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  Bradenton: Top Place To Retire - Back
Bradenton was just name """"number one"""" of the top places to retire. Sperling's BestPlaces just released its study here's the lowdown.

Best Places to Retire
The Five Best Places
You're thinking about retiring, but don't know where? You want to find a spot with everything—that magical place you've always dreamed of. High on your list of priorities are an affordable place to live and the perfect climate. But how do you find your little bit of heaven? Look at this array of winners. Your perfect place just might be in our list!

What makes a good place to retire? Retirees often look for cities boasting interesting cultural amenities, excellent medical care, easy access to outdoor recreation, and opportunities to keep learning. Take a look at these ten marvelous cities. They offered the best in affordable taxes, homes, and cost-of-living.

Bradenton, Florida. This oasis on the Gulf Coast offers sea and sunshine, with warm weather and white sand beaches. Activities abound for those who love the outdoors: fishing, sailing, and golf. You can drive to Disney World in only 1-1/2 hours. You'll find excellent health care and many good hospitals. If you're looking for cultural amenities, you'll enjoy the city's theaters, art galleries, and museums. But Bradenton's summer heat might not be for everyone.

Fort Collins, Colorado. In this city in the Rocky Mountains, activities center around culture and the outdoors. You'll find skiing, golf, hiking, kayaking, and rafting. The crime rate is low, the cost of living is affordable, and good hospitals are close by. However, housing can be expensive and those who want a small-town atmosphere won't find it here. Want to keep learning after you retire? You'll find that local institutions offer continuing education opportunities for seniors. And only 45 minutes away, Denver offers museums and restaurants.

Bend, Oregon. In the Pacific Northwest, the city of Bend offers a high-desert climate and outdoor activities: skiing, golf, fly-fishing, and hiking. It boasts a good medical center and a very low crime rate. Although you can find museums, theaters, and concerts in Bend, you have to drive to Portland three hours away for a true big-city cultural experience. Minor caveats: Special discounts for seniors for continuing education are limited, and the population is growing rapidly. But the affordable housing and temperate climate are drawing a diverse crowd.

Asheville, North Carolina. Retirees flock to this university town in the Blue Ridge Mountains for its beautiful scenery, low cost of living, and cultural amenities. Asheville offers restaurants, art galleries, and a symphony, as well as outdoor activities: golf, skiing, and hiking. If you view retirement as an opportunity to start a new career, you'll find all you want at Asheville's Center for Creative Retirement. You have to be content with a small-town atmosphere, though: the nearest big city, Charlotte, is two hours away by car. While below-freezing temps are usual in winter, Asheville's temperate climate offers the best of all four seasons.

Brunswick, Maine. Brunswick offers retirees a small-college atmosphere, with plenty of opportunity to take classes and attend lectures at Bowdoin College. Just 30 minutes' drive from Portland and two hours drive from Boston, Brunswick gives retirees the best of both small- and large-city cultural attractions. There's great fishing and sailing, the air and water are clean, and the crime rate is low, but winter temps can be very low and property taxes can be very high.

The Five Runners-Up
Santa Fe, New Mexico. This Southwest city supports a culturally diverse, growing population, is a haven for artists, and offers many museums and art galleries. It's a haven for nature lovers too: skiing, fly-fishing, and hiking. Santa Fe's climate is more varied than you might think, with long spring and fall seasons and some snow in the winter. On the downside, the cost of living here is expensive, housing costs are high, and the high altitude could be challenging to some.

Hot Springs, Arkansas. This small city, bordered by lakes, is famous for its thermal springs. It boasts many arts and music festivals, several golf courses, and a very low cost of living. But remember to factor in your preferences for climate: the summers are very hot.

San Luis Obispo, California. On the central California coast, this small city offers mild weather, beautiful ocean views, and plenty of chances to play in the outdoors: hiking, boating, or fishing. Access to health care is excellent, and two local colleges offer places for continued learning. What's not so good: high housing costs, high sales taxes, and high utility rates.

Madison, Wisconsin. Home to the University of Wisconsin, this Midwest city boasts many cultural and educational amenities. You can find excellent health care. Housing costs are moderate, but property taxes can be high. Very low temperatures and a long winter might not be attractive to some.

Amherst, Massachusetts. A charming small town in the Northeast, Amherst is near five colleges. Continuing education opportunities are plentiful. You can find easy access to numerous cultural amenities and a variety of outdoor activities. Its attractions are offset by a high cost of living, and especially high property taxes and utility costs. Keep in mind that it gets cold in January and that Amherst gets sunshine little more than half of the year.

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