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Alabama: Good country living

There’s a lot to be said for retiring in the South. You can avoid harsh winters, which means the weather won’t prevent you from making your way to the golf courses, beaches, hiking and biking trails, and every other outdoor activity you enjoy. Among the southern states, Alabama combinesexceptional weather withendless ways to spend your newfound leisure time during retirement, as well as the affordability that lets you do even more.

Here are a few top reasons to consider Alabama for your retirement.

#1. Sunshine is a given. When you live in a northern state, you find you plan your outings by the weather forecast. In Alabama, you feel confident that one day is just as sunny as the next. The average high temperature in Alabama is 76.5°F and the low drops only to 53.5°—a nice stretch of southern comfort. You can expect a few inches of rain each month, mostly in the winter, in place of snowfall. The southern part of the state will climb a bit higher and the mountains to the north will give you a bit more chill, but you can always count on sunny weather here.

If you want to use these sunny days to get out on the links, you’ll discover that Alabama offers extraordinary options, including the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which includes 11 courses around the state—only a few of the championship quality golf clubs.

#2. Southern hospitality is even warmer than the climate. Living in the South can be a bit of a cultural shock, but a good one. The people take pride in their heritage, and you’ll see the evidence in the beautifully maintained historical sites and buildings, including antebellum architecture. Culinary specialties—home-cooked, of course—might not always be heart-healthy but it’s so tasty: fried catfish, country fried steak, fried chicken, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, fried dill pickles, as well asskillet cornbread, shrimp and grits, biscuits and sausage gravy, boiled peanuts, pulled pork, cobbler, casseroles, and lots of church suppers. That’s not to say you can’t find fine dining, because Alabama chefs create epicurean delights that will excite any palate.

#3. The scenery is picture-postcard perfection. The southern border of Alabama stretches 660 miles across the Gulf of Mexico. Sandy beaches line the shore and attract retirees who appreciate the value ofcoastal living with the warmth of Gulf waters and gentle breezes. Ocean-front towns like Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, and the barrier island of Dauphin Island are desirable locations for a tropical retirement. The northeastern part of the state reaches into the Appalachian Mountains. Lookout Mountain is one of the most famous peaks, spanning a view of three states and featuring the scenic beauty of waterfalls and Little River Canyon.

#4. Stretch your retirement income and savings here. USA Today ranked Alabama among the 10 least expensive states to live in the U.S. GOBankingRates placed Alabama as the 12th least expensive state, with a housing estimate that’s a whopping 26% below the national average. Housing, utilities, transportation, groceries, and healthcare all fall well below the national average.

From a tax perspective, retiring in Alabama gives you a big break. Social Security benefits, federal and state pensions, estate, and inheritance are not taxed. Property and income tax are among the lowest in the country.

Retiring in Alabama will allow you to live well and affordably, enjoying a state that’s not just retirement-friendly, but plain old friendly.