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Cape Coral, Clearwater among top 25 places to retire

CNN/Money placed Cape Coral second on a list of the best places to retire, with Clearwater also among the top 25.

Cape Coral got the high ranking for low taxes, cheap housing -- thanks to the drop inreal estate values --and the year-round sunny climate.

View the CNN/Money report here.

Cape Coral scores on all fronts. Home prices here, for example, have fallen more than 60 percent since the 2006 peak, CNN/Money stated. For homebuyers, that means a lot of bang for the buck. A newly renovated three-bedroom, 1,800-square-foot house with a pool was recently bought here for $145,000.

Lots of Florida towns have seen dramatic price drops, of course, but Cape Coral has something else going for it: It's paradise for water lovers. The town is sliced with 400 miles of canals, half of which have access to the Gulf of Mexico, about 20 minutes away by boat.

This quiet place doesn't offer much nightlife. But there's a public golf course, a weekly farmers' market with live music, and a nearby outlet mall. Training camps for the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins are just 15 minutes away.

The drop in housing prices also was seen as a benefit for Clearwater.

This quintessential Florida beach town might have been out of reach for budget-conscious retirees five years ago. But now, with median home prices in the area about half what they were at the peak, Clearwater is an ideal place to downsize affordably, CNN/Money states.

You can find small but well-maintained homes in established neighborhoods for around $150,000; a $200,000 budget gets you a two-bedroom condo on the beach.

With no state income taxes and a homestead exemption of up to $50,000 for residents, a move to the Sunshine State is also a good way to trim your tax bill.

But there's more to Clearwater than affordability. This compact, bike-friendly city has little in the way of crime and congestion but a lot in the way of restaurants, shopping, golf and performing arts. Then, of course, there are the beaches -- which often rank among the cleanest in the state. When it's time to get out of the sun, drive 20 miles south to St. Petersburg to ogle masterpieces at the Museum of Fine Arts or the Salvador DalMuseum.

Topping the list was Marquette, Mich., in the Upper Peninsula, due in large part to year-round outdoor activities.

Others in the top five include: Boise, Idaho; Danville, Ky.; and Weatherford, Texas.

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