I wish to retire on $3,000 per month, including rent, in “a liberal-thinking neighborhood.”

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Finding a reasonably priced and interesting place to retire is made easier because it appears that you are open to moving anywhere in the nation. Underappreciated Midwestern college towns come to mind first. They frequently have the desired blue spot but are far less expensive than those on the coasts. Naturally, your winters will be colder than those in the South.

As I’ve stated numerous times, I enjoy college towns because they frequently outperform their size in terms of amenities. Start your search there, regardless of where in the nation you are thinking. A word of advice: Since students seek for housing in the spring and sign leases for the following fall, the rental calendar in college cities may be linked to the academic year.

However, they are not your only choice.

You can reduce your list using the MarketWatch “where should I retire” tool (aside from politics, which can vary across communities within a metro area). I requested a town with public transportation (in case you need it), a below-average cost of living, and, if feasible, a large university. I did this to provide you more of a financial buffer. Then I started doing research and being somewhat adaptable. (I’ve chosen colleges that aren’t the major research universities that the MarketWatch tool uses.) You might want to include more standards.

Almost location will allow you to garden, albeit the types of plants you can grow there might not be the same as what you are used to. There are volunteer-needed master gardening programs for all three of my recommendations.

The League of American Bicyclists’ list of bicycle-friendly cities will help you narrow down your selection. You can locate a bike club to ride with (and make new friends with) just about anyplace. By those group’s parameters, all three of my recommendations are bronze-level communities.

Please spend some time there before making a commitment, acting as though you have actually moved there rather than just visiting. A bad move is an expensive error since moves are expensive. And, whichever choice you make, give yourself a financial safety net.

After all of that, here are some ideas to get you going.

Columbus, Ohio

The Cleveland metropolitan region was recommended by the MarketWatch retirement tool. I’m going with Oberlin, a town of 8,300 people in the southwest of that region, 40 minutes from Cleveland, and home to a renowned music conservatory and a liberal arts institution with 3,000 students. While schools are in session, there is no shortage of free concerts by excellent artists.

Although Lorain County is red overall, the community has a blue political affiliation. The college runs a Saturday afternoon shopping shuttle-bus service that anyone can utilize since the town doesn’t have a bus system.

The North Coast Inland Trail passes through Oberlin for slightly over 19 miles in Lorian County. The bicycling and jogging path, which connects Toledo and Lorain, will be more than 100 miles long when finished. You would also be 25 miles from the Cincinnati and Cleveland endpoints of the nearly finished Ohio to Erie Trail.

The nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park, with its 125 miles of hiking trails and Cuyahoga River canoeing, is another great place to spend a lot of time.

And if you want access to a big city’s advantages, go to Cleveland.

Here, snowy winters can’t be avoided. However, daytime highs on average in the winter are over zero. The lower 80s are the typical summer highs.

Here is an illustration of the rental market using listings (which like MarketWatch is owned by News Corp). You could also wish to look on Craigslist and other websites.

I’ve previously recommended other reasonably priced Midwest college cities, such as Columbia, Mo., Bloomington, Ind., and Iowa City, Iowa, if Oberlin doesn’t appeal.

What about the Southwest if you don’t like the Midwest?

MarketWatch has frequently recommended Albuquerque and its surrounding areas, and those regions would be a good fit for this. Consider Las Cruces instead, which has a population of approximately 100,000, is less than half the size of Albuquerque, and has a cheaper cost of living.

Despite the fact that summer highs typically reach the mid-90s, the desert climate means that some of the heat is mitigated by the low humidity. The typical wintertime high is in the upper 50s or low 60s. According to the tourist bureau, there are 320 sunny days in the city per year.

The 24-mile network of urban trails in the city is expanding. Additionally, there are lots of hiking opportunities, particularly in the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument, but there are fewer hikers on the trails than in the area of Albuquerque or more expensive Santa Fe. The distance to White Sands National Park is 30 minutes.

With about 14,000 students, New Mexico State University is situated nearby. Unlike its congressional district, which includes more conservative communities to the east, Dona Ana County voted blue in 2020.

You would be living in the heart of the green chile region. There are many producers in the area of Las Cruces, despite Hatch, which is 40 minutes away, being famous for its chile festival. The “Walk of Flame” Green Chile Trail offers plenty of opportunities for sampling, sometimes in addition to pecans, another important agricultural product in the region. Or simply visit the best farmers market in the Southwest, which is held twice a week.

Here is a look at the rental market in Las Cruces and Dona Ana County utilizing listings from as well.

Tennessee’s Memphis

Between Oberlin and Las Cruces, there is a large city choice that is still reasonably priced. Memphis is perhaps best known for its barbecue and music. You might not be aware that, despite what the local chamber of commerce likes to brag, the cost of living here is 20% lower than the national average.

With my other options, you could still need to raise the rent budget. Start your search for a home in the city’s most inclusive and varied neighborhood, Midtown. The University of Memphis, originally known as Memphis State, is the largest university and is located further east.

True, you won’t have the mountains close to Las Cruces or the hills of northern Ohio. However, you would have Shelby Farms Park, one of the biggest city parks in the nation that is more than five times bigger than Central Park in New York City. The Shelby Farms Greenline, a trail that travels 10.65 miles from Midtown via the park to the neighborhood of Cordova, can be used to get there. The 8-mile Chickasaw Bluffs Trail, which is close to Millington, is preferred by those looking for harder routes. Of course, you can always go around the city to learn more about it.

On the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River levees, the 70-mile Big River Trail is accessible by foot or bicycle. To get there, cross the river yourself using the magnificent Big River Crossing.

Unlike Knox County, which is home to Knoxville and the University of Tennessee, Shelby County votes blue.

Memphis will be substantially warmer than Ohio; summer highs will typically be in the low 90s and will have greater humidity. Winter highs in Memphis typically range in the low 50s.

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