Mountain town retirement
Few aspiring retirees have enough saved to buy a retirement home in Aspen, Colorado, or Jackson, Wyoming. But if you're willing to look beyond the most well-known ski resorts, there are mountain towns that offer scenic views and well-groomed slopes at far more affordable prices. Consider retirement in these affordable mountain towns.
Asheville, North Carolina
Artists, writers and musicians have long been inspired by this North Carolina mountain town. A drive along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway or a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park or the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests is sure to restore your sense of wonder. It also helps that you can refuel at one of Asheville's many innovative restaurants and breweries. Asheville is a popular retirement spot, and over a quarter of the population is age 60 or older. A house with a mortgage costs a median of $1,265 per month, and the median monthly rent is $808.
Manchester, New Hampshire
Skiing can be an expensive retirement hobby, but it doesn't cost a fortune to ski in Manchester. The McIntyre Ski Area provides $30 season passes to those age 64 and older and free lift tickets for seniors. New Hampshire doesn't levy a state sales tax, and the only forms of income that are taxed are dividends and interest. But remember to pay attention to property taxes when buying a home in New Hampshire. The median monthly housing cost is $1,762 for a home with a mortgage or $987 in rent. Retirees can also venture into the nearby White Mountains for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing or to enjoy the stunning fall foliage.
Knoxville is about an hour's drive from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hiking and mountain biking are popular activities in Knoxville's Urban Wilderness, and the city has over 112 miles of greenway trails. Knoxville is also a college town, and the University of Tennessee Medical Center provides health care services to the community. The area's low housing costs make it easy for retirees to relocate. Homeowners with a mortgage pay a median of $1,120 in monthly housing costs, while renters are charged a median of $678 per month. Dividends and interest are the only types of income taxed by the state of Tennessee, and low-income seniors are exempt.
Retirees in Portland can choose to visit the Pacific Ocean or the mountains. Mt. Tabor Park was built atop an extinct volcano. You can also travel to Oregon's tallest peak, Mount Hood, which is about 90 minutes from Portland and can be viewed on a clear day from many scenic spots within the city. A public bus, the Mt. Hood Express, will take you up the mountain for $2. Homeowners with a mortgage pay a median of $1,635 per month to live in Portland, and rent is a median of $1,047 monthly. Portland's creative food scene is sure to fuel your next mountain adventure.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Between Pikes Peak, Seven Falls and the Garden of the Gods Park, you'll never lack scenery in this Rocky Mountain city. The high elevation and abundant fresh air make Colorado Springs the ideal spot for athletes to train at the U.S. Olympic Complex, located near the heart of the city. The economy is driven by several military bases in the area. Housing costs a median of $1,402 per month for homeowners with a mortgage and $953 among renters. The area's unique combination of city amenities and scenic beauty attracts many retirees to the area.
Phoenix Mountains Preserve is just 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix, and hikers can climb Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak while enjoying the saguaro and prickly pear cacti. South Mountain Park and Preserve has over 51 miles of trails, and you can drive or ride on horseback to scenic lookouts or explore the ancient petroglyphs. Arizona's state capital city added 234,301 new residents in the year that ended in July 2019, more than any other city in the U.S., and it now has a population of over 1.6 million. Yet housing remains affordable, costing homeowners a median of $1,312 monthly with a mortgage or $996 per month in rent.
The Mile High City offers mountain experiences you won't find anywhere else. You can enjoy the unique natural acoustics of a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre or take part in Yoga on the Rocks. Many Denver residents head to the mountains on the weekends to enjoy skiing or hiking in the Rocky Mountains. Multiple ski resorts are located within a two-hour drive from Denver. Homeowners pay a median of $1,587 per month including mortgage payments to live in Colorado's state capital city. The median rent in Denver is $1,092 per month.
The casinos, shows and nightlife are often what draws visitors to the Las Vegas area. Those who stay know that there is a world of natural beauty beyond the Strip as well as an affordable cost of living. The median monthly housing cost is $1,106 among homeowners with a mortgage and just $541 for renters. Las Vegas is surrounded by mountain ranges. Mount Charleston, for example, is just 35 miles from the city and can help you escape the heat as you explore the seasonal wildflowers and waterfalls. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park has ranger-led night hikes that allow you to experience how moonlight transforms the mountain landscape.
Skiing and snowboarding are popular winter activities in Spokane, and there are five ski resorts within a two-hour drive from downtown. Mount Spokane State Park has over 100 miles of trails in the Selkirk Mountains that allow for snowshoeing and snowmobiling in the winter and hiking and biking in the summer. This inland Washington city near the border with Idaho has a far lower cost of living than pricey Seattle. Housing costs a median of $1,251 monthly for a home with a mortgage or $764 in monthly rent. The Spokane River flows through the center of town and includes a large waterfall, Spokane Falls.
Fayetteville is a college town, and Arkansas residents age 60 and older can take classes tuition-free at the University of Arkansas. Students and residents of this Ozark Mountain town also have access to a complimentary bus service. Retirees can explore the Ozark National Forest or Devil's Den State Park. The low housing costs make it easy to relocate to this picturesque and lively city. Homeowners with a mortgage pay a median of $1,107 per month to live in Fayetteville, and the median rent is $679 monthly.
10 Affordable Mountain Towns for Retirement
-- Asheville, North Carolina.
-- Manchester, New Hampshire.
-- Knoxville, Tennessee.
-- Portland, Oregon.
-- Colorado Springs, Colorado.
-- Las Vegas.
-- Spokane, Washington.
-- Fayetteville, Arkansas.