Are you one of those people who can wander around museums for hours, happy to get lost in the details of an elaborate painting or abstract sculpture? Or maybe you like working with your hands, creating new things through ceramics, glassblowing or woodworking? Or perhaps you enjoy shopping in funky artist-haven villages and letting your eccentricity shine through at festivals and fairs? Whatever your vibe, we’ve rounded up the top five places to retire for art lovers—all for less than $2,500 a month.
Cost of Living: 8% higher than the U.S. national average
Median Rent for a One Bedroom: $1,360
While known for its flashy casinos and proximity to Lake Tahoe, the Biggest Little City in the World also boasts tons of activities and attractions for artsy folks, including museums, galleries, art schools and workshops.
Enjoy free walking tours of galleries within the vibrant Arts District or visit more than 120 murals scattered throughout the downtown and midtown areas. You can also become a member of the Nevada Museum of Art (just $35 for a yearly senior pass), which includes general admission to all exhibits, tuition discounts on classes and workshops offered at the museum, 20% off on performances and more. Furthermore, Reno is the gateway to Burning Man, so you can easily make your way to the annual art-inspired festival in Black Rock Desert. Or, if you just want a taste of that Burner magic, many of the unique sculptures that have been featured there—like the 49-foot Desert Guard and the Rearing Horse, which is made out of repurposed machinery parts—now reside in Reno. And for when the grandkids visit? Try the free Young Shakespeare Program for interactive shows, food and drinks.
Sure, the Silver State’s cost of living is a bit higher than the national average, but it’s still retirement-friendly with its lack of state income tax and low real estate taxes, which helps to offset those costs. The city is also incredibly scenic and, while it can get pretty cold in the winter, tends to stay sunny throughout the year (with only about nine inches of rain annually compared to the 38-inch U.S. average). You can enjoy easy access to health care, shops and entertainment, and you’ll be among a growing senior demographic, with 15% of the population 65 years or older.
Cost of Living: 4% higher than the U.S. national average
Median Rent for a One Bedroom: $950
Best known for its southwestern culture and the expansive Sonoran Desert—providing a beautiful backdrop for all you painters—the Old Pueblo delivers lively music, a plethora of crafts and a bustling performing arts scene.
Brush up on your history while visiting a Latin American Folk Art exhibit at the Tucson Museum of Art (with a $10 senior ticket); discover crystals and fossils at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the largest, oldest annual show of its kind (with a $13 adult ticket and your grandkids get in for free!); or follow your ears downtown for 2nd Saturdays, a free music and arts festival for every age that’s held, as you may have guessed, every second Saturday of every month.
Retirement in the Grand Canyon State is tax-friendly, since there is no Social Security income tax, and the hot, sunny city has no shortage of relaxing outdoor activities to try and friendly retirement communities to choose from (while staying well below that $2,500 mark).
Cost of Living: 3% higher than the U.S. national average
Median Rent for a One Bedroom: $1,140
Famous for being the birthplace of Henry Ford and Motown Records, Detroit promises urban art, architecture and design experiences galore.
Proceed to the Eastern Market and gawk at the large, diverse murals and installations that cover the walls (and don’t miss the celebrated annual Murals in the Market Festival). Or go to the downtown riverfront and check out the impressive sculptures, like the Monument to Joe Louis, the Gateway to Freedom and a dedication to Stevie Wonder. And be sure to experience the free admission afforded to local residents at the Detroit Institute of Arts, ranked among the top 10 museums in the country.
The Great Lake State has no Social Security tax and withdrawals from retirement accounts are only partially taxed. According to U.S. News & World Report, many older adults choose to retire in this midwestern city due to its cost of living, superior health care and overall happiness rankings.
Cost of Living: 4% lower than the U.S. national average
Median Rent for a One Bedroom: $1,099
Renowned for the Kentucky Derby, tasty bourbon and, of course, fried chicken, he Gateway to the South also delivers diverse art and theater for the curious and creative retiree. Head to 21c Museum for free concerts, film screenings and poetry readings. Or experience ballet, Broadway shows and opera at Kentucky Performing Arts with its senior discounted tickets. And take a free, self-guided tour to see more than 100 original murals across the city, including homages to hometown icons such as Muhammad Ali, Jennifer Lawrence and Hunter S. Thompson.
The Bluegrass State has no Social Security income tax and has low sales and property taxes. This redeveloped city is also ideally located within a day’s driving distance of several other states and attractions if you fancy frequent road trips. And retirees enjoy Southern friendliness, mild weather with four distinct seasons and rich local traditions.
Cost of Living: 15% higher than the U.S. national average
Median Rent for a One Bedroom: $1,600
A well-known vacation destination, the Portland of the East contains many art galleries, craft markets and lighthouses to serve as painters’ muses. Enjoy free admission on Fridays to the Portland Museum of Art; on weekends, discover affordable, vintage treasures at Flea-for-All, a curated flea market in the Art District; get outside for the Summer in the Park free concert series; and bring the grandkids to cozy holiday-themed events like the Polar Express Train Ride, where you’ll be told enchanting stories over hot chocolate and local eggnog.
The Pine Tree State has no Social Security income tax and excellent health care. Portland is also a top place to retire because it has large-city entertainment and amenities with small-city charm and lifestyle.
Katie Perry is a travel blogger based in Philadelphia. She has spent more than 10 years abroad and has lived long-term in Portugal, Brazil, Peru and Costa Rica.
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