Peoria was the only Arizona city to make the top 10 list and placed above such cities as Virginia Beach and Honolulu.
A majority of the cities highlighted by Kiplinger are suburbs of larger cities, such as Bellevue,Wash. outside Seattle and Sandy Springs, Ga. outside Atlanta.
Peoria’s proximity to big-city amenities was noted, along with its low crime rate, low cost of living and favorable taxes that make it an ideal location for people to retire early.
Peoria City Manager Carl Swenson attributed much of the city’s appeal to its leadership.
“Peoria has achieved a reputation for being a great place to live,” he said, “not only for its beautiful neighborhoods and surroundings, but the deliberate choices made by mayor and council.”
Kiplinger selected Peoria for a variety of reasons.
The city’s location in Arizona gives it some inherent qualities, such as “dry heat, ample sunshine and favorable tax laws,” that make it “a prime destination for retirees of all ages.”
Kiplinger cited Peoria’s crime rate of 3.16 crimes per 100 residents, the fact that 24.1 percent of the approximately 160,000 population is 45 to 64 years old, and that its cost of living is 9 percent below the national average.
Arizona also is “one of the most tax-friendly” states in the country, according to Kiplinger. The state personal income tax rate tops out at 4.54. percent, while Social Security benefits and up to $2,500 of some retirement income are tax-exempt. There is no state property, inheritance, gift or estate tax, and sales tax in Peoria is 8.1 percent.
Peoria also has the most affordable housing of all the cities on Kiplinger’s list, coming in at 17 percent below the national average. That also is much less than Scottsdale, which is 30 percent above the national average.
Peoria is better suited for early retirees than Scottsdale, the publisher concluded.
“Peoria comes with its own benefits. As a suburb of Phoenix, it gives you easy access to big-city amenities for just a fraction of the living costs,” Kiplinger’s Stacy Rapacon wrote. “The median age in Peoria is seven years younger than in Scottsdale, which is a plus for early retirees.”