I recently retired and now that this is a seller’s market it seems like the perfect time to sell my house and move into an (older) tax-friendly apartment.

I currently live in Ohio. I’ve done a lot of research, online and in-person visits to places like Lititz, Pennsylvania, Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, and Portsmouth, NH, but it’s very difficult to narrow that down. Some parameters:

  • I’m going on the low / safe side of monthly income at $ 2,500 as it fluctuates.

  • I don’t want to buy another house; I prefer to rent, $ 1,000 or (preferably) less. Depending on the location, I can feel just as comfortable in a studio (especially one with character) as in a one- or two-room apartment.

  • I really prefer a location that is within walking distance, with access to (most) goods and services within a 15-20 minute walk of home. I have a car.

  • I love historic cities with local shops, stores, and restaurants. I have been a city dweller all my life and big cities / urban sprawl is not my first preference.

  • Weather: four seasons. I like snow, just prefer that winter is not the main season. I’m not a fan of moisture (uncomfortable and too many pests of all sizes). Love water – sea, lake, river – but not a deal breaker.

Thank you for your help.



It can be difficult to find your way around a new place of residence. I am pleased that you made some personal visits. Consider spending even more time with those on your list, getting a short term rental, and pretending this is your new home. What is your everyday life like? How will you make new friends? What is the rental market like?

Sometimes you know whether a district or a city speaks to you straight away – or not. At other times it’s a little more difficult.

Read: Before moving to a new town on retirement, check out the local Walmart – and 5 other hard-learned lessons

Yes, it’s currently a seller’s market and tempting to take advantage of it – but you still have to move somewhere in the crazy housing market in so many parts of the country. Sea and beach towns are particularly hot. Given your budget, you can stay in the Midwest, most likely in a county seat. I have spread my network more widely, but according to your preferences, which are geared towards smaller cities.

To be honest, I’m afraid that some of the places you mentioned are above your price range or so small that there isn’t much in the way of rental options, especially affordable rents. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try; Just be ready to look hard or compromise.

I hear you about the desire for a walk-in community. Here, the neighborhood counts more than the city or its size. Consider looking near downtown cities that have since expanded, not just small towns. Bonus points if you can find a crowded supermarket within a 20 minute walk without having to walk without a sidewalk.

One way to measure the passability of an area is to look it up WalkScore, owned by Redfin. Then virtually walk around with the satellite view from Google Maps.

Read: No driver’s license, no problem – check out these options for seniors who no longer drive a car

You are not alone in looking for a tax-friendly place. Here is some good news: Most states do not tax any social security income. Combined with other tax breaks, you might be surprised how little you will pay compared to your working hours. (Of course, you still pay federal income taxes, but that might be minimal or even not at all.)

To use this pension tax calculator from SmartAsset to get a feel for your situation. I tested it by dividing your income between social security and retirement accounts, and you wouldn’t pay state taxes in Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, among others. I even got zeros for expensive New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. In other places it can be a few hundred dollars. That equates to maybe another $ 20 or $ 30 a month in rent.

Of course, you can still have your results checked with a tax advisor. Tax laws are changing, and some local governments levy their own income taxes.

Read: This can save you money on capital gains tax when you sell your home

But let’s start the search. Here are three suggestions to get you started:

Baraboo, Wisconsin

Rock formation in Devils Lake State Park in Baraboo Wisconsin.

Getty Images / iStockphoto

This suggestion comes courtesy of the MarketWatch tool “Where should I retire” (You may get different suggestions depending on the criteria you choose).

It’s home to 12,000 people – and the circus (Ringling Brothers Circus started here; now there’s the Circus world Attraction and more). I think it has the historic buildings and walkability that you would address – Baraboo has a WalkScore of 83 – and that is nearly three miles Baraboo RiverWalk gives you access to the river that runs through the city.

You might want that too Community programs on the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Baraboo campus. And don’t forget the 9,000 hectares Devil’s Lake State Park on the southern edge of town – it’s Wisconsin’s most popular state park.

Baraboo is certainly a place for four seasons – winter for four solid months of around 44 inches of snow, and you can still have a bit of snow in April or November. Still, it’s less than what you would see in Wellsboro or Portsmouth.

The summer highs averaged 83 in July and the humidity was moderate.

In my income example, you pay about $ 139 in state income taxes, or $ 11.58 per month.

Dane County Regional Airport, 45 minutes away in Madison, would be your nearest airport.

I know you are looking for a rental but for reference only, Here’s what’s for sale in Baraboo, using offers on Realtor.com (which, like MarketWatch, are owned by News Corp.)

Not quite right? The retirement tool also suggested a few places that I discussed earlier, including Athens, Ohio, and neighboring Nelsonville (Here) and Harrisonburg, Virginia (Here).

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Central Market in Lancaster, Penn.

Courtesy VisitLancaster.com

I understand the appeal of historical lititz, with fewer than 10,000 people, but I’m worried about finding an apartment. So why not consider the walkable Lancaster 10 miles south as well?

True, affordability is an issue in Lancaster County, but you have more choices in a city of 59,000 with a WalkScore 81.

There’s also some additional cultural buzz.

In the accessible city center you will find live productions in production Fulton Theaterwhich dates back to the 1850s, and Goods center, Millersville University’s performing arts center, is just one block apart. Almost around the corner was a Beaux Arts bank building into Trust the Center for the Performing Arts. Franklin & Marshall, a private liberal arts college with even more cultural events, is about a mile away. One of the historical sites of the area Wheat country, the home of President James Buchanan, about two miles west of downtown.

If you are a baseball fan this is it Lancaster Barnstormers play about a mile north of downtown.

Your water options are centered on the Conestoga River, which flows east and south of Lancaster, and the Susquehanna River about a dozen miles to the west.

If you want to go to the big city, the Amtrak train station with connections to Philadelphia is about one mile from the historic city center.

While the train ride to Philadelphia takes only 70 minutes, Lancaster County is mostly rural and best known for the 30,000-strong Amish community.

The winters here are milder than in Baraboo, with an average of less than two feet of snow. Summer highs on average in the mid-80s.

For reference this is what’s for sale right now.

Lexington, Virginia

Downtown Lexington, Virginia.

Getty Images

This is the smallest of my three suggestions with a population of 7,500 (Rockbridge County has fewer than 23,000). It’s also a small college town option as it’s home to both Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute. As a result, you may find more rentals, but also a market that is in sync with the academic calendar.

Lexington makes a lot of charming city lists. Here is your walkable historic downtown – Lexington’s WalkScore is 81 – as well as the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley. The Maury River runs along the north end of town, and the seven mile long dirt and gravel Chessie Trail usually follows his path. Definitely visit Natural Bridge State Park and its 11 km of hiking trails 20 minutes south of town.

In terms of history, Lexington is hard on Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, though George Washington and George C. Marshall (from the Postwar Marshall Plan) also get affections.

If you need a bigger city, Roanoke (suggested here) and the airport are about an hour away. Richmond and its major airport are about a two-hour drive away.

Of the three suggestions, winters will be the mildest here, with average highs in the top 40s and around 15 inches of snow. Summer highs on average in the mid-80s.

Again for reference, here is’ what the housing market looks like now.

Reader, where should Michele retire? Leave your suggestions in the comment section for her to see.

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