The Old Talbott Tavern in Bardstown, Kentucky. Editorial credit: Ryan_hoel /

6 Budget-Friendly Towns In Kentucky For Retirees

Kentucky offers retirees more tolerable winters, budget-friendly homes, and abundant outdoor activities, including fishing, hunting, and hiking. The landscape here, mostly defined by rolling hills, provides tasty views, enough elbow room, and awe-inspiring natural features, including glittering lakes, lush glens, and sparkling cascades. This friendly Southern state is also home to Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system in the world. The good news is that one does not have to break the bank to retire here. Homes in the "Bluegrass State" fetch a median listing price of just $315,000, but many listings do not even cross the $300,000 mark. Discover six budget-friendly towns in Kentucky for retirees.


The town square of Bardstown, Kentucky
The town square of Bardstown, Kentucky. Editorial credit: woodsnorthphoto /

Empty nesters who like small towns with a sense of community will enjoy living in Bardstown, a beautiful, historic town that styles itself as “The Bourbon Capital of the World” — a claim that a visit to the Oscar Getz Museum of Bourbon History can establish. Bardstown dabbles up as the second-oldest town in the state. The Old Talbott Tavern, where Abraham Lincoln once stayed with his family, is among the town’s defining attractions. It was built in 1779 and was once America's oldest Western stagecoach stop. In May 2024, the median listing home price in Bardstown, Kentucky, was just $299,900.

Even by Kentucky standards, Bardstown scores big on affordability. Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city, is about 40 minutes down the road, meaning a retiree here will have first-class access to big-city amenities, including hospitals. That said, Bardstown is home to CHI Saint Joseph Health-Flaget Memorial Hospital, so there is no need to travel out of town for healthcare. Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is on the town’s back patio and is filled with scenic trails, sculpture gardens, and quiet spots to relax and sniff some fresh air.


Scenic overlook of Pikeville, Kentucky from the top of Bob Amos Park.Scenic overlook of Pikeville, Kentucky from the top of Bob Amos Park.
Scenic overlook of Pikeville, Kentucky, from the top of Bob Amos Park. Image credit: via

Small but surprisingly vibrant, Pikeville is among Kentucky’s most budget-friendly options. The median listing home price in Pikeville was just $299,000 in May 2024, meaning one can buy a house here on the cheap and still have something kept for a rainy day. This town hosts The University of Pikeville, Central Appalachia’s leading higher education institution. Although the town’s median age is 35, seniors aged 60 and above comprise 18% of the population. On healthcare access, Pikeville Medical Center was founded in 1924 and is the largest hospital in southeastern Kentucky.

To keep fit, a retiree can curate a routine of hiking the trails at Bob Amos Park, a scenic space with a lookout post where one can see all of Pikeville. Breaks Interstate Park, nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, is a short drive away. For an occasional brunch, as you mingle with residents and link up with friends, Pig in a Poke will come in handy.


Boyle county court house in Danville, Kentucky
Boyle county court house in Danville, Kentucky.

In May 2024, the median listing home price in Danville, Kentucky was $305,000. This pricepoint comes with access to Millennium Park, a lovely place for early-morning walks and picnics, Old Bridge Golf Club, where a retiree can tee away an afternoon and crown the day with a scrumptious burger, and the Dix River, one of the most scenic in the entire state. Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, named for a local physician who was the first to successfully remove an ovarian tumor in the United States, has been providing excellent medical services in the region for more than 120 years. Then again, Danville is fairly diverse, as shown by the fact Blacks comprise about 12% of the population.


Downtown Somerset, Kentucky
Downtown Somerset, Kentucky.

Somerset is a community-oriented town located close to Lake Cumberland. The lake — which provides beautiful views and numerous adventure options — is billed as the Houseboat Capital of the World. In May 2024, the median listing home price in Somerset, Kentucky, was $325,500, making it one of the most budget-friendly retirement spots in the “Bluegrass State.” The area is also encircled by the Daniel Boone National Forest, which features some of the most rugged terrain west of the Appalachian Mountains.

Retirees will love exploring the forest’s narrow ravines, verdant slopes, and sandstone cliffs. Rocky Hollow Recreation Center, where well-maintained paths snake through the trees, provides workout classes where one can keep fit and stay healthy. If an empty nester is under the weather, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital is right in town. Alternatively, the highly rated Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center is just 30 minutes away.


Campbellsville, Kentucky
Downtown Campbellsville, Kentucky. Editorial credit: hw22 /

Campbellsville — once a dusty livestock and tobacco market — is today a small college town with lots of shopping, food options, and recreation opportunities. Seniors aged at least 65 may take undergraduate courses at Campbellsville University with a full waiver of tuition costs. Taylor Regional Hospital, which was built in 1972, is located in town; hence, there will be no need to worry about healthcare access. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the fact Campbellsville provides access to the Green River Lake State Park, an excellent venue for water sports lovers.

Once in a while, an empty nester will enjoy spending a weekend at Smith Ridge Campground, a secluded space surrounded by woods and conveniently close to Emerald Isle Marina, known for its gorgeous family beach. The best part, however, is that in May 2024, the median listing home price in Campbellsville, Kentucky was just $249,900.


The landscape around Berea, Kentucky.
The landscape around Berea, Kentucky.

Berea is a quaint, pastoral town filled with art galleries and antique shops. The median listing home price in Berea, Kentucky, was just $247,000 in May 2024, an unbeatable price point considering what this exceptional community offers. Berea College, founded before the Civil War by an ardent abolitionist, was the first in the Southern United States to be coeducational and racially integrated. Berea Senior Citizens Center, a fantastic meeting place for those over 60, provides old-timers with activities and programs that keep them active and engaged.

Outdoor fun abounds at spots such as East Pinnacle, where natural beauty pores from almost every square inch — and Owsley Fork Reservoir, one of the most rewarding birding spots in the area. Boone Trace Trail is even closer and features a lovely wooded trail that travels along a slow-moving creek. For those concerned about healthcare access, Saint Joseph Berea, which is right in town, is a 2022 recipient of the Outstanding Patient Experience Award.

Retiring in Kentucky can see an empty nester save lots of cash. The median home listing price in the state, for example, is anything else but eye-watering: just $315,000. Kentucky is also tax-friendly to retirees and does not tax Social Security income. The Bluegrass State also maintains a below-average property tax regime. All these come with access to exceptional outdoor adventure opportunities, desirable amenities (including hospitals), and some of the best scenery in the South. However, on matters of affordability, Kentucky towns are not created equal. One will need to consider each town carefully. For specific recommendations, some of the most budget-friendly towns in Kentucky include Bardstown, Pikeville, and Danville.

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