Top spots for retirees

6 great homes in active adult communities

Picture your retirement in a vibrant city with a nice climate. Then add the benefits of an activity-rich adult community, and you have a great recipe for your golden years.

We used Forbes' 2012 and 2013 list of Best Places to Retire to shop for homes in active adult communities – most with age restrictions -- in some of the best retirement cities in the country.

The amenities of these homes differ, but they are all located in communities where retirement is the focus, offering everything from daily golf to spas and bocce balls courts.

Home prices on our list range from around $179,000 to $297,000, or a monthly payment of about $744 to $1,234, assuming a 20% down payment and today's average mortgage interest rates.

But pay close attention to the difference in price per square foot, which is one of the best ways to measure how far your housing dollar will stretch.

Athens, Georgia

Address: 507 Woodhaven Way
Price: $187,900
Square feet: 1,663
Price per square foot: $113

Spacious and sunny, this brick end-unit condo includes two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Walking into the home, there's a covered entry that leads to a foyer. The living room has a fireplace. In the dining room, you'll find a bay window. And the sun room at the back leads to a private, enclosed patio. The kitchen has custom cabinetry, standard appliances and solid-surface counter tops.

This condo is located in Woodhaven, in what is called a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. So while there's no age restriction, most residents are retirement age or close to it. Exterior maintenance, trash pickup and landscaping are included in the $200-per-month condo fee. There's also an optional $300-per-year membership for the homeowners association, which gets you access to the pool, park and tennis courts. In Athens, you'll enjoy the culture of a college town and a good state tax climate, notes Forbes.

Carolyn Abney; Keller Williams Realty; 706-316-2900

Fort Myers, Florida

Address: 10730 Ravenna Way, Unit #101
Price: $179,900
Square feet: 1,396
Price per square foot: $129

Located in the Pelican Preserve community, this end-unit condo has three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. It's also the least expensive home on our list. The kitchen has solid-surface counter tops, white standard appliances and tile floors. There are also tile floors in the living room, dining room and in both bathrooms. The bedrooms have carpet. In the back, there's a nice covered porch where you can sit and view a lake that backs up to the property.

Pelican Preserve amenities are extensive. For starters, there's a private beach. There's also a bike path, jogging path, boat storage, community pool and spa. You'll also find an exercise room, golf course, fishing pier, restaurant and tennis court. Association fees are $161 per quarter. Fort Myers made the Forbes list for its good weather, cheap living and above-average air quality.

Gary L. Neubauer; Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate; 239-209-1234

Asheville, North Carolina

Address: 466 Crowfields Drive
Price: $249,900
Square feet: 2,186
Price per square foot: $114

This is a condo, but don't be fooled. This two-story home in the Crowfields Condo Community offers some generous space. There are three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and one half bath, a formal dining room and a den. The kitchen has wood floors, standard appliances and solid-surface counter tops. Also included: a heated sun porch with a sliding glass window that looks out into the manicured backyard.

With meadows, ponds, creeks and an abundance of trees and wildlife over 72 wooded acres, Crowfields is for the nature lover. Additional community amenities include a heated outdoor pool and a clubhouse used for events and social activities. Condo fees are $396 per month. Forbes listed Asheville for the nice scenery, low cost of living and nice climate.

Judy Price; Beverly-Hanks & Associates; 828-254-7221

Prescott, Arizona

Address: 1779 Fleet St. E
Price: $235,000
Square feet: 1,596
Price per square foot: $147

This one-story Victorian-style home includes three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. It has an open floor plan with generous 9-foot ceilings. The interior has been freshly painted, and there's new laminate flooring throughout. The spacious kitchen includes solid-surface counter tops and standard appliances. There's a gas fireplace in the living room. This home also has a den and a dining room with a bay window. Outside you'll find a covered porch.

Victorian Estates is located in Prescott Valley, 20 minutes east of Prescott. The exercise room, outdoor pool, clubhouse, hot tub and sauna make the community an attractive place to live. It also has hiking trails and daily activities. The age restriction here is 55-plus, but 20% of the residents may be between ages 42 and 55. Association fees are $72 per month. Prescott has a decent cost of living, good weather and low crime, according to Forbes.

Barbara Owen: Windermere Real Estate Northern Arizona; 928-273-1981

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Address: 852 Cottonwood Circle
Price: $297,539
Square feet: 1,867
Price per square foot: $159

If you're looking for amazing weather, low taxes and an average cost of living, Albuquerque is your city, according to Forbes. Tucked in the Del Webb at Alegria community, this luxurious new-construction, single-story home is the most expensive on our list. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and boasts an open design. The kitchen has a center island, ceramic tile floors, granite counter tops, raised cabinets and upgraded appliances. You'll find a fireplace in the great room and a master bedroom with two closets and a garden tub.

The gated community offers a number of niceties, including a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, a putting green and an exercise room. There's even a computer lab. But the bocce ball courts are something you won't find in other communities in our lineup. The community is located in Bernalillo, which is part of the Albuquerque metropolitan statistical area and about 15 to 20 minutes from downtown. Association fees are $122 per month.

Del Webb at Alegria; 866-322-7248

Boise, Idaho

Address: 397 S. Whisperwood Way
Price: $265,500
Square feet: 2,249
Price per square foot: $118

This charmer comes with four bedrooms, three of which are on the main level. That's ideal for a retiree unwilling or unable to climb stairs often. The second story has a 512-square-foot space that can be used as a second family room. Amenities in the home include a fireplace in the living room and wood floors in the kitchen and dining room. You'll find standard appliances and solid-surface counter tops in the kitchen. And there's a patio that faces east.

This home is located in the Englefield Green community, which offers a clubhouse with a full kitchen, fireside lounge and a community health and fitness center. There's also a common area with a pond and walking paths. Yard maintenance, street and sidewalk sweeping are included in the $92 monthly association dues. Boise made the Forbes list for low crime, low cost of living and its semiarid climate.

Kristine Reynolds; Woodhouse Group; 208-938-3400

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