Of special note to retirees: Residents age 59 1/2 and older can take ,000 a year from qualified pensions free of state income taxes, and all pensions are tax-free for retired military and government workers.Kingston’s historic core is the waterfront Rondout neighborhood, which features brick buildings from the 1800s and a slew of restaurants, galleries and avant-garde venues like the Kingston Museum of Contemporary Arts and Deep Listening Institute, a center for poets and experimental musicians.
Austin, Texas The question that free thinkers have about Austin, long a traditional oasis of liberal edginess, is whether or not its soul has grown staid. Originality remains a badge of pride here, as do progressive political stances (gay rights, for example), green living, large and convenient parks, and artsy festivals.
This metro area of 1.7 million, on the eastern edge of the Texas Hill Country, sprawls along Interstate 35, about 200 miles south of Dallas.
The pride in originality starts at the top — Boulder’s government has partnerships with seven sister cities, including Lhasa, Tibet; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; and Jalapa, Nicaragua.
From there it extends through the ranks of University of Colorado students and professors, local merchants and small-business owners — and a community of elite athletes, who live here so they can train at 5,430 feet above sea level.
Student-artists from the SUNY-New Paltz School of Fine and Performing Arts draw enthusiastic crowds, but the big ticket in town is often the Midnight Ramble concerts, four-hour parties in a barn that doubles as the Woodstock recording studio of Levon Helm, the former drummer for The Band.
For outdoor recreation, the area boasts fine golf courses, the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, and extensive options for hiking, camping, canoeing and cross-country skiing on and around Slide Mountain.
One reason Forbes magazine called Austin “recession proof” in 2008 is the job market at the University of Texas (enrollment 50,995), which attracts top talent in fields like medicine, computer science and engineering. Austin’s urban design follows Complete Streets, a national network advocating shared roads usage.
UT joins Austin Community College (45,000 students) and Texas State’s campus in San Marcos (30,803) to anchor a young metro area that ranks among the most literate U. It is bicycle-friendly and has a high ratio of total parkland per 1,000 residents.
Of course, as with all our Great Places to Retire lists, we’ve also factored in cost of living, quality and availability of health care, and crime and safety. Residents occupy villages and the bears roam the 287,500-acre Catskill Mountains Forest Preserve.