It may not be the first place most people think of for retirement, but even without the sun and sand of warmer states, Ohio has a lot to offer. Lovers of nature, bird watching, hiking, and cycling will find Ohio to be a haven of outdoor activities.

The culturally minded can enjoy the eclectic and intellectual vibe flowing through the state’s many college towns, vibrant cultural and arts scenes. The Midwest is also a great choice for those who seek a more conservative, small-town feel.

Moreover, Ohio is an inexpensive place to live. The average cost of living is almost 7% below the national average. Social security income is not taxed at all, and pension income is only partially taxed, making it ideal for those who need to retire on a budget without sacrificing quality of life.

A note on methodology: all cost of living (COL) estimates are compared with the national average, which is set at 100. For example, a COL index of 125/100 means that the place has a COL that is 25% higher than the median income in the US, which is $53,086. COL indices and population data are found at Sperling’s Best Places. Average high and low temperatures are obtained from US Climate Data.

Here are our picks for the best six places to retire in Ohio.

1. Dayton

  • Average Winter High/Low: 35°/20°
  • Average Summer High/Low: 84°/64°
  • Population: 140,599
  • Cost of Living: 74.9/100

For a mid-sized city, Dayton has a lot to offer. There are parks, museums, sports complexes, and other cultural centers as well as ample spots to enjoy bird watching as well as the aeronautical museum, hundreds of miles of cycling trails and lots to do in evenings on the town. Nearly 12% of the city’s residents are aged 65 or over, and the area is supported by five quality hospitals, two of which have received national ranking for quality health-care. On top of that, Dayton has a wide network of resources, neighborhoods, and transportation assistance for aging adults and a lower-than-average cost of living.

2. Akron

  • Average Winter High/Low: 34°/20°
  • Average Summer High/Low: 84°/64°
  • Population: 197,542
  • Cost of Living: 79/100

In 2013, U.S. News and World Report rated Akron as its  #1 choice for places to retire on under $75 a day. Discounts are offered to seniors at many cultural centers like the Akron Art Museum and the Akron Symphony Orchestra, which helps further reduce costs for lovers of the arts. Like Dayton, the health care system in Akron is high performing, which makes it ideal for those who need quality medical care and still want to live out their golden years on a budget.

3. Cincinnati

  • Average Winter High/Low: 39°/22°
  • Average Summer High/Low: 87°/66°
  • Population: 298,550
  • Cost of Living: 85.9/100

Cincinnati was rated the #1 place to retire in the nation by Livability in 2013. The site praised: “Highly ranked hospitals, affordably priced housing, and a vast collection of parks and cultural amenities combine to make Cincinnati, OH, the best place to retire.” Cincinnati offers cultural, intellectual and leisure options, including a museum district, many colleges, over 75 parks, sports facilities, and more. With a cost of living roughly 15% below the average and dozens of quality hospitals, Cincinnati is an excellent place for the active and engaged senior to retire.

4. Cleveland

  • Average Winter High/Low: 34°/22°
  • Average Summer High/Low: 83°/64°
  • Population: 388,072
  • Cost of Living: 78.8/100

NerdWallet ranked Cleveland the #2 place in the nation in 2013 due to its high ratio of doctors-per-capita, award-winning hospitals, continuing education opportunities, cost of living, and cultural centers. While Cleveland used to be an industrial center – it was the birthplace of Standard Oil – the downtown district has been going through a renaissance, and now provides amenities on par with larger metropolitan areas. For those looking for a bit of city life and excitement in their later years, Cleveland is an excellent choice.

5. Columbus

  • Average Winter High/Low: 36°/20°
  • Average Summer High/Low: 85°/65°
  • Population: 850,106
  • Cost of living: 84.3/100

In 2016, Kiplinger listed Columbus as one of their twelve best places for “Retiring in Good Health.” People who move to Columbus can enjoy museums, a lively Oktoberfest, and stately architecture. The combination of great health facilities and a low cost of living is a winning combination on its own, but paired with the wide list of activities, river life, and at least 10 senior-centered suburbs, Columbus is an excellent place to consider for retirement.

6. Sandusky

  • Average Winter High/Low: 33°/21°
  • Average Summer High/Low: 82°/67°
  • Population: 25,212
  • Cost of living: 76.7/100

Sandusky is popular with retirees; over 20% of the cities’ residents are 65 or older. But, that doesn’t mean it’s a stuffy place to live. Cedar Point, home to incredible roller coasters, is one of the most popular theme parks in the world. For those looking for a different kind of excitement, the Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve and adjacent wetlands along the Sandusky Bay attracts nearly 300 species of birds and plenty of people to watch them.

Key takeaways:

  • All six of these Ohio cities have a cost of living that is at least 15% below the national average.
  • While Ohio is a great choice for the senior looking to retire on a fixed income or on a budget, you won’t sacrifice quality of life, or access to great healthcare.
  • With the proximity to the Great Lakes, and the hundreds of miles of bike trails, the Buckeye State is great for the senior who is looking to start a life of adventure rather than just settling down.

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