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Retiring in the Midwest: Exploring Affordable and Vibrant Towns

Retiring in the Midwest: An Overview

Retirement is a major life decision that comes with many considerations. From financial planning to lifestyle changes, making the right choices can impact the quality of life for years to come.

With that said, retiring in the Midwest presents many advantages that are worth exploring.

Low Cost of Living and Vibrant Communities

One of the most significant benefits of retiring in the Midwest is the low cost of living. Compared to the East or West Coast, the Midwest offers affordable home prices, taxes, and daily expenses.

This means that retirees can stretch their retirement savings while enjoying amenities that make life comfortable. Additionally, the Midwest is known for its vibrant communities.

There is a sense of camaraderie and community spirit that permeates throughout towns and cities in this region. For retirees who want to be part of a close-knit community while still enjoying privacy and independence, the Midwest is a great choice.

Specific Towns to Consider

If you’re considering retiring in the Midwest, there are specific towns to consider. One such town is Akron, Ohio.

Akron has been consistently ranked as one of the best and most affordable places to retire in the country. The low cost of living, excellent healthcare options, and a lively arts scene make Akron a popular choice for retirees.

Another town to consider is Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ann Arbor has been named “the best college town in America” and for good reason.

The town offers a mix of cultural attractions, outdoor activities, and a thriving local economy. Retirees who want to stay active and engaged with the local community will find Ann Arbor an excellent choice.

Columbus, Ohio is another town worth considering. Columbus is the state capital and a hub of cultural and economic activity.

The cost of living is low, and downtown Columbus is bustling with restaurants, museums, and performance venues. Retirees who want to stay active and explore new interests will find Columbus an excellent place to retire.

Benefits of Each Town

Each of the towns mentioned above has advantages that make them ideal places to retire. For example, Akron is home to the Cleveland Clinic Akron General Hospital, considered one of the best healthcare facilities in Ohio.

Additionally, the Akron Civic Theatre hosts a variety of performances, including Broadway shows and concerts. Retirees who enjoy the arts will find plenty of opportunities to indulge their passion in Akron.

Similarly, Ann Arbor is known for its excellent healthcare facilities, including the University of Michigan Health System. In addition, retirees who want to stay active and healthy can take advantage of the town’s many trails and parks.

For those who love a good shopping spree, Ann Arbor’s shopping districts offer a mix of small boutiques and big-box stores. In Columbus, retirees will find the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, a leading healthcare facility that offers a wide range of medical specialties.

The city’s thriving arts scene includes ballet companies, theater productions, and music performances. Retirees who want to stay active and engaged with the local community can find volunteer opportunities with local organizations, such as the Mid-Ohio Food Collective.


Retiring in the Midwest presents many benefits. Low cost of living combined with vibrant communities make it an excellent option for retirees who want to maintain a comfortable lifestyle while stretching their retirement savings.

Specific towns like Akron, Ann Arbor, and Columbus offer their unique advantages and opportunities to enjoy an active retirement. Before making a final decision, it is essential to explore your options and find a place that aligns with your needs and interests.

Ann Arbor, Michigan: The Perfect Place for Aging in Place

People who retire or plan to retire have different preferences and goals. For some, living in a peaceful and tight-knit community is essential, while for others, being close to premier medical facilities and mass transit systems is a priority.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, offers both, making it an ideal city for aging in place.

Proximity to Health Centers and Public Transportation

As people age, healthcare becomes more critical. Access to quality doctors, hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities can make the difference between a quality retirement and a painful one.

Fortunately, Ann Arbor is home to several top-rated health centers that treat a variety of ailments. The University of Michigan Medical Center, located in Ann Arbor, is nationally ranked in a wide range of specialties, including geriatrics and cancer care.

The medical center has an excellent reputation for patient care and innovation, making it a go-to facility for retirees seeking quality healthcare. In addition, Ann Arbor has a robust public transportation system, making it easy for retirees to get around the city.

The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA) provides bus services that cover various routes and schedules, including Door-to-Door, Paratransit, and Park & Ride Services. University of Michigan’s Geriatrics Center and Institute of Gerontology

Retirees seeking specialized care can rely on the University of Michigan’s Geriatrics Center and Institute of Gerontology.

These facilities offer clinical and educational programs aimed at promoting healthy aging and improving the quality of life for older adults.

