Meredith, New Hampshire
Nestled Among Scenic Lakes and Green Forests in Rugged, Rural Central New Hampshire, Quiet Meredith Exudes Quintessential New England Charm
Cost of Living: Above the National Average
Situated between large Lake Winnipesaukee and small Lake Waukewan in the hills of rural central New Hampshire's Lakes Region, the idyllic village of Meredith (population 6,500 permanent residents with another 8,000 part-time residents) is New England at its most authentic. It is surrounded by mountains, forests and lakes and started as an apple farming community in the mid-1700s, with many settlers coming from Salem, Massachusetts. It later became a mill town, boasting a sawmill, a gristmill and a shingle mill, and in 1849, when the railroad connected the village to Boston and Montreal, Meredith blossomed into a delightful summer resort. In the 1970s and 1980s, the town lost its manufacturing base and fell on hard times.
Today, with significant community involvement and investment, Meredith has regained its economic footing and flourishing. Tourists come seeking water recreation on one of eight nearby lakes and mountain adventure in the rugged White Mountains. Local revel in the natural beauty and down-to-earth way of life far frome modern day hassles. Mededith has grown 2% during the last decade, and the crime rate is below the national average. Forty-two percent of residents are age 45 or better. Most residents tilt to the right politically, and 32% of all locals hold at least a four year college degree. The cost of living is 47% above the national average.
The median home price is $680,000, with restored Colonials, Cape Cods, raised ranches, vintage bungalows and cozy cottages common. Some properties date from the 1700s, and many are tucked along a shoreline. Apartments are in short supply.
New Hamphire is considered friendly when it comes to taxes and retirement because the state does not have an income tax so no retirement income is taxed. There is also no sales tax. A 5% tax on interest and dividends greater than $2,400 ($4,800 for joint tax filers) exists, but it is being phased out.
While all that is good news, the bad news is that property taxes are high. The average effective property tax rate (the annual tax payment as a percentage of median home value) in Meredith is 1.81%. The annual taxes on a $680,000 home are approximately $12,308 with out any exemptions.
Meredith, New Hampshire
New Englanders are often known for their reticence, but Meredith is noted for its friendliness. It is but one of nine cute villages and towns that dot the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, and Lake Winnipesaukee is but one of 273 lakes and large ponds in this region. The waterfront is active, and the downtown is healthy. Buildings are white, and church steeples are tall.
Locals enjoy delightful old fashioned country stores, art galleries and craft shops, including the Mills Falls Marketplace, which has 14 shops in a renovated historic mill. For basic supplies, the nearest Wal-Mart is eight miles away. Meredith's restaurant selection is fairly good and includes Italian, American and seafood places.
The Lakes Region Fine Arts and Crafts Festival brings more than 100 juried artists to town each August, and the Sandwich Fair just down the road celebrates the many joys of autumn.
As would be expected, outdoor recreation is a highlight of retirement here. Summers are short but green and lush and with much to do. The lake culture is robust, with public boat launches and public beaches, including Waukewan Beach, Leavitt Park and Weirs Beach, attracting tourists and residents alike.
Hiking is a favorite past time for many. Popular treks include hiking up West Rattlesnake Mountain, Red Hill and Mount Morgan. Public parks are plentiful and many have waterfront picnic areas. There is one golf course, the public nine-hole Oak Hill Golf Course, with several others in surrounding towns.
When autumn comes, scenic drives along country roads, particularly Route 109 from Center Sandwich to Wolfeboro and along Route 113 from Holderness to South Tamworth, soothe the soul. Roadside apple cider stands, cozy historic B&Bs, old farmhouses, antique auctions and fall harvest markets set against hills of red, gold and ruby create a quintessential New England tableau. And since this is not a large state, it is easy to drive from the southern edge to the Canadian border in a day.
For anyone who loves winter outdoor recreation, this is a wonderful area for cross country skiing, snow shoeing, ice fishing, ice sailing and just enjoying the tranquility of winter. For downhill skiers, Gunstock Ski Resort provides 45 trails and is the place for day and night skiing, with panoramic vistas of the lakes and the White Mountains. And nothing beats a roaring fire and a hot toddy after a day of shooshing downhill on sticks.
State parks include White Lake State Park, Ellacoya State Park and Wellington State Beach. For the fishermen (and women), Lake Winnipesaukee is the number one spot with salmon measuring 20 inches and weighing 3 pounds. Stream trout are plentiful, too, and Saltmarsh Pond in Gilford, Sky Pond in New Hampton and Upper Hall Pond in Sandwich are all excellent destinations for fly fishermen.
While resisting the outdoors is difficult, a Meredith retirement is not just about hiking, boating and fishing. The Lakes Region Symphony Orchestra is a non-profit community orchestra based in Meredith and presents a full season. The Interlakes Summer Theatre mounts well-known Broadway shows each year and has a Christmas program, too.
The Meredith Public Library is housed in a handsome Classical red brick building and has classes, a genealogy club, book groups, interlibrary loan, downloadable ebooks and wireless Internet access. There are also 10 churches (more in nearby towns), and, according to local legend, one haunted inn (the Nutmeg Inn).
The Meredith Senior Services office and the Meredith Senior Center, in conjunction with non-profit and state agencies, sponsor the Meals on Wheels program, other nutrition programs, group activities, classes and have senior companions for retirees who feel isolated from the community.
The only public transportation in town is a summer trolley, which is really geared to tourists. The senior center provides van transportation to medical appointments and grocery stores.
Meredith does not have a hospital of its own, but Concord Hospital is eight miles away in Laconia. It accepts Medicare and Medicaid patients and is accredited by DNV GL Healthcare. For military retirees, the closest VA outpatient clinic is 15 miles away in Tilton, and the nearest VA hospital is 42 miles away in White River Junction, Vermont.
On average, the area receives 45 inches of rain and 80 inches of snow per year. Summers are short, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s, and winters are long, with temperatures in the single digits, teens and 20s.
Of course, a Meredith retirement has some drawbacks. Tourist traffic clogs streets during the summer. Major shopping usually needs to happen in Laconia (eight miles away) or in Manchester (45 miles away). And while Meredith is at the junction of Routes 25 and 3, two well-maintained roads that circle the Lakes Region, and just 11 miles from Interstate 93, it is still somewhat inaccessible and can feel isolated, particularly in winter.
Despite these downsides, Meredith is a gem. With its picture perfect New England setting, abundant recreation, very safe streets and welcoming residents, it is a great retirement spot.
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