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The 10 Best Places to Live Well for Under $40,000 a Year

From the cost of living to local activities, these places give you the best value for your money in America, according to AARP.

Floating in San MarcosShane Sullivan/Shutterstock

San Marcos, Texas

This Texas town is one of the oldest in the state, but according to AARP the Magazine, that doesn’t stop the wildlife and nightlife from thriving in the area. In fact, the liveliness of the town is one reason San Marcos is one of the best places to live for under $40,000 per year, AARP the Magazine reports. The magazine determines the best places to live with the help of Bert Sperling and Sperling’s Best Places, as well as the experts who run AARP’s Livability Index. The cities and towns that make the short list must first meet specific criteria, such as affordability, before the magazine staff vets them. San Marcos also has more than 1,000 acres of parks, activity centers for seniors, and a bustling live-music scene.

Colorful Sunset over Clark Bridge on Mississippi river Alton, ILAvik/Shutterstock

Alton, Illinois

Although this city located on the Mississippi River is just about 20 miles north of St. Louis, Missouri, there’s plenty to do in Alton itself. There is a slew of outdoor river-related activities, plus a scenic main street, gorgeous rose gardens, and a 4,000-seat amphitheater, AARP the Magazine reports. The cost of living in the area is 22 percent lower than the national average, and the housing market is doing well, too, according to Sperling’s Best Places. Learn the 15 ways moving companies secretly scam you.

Row of boat houses on the lakeredtbird02/Shutterstock

Canandaigua, New York

Canandaigua’s spot on the list is due in part to its location and accessibility to both hospitals and activities. In addition to food and wine festivals and the Canandaigua Lake, the town has outdoor activities for every season, including skiing and hiking, AARP the Magazine reports. The average housing price is $191,600which is just under the median price for a home in the United States, according to CNBC. Check out the places in America where people live the longest.

The Town Green in downtown Duluth, Georgia.Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Duluth, Georgia

About 30 miles outside of Atlanta is the suburb of Duluth. The city is working to increase walkability and is shelling out money for improvement everywhere from outdoor spaces to a new city hall. There are also plenty of events and volunteer activities to keep both millennials and older residents occupied. The Infinite Energy Center is one local attraction that satisfies everyone’s musical interests, with musical acts from Paul McCartney to Khalid. According to Sperling’s Best Places, Duluth’s job opportunities are just as promising as its recent community upgrades: The city recently boosted its job growth and population by 2.16 percent and 223.33 percent, respectively. Look at these 15 top places around the world to retire.

Vineyards in the Dundee Hills in Oregon with a beautiful dramatic skyJess Kraft/Shutterstock

McMinnville, Oregon

This Oregon city is another great place to live well for under $40,000—especially for outdoorsy people who also want access to arts and cultural activities. That access might be part of the reason this location has the most expensive housing out of all the cities on AARP the Magazine’s list, but the low utility costs and lively downtown area make up for it. McMinnville is even home to the country’s largest UFO festival, which celebrates a famous UFO sighting in 1950. Plus, McMinnville fares well against other towns in Yamhill County, and Niche lists it as the best place to live in the area.

Municipal Building and Fire Department, Munhall, Pa, Usa, 1911Historia/Shutterstock

Munhall, Pennsylvania

This town’s low cost of living, plus an attractive downtown, earned it its spot on AARP the Magazine’s list. Munhall’s cost of living is 18.7 percent lower than the national average, according to Sperling’s Best Places. Its seven-mile distance from Pittsburgh also makes this town attractive, especially since Pittsburgh was recently named the best city to relocate to in America. On another note, the town is close to excellent health care, with UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside just five miles away. See this list of the nicest places in every state.

Gulfport, Florida, April 2018 African American kids are feeding and playing with seagullsFlorida Chuck/Shutterstock

Gulfport, Florida

This small beach town has had some recent upgrades that are luring newcomers, including artists, members of the LGBT community, and retirees, according to AARP the Magazine. In addition to the low cost of living and recent job growth, the area has an active volunteer community. The Gulfport Neighbors is a 500-person force that cleans the beach twice a month, and the Gulfport GetGo transportation service, also operated by volunteers, offers free rides daily, AARP the Magazine reports.

GUTHRIE, OKLAHOMA—AUGUST 2015: Front view of the Pollard Theatre, street corner, at the Guthrie Historic District. The Pollard Theatre produces a wide variety of theater shows.RaksyBH/Shutterstock

Guthrie, Oklahoma

Guthrie was once the state capital of Oklahoma; now it’s one of the best places to live for under $40,000 a year. The history and architecture sparks the busy local art scene, including Oklahoma’s oldest professional theater company, four museums, and the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival, AARP the Magazine reports. There is also lots of support for the older community, with trolley transport for older adults and a bustling local senior center. The low cost of living and recent job growth, however, are attractive to people of all ages. Make sure you know the 15 things no one tells you about moving to a small town.

CORALVILLE, IOWA / UNITED STATES - July 28 2018: Iowa River at dawnDan Reck/Shutterstock

Coralville, Iowa

Coralville, a suburb of Iowa City, home of the sprawling University of Iowa, is attracting plenty of professionals in academia, but the town’s other main perk is the new Iowa River Landing—a development with tons of shops, entertainment space, offices, and restaurants, according to the official website. Job growth in the area is steady, and the unemployment rate is lower than the national average, Sperling’s Best Places reports.

Coeur d' Alene lake view from Tubbs Hill in North Idaho.EJMzagsfan/Shutterstock

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

This Idaho city lures both Californians and Washingtonians looking for a more scenic and quaint environment, AARP the Magazine reports. One of the biggest attractions is the beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene as well as the numerous outdoor festivals and activities that go hand in hand with the scenery. There is also plenty to do indoors, thanks to a local boom in construction, tourism, and shopping. The recent influx of people and activities means that the cost of living is slightly higher than average, but it also means that home values have increased 14 percent over the last ten years, according to Sperling’s Best Places. Next, check out these 15 cheap towns where you would want to retire.

Source: AARP

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an associate editor at The Healthy and a former assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her work has appeared online at the Food Network and Well + Good and in print at Westchester Magazine, and more. When she's not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.

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