The Geriatrics Center provides inpatient and outpatient services, including memory loss evaluations, geriatric neurology, fall and mobility assessments, and medication management.

Additionally, the Institute of Gerontology focuses on research and education across a broad range of aging issues, including health, economics, and social aspects of aging. These facilities offer a sense of continuity, community, and comprehensive medical care necessary for seniors to lead healthy and active lives.

Columbus, Ohio: Fun and Affordable Retirement

For retirees who want to retire somewhere fun and affordable, Columbus, Ohio, is the place for you. Not only is it home to The Ohio State University, but it’s one of the most affordable places to live in the US.

Low Cost of Living and Plenty of Activities

Ohio’s capital is great for retirees who want to maintain a comfortable lifestyle on a fixed income. The cost of living in Columbus is below the national average, and housing costs are significantly lower than other big cities in the Midwest.

Additionally, Columbus offers plenty of free or low-cost activities for retirees looking to stay active. The city has several parks, hiking trails, and cycling paths that offer a chance to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

Retirees who enjoy watching sports can buy discounted tickets to see games at Ohio Stadium, Nationwide Arena, and Huntington Park.

Ohio State University Activities and Downtown Area Offerings

Retirees who want to continue their education can attend lectures, classes, and events at The Ohio State University. OSU offers numerous programs and events tailored to older adults, such as the Lifelong Learning Institute, which offers classes in history, literature, and art.

Additionally, the University’s Wexner Center for the Arts is a premier venue for theater, dance, and experimental music performances. Downtown Columbus is vibrant, bustling, and home to many attractions that interest retirees.

The Ohio Statehouse, located in downtown Columbus, offers tours to visitors, and the Columbus Museum of Art has an impressive collection of American and European modern art. For retirees looking for a more traditional shopping experience, the Short North is a trendy neighborhood with hundreds of stores, restaurants, and boutiques.


Retiring in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Columbus, Ohio, gives retirees many options to lead a fulfilling life. Ann Arbor provides top-notch healthcare, transportation, and research facilities, while Columbus offers a fun, affordable lifestyle with many activities and educational opportunities.

With these two great destinations, retirees will reap the benefits and live their dream retirement in the Midwest. Des Moines, Iowa: Living Big on a Small Budget

Des Moines, Iowa, is a hidden gem in the Midwest that offers retirees the opportunity to live big on a small budget.

The city of Des Moines has been named the #1 Best City to Live in 2021 by U.S. News & World Report, and for a good reason.

Big-City Living on a Small Budget

Retirees who crave big-city living but don’t want to break the bank will find Des Moines an ideal place. The cost of living in Des Moines is below the national average, and housing costs are significantly lower than those of other comparable cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, or Kansas City.

This affordability makes it easy for retirees to stretch their retirement savings and enjoy everything the city has to offer. Des Moines is a bustling city with a population of nearly 217,000 residents.

It has everything a retiree could want, from vibrant downtown nightlife to excellent restaurants, museums, and theaters. In addition, Des Moines is home to various festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Iowa State Fair, the Des Moines Arts Festival, and the World Food and Music Festival.

Health Centers and Vibrant Arts Scene

When it comes to healthcare, Des Moines provides retirees with top-notch care. The city is home to several excellent hospitals and clinics, including MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, UnityPoint Health Des Moines, and the Iowa Clinic.

These facilities offer a full range of healthcare services, from primary care to specialized treatments, ensuring retirees have access to quality medical care at all times. Des Moines also boasts a vibrant arts and cultural scene that draws residents and visitors from around the state.

The Des Moines Art Center features modern and contemporary art, while the Des Moines Performing Arts hosts Broadway shows and musical performances. Retirees who enjoy musical theater can attend shows performed by the Des Moines Community Playhouse or the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra.

Eau Claire, Wisconsin: A Community Built for Retirees

Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is a Midwestern city with a small-town feel. It is the perfect place for retirees who want to enjoy the arts, stay active, and make new friends.

Artsy Community Events and Middle-of-the-Road Cost of Living

Eau Claire has an active arts scene that includes a variety of community events, including music and art festivals, theater performances, and farmers’ markets. These community events offer the perfect opportunity for retirees to explore their interests and connect with like-minded individuals.

