• April 16, 2024

I want to retire in a college town with warm weather and lower taxes — where should I go?

Dear Catey,

We are a couple of doctors and engineers looking to retire in 10 to 15 years. After spending most of our adult lives in several cold places (including Wisconsin and Illinois), we want to move south and retreat there. Our plan is to take up jobs in or near areas where we ultimately want to retire.

We’re looking for liberal, medium-sized, culturally diverse university cities with access to good health care and low taxes in Arizona, Tennessee, or North Carolina. Your suggestions are very much appreciated.

Thank you,

Dear NM,

First of all, congratulations on your retirement planning so far. While many people can’t do what you plan to do, moving to where you plan to retire all day is a smart idea. By working in the area, you can meet people and make friends before you retire.

Another compliment to both of you, it sounds like you’ve done a lot of research on where to retire after narrowing it down to three states. Here are a few points to consider.

Chattanooga, Tenn.

A view over Chattanooga.


Outside Magazine calls it the “best city ever” (it won the best cities competition of this publication twice) and both Kiplingers and our sister publication, the Wall Street Journal, welcome it as a great place to retreat.

A look at the advantages of Chattanooga shows why: “Chattanooga, Tennessee, is located on the Tennessee River at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains and has transformed itself from a humble city into an extremely clean high-tech city (gig) over the past few decades. City” was the first company in the US to offer gigabit internet speeds. It’s an outdoor family destination that has hiking trails, rock climbing, museums, one of the best educational aquariums in the world, and tons of restaurants and entertainment venues. ” writes the New York Times, adding that Chattanooga is a “breath of fresh air”.

It has a lot to offer you in particular leans liberally and is a medium-sized city (approx. 175,000 inhabitants) that is also a university town (home of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga). Kiplinger highlights the hospitals in the region: “Health care is provided through the Erlanger Health System, which has five hospitals in Chattanooga,” he writes, and there are others about an hour and a half from Atlanta. That has countless other hospitals.

Plus that The cost of living in the US is well below averagewhich can make up for a somewhat high sales tax. Tennessee has no income taxand Kiplinger concludes that it is one of the most tax-friendly states for retirees.

The disadvantages: it can get hot and humid here Wall Street Journal NotesSometimes it seems like a lot is being built.

Tempe, Ariz.

Papago Park in Tempe.


Tempe checked many boxes for the two of you: It’s a college town (home of Arizona State University) that leans liberallyis something diverse (approximately one in four residents is of Spanish descent and more than one in ten is either black or Asian) and of medium height (approximately 175,000 residents). for Sperling’s best seats.

Thanks to its proximity to Phoenix and year-round warm weather, it also offers great access to health care. Granted, it can get very hot in summer and in Arizona is not quite as tax-friendly for retirees as some states – Thanks in part to a high sales tax rate (although this tends to be the case) to have low property tax rates and does not tax social security). More information about Arizona taxes can be found here.

Other advantages of Tempe: The Downtown has More than 100 shops and restaurants to enjoy, and it is too something artistic (There’s an orchestra, a place to watch Broadway shows, lots of museums, and a big annual arts festival). Plus, you’ll have great access to nature (and great weather to enjoy) including hiking, biking, and a city lake and more.

Winston-Salem, NC

Reynolda Gardens in Winston-Salem.


I have recommended this city to a retiree in the past for many reasons: It’s a university town with a low cost of living, a friendly atmosphere, lots of shopping and recreation options, and solid health care options – so you can read my full description here. I’m going to add a couple of things you asked for that I didn’t mention there: The city is liberal, according to Sperling’s Best Places, and North Carolina, according to Kiplinger, is a mixed bag when it comes to the taxes retired people worry about.

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