From the beautiful forests of the White Mountains to a variety of beaches lining the coastline, the Granite State of New Hampshire is best known for its natural beauty, along with its rich history and arts & culture scene. Retirees seeking the perks of rural tranquility with access to urban amenities in close proximity will find New Hampshire to be the perfect retirement spot!
And the best part? The 65+ population of New Hampshire has only continued to increase over the past decade, as the state saw a 40 percent increase in population from 2010 to 2020. In fact, approximately 20 percent of the population in New Hampshire is either 65 years of age or older.
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Pros and Cons of Retiring in New HampshireFrom the outside looking in, New Hampshire seems like a no-brainer retirement destination because of its desirable living qualities, including:
- Natural beauty and outdoor recreation: New Hampshire’s rugged coastline along the Atlantic Ocean is home to many of the state’s most charming places to live, including Portsmouth. And from the White Mountains to the Lakes Region, you can enjoy plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities.
- Rich history: With the first settlement forming in the early 1600s, New Hampshire’s towns and cities are filled with interesting history that you can explore at various museums and other historical sites.
- Proximity to large cities: Because of New Hampshire's geographic location in New England, residents aren’t that far away from major cities in the region like Boston.
- Huge tax benefits: There is no state income tax in New Hampshire, which means there are no taxes on any type of retirement income in the state.
While there are many amenities that make New Hampshire so attractive for retirees, there are always going to be drawbacks when moving to a new location that you might not be used to. For example, there is no state income tax; however, New Hampshire has the fourth highest property tax rates of any state in the U.S., with a rate of 1.77 percent. The cost of living in New Hampshire is also more expensive than the national average.
- Cost of Living in New Hampshire: 105.8
- Cost of Living in the U.S.: 100
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the harsh winter weather with heavy snowfall and winter blizzards. There are also limited public transport options across the state.
Places To Retire in New Hampshire - FAQs
Q: Is New Hampshire a good state for retirees?
A: Is New Hampshire a good state to retire in? Yes! New Hampshire has great qualities, such as local natural beauty, history, arts & culture, and entertainment options. New Hampshire is an especially great state to retire in, though, because of its lack of state income tax.
Q: What is the best town in NH to retire in?
A: According to Niche, the small town of Peterborough is the best town in NH to retire.
Q: Is Maine or NH better for retirees?
A: Both Maine and New Hampshire offer retired residents some of New England’s best perks; however, Maine is not considered to be as tax-friendly for retirees because of its high state tax rate of 5.8 percent. Social security income for retirees in Maine may not be taxed, but other forms of retirement income are taxed at rates as high as 7.15 percent.
Q: Is it affordable to retire in NH?
A: While the cost of living in New Hampshire may be more expensive than the national average, it’s still cheaper than other parts of New England, like Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Best Places To Retire in New Hampshire
Some of the best places to retire in New Hampshire can be found in the state’s smaller towns, with fantastic outdoor recreation available, exciting arts & culture scenes, and fun local events that truly unite the community. Check out the following places every retiree should keep in mind when it comes to making the big Granite State move!
Exeter, New Hampshire
1. Exeter, NH
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $2,100
- Average home value: $530,200
- Great for: Local fun events, history buffs, book worms
Just an hour north of Boston lies the picturesque town of Exeter. While it’s a great place to settle down for any walk of life, retirees, in particular, gravitate to this town because of its amenities geared toward the retired population.
The Exeter Senior Center, for example, offers retired residents computers to use with Internet access, exercise classes, and even shopping trips. The Parks and Recreation Department manages this center and hosts a summer concert series as well as the American Independence Festival. The American Independence Museum is also a great place for history buffs.
Bookworms living in Exeter should also check out the local Exeter Public Library, home to a summer music series, book discussion groups, and even a quilters’ club.
2. Peterborough, NH
- Average rent (all sizes): $2,200
- Average home value: $403,000
- Great for: Culture, outdoor recreation, small-town living, local events
If small-town living is your preferred way of life, then you’ll want to hear all about Peterborough, which is one of the best small towns in New Hampshire to retire. In fact, according to Niche, Peterborough ranks #1 among the “2023 Best Places to Retire in New Hampshire.”
