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SmartAsset: Best Places to Retire in Virginia

If you love the outdoors and want to stay active, you may consider spending your golden years among the pristine landscapes of Virginia. To help you narrow down your choices, SmartAsset compiled a list of the best places to retire in Virginia. These locations offer great leisure activities for those in their post-work life with offer easy access to nature, as the state is home to plenty of national parks. And you have miles upon miles to hike, the Blue Ridge mountains to climb and numerous luxury golf courses. As the site of several Civil War battles and the birthplace of George Washington, Virginia can also suit all you history buffs out there with its museums and monuments. In addition, the state offers plenty of financial advantages to help you preserve your nest egg.

A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your retirement needs and goals.

How We Determined the Best Places to Retire

Virginia is tax-friendly for retirees. The state doesn’t tax Social Security benefits. And you can deduct up to $12,000 in pension and other retirement income from your state taxable income if you’re a senior. But while the state is generally a good place for retirees to put down stakes, some locations are better than others.

In order to compile this list, SmartAsset studied several factors that are important to retirees in Virginia, including healthcare access, the number of retirement-focused recreational centers and overall tax burden. Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 places to retire in Virginia.

1. Fairfax County

If you’re looking to retire in the great outdoors, Fairfax County may be the perfect place for you. The region houses many national parks, including Great Falls National Park and Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s first sanctuary for bald eagles. You can also visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

You’d also have more than 300 miles of hiking trails to tackle as you stay active. In fact, the Fairfax County Park Authority runs more than 400 parks among more than 20,000 acres. Some feature wildlife preserves and working farms. But nature isn’t Fairfax’s only perk. You also have more than 200 regional shopping centers.

Niche.com says that 13% of the population in Fairfax County is age 65 and over. The median rent is $1,881 and the median home value is $563,100.

Virginia’s retirement system is among the top 50 largest public or private pension funds in the world. And because Virginia is a tax-friendly state for retirees, it would behoove you to invest in tax-advantaged savings vehicles like a 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA). These can help add to a holistic retirement plan especially if you have a pension.

You can spend your hard-earned savings on the numerous Fairfax recreation centers, including an ice-skating rink and Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. And with more than 800 playgrounds, you can bring the grandkids.

Fairfax is also a health-conscious option, with more than 13 medical centers for every 1,000 people.

2. Falls Church

Falls Church is another great spot in Virginia for outdoor enthusiasts. You’d also have access to luxury golf courses and more than 55 retiree communities. And according Niche.com, median rent stands at about $1,867. In fact, the study reported that 42% of residents rent their homes while 58% buy homes. But Falls Church also boasts an urban feel. So it’s perfect for the person who also likes a vibrant city lifestyle.

3. Abingdon

If you’re into the arts and love festivals, Abingdon may be the place where you’d want to spend your golden years . It may even be among the best places for creatives. Every year, the town hosts a handful of special events, including the Virginia Highlands Festival, which can trace its roots back to the 1980s. And when you’re not parading, you can enjoy Abingdon’s many cycling and hiking trails. The town even hosts several fiddlers conventions. You can also hike the Virginia Creeper Trail and the Appalachian trail or go horseback riding. In fact, Jefferson National Forest offers one of the biggest public tracks in the Eastern United States. In addition, the local community college offers several continuing education opportunities for seniors. So if education seems like a piece to your retirement puzzle, you can start saving now by opening a 529 college savings plan for yourself. They’re not just for kids. 529 plan rules allow adults to save for their own education.

4. Williamsburg

A great place to stay healthy during retirement is Williamsburg. In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave it a high rating for healthcare. Overall, Virginia stands as a tax-friendly state. And one way to maximize the state’s tax benefits and Williamsburg’s vast access to healthcare is by opening a health savings account (HSA). The federal government won’t tax your earnings nor your withdrawals as long as you use them for qualified health expenses. You can also stay healthy by making the most out of Williamsburg’s many opportunities for exercise. And it’s also home to William & Mary, one of the nation’s oldest colleges. Seniors can audit classes for free there.

