5. Ames, Iowa: Residents have the best of both worlds in Ames, as the city offers a uniquely rural charm. Three times a week, residents can head to the farmers’ market. Other draws include a long Main Street with great dining and entertainment options, and Iowa State University, which offers continuing education and special events.
6. Northampton, Massachusetts: Built around Smith College, and just down the road from Amherst, Northampton is in one of the most densely academic regions of the country. While the cultural events provided by the university are affordable and plentiful, the town is also located in the scenic foothills of the Berkshire Mountains.
7. Lexington/Fayette, Kentucky: One of the few southern cities to offer four distinct seasons and the relaxed graciousness of the Old South, Lexington is a unique mix of beer-drinking college basketball fans and julep-swigging Derby lovers.
8. Texas Hill Country, Texas: With a median housing price of $126,000, this lush countryside is a unique mix of Texas spirit and European flavors. Residents are deeply spiritual with 75% of residents describing themselves as having a religious affiliation.
9. Oxford, Mississippi: In this “quintessential southern town,” the 14,911 residents are part of a vibrant volunteer community. They enjoy access to many golf courses and are known to put on the most elaborate tailgates for the University of Mississippi’s football games.
10. Walla Walla, Washington: A food lover’s paradise, this small town with 30,794 residents supports more than 100 wineries, and has strong agricultural roots producing wheat, beef, and apples. Walla Walla is also home to a lively art and antiques scene and has abundant outdoorsy options like hiking, camping, and fly-fishing.
Full criteria included: Housing appreciation (or deprecation) and affordability, Employment Picture, Education, Health, Lower Cost of Living, Less Congestion/Traffic, More Open Space, Numbers of Farmer’s Markets, Outdoor Amenities, Hiking and Biking Trails, State Parks, Green Values, Alternative Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency Programs, Stress Index, Health Eating Score, and Percent of residents who commute by bike or walking. Sources included: Sperling’s Home Affordability Index, Sperling’s Cost of Living Index, USDA, Trails.com and Rails-to-Trails, Sperling’s Green Living Index, Sperling’s Stress Index, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Census Bureau.
Additional information about this year’s selections can be found in the September/October issue of AARP The Magazine or online at www.aarpmagazine.com.
About AARP The Magazine
With more than 35.5 million readers nationwide, AARP The Magazine (www.aarpmagazine.org) is the world's largest circulation magazine and the definitive lifestyle publication for Americans 50+. Reaching over 24 million households, AARP The Magazine delivers comprehensive content through in-depth celebrity interviews, health and fitness features, consumer interest information and tips, book and movie reviews and financial guidance. Published bimonthly in print and continually online, AARP The Magazine was founded in 1958 and is the flagship title of AARP Publications.