AARP's editorial projects manager, Gabrielle Redford (Gabi) joined me recently to discuss AARP The Magazine's recent list of the the best places to live on $100 a day! Did your city make the list?
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about AARP's list of the best places to retire/live on $100 a day?
Gabi Redford: "Absolutely. The economy is tough for a lot of people so we wanted to look for cities where you can live really well on a very modest income and in this case $100 a day or $36,500 a year."
Candace Rose: What are some of the cities that made the list?
Gabi Redford: "We have a great number of cities all over the country. We've got San Antonio, Texas; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Gainesville, Florida; Grand Junction, Colorado; Spokane, Washington; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Roanoke, Virginia; Omaha, Nebraska; Eau Claire, Wisconsin- so you can see a great geographical diversity."
Candace Rose: What's the vibe like in these cities?
Gabi Redford: "There's different vibes. There's some big cities and some small cities. First of all we looked at financial criteria, we wanted to see what we could afford to buy- we needed to buy a home in these cities and what could we afford? And then we also looked at livability criteria- things like arts and culture; hiking and biking trails; educational opportunities. Several of these towns are college towns and many of them will allow seniors to audit courses for free. College towns also tend to have festivals and free concerts that you can take advantage of, so that's always a great thing."
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about the median home prices in these cities?
Gabi Redford: "We figured out that on our annual income of $36,500 we could afford a house that was valued at $192,000, so that was taking into account taxes and everything. We figured we'd spent about a third of our income (about $720 a month) of our hypothetical income on housing. All of these cities fall within that $192,000- most of them are much less than 192K. For instance in Omaha, Nebraska about $123,000 is the median home price. In Pittsburgh it's $106,000, so you can find some really great homes in great neighborhoods all over the country."
Candace Rose: Were there any other factors that were taken into account?
Gabi Redford: "We did look at cost of living. We looked at other financial criteria; we looked at the price of food, for instance; housing; utilities; taxes. We looked at the unemployment rate. We didn't want to send people to places where they might not be able to find a job, so we looked at economic stability, as well. We didn't want to send people to places where there were a lot of foreclosed homes because that tends to mean that services are reduced in those cities. So those were very much a part of the equation."
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you'd like to share with us?
Gabi Redford: "We have a wealth of information at AARP.org. Not only more information on the cities that made our list, but we have a video, a slide show and lots of great information."