For many of us, starting the New Year means getting back to the grind as we put away our party shoes and head back to work. However, some lucky retirees are hanging up their working hats for good, and thanks to U.S. News and World Report  (as featured on Yahoo!) they now have a list of the ideal spots to spend their golden years.

Ranking the 10 best places to retire in 2012, U.S. News factored in weather, affordable housing and nearby recreational activities in choosing the best spots for every kind of retiree – from those who care most about pleasant, seasonal weather (head to Flagstaff, Ariz.) to those who strive to be environmentally friendly (how about Walnut Creek, Calif.)?

We spoke with Michael Schmidt of Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies in Traverse City, Mich., which was awarded the best retiree haven for water views on a budget, to find out what makes this town special.

“Traverse City is somewhat of a hidden gem with some of the nicest freshwater lakes and beaches in the world, fantastic wineries and most importantly such a great mix of people,” he said. “It offers a diverse group of people congregating together all year long with many celebrations of food, music, and our beautiful areas.  If you love the outdoors, you will love Traverse City; we have 10 golf courses within an hour distance and at least five different ski resorts to choose from during the winter time.  Additionally, we have one of the most accessible airports in the country that can get you to Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit or New York in little over an hour’s time if you desire to hit the big city.”

So what can you find in Traverse?  This lovely three-bedroom home sitting on a beautiful shared beach is less than $300,000, featuring two fireplaces, a neighborhood park and a tennis court.

Traverse City, Mich.  – Voted Best Water Views on a Budget:

  • 3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths
  • 2,684 Square Feet
  • $299,000

 Traverse City Listing on Nawakaw Trail 300x224 U.S. News and World Report Ranks Best Places to Retire2999 Nawakwa Trail View 300x225 U.S. News and World Report Ranks Best Places to Retire

Below are few more retiree-worthy listings in some of the top ranked cities. Where is your dream place to retire?

Port Charlotte, Fla. – Voted Best Place for Affordable Housing: 

Home for sale in Port Charlotte Fl 300x234 U.S. News and World Report Ranks Best Places to Retire

Heritage Oak Park Villa in Port Charlotte, FL

  • 2 Bedrooms, 2 Baths
  • 1,364 Square Feet
  • $133,900

Santa Fe, N.M. – Voted Best Place for Recreation and Culture:

  • 3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths
  • 1,185 Square Feet
  • $199,500

    3 Bed Home in Santa Fe For Sale 300x234 U.S. News and World Report Ranks Best Places to Retire

    Property for sale with southwestern charm in Santa Fe, NM