Retirees looking for ways to stay physically active can take advantage of Eau Claire’s parks and recreation facilities, which have an array of sports and fitness activities. For outdoor enthusiasts looking for adventure, the nearby Chippewa River provides plenty of opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

The cost of living in Eau Claire is considered middle-of-the-road, which makes it an affordable place to retire. Housing costs, in particular, are relatively low compared to other cities in the Midwest.

Large Population of Retirees and Opportunity to Make Friends

Eau Claire has a large population of retirees, making it an ideal place to make new friends and create a supportive community. Retirees can take advantage of the city’s senior centers and community groups, such as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and the Senior American and Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP), which provide volunteer opportunities and job placement assistance for older adults.

Furthermore, Eau Claire has a range of independent and assisted living options for seniors who want to maintain their independence while receiving specialized care when needed. These facilities offer a sense of continuity, community, and comprehensive medical care necessary for seniors to lead healthy and active lives.


Des Moines, Iowa, and Eau Claire, Wisconsin, are excellent options for retirees seeking affordable and vibrant living options in the Midwest. Des Moines offers big-city living on a small budget, top-notch healthcare, and a vibrant arts scene.

In contrast, Eau Claire offers a peaceful and artsy lifestyle, community events, an active retiree population, and opportunities to make friends and stay active. Retirees looking for a place that provides them with everything they need to lead an independent and fulfilling life will find everything they need in Des Moines and Eau Claire, the hidden gems of the Midwest.

Fargo, North Dakota: Perfect for a Low-Drama Retirement

Fargo, North Dakota, is an excellent option for retirees looking for an affordable and tax-friendly place to enjoy their golden years. While Fargo might not be the first place that comes to mind when considering retirement destinations, it offers a low-drama lifestyle that is hard to beat.

Affordability and Tax-Friendly for Retirees

Fargo boasts an affordable cost of living, which is significantly lower than the national average. This affordability means that retirees can enjoy everything the city has to offer on a fixed income, from dining out to leisure activities.

Additionally, North Dakota does not tax Social Security benefits, making it a tax-friendly state for retirees.

North Dakota State University Activities and Frigid Winters

For retirees who enjoy attending cultural or educational events, North Dakota State University (NDSU) offers a range of activities that cater to various interests. NDSU is known for its athletic programs, music scene, theater productions, and art exhibitions.

Additionally, the universitys Osher Lifelong Learning Institute provides courses and seminars specifically tailored for older adults. One challenge retirees might face in Fargo is the harsh winter climate.

Winters in Fargo can be cold, snowy, and long. However, for those who can handle the cold, Fargo offers several winter sports activities, such as ice skating, snowmobiling, and skiing.

Fort Wayne, Indiana: A Hidden Gem of the Midwest

Located in Northeast Indiana, Fort Wayne is a city that offers retirees the perfect mix of affordability, an arts scene, and outdoor activities. It is a hidden gem in the Midwest that has become increasingly popular among retirees.

Low Cost of Living and Lively Arts Scene

Fort Wayne’s cost of living is significantly lower than the national average, making it easy for retirees to enjoy all the city has to offer while stretching their retirement savings. Additionally, Fort Wayne boasts plenty of opportunities for entertainment and cultural enrichment.

The Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Embassy Theatre are all great examples of the citys vibrant arts scene.

Proximity to Rivers and Outdoor Activities

One thing that sets Fort Wayne apart from other cities in the Midwest is its proximity to several rivers, including the St. Joseph River and the Maumee River. The rivers offer great opportunities for boating, fishing, and kayaking.

Fort Wayne residents can enjoy the rivers at Promenade Park, which is located downtown, and features a scenic pedestrian bridge and a natural amphitheater for outdoor concerts and events. For retirees who enjoy hiking and cycling, Fort Wayne has an extensive network of trails that traverse the city and its surrounding areas.

The Pufferbelly Rail Trail, for example, is a 5.5-mile hiking and biking trail that offers scenic views of the St. Joseph River.


Fargo, North Dakota, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, are excellent options for retirees seeking an affordable and comfortable lifestyle in the Midwest. Fargo is tax-friendly and offers a low-drama lifestyle, while Fort Wayne has a lively arts and cultural scene, and proximity to rivers and outdoor activities.

Retirees looking for a fulfilling and engaging retirement should consider these two hidden gems of the Midwest for their next adventure. Kansas City, Missouri: A Dynamic Retirement Destination

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Here are two reasons why Kansas City is an ideal retirement destination.

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