Situated about midway up the Florida peninsula on the Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater is the postcard perfect coastal resort town: Sun-drenched beaches, sailboats cheek by jowl with yachts in the marinas that line Clearwater Harbor, well-traveled bike trails, and a plethora of public golf courses nearby. Now that real estate prices have plummeted throughout Florida -- they're down about 50 percent in Clearwater -- this idyll is available to a wider range of retirees. A two-bedroom condo on the beach can be had for about $200,000, a sum made even more affordable when coupled with a homestead exemption of up to $50,000 for residents and no state income tax.
With a population of 107,700, Clearwater is a small town, but should you need an experience that is available only in bigger cities, St. Petersburg, with its Museum of Fine Arts, the Florida Orchestra, and major league baseball team -- the Tampa Bay Devil Rays -- is only 20 miles away. And, of course, there's the annual rite of Spring Training with the Philadelphia Phillies taking up residence in Clearwater and New York Yankees descending on Tampa, 25 miles down the road.