for free. <strong>Sunny days per year: </strong>242 <strong>Best daytime lark:</strong> At the Florida Museum of Natural History, seniors pay $9 to watch butterflies released into the Butterfly Rain Forest Exhibit <strong>Median home price:</strong> $125,500 <strong>Local flavor:</strong> A Cuban sandwich ($8.95) at Emiliano's Café, a pioneer in the pan-Latin food movement. <strong>Impress friends and family with:</strong> The dense urban canopy, where Northern hardwoods meet Southern tropics.