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20 Best Small Towns to Retire

Ready to retire now, or just planning for your future? These small towns across the United States should be on your radar for access to healthcare, plentiful green spaces and low costs of living.

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Retirement Ready

When you’re ready to retire, we’ve got a destination. Whether you prefer beaches, mountains, cities or college towns, there’s a match for you. We looked at small towns with populations up to 100,000 residents that have been touted for their low cost of living, affordable housing, public safety, good-quality healthcare and low tax rates.

We also looked at towns with lots to do for active retirees, including outdoor recreation, historic sites, live music, cultural performances, sporting events and bike trails. Many of these picks are in close proximity to universities and strollable historic districts with shopping, coffee shops and restaurants.

Here are 20 of our favorite small towns all across the country that are worthy of being selected as your retirement destination of choice.

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Greenville, South Carolina

Set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville offers a captivating mix of natural beauty and Southern charm. The climate is mild, the cost of living is low and there is a lot to do thanks to a thriving food scene and easy access to hiking and biking trails, including those at Paris Mountain State Park. The centerpiece of Greenville is Falls Park on the Reedy, a 26-acre urban oasis that boasts a waterfall, dog-friendly paths and a 345-foot-long pedestrian footbridge. Stop in Spill the Beans for a morning cuppa or afternoon scoop of ice cream.

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Photo: Travel Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

College towns, like Iowa City, make great places to retire thanks to an abundance of sporting events, lectures and artistic performances. There are also on-campus art galleries and museums, like the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History. In Iowa City, you’ll find a low crime rate and plenty of good doctors, thanks to the nationally ranked University of Iowa Health System. Cheer at a football game at Kinnick Stadium, home of the Hawkeyes, or stroll the Literary Walk, which celebrates the works of nearly 50 accomplished writers with ties to Iowa City.

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Photo: Doug Koch for Explore Lawrence

Lawrence, Kansas

Home to the University of Kansas, Lawrence is a quintessential college town with arts, culture, sports and plenty of open, green spaces. It’s also a great place to retire thanks to affordable home prices and zero estate tax. It’s among the most bike-friendly cities, too. There are miles of bike lanes and bike paths across Lawrence. Stroll across the beautiful historic district, which has plenty of coffee shops, boutiques, pubs and cafés. The Lawrence Farmers’ Market is the place to be on Saturday mornings for locally roasted coffee and organic produce.

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