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The 5 best and worst U.S. cities to retire

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Baby boomers are hitting their retirement stride, with about 10,000 of that generation turning 65 every day.

As Americans near retirement age, many begin thinking about lifestyle changes, such as when they should scale back from work and whether they should retire to a warmer climate.

Choosing a place to retire depends on issues ranging from weather to cost of living, as well as the tax burdens of specific states and cities. Since retirees live on fixed incomes, high taxes and costs can prove to be deal-breaker for some locations. According to a new survey of the best and worst cities to retire in the U.S. from Bankrate.com, the top destinations tend to share a few qualities, such as warm weather -- aside from one notable exception -- and a good quality of life.

"It's normal for people to think about the 'wow' factor," said Jill Cornfield, an analyst at Bankrate. "The best places tend to have a constellation of things that make your life easier in retirement: the cost is affordable, the weather is pleasant, and there's access to good health care."

Of course, there are some issues that are impossible to track in a data-based survey, she said. Ties to family and friends are important, especially as one hits extreme old age and medical issues can become more pressing. In those years, it's often comforting and logistically important to have family or friends nearby to help.

Older Americans actually move less frequently than younger workers, with many retirees preferring to remain where they have strong community ties.

For those who are looking to make a change, read on to learn about the 5 best and worst cities to retire to.

Best: No. 5, Scottsdale, Arizona

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Scottsdale scores well on a number of factors, including cost of living and good weather.

Residents of this wealthy suburb of Phoenix may enjoy Arizona's tax-friendly treatment of retirees, but there is a downside: real estate can be expensive. The median home price is about $414,000, according to Zillow. That's far above the median price for an existing U.S. home of about $240,000.

On the upside, Scottsdale is known for its recreational facilities, from golf courses to hiking trails.

Best: No. 4, Sarasota, Florida

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This Florida city of about 53,000 is a favorite with retirees because of its location on the Gulf of Mexico along with a vibrant cultural life. The one-time winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus, Sarasota today is known for its opera, theater, and art offerings.

The city ranked high on the list partly because of its weather and well-being. Even better, Sarasota can provide an affordable lifestyle for retirees, with the median home value in the city standing at about $258,000, or just slightly more than the U.S. median of $240,000.

Best: No. 3, West Des Moines, Iowa

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The only town in a cold climate to rank among the top 5, West Des Moines made the grade because of its low cost of living, low crime, and excellent health care. The only negative -- at least for those who don't like snow -- is its weather.

"It got very good scores on everything," Cornfield said. "It's a town of 60,000 and it has a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. That's remarkable. The cost of living is very low, and the health care quality is off the hook."

The median home value in West Des Moines is $192,000, well below the U.S. median value of $240,000.

Best: No. 2, Franklin, Tennessee

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A suburb of Nashville, Franklin is known for its historic downtown district and its music scene. The town has grown quickly during the last two decades, more than tripling its population to more than 70,000 today.

The city scored well in most aspects, such as cost of living and cultural vitality, although Bankrate gave it the lowest score among the top 5 for walkability. The median home value in Franklin is about $400,000, which is higher than the median U.S. value of about $240,000.

Best: No. 1, Arlington, Virginia

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A suburb of Washington, D.C., Arlington has been called the "perfect urban/suburban middle ground" by Livability.com.

While it's more expensive than the other towns in the top 5, Arlington scored well for well-being, walkability, taxes, health care, and cultural vitality. One attraction for residents of all ages: Arlington sits on Washington, D.C.'s Metro line, making it easy to get into the city for cultural events or work.

The median home value is $623,300, which is considerably higher than the median U.S. home price of about $240,000.

Worst: No. 5, Worcester, Massachusetts

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This Massachusetts city of 181,000 residents is known as the "heart of the commonwealth," but it might not win over any hearts based on Bankrate's data points such as the cost of living and crime.

Drug problems are an ongoing issue for the city, with Worcester receiving 712 overdose calls in 2014. The climate tends to be hot in summer -- with an average high of almost 80 in July -- and cold and snowy in winter.

On the plus side, homes are relatively affordable, since the median home value is $198,000, according to Zillow. That's well below the median U.S. value of $240,000.

Worst: No. 4, Troy, New York

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The Albany-region city of Troy scored well on walkability, but didn't come up roses on any other measure, including crime and weather, according to Bankrate.

Still, the city of 50,000 residents is staging a comeback, according to The New York Times, which cited its Victorian architecture and boutiques as a plus. The median home value in Troy is $128,100, according to Zillow. That's well below the national median home value of about $240,000.

Worst: No. 3, San Bernardino, California

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San Bernardino made headlines last year as the site of a terrorist attack, but the city of about 215,000 residents was struggling long before that. Even though it scores well for weather, the city lags on measures including affordability and crime.

The city's economic problems started decades ago, when big employers such as Kaiser Steel shuttered. Now, about one-third of its residents live below the poverty line.

The median home value in San Bernardino is about $229,000, according to Zillow. That's not far off the median U.S. home value of $240,000.

Worst: No. 2, Milford, Connecticut

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Milford received a thumbs down from Bankrate because of its high cost of living, cold weather, poor walkability, and lack of cultural vitality, among other issues. The one area where it outperformed was in crime, where it ranked highest among the worst five towns on the list.

The median home value in Milford is $268,000, according to Zillow, or slightly more than the U.S. median home value of about $240,000.

Worst: No. 1, Niagara Falls, New York

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Once the honeymoon capital of America, Niagara Falls has fallen on hard times. While the falls continue to draw millions of visitors each year, the city itself isn't much of a draw for tourists.

The city has shed about half its population during the past several decades, and its crime raterecently was higher than New York City's. Bankrate found that the city scored well for affordability, but poorly for crime, well-being, taxes, health care, weather, and cultural vitality.

The median home value in Niagara Falls is just $64,600, well below the national median of $240,000.

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