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. These cities located in or near the mountains have opportunities for outdoor recreation as well as a reasonable cost of living that will help your retirement savings stretch further. 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 $1,316 per month, and the median monthly rent is $911.
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 $1,223 in monthly housing costs, while renters are charged a median of $833 per month. Dividends and interest are the only types of income taxed by the state of Tennessee, and low-income seniors are exempt.
Scenic mountain vistas and reliable high-speed internet can’t always be found in the same place, but they come together in Chattanooga. Located near the Appalachian Mountains, many residents enjoy hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. The top of Lookout Mountain is just a 15-minute drive from downtown. At the same time, Chattanooga has many urban pleasures, including dining and entertainment options, a wide variety of public art and a high-speed fiber optic network. It costs a median of $1,220 per month to own a home with a mortgage in Chattanooga and $827 monthly to rent.
Huntsville is located in the Tennessee River valley near several mountains and large hills. Monte Sano Mountain, or mountain of health, can be explored via Monte Sano State Park, which has an admission fee of just $2 for seniors age 62 and older. For those who want to continue to work in retirement, Huntsville has a wide variety of interesting job opportunities and a highly educated population thanks to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The median cost to own a home in Huntsville is $1,286 per month, and renters pay a median of just $836 monthly.
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 $1,264 per month to live in Fayetteville, and the median rent is $833 monthly.
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 $1,605 per month for homeowners with a mortgage and $1,173 among renters. The area’s unique combination of city amenities and scenic beauty attracts many retirees.
Idaho’s state capital city combines city amenities with convenient access to outdoor activities. The nearest ski area, Bogus Basin, is just 16 miles from downtown Boise and provides discounts for seniors. The over 2.5 million-acre Boise National Forest has more than 500 trails and the nearly 10,000-foot peak of Trinity Mountain. Slightly farther afield is the Sawtooth National Forest, which has jagged peaks, high alpine lakes and diverse terrain that allows for hiking and fishing in the summer and skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. A home in Boise costs a median of $1,337 per month, but that drops to $958 monthly if you rent.
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 $1,421 monthly for a home with a mortgage or $902 in monthly rent. The Spokane River flows through the center of town and includes a large waterfall, Spokane Falls.
Located in western Nevada near the border with California, Reno is a popular area for casinos and nightlife. Reno is less than an hour drive from Lake Tahoe ski resorts, but has lower housing prices and taxes than you will find in California. The median cost of homeownership is Reno is $1,659 per month for a home with a mortgage. The median rent is $1,074 per month. Many Bay-Area tech companies have opened facilities in Reno, which could provide job opportunities for those who want to work in retirement.
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 $1,517 among homeowners with a mortgage and $1,132 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 Yoga on the Meadow classes that allow you to stretch and relax near the colorful rocky landscape.
10 Affordable Mountain Towns for Retirement:
— Asheville, North Carolina.
— Knoxville, Tennessee.
— Chattanooga, Tennessee.
— Huntsville, Alabama.
— Fayetteville, Arkansas.
— Colorado Springs, Colorado.
— Boise, Idaho.
— Spokane, Washington.
— Reno, Nevada.
— Las Vegas.
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Update 03/22/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.