Finding a place to retire comfortably isn’t as easy as it sounds. Figuring out where to spend your golden years takes some consideration, especially when you’re a food lover who has Champagne tastes on a beer budget. According to a 2014 survey by the National Restaurant Association, 72 percent of Americans would eat out more often if costs were lower during off-peak hours. The same survey revealed that 64 percent of consumers were more likely to visit a restaurant that offered locally produced food items. With cost and quality at the forefront of consumers’ minds, it’s clear that it is going to take more than a few good early-bird specials to satisfy retiree epicures.
Enthusiastic food lovers want to retire in a city with plenty of culinary diversity. Gourmet markets are a draw, as are trends like farm-to-table dining and gastropub cuisine. And there are gourmands both professional and amateur out there who are watching their wallets and want to explore food while staying within a budget. Cities like Austin and Corpus Christi in Texas have low average grocery costs, so experienced home cooks will appreciate what they have to offer. Portland, Ore., has a budding restaurant scene, but the cost of living in this city is above national average. A word to the wise: If you’re trying to make a stipend last, it won’t happen here.
In terms of eating out, there are many affordable cities across the U.S. to settle down in. If you’re interested in more than strip-mall chain restaurants, you’ll want to do some research before putting a pin on the map.
To develop our list for the best food towns to retire in, we considered both the financial aspects of a place and the culinary scene. For finances, we thought about cost of living, manageable tax burden, and average home cost collected by publications like Forbes and CBS News, who sifted through data from the National Association of Realtors, Trulia.com, and Zillow Home Value Index. As for the culinary aspect of life, we considered the city’s restaurant scene, chef visibility, and overall food affordability as ranked by WalletHub.com.
If you’re planning your retirement (or you’re helping loved ones plan theirs), then you should consider one of these 10 fantastic food cities.
#10 Boise, Idaho
Boise’s dry climate, average cost of living, and average home price of $168,000 make it an affordable destination for the recently retired. The cultural center boasts a large pedestrian zone with sidewalk cafés and outdoor restaurants that have helped drive traffic to the area. Boise has won awards including “One of the Hottest Tech Cities” from Newsweek, and “Best Town to Live and Ride” by Bike Magazine. And, according to Food & Wine, the casual restaurant scene in Boise is thriving. Earlier this year Trader Joe’s and Ruth’s Chris Steak House set up camp in town, and the highly anticipated Eighth & Main building became home to new shops and eateries. Boise also has a historic Basque community, complete with restaurants offering generous all-inclusive dinners at modest prices.
“I think Boise’s on the cusp of growing up, or graduating high school,” says Russ Crawforth, owner of Boise’s new The Mode Lounge. “I want my business to be part of that ... I want Boise to be a nightlife people talk about.”
#9 Tulsa, Okla.
Tulsa, located in The Sooner State, offers some sweet savings for the retired. Social Security income isn’t taxed by the state, property taxes are low, and state estate tax is non-existent. AARP calls it one of the Best Cities for Successful Aging, and the food scene plays a part in that; Tulsa is ranked number 15 overall for food affordability, and its 26 miles of paved cycling and walking trails are home to strips of attractive cafés. Downtown Tulsa features performing arts centers and restaurants that range in cuisine from Mexican to Japanese to New American and more.
Fabiana Santana is a special contributor for The Daily Meal.