Magazine says Northfield is No. 1 town in the U.S. for retirees

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Northfield, Minnesota, has an unbeatable combo platter to offer retirees: College town perks and a low cost of living.

That's what Money magazine decided as it named the Rice County city the best place overall in the United States to retire.

“This little town 45 minutes south of Minneapolis packs a surprising punch: It’s home to two colleges, an active retiree community, beautiful countryside, and the mix of affordability and economic growth that characterizes much of the Twin Cities region,” Money's story declared.

The study focused on housing prices, taxes on pension income, job opportunities for older workers, potential retiree income, Medicare reimbursements and generosity of Medicaid.

What makes Northfield so special? Its 33 city parks, the presence of St. Olaf College and Carleton College and the city's proximity to world class medical care at the nearby Mayo Clinic were cited as prime advantages. The story noted what it called Northfield's downside, a long and frigid winter and a state income tax that tops out at 9.85 percent.

Northfield has enjoyed other recent honors for its charm and livability. In August, the city was ranked second on the yearly “Top Ten Small Towns” ranking by Livability.com, a website that ranks small and midsize communities for quality of life.

The Star Tribune story on the designation noted that Northfield's "high taxes and low temperatures" did not dissuade the financial publication from putting Northfield atop its list.

Money's runners-up to Northfield were Bellingham, Washington, and Manchester, New Hampshire. Money also acknowledged the top low-cost retirement communities (Bella Vista, Arkansas; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Morgantown, West Virginia) and the best place for retirees to pursue an encore career (Iowa City, Iowa; Bozeman, Montana; and Casper, Wyoming).

The magazine relied on a study from the National Institute on Retirement Security, which ranked the 50 states on factors essential to retirees. Near the bottom were Florida, Arizona and other well-known retirement havens. At the top, a mix of mostly Northern states.

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