AARP magazine: Grand Junction among top retirement destinations

Grand Junction ranks among 10 cities that offer the best — and most affordable — places to live for people 50 and over, according to a new list published in a national magazine.

Grand Junction was included among 10 retirement destinations featured in the August and September issue of AARP the Magazine.

AARP, a nonprofit organization for people age 50 and over, counts more than 37 million people as members. Its magazine reaches nearly 35 million readers nationwide.

Given the difficult economic times that persist in many areas of the United States, the latest magazine listing focuses on cities that offer affordable living on an annual income of $36,500 — or $100 a day. After taxes, that would leave a monthly income of $2,281.

Selected cities offer a median home price of no more than $192,000, which equates to a monthly mortgage payment of about $719. That leaves $1,562 a month for all other expenses.

While housing prices, cost of living, taxes and economic stability all were considered, so was access to such low-cost amenities as biking and hiking trails, cultural attractions and museums. Climate, health care, recreation and scenery were considered as well.

“Each year we strive to highlight lively, low-cost cities that offer rewarding environments and that specifically appeal to the 50-plus audience,” said Nancy Perry Graham, editor in chief of AARP the Magazine. “There are quite a few really wonderful cities where $100 a day goes a long way and buys not just a spacious home in a thriving neighborhood, but loads of culture, lively entertainment and recreational opportunities.”

Grand Junction was praised for its comparatively low median home price, an average of 214 sunny days a year and a “vibe” in which contemporary arts meet western charm.

The Art on the Corner sculpture exhibit in the historic downtown was mentioned in the magazine. “Combined with the classic Victorian architecture, the contemporary pieces make this town feel old and new at the same time.”

Local vineyards and orchards also were mentioned, as was the annual lavender festival, the first of its kind in Colorado.

Outdoor recreational opportunities in the region were cited, too: “Beyond the town’s urban spunk, the area’s real appeal is the outdoor wonderland that is Western Colorado. Grand Junction is just a few hours from Vail and Aspen, and bike trails pass cornfields and outdoor sculptures along the banks of the Colorado River.”