For those wishing to experience a blend of culture, the beautiful outdoors, and a small-town atmosphere, Peterborough offers it all for its retired residents. Situated along the picturesque hills in the mountains of New Hampshire, art enthusiasts living in the area will get to explore the MacDowell Colony, a leading contemporary arts organization that brings together a diverse variety of talented artists.
And as far as fun local events go, there are plenty of exciting activities found within Peterborough. “First Friday” is a festive celebration in the community held on (you guessed it!) the first Friday of each month, for example, where you can come and support local artists, businesses, and restaurants. The Children and the Arts Festival is also a fun activity for the younger grandkids!
3. Gilford, NH
- Average rent (all sizes): $2,000
- Average home value: $492,900
- Great for: Outdoor recreation year round, tight-knit community, local events
Want to relocate to one of the best towns to retire in New Hampshire with scenic beauty and plenty of ways to engage in outdoor recreation and stay active all year? Then Gilford may be the place for you!
During the warmer months, residents can explore Lake Winnipesaukee for swimming, fishing, and boating or the Belknap Mountain Range for its various hiking trails. And during the winter months, residents can head on over to the Gunstock Mountain Resort and ski, snowboard, and snowshoe.
While Gilford offers many fantastic outdoor amenities, it also offers a tight-knit community feel with local events to engage with neighbors, such as the Gilford Old Home Day Celebration and Gunstock Hillclimb.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
4. Portsmouth, NH
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $2,025
- Average home value: $669,800
- Great for: History, culture, entertainment
Situated right on the border of Maine, Portsmouth is known for its one-of-a-kind history, culture, and entertainment scene.
Portsmouth is home to quite the charming downtown area, filled with cobblestone streets, a historic seaport, and a variety of shops and restaurants to choose from, such as the local resident favorite The River House. A fun fact about Portsmouth? It was named one of the “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation back in 2008.
Residents can easily become immersed in history at places such as the Strawbery Banke Museum, which dives deep into over 400 years of the town’s past. And, along with learning about the town’s history, retired residents also have great access to live entertainment at places like The Music Hall.
5. Brentwood, NH
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $2,100
- Average home value: $633,600
- Great for: Live music, local produce, serenity
Situated in Rockingham County, Brentwood is located in between the larger towns of Exeter and Epping. One of the best perks of Brentwood is its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, but you don’t have to worry about the hustle and bustle that happens in many of the larger coastal towns nearby.
While Brentwood’s countryside may seem a bit quieter, there is still lots of fun going on locally in town. As with many parts of New Hampshire, live music is quite popular in the summertime, and Brentwood residents can attend “Sounds of the Seacoast” — a summer concert series that’s completely free.
Residents living in Brentwood also love to shop locally for the best fresh local produce. One of the top places to find that produce? The Brookvale Mercantile.
6. Madbury, NH
- Average rent (one-bedroom): N/A
- Average home value: $615,500
- Great for: Outdoor recreation, fun local events, serenity
Similar to Brentwood, Madbury is another quaint and quiet town that offers the perfect retreat for retirees who are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the larger cities nearby. If rural living is more your style, you’ll fit right in at Madbury, but you’ll still have close access to the amenities of the bigger cities.
Those who love outdoor recreation activities on the water, like fishing and boating, surrounded by beautiful views will enjoy being so close to a branch of the Bellamy River. This branch runs through the town and amplifies the area’s picturesque scenery!
And along with a public library that offers programs and events for residents of all ages, retired residents can look forward to the fun-filled Madbury Day, an exciting event in the summer that includes live music, food, entertainment, and even a parade.
Rye, New Hampshire
7. Rye, NH
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $2,400
- Average home value: $1.17M
- Great for: Natural beauty, serenity, beaches, historical landmarks, outdoor recreation
Rye is best described as a serene yet beautiful town located along New Hampshire’s seacoast, with plenty of history to explore and everlasting charm from its nearby beaches and other outdoor spots full of natural beauty.
Throughout the warmer months, you can head to Wallis Sands State Park or Jenness State Beach for a dip in the water or a place to sunbathe. And history buffs living in Rye can get their fix all year at various local landmarks, such as the Rye Historical Society Museum.
