Smart Money did the smart money move of linking retirement and fear of a recession and picked out seven cities that they deemed were recession proof. The first two cities were buoyed by a large university presence but the remainder were solid for non-recession reasons as well. For example, Pittsburgh was cited as number four because the cost of living there is 5% less than the national average (great in boon years as well as lean years) and homes appreciated approximately 1% compared to a 1.4% fall nationwide. So, for these seven cities, many are good domestic stops even if the economy wasn’t slowing down.
As mentioned earlier, Gainesville benefits from both a favorable state tax structure and proximity to the University of Florida (and its University of Florida Health Science Center). The cost of living is about average but the lack of a state income tax is crucial if you’re on a fixed income.
Ithaca is home to two large colleges, Cornell University and Ithaca College, and employment is 2% less than the national average, humming around at approximately 3.1%. Housing is also very affordable there: “Ithaca is also one of the most affordable places to live in the United States. Almost three-quarters of the city’s homes are priced at values that residents earning the median income of $64,500 can afford, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Opportunity Index. The median home sale price in 2007 was $149,000.”
Yet another Florida city benefits from no state income tax and warm weather. Compared to other Florida cities, Orlando is cheaper and has steadier housing figures, both of which are great for retirees. The only concern I have is that Orlando relies on entertainment company Disney, who might see a slowdown as people’s discretionary incomes either fall are come under scrutiny given the economic duress. Smart Money claims Orlando is more diversified than that but I’m still hesitant. No state income tax still gives it a great leg up though.
My second home, Pittsburgh is certainly a solid choice for a retirement spot simply because the cost of living is so low. I didn’t know it was 5% below the national average but it certainly feels inexpensive everywhere I go. Also important to know is that Pittsburgh now hosts seven Fortune 500 companies and sports a lower than average state and local income tax (8.9% vs. 9.7 national average). Medical support is also solid in a place with 20 quality hospitals. “U.S. News and World Report named the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center among its “Best of the Best,” in 2007, and awarded its geriatric division a No. 8 spot.”
Our first west coast listee, it’s no surprise the relatively cheap (no absolutely cheap though, it’s 14% above the national average but less than other major west coast cities) city makes the cut. There are many retiree amenities such as over 30 senior centers and an intricate public transportation system, but it’s not a cheap city.
San Antonio, Texas
Cost of living in San Antonio is 14% less than the national average and you can expect to spend 22% less, on average when compared to other metropolitan cities, when doing your grocery shopping. That’s pretty good! Housing prices are also 10% lower than the national average, making the buying process a little easier, with the average price around $153k. Oh, to make things sweeter, Texas doesn’t have a state income tax either!
Our last stop is in Arizona, where you will find the cost of living is 3% under the national average. This last spot is also somewhat reliant on a university, the University of Arizona is the second largest employer here. Home prices? 20% under the national average with home prices falling a minuscule 0.01% last year.
Seven cities in the United States that could make great retirement destinations, courtesy of Smart Money!