5. Bedford

If you’re a history buff, Bedford has some must-see destinations. These include the National D-Day Memorial honoring the soldiers who lost their lives during this historic battle. In fact, Bedford and surrounding areas sacrificed more soldiers per capita than any other region in the United States. In addition, Bedford offers sites like Thomas Jefferson’s Summer home. Bedford also houses several historical associations and museums. And when you’re not appreciating history, you have vast pockets of nature to explore. Bedford is home to more than many national parks. And the adventurous can explore the Peaks of Otter near the Appalachian Trail. More than 6,900 acres of national park and almost 21,000 acres of national forest surround this popular mountain destination. And if you get injured along the way, Bedford offers nearly three medical facilities per 1,000 people.

6. Fredericksburg

SmartAsset: Best Places to Retire in Virginia

Another key spot for history enthusiasts to retire in Fredericksburg, where you can find a 40-block national historic district nestled in its downtown area. And presidential history buffs will be happy to know George Washington was born nearby. The area was also a strategic stronghold during the Civil War, and many museums in Fredericksburg reflect the region’s significance to that time period. You can also find several National Military Parks.

This region is known for its healthcare access. It supports more than 8.03 medical facilities per 1,000 people. According to our research, the region has considerably more hospitals than all the top-ranking places to retire in Virginia. In addition, you can find more than 40 retirement communities throughout Fredericksburg.

7. Vienna

Those who enjoy the arts or intend to focus on continuing education will feel right at home in Vienna. The town is home to more than 52 colleges and universities. In addition to education, these institutions also offer ongoing cultural events from concerts and plays to public talks. And like most of the best places to retire in Virginia, Vienna provides several opportunities to bask in nature and stay active. The region offers more than 100 golf courses within 30 miles. The city’s downtown area also provides easy access to all D.C. metro area attractions. So you’re unlikely to get bored while enjoying your golden years in Vienna.

8. Woodstock

Anyone who wants to stay connected to nature during his or her retirement years should consider spending them at Woodstock, Virginia. Rich in history, this town is situated between the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains in Shenandoah County. Common activities include nearly year-round golf courses, kayaking, skiing, tubing, fishing and biking. So you’d be hard pressed to get bored in Woodstock. You can also easily stay active. For instance, you can hike more than 178 miles of trail among the George Washington National streams. The town also has plenty of museums dedicated to George Washington as well as the Civil War. Old Valley Pike offers an array of shops, galleries and restaurants.

9. Winchester

During the past few years, several organizations have recognized Winchester as a key retiree destination. Reader’s Digest ranked it among the top 10 best small towns in America for retirees. AARP also named it one of the most affordable travel destinations in America for retirees. And it’s not hard to see why the town gets its reputation.

Nature, arts and history buffs can all find something special here. For example, several museums depict the region’s connection to the Civil War. In fact, Winchester was the site of battlefields that changed hands more than 70 times during the war. And about a dozen places in Winchester are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Those interested in pursuing education can keep their brains active at one of its many colleges, including Shenandoah University. Or they can enjoy one of its many performance events. The town even hosts the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.

Plus, Winchester has about six medical facilities per 1,000 people, making it a place with very easy access to healthcare services.

10. South Boston

SmartAsset: Best Places to Retire in Virginia

And last but most certainly not least, you have South Boston. This small town in southern Virginia has a big city feel with tons of recreational activities to engage in regardless of age. And if you want to be around more fellow seniors, you’re in luck: Niche.com says 21% of the population is age 65 and over. The town boasts about 0.50 recreational centers per 1,000 people too.

History enthusiasts can also bask in Virginia’s past here. For example, you can visit the South Boston-Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History as well as the Crossing of the Dan Exhibit. And if you want to unleash the kid in you or spend some time with the grandchildren, you can check out the World of Sports. This attraction combines a theater, a bowling alley, a skating rink, arcade, restaurant and more.

Retirement Tips

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/SKLA, ©iStock.com/Sportstock, ©iStock.com/Robert_Ford

Javier Simon, CEPF® Javier Simon is a banking, investing and retirement expert for SmartAsset. The personal finance writer's work has been featured in Investopedia, PLANADVISER and iGrad. Javier is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. He has a degree in journalism from SUNY Plattsburgh. Javier is passionate about helping others beyond their personal finances. He has volunteered and raised funds for charities including Fight Cancer Together, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
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