It’s no surprise that Wyoming has been appearing on lists of the best states to retire in. Bankrate in 2015 rated the Cowboy State #1 as a retirement destination. Wyoming offers outstanding scenery and outdoor recreation opportunities, low cost of living and taxes, and abundant sunshine. Skiing, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, biking, and snowboarding are just a few of the recreational activities that active retirees can enjoy, all while surrounded by mountain vistas and vast horizons. It is the least populous state in the country, so there’s plenty of room to roam. Cheyenne, the state capital and largest city, has just 63,000 people.
Wyoming is where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains. Its terrain is high plateau punctuated by mountain ranges. Elevations range from 3,000 to 14,000 feet. The Wind River Range in the west central part of the state includes more than 40 mountain peaks over 13,000 feet high.
Other mountain ranges in the state include the Big Horn and Teton Ranges. The Wind, Yellowstone, Big Horn, and North Platte Rivers are just some of the rivers that flow through Wyoming. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, two of the nation’s most popular national parks, are close by. The state is ideal for active residents who love the outdoors. It’s somewhat remote, although Cheyenne, in the southeast corner, is only 100 miles from Denver.
The climate in Wyoming is considered semi-arid continental, a mountain climate that is drier and windier than average for the U.S. Sunshine is plentiful and humidity is low. Summers are warm, though cooler in the mountains, while winters can have severe cold and snow.
The cost of living is about 4% above the national average, and the median home price in 2015 was $204,100, slightly below the national median. The state is rich in oil and other natural resources, and has the third-lowest total tax burden in the nation. The tax burden in Cheyenne is 3.9%, the lowest of any of the largest cities in the U.S. There is no state income tax, inheritance tax, or estate tax.
Property taxes though are the fourth highest in the nation. Residential property tax is assessed at 9.5% of fair market value. But, depending on income, residents may receive a reimbursement of up to half of the tax bill. Additionally, depending on income, people age 65+ may receive a $700 to $800 refund for property taxes, sales taxes and utility taxes. Military veterans are exempt from property tax. The state sales tax is also below average, at 4%. Residents of Wyoming pay no state taxes on capital gains.
Here are three good places to consider for retirement in Wyoming.
Located in the southeastern part of the state, Laramie is a small town of 32,000 with an active cultural scene and is a popular place for hiking, skiing, and nature-watching.
The University of Wyoming is located in Laramie and offers many cultural and educational attractions. The university’s art museum has gallery exhibits, lectures, workshops, and classes year-round. The fine arts concert hall on campus regularly gives concerts and recitals during the academic year. The university’s geological museum is open to the public and has a dinosaur exhibit and over 50,000 mineral and fossil specimens.
Other museums include the Laramie Plains Museum in the center of town. The Wyoming Children’s Museum and Nature Center has classes and interactive exhibits. The town is rich in American history and has 21 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Wyoming Territorial Prison. The prison site has buildings and displays that represent a Nineteenth Century frontier town.
The town maintains 14 parks that offer wading pools, running and bike paths, ball fields, tennis and volleyball courts, river fishing, and a fishing pond. The university maintains an 18-hole golf course, ball fields, and squash courts which are open to town residents. There are also a community recreation center with swimming pools, a fully stocked gym, and an indoor playground, and a community ice arena for skating and hockey.
The nearby mountains have many hiking, bike, and snowmobiling trails, ski areas, and opportunities for hunting and fishing. The area sponsors annual ski and bicycle races and marathons. Another event is Laramie Jubilee Days which celebrates the Fourth of July with food, live music, games, carnival rides, a fair, parade, softball tournament, and rodeo events.
The weather is semi-arid, with short, warm, wet summers and long, dry, cold winters. The amenities of Denver are just a couple of hours away.
Where to Retire magazine recently ranked Cody as one of the four best U.S. towns for retirement. Some of the town’s attractions are its proximity to Yellowstone National Park, abundance of wildlife and outdoor recreation, and a large indoor recreation center.
The town of 10,000 is in a basin surrounded by the Big Horn, Owl Creek, Bridger, and Absaroka mountain ranges. The town is at 5,000 feet altitude and has a good view of 8000-foot Heart Mountain and the 12,000-foot Carter Mountains.
The town was co-founded by “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and is proud of its rugged western heritage. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a large cluster of museums that chronicle the life of Buffalo Bill and the history, culture, and art of the Old West. Old Trail Town is a group of 25 restored historic Western buildings in Cody.
Cody calls itself the “Rodeo Capital of the World” and holds an amateur rodeo nightly during the summer. The town also hosts the Cody Stampede Rodeo, one of the largest professional rodeos in the nation that is held just before Independence Day.
Cheyenne, population 63,000, is located on the high plains of southeastern Wyoming. Although not the largest or most cosmopolitan city, Cheyenne has many amenities for residents. The city has two golf courses, and the parks and recreation department has a good selection of activities. There is an ice skating and events center, swimming pool, a nine-acre botanic garden, miniature golf park, and paddle boating in Lyons Park during the summer.
The Cheyenne Little Theatre presents a full season of productions and the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra gives concerts at the civic center. The YMCA has an extensive list of programs for people age 50+.
The town also maintains a 37-mile system of pedestrian bridges and underpasses that connect the town’s parks and neighborhoods. Cheyenne Frontier Days, a 10-day event in late July, is the largest outdoor rodeo in the country. In addition to rodeo events there are many parades, carnival rides, shops, and games.
The cost of living is at the national average, and the median home price is below the national median. Cheyenne appeals to people looking for a clean, safe, friendly town living with a relaxed lifestyle and low cost of living. Nearly 40% of residents are age 45 or over.
Laramie County Senior Services serve the needs of Cheyenne’s seniors with classes, activities, wellness programs, meals, and rides in five different locations. Wyoming Senior Citizens, a private, non-profit group, is based in Riverton, 270 miles away, but also offers programs in Cheyenne.
Cheyenne is located in a semi-arid climate, on the open plain at 6,065 feet above sea level, and is one of the windiest cities in the U.S. The constant wind pushes debris and air pollution out of the area. Summer temperatures range from the 70s to low 90s. Winter temperatures are in the teens to 30s. There are 6 to 12 inches of snow per year from October to April. There are 245 days of sunshine per year.
The nearest international airport is in Denver, Colorado, 75 miles to the south (and there is a shuttle service).
Healthcare is available through a VA hospital and the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center. A Level II Adult Trauma Center, the medical center accepts Medicare and Medicaid patients, is accredited by the Joint Commission, and has received national recognition for its cardiac care.
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