The town of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

8 Most Affordable Towns To Retire In The Ozarks

Retirement is a turning point, and seniors often seek a peaceful and relaxed lifestyle. The Ozarks in the nation's heartland are an appealing option for retirees searching for an affordable yet beautiful retirement destination. Several towns offer stunning natural beauty, affordability, and peace of mind within this picturesque region. The small towns in the Ozarks provide some of the best retirement locations for senior adults seeking a haven to spend their golden years.

West Plains, Missouri

Washington Avenue in West Plains, Missouri.
Washington Avenue in West Plains, Missouri. Image credit: Paltron, via Wikimedia Commons.

West Plains is a small town of 12,568 located in rolling hills in southern Missouri and is the county seat of Howell County. The community's proximity to the Mark Twain National Forest offers abundant wilderness trails and scenic beauty for seniors to explore. In addition, the Galloway Creek Nature Park is a pleasant local park with easy terrain and gentle slopes.

The town has a welcoming atmosphere that revolves around the historic courthouse square. The access streets are in the middle of each side, rather than the corners, giving it a distinct ambiance. The community boasts an emerging arts scene and numerous antique stores and hosts various festivals throughout the year. The Old Time Music Ozark Heritage Festival is a beautiful weekend celebration that fills the town with melodies of the Ozark Highlands. When you visit, try Ozark Pizza & Bread Co. for great pizza or the Ostermeier Brewing Company to sample their excellent selection of craft beers.

Ozark Healthcare, a 114-bed facility, provides medical care for the community so seniors have excellent access to care. With a median home price of just over $200,000 and the cost of living significantly less than the national average, it is easy to see why this rural community attracts more seniors yearly.

Mountain Home, Arkansas

Downtown Lebanon, Missouri
Downtown Lebanon, Missouri. Image credit: Jimmy Emerson DVM via

Retirees will find Mountain Home an appealing destination, with its stunning landscapes, crystal-clear lakes, meandering rivers, and lush forests. Norfolk Lake and Bull Shoals Lake are located a short distance away, providing excellent opportunities for fishing and boating enthusiasts. If you're looking for an easy hike, David's Trail near Norfolk Lake is perfect for seniors or grandchildren who want to exercise. The trail is very well maintained and offers exceptional bird-watching and wildlife-viewing adventures, as well as stunning views of the lake.

This rural community is home to Arkansas State University at Mountain Home, a two-year college with an excellent art program. The college offers retirees over 60 a tuition waiver as Golden Age students, which allows them to attend for free. The downtown district has several historic buildings, small locally owned boutiques, and dining options. There are several unique restaurants in town, including Dusit Thai, O.M. Greek, and Holy Smokes BBQ, known for excellent ribs and brisket.

The median price for a home is $218,000, and food and fuel expenses are less than the state and national averages. Baxter Health, with its state-of-the-art 268-bed facility, handles the majority of medical care in the region.

Lebanon, Missouri

Route 66 Motel in Lebanon, Missouri
Route 66 Motel in Lebanon, Missouri. Image credit: Rawf8 -

Lebanon sits along the historic Route 66, exuding a small-town charm and generous hospitality, making it an appealing retirement destination. Retirees are drawn to its affordable real estate market, thriving downtown area, and proximity to outdoor recreational opportunities in the nearby Ozark Mountains. History buffs will enjoy the nostalgia of the Route 66 museum, with its cool displays and artifacts of the Mother Road. Bennett Spring State Park is just minutes away and offers a relaxing area for trout fishing. The spring flows at a rate of 100 million gallons daily, and the area is a peaceful haven for retirees to explore.

If you visit, ensure that you eat at either the Elm Street Eatery or Dowd's Catfish and BBQ. Both restaurants are excellent dining choices, offering good portions and reasonable prices. The downtown district is a central hub for the community, filled with quaint shops, galleries, and dining venues. Try the Rusty Rooster for a unique collection of antiques, furniture, and other vintage items.

The median price for a home in Lebanon is $209,000, and living costs are 22% less than the national average, helping to stretch seniors' budgets. Mercy Hospital operates a 58-bed facility for area residents in need of healthcare. For more specialized care, most residents are referred to Springfield, less than an hour away.

Bolivar, Missouri

The charming town of Bolivar, Missouri
The charming town of Bolivar, Missouri. Image credit: J. Stephen Conn via

Bolivar offers retirees a serene and welcoming environment to enjoy their golden years. With its charming downtown area, filled with quaint shops, cozy cafes, and historical landmarks, retirees can explore local attractions such as the Dunnegan Gallery of Art. The community is home to Southwest Baptist University, a small four-year Christian college with an active music and arts program. Additionally, the town's vibrant community spirit is evident in its numerous events and festivals, providing retirees ample opportunities for social engagement and cultural enrichment. Smith's restaurant is known for its pork tenderloin sandwich and homey atmosphere.

