Located in Central Wisconsin, Appleton is popular for its large-scale amenities and small-town charm. Retirees enjoy a local farmers market and green spaces, as well as brand-name shopping and dining in the downtown area. In addition, its proximity to Green Bay makes it a popular retirement destination for active adults.
Climate & Geography
Appleton has a humid continental climate. Summers are warm with some hot spells while winters are cold. There is less overall precipitation in Appleton compared to its neighbors, which results in less snowfall than other northern cities. However, there is still more snowfall than the national average. Residents can expect 189 days of sun, many of which occur in the winter.
The city is located in the Fox River Valley, which is a mostly level valley plain surrounded by areas of low rolling and densely wooded hills. Lake Winnebago is just south of the city as well.
Recreation, Culture, & Entertainment
Wisconsin is known for its outdoor recreation, and Appleton is no exception. The Heckrodt Wetland Reserve, south of the city, is a popular destination with 76 acres of wetlands and hiking trails as well as a nature center. There are also several fishing sites along the Fox River and Lake Winnebago. Within the city, the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve and the Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin provide retirees with serene natural spaces.
Appleton’s downtown, located on College Avenue along the river, is vibrant and active. Residents will find both brand-name and small boutiques, local restaurants, and a performing arts center. There is also an indoor farmers market, offering fresh produce year-round.
The city has its own local sports teams, but residents seeking national sporting events, as well as high end shopping and entertainment, can head to Green Bay, located under an hour to the northeast.
Cost of Living & Taxes
Appleton’s cost of living is lower than the national average, which is mostly due to very affordable housing. Other factors that contribute to the cost of living, like groceries, utilities, and transportation, are also below average, while health care is above.
Wisconsin does not tax Social Security benefits, but it does fully tax all other forms of retirement income. Property taxes are high, but there is a homestead exemption available to qualifying homeowners. Sales taxes are very low.
Wisconsin ranks in the top 24 states on Gallup’s Well-Being Index. The state scores highly in the community factor.
Appleton has two hospitals: ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center. Aurora Medical Center of Oshkosh is rated high performing by U.S. News. HSHS St. Vincent Hospital and Bellin Memorial Hospital, both in Green Bay, are also high performing.