% over 50: 38%
Avg. home price: $95,000 USD
Top state income tax: None
Cost of living index: 96
For retirees who are looking for lower taxes, cheap housing and a gentle climate, Cape Coral scores on all fronts. Home prices here, for example, have fallen more than 60% since the 2006 peak. For homebuyers, that means a lot of bang for the buck: A newly renovated three-bedroom, 1,800-square-foot house with a pool was recently bought here for $145,000.
Lots of Florida towns have seen dramatic price drops, of course, but Cape Coral has something else going for it: It’s paradise for water lovers. The town is sliced with 400 miles of canals, half of which have access to the Gulf of Mexico, about 20 minutes away by boat.
This quiet place doesn’t offer much nightlife. But there’s a public golf course, a weekly farmers’ market with live music, and a nearby outlet mall. Training camps for the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins are just 15 minutes away.
In the years following the real estate implosion, foreign purchases have been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy market. In the 12 months ending in March, international sales in the U.S. totaled $82 billion, up from $66 billion in 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. Canada led the way, making up 23% of sales to foreigners, followed by China, Mexico, the U.K. and India. Argentina and Brazil combined reported a 5% increase in foreign sales, up 2% from last year.