Population of town: 158,500

Housing: For $300,000, you can buy a four-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath house on 1 acre.

Taxes: Florida has no income tax. Property tax on a $300,000 house: $4,674.

When it was time for Tony and Mallen Komlyn to choose a retirement spot in 1999, the decision was easy. The former New Canaan, Conn., residents had visited every state in the continental U.S., and they found what they were looking for in Tallahassee, Fla.: arts, the great outdoors and college sports.

Located in Florida's panhandle, about 20 miles north of the Gulf Coast, Tallahassee's terrain resembles the hills and lush vegetation of southern Georgia more than it does the sandy flats and marshland of southern Florida. The area offers the Komlyns — both ride Harleys — picturesque two-lane roads bordered on each side by moss-draped live oaks, sweet gums and pines whose branches meet overhead in an elaborate foliage cathedral.

"People have no idea what it's like to live here," says Tony, 63, a former partner with an accounting firm. From their back yard near Lake Iamonia, about 15 miles from downtown, they see bald eagles overhead. "It feels as if I'm in a National Geographic photo," says Mallen, 63, a former teacher.

As the state capital and home to two universities — Florida A&M and Florida State — Tallahassee is a vibrant Southern city. And that's what the Komlyns wanted: a real city, not just a college town or a retirement resort. On Saturdays from March through November, vendors peddle their produce and artists exhibit their wares at a farmers market in a string of miniature parks near the Capitol building.

Florida State football fans pack the 82,000-seat Doak Campbell Stadium for Seminoles games on sultry fall days, and the university is a major driver of local culture. In February it sponsors Seven Days of Opening Nights, a two-plus-week extravaganza of music and dance performances, art exhibits and literary events that draw world-renowned artists.

The Komlyns are members of the Academy at FSU, an organization that offers noncredit classes, lectures and field trips for people age 50 and older. The Academy, which is sponsored by Florida State's Pepper Institute on Aging, has more than 200 members and offers three levels of membership that range from $150 to $325 per year, depending on the number of classes taken. Florida residents age 60 and older can audit classes free at FSU, if space is available. At Florida A&M, state residents age 60 and older can take courses free, if space is available.