The median price for a home in Bolivar is $235,000. Bolivar's affordability further enhances its appeal as a retirement destination. With a cost of living index 20% below the national average, retirees can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without stretching their budgets. Citizen's Memorial Hospital handles medical care with its 84-bed healthcare facility.

Harrison, Arkansas

Lake Harrison Park and downtown Harrison, Arkansas.
Lake Harrison Park and downtown Harrison, Arkansas. Image credit: Mattsrealm via

Harrison is a small town of just over 13,000 residents and serves as the county seat of Boone County in north-central Arkansas. Retirees can indulge in the town's rich history by exploring the Boone County Heritage Museum and the Lyric Theater, a historic venue that hosts various events and concerts. Outdoor enthusiasts will find endless opportunities for adventure at Buffalo National River Park, which has excellent scenic trails and fishing opportunities.

The average price for a home in Harrison is $214,000, and seniors can enjoy a cost of living of about 20% less than the national average. Medical care is anchored by the North Arkansas Regional Medical Center, a 174-bed level three trauma facility.

The downtown area is built around a historic square filled with older brick storefronts housing an art gallery, antique stores, and several dining venues. When you visit, ensure that you dine at Jamie's Restaurant, a local eatery that was recently voted Harrison's best. Devito's is a fantastic Italian restaurant with a long tradition of serving old-world recipes for nearly forty years.

Grove, Oklahoma

Sunset over Grand Lake in Grove, Oklahoma
Sunset over Grand Lake in Grove, Oklahoma.

Grove sits along the scenic shores of Grand Lake of the Cherokees in northeast Oklahoma. With its idyllic waterfront setting, retirees can indulge in outdoor activities, from boating and fishing to picnicking in lakeside parks. History buffs will enjoy Har-ber Village, a pioneer town and museum with wonderful exhibits and artifacts. Lendonwood Gardens is an enjoyable eight-acre botanical garden featuring quiet paths and floral displays. Golf enthusiasts will enjoy the many championship courses in the region.

The median price for a home is $262,000, and residents enjoy a cost of living that is nearly average to both state and national levels. In addition, Oklahoma is a tax-friendly state for retirees, with social security not taxed. Medical care is supplied through Integris Health, operating a 41-bed facility designed to handle most medical situations.

Goodfella's Pizzeria is a great place downtown for a bite, or for a more elegant dining experience, try Doc's Bar and Grill inside the Shangri-la Resort on Monkey Island. With affordable housing options, reasonable everyday expenses, and low taxes, retirees can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without financial strain, allowing them to fully embrace the serenity and charm of lakeside living.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

The town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, amidst greenery
The town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, surrounded by greenery.

Hot Springs is a popular destination known for its natural thermal springs and historic charm. The hot springs, which are famous for their rejuvenating properties, offer therapeutic waters that retirees can enjoy. Additionally, they can explore the picturesque trails and scenic vistas of Hot Springs National Park. The town's vibrant downtown area boasts an array of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions, including the historic Bathhouse Row and the renowned Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa.

The median price for a home is $242,000, and the cost of living is significantly lower than the national average. Medical care is anchored by the CHI St. Vincent Med Center, a 280-bed facility specializing in meeting all types of healthcare needs.

Hot Springs is a food-lovers' paradise, with many top-rated restaurants, including the Ohio Club and Luna Bella, a fine dining establishment. The best place for breakfast is Pancake Shop, with its large portions and reasonable prices, but don't be surprised if you have to wait for a table when you go.

Farmington, Missouri

The City Hall in Farmington, Missouri
The City Hall in Farmington, Missouri. Image credit: Paul Sableman via Wikimedia Commons.

Farmington is about 75 miles southwest of St. Louis in St. Francois County. This small town of over 18,217 has a rich history as a supply depot on the main road from St. Louis to the Lead Belt mines in the region. The small-town charm is evident in its vibrant downtown area, where retirees can explore local shops, dine at quaint cafes, and immerse themselves in community events. Nature enthusiasts will find endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, including Critter Lake, offering wonderful bird-watching and hiking trails.

The average home price is $237,000, with excellent food and fuel costs. The community's cost of living is 23% less than the national average, and there is excellent access to medical care. The Parkland Health Center, a 108-bed facility, provides healthcare services.

When you visit, try 12 West Bar and Grill for an excellent dining experience. Another local eatery worth exploring is the Catfish Kettle Restaurant, which has home cooking and an ample buffet.

While choosing a retirement destination can be a critical decision for many senior adults, these small towns in the Ozarks offer a wealth of affordable options for those seeking natural beauty, a low cost of living, and access to quality healthcare. Retirees who experience their charm will find the perfect blend of affordability, serenity, and community, making them ideal places to call home during the golden years.

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