Retired residents keeping up with an active lifestyle have plenty of hiking trails to choose from with the most scenic views, which are managed by the Rye Conservation Commission. Locke’s Hill Trail, for example, offers breathtaking views of the local landscapes.
8. Bedford, NH
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $2,050
- Average home value: $669,400
- Great for: Shopping, outdoor recreation, history buffs, quality healthcare
From convenient shopping centers to outdoor recreation and vibrant cultural attractions, the community of Bedford offers it all for retirees who are seeking a fulfilling retirement during their golden years. What’s more, the local St. Joseph’s Hospital in Manchester is among the top quality healthcare service providers in the area.
Market and Main and the Shoppes at Bedford are some of the most convenient places to shop in the area, offering a variety of retail options. Enthusiasts of nature and those who love the outdoors will also enjoy local parks, such as the Benedictine Park, which offers the most magnificent views and trails for walking.
Seniors living in Bedford can also become immersed in the town’s history when they visit local places, such as the Bedford Historical Society and the Bedford Public Library. The Bedford Historical Society offers an array of exhibits and events while the public library offers book clubs, talks from authors, and a vibrant cultural atmosphere overall.
9. Bethlehem, NH
- Average rent (all sizes): $1,200
- Average home value: $317,900
- Great for: Outdoor recreation, arts, culture
Another prime retirement destination for nature lovers, the town of Bethlehem is surrounded by the White Mountains National Forest, which offers a plethora of outdoor recreational activities. Along with hiking and camping in the mountains, the Ammonoosuc River also provides a beautiful setting for fishing and kayaking. And local parks like the Bretzfelder Memorial Park are ideal places for outdoor activities in the warmer months.
Bethlehem is also considered somewhat of an arts and culture hub, as the historic Colonial Theatre is in the area and hosts performances and other events throughout the year.
With a cost of living lower than the state and national average, along with cheaper housing prices than most other areas within the state, Bethlehem is one of the most affordable places to retire in New Hampshire for those on a budget.
Lebanon, New Hampshire
10. Lebanon, NH
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,475
- Average home value: $402,700
- Great for: Quality medical care, outdoor recreation, culture, variety of dining experiences
Those thinking about where to retire in New Hampshire with local access to quality medical services along with plenty of outdoor recreation and other amenities for retirees should consider the vibrant community of Lebanon. Located near the Connecticut River in western New Hampshire, it’s easy to take advantage of outdoor recreation opportunities on the water and in the nearby mountains.
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center is the state’s only academic medical center and the only Level I Adult Trauma Center in the state. Lebanon is also close to Dartmouth College, and culture and local dining are prominent in the area. Some of the best restaurants include Salt Hill Pub and Three Tomatoes Trattoria.
11. North Hampton, NH
- Average rent (all sizes): N/A
- Average home value: $802,500
- Great for: Outdoor recreation, beaches, waterfront pathways
The close-knit community of North Hampton is perfect for those who enjoy a small-town atmosphere with plenty of amenities that make the area so charming.
For outdoor recreation, residents are lucky to be close to the serene Odiorne Point State Park for activities like hiking and camping. And home to a variety of mansions along the water, North Hampton is also popular for its surf culture and access to beautiful beaches. The waterfront pathways are always filled with residents exploring the beautiful seacoast, and spots like the Fuller Gardens Estate are perfect for checking out some picturesque gardens and unique history.
12. Holderness, NH
- Average rent (all sizes): N/A
- Average home value: $588,400
- Great for: Outdoor recreation, arts, culture, nearby shopping and dining
Along with the majority of the other best places to retire in New Hampshire, Holderness is not afraid to boast its fair share of natural beauty, as it’s located in central New Hampshire, which offers picturesque views of the local White Mountains and Squam Lakes.
Aside from several arts and culture activities to explore in the area, the town of Holderness is home to the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. This organization has a variety of live animal exhibits to check out, along with science education programs and a public garden.
For other activities, like shopping and dining, retirees living in Holderness can travel to the nearby town of Plymouth and explore places like the Hatch Plaza Shopping Center.
PODS Can Help You Move to One of the Best Small Towns That New Hampshire Has To Offer
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Editor’s note: For ease of reading, monthly rental prices were rounded to the nearest $25 and home values were rounded to the nearest $100.