Top 5 Best College Towns to Retire In

Top 5 Best College Towns to Retire In

College life isn’t the only reason these towns are great places to retire. Most are in states that are tax-friendly and have lower home prices close to the national median (some far below). With quiet summers, great entertainment scenes, and access to good health care with so many university hospitals, college towns are drawing crowds young & old!

Many college towns are also home to Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), hosted at universities that offer noncredit educational programs. 119 institutions around the country are part of the OLLI program that cater to people age 50 and up.


Austin, Texas

The capital of Texas and home to the University of Texas, Austin is known for its nonstop, something-for-everyone "get-weird" thriving music and cultural scene.

  • South by Southwest (SXSW) - an annual music and tech festival
  • Amazing restaurants and food trucks serving gourmet street eats
  • UT's OLLI for 50+ residents
  • UT Austin's Extended Campus - offers a program of short "Informal Classes."
  • Population: 912,791
  • College: University of Texas
  • Median home: $359,900
  • Median monthly rental: $1,812

Asheville, North Carolina

UNC-Asheville is a small campus of about 3,700 students, but it has an outside fanbase of retirees that enjoy Asheville's world-class symphony, local arts scene, and many breweries.

  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) offers more than 300 courses a year
  • Hosts CREW's Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend - designed for working people who are considering relocating when they retire
  • Social Security benefits are exempt from state taxes
  • Homeowners age 65+ may qualify for a homestead exemption of $25,000 or 50% of the home’s appraised value, whichever is greater
  • College: University of North Carolina–Asheville
  • Population: 87,236
  • Median home price: $215,000


State College, Pennsylvania

State College is located in the middle of Pennsylvania with an endless supply of events — cultural and athletic - stemming from Pennsylvania State University 46,000 students.

  • OLLI Penn State program offers more than 300 courses a year, many of which evolve into Special Interest Groups.
  • 60+ residents can take evening courses (some free) at Penn State
  • Many local businesses give discounts to OLLI members
  • Population: 42,100
  • Institution: Penn State
  • Median home: $265,800
  • Median monthly rental: $1,576

Athens, Georgia

Athens is the center of a historic Southern town with a lively and diverse music scene. Retirees keep their minds sharp at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) program at UGA, which offers classes and lectures on everything from tai chi to Civil War history.

  • Access to health care through the Athens Regional Medical Center or St. Mary’s Health Care System
  • Atlanta, 70 miles away, offers a more extensive hospital network and an international airport
  • OLLI at UGA
  • Social Security benefits, along with up to $35,000 in most other types of retirement income, are exempt from state taxes.
  • College: University of Georgia
  • Population: 119,980
  • Median home price: $137,000


Ann Arbor, Michigan

If you can handle the cold winters, Ann Arbor has so much to offer! 4 seasons, beautiful parks, independent bookstores and locally owned restaurants.

  • University of Michigan - provides people 65 and older with half-price tuition and annually hosts hundreds of free events
  • OLLI through the University of Michigan offers educational programs, events, courses to people 50+
  • Population: 117,770
  • College: University of Michigan
  • Median home price: $313,300
  • Median monthly rental cost: $1,915

Sources: AARP