Choosing where to retire in the US can be very overwhelming – so many great options and factors to consider! Regardless of whether you’re seeking an action-packed retirement or looking instead for a peaceful escape from hectic city life, you’ll find here the 10 best cities to retire in the US. So, how do you know which cities are actually the best for retirement? Well, that depends on how you want to retire. But two of the most common factors include the cost of living and quality of life. Some others include:
- Tax rates
- Housing costs
- Quality of health care
- Overall happiness of residents
With those factors in mind, check out some of the best cities to retire. For each one, we’ve included a brief description, a short list of stats and a special feature that distinguishes each city from the rest.Researchers in a U.S. News analysis compared the country’s 125 largest metro areas, taking into account housing affordability, taxes and access to health care. The data also incorporates a survey of 2,541 people ages 45 and older about their retirement preferences.
Here are the top five ideal locations to retire:
1. Fort Myers, Florida
- Why is Fort Myers is one of the best places for retirement?
- Fort Myers started getting really famous after Thomas Edison and Henry Ford chose to build their winter homes there. In fact, it was nicknamed “City of Palms” after Edison started planting royal palm trees along McGregor Boulevard—a sight that screams “paradise!” And for you water-lovers out there, hot spots like Cape Coral, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island are all less than an hour away.5
- Taxes: No state income tax
- Median Home Price: $219,200
- Median Monthly Rent: $1,035
- Average Temps: 84° / 64°
- Average Annual Rainfall: 53
- Special Feature: Edison Ford Winter Estates historical museum and botanical garden
- Share of the population age 60 or older: 34 percent
- Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,377
- Median monthly rent: $1,035
2. Sarasota, Florida
- offers all the outdoor fun you’d expect like boating, fishing and beach activities. Speaking of beaches, Sarasota’s are praised for their clear, warm water and fine, white sand. You know what I’m talkin’ about, people. It’s the type of sand that’s so soft it makes you want to give the whole beach a hug! Also, the city tends to lean more toward accommodating older folks by providing a ton of activities like golf and shopping.7 Let’s just say you’ll definitely find plenty of things to enjoy in this city!
- Taxes: No state income tax
- Median Home Price: $237,260
- Median Monthly Rent: $1,089
- Average Temps: 82° / 64°
- Average Annual Rainfall: 53″
- Special Feature: Some of America’s best beaches including Siesta Key Beach
- Share of the population age 60 or older: 38 percent
- Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,436
- Median monthly rent: $1,089
3. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
- If you like variety, Lancaster is a dream town for retirement. It bundles farmland, suburbs and a lively downtown area all into one. You can also visit the Amish communities where folks get around on horse and buggy and live without public electricity. Imagine exploring lush, green landscapes and hearing nothing but the clip-clop of hooves! Don’t worry, social butterflies, the downtown area features monthly arts and music festivals. Lancaster also has a winter mountain resort, hiking trails, corn mazes, tractor pulls and even a notable dog park.2
- Taxes: No tax on income from Social Security or retirement accounts3
- Median Home Price: $196,025
- Median Monthly Rent: $957
- Average Temps: 62° / 42°
- Average Annual Rainfall: 42″
- Special Feature: Oldest Amish settlement in the U.S.4
- Share of the population age 60 or older: 23 percent
- Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,482
- Median monthly rent: $957
4. Asheville, North Carolina
- When baby boomers share notes about potential retirement towns, chances are that Asheville will be the place most frequently mentioned. Asheville is a prosperous small city with a population 92,452 as of 2018. (260,000 in Buncombe County) in the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina. Because of its charming environment and mild weather it has long been a desirable retirement community – from the rich and famous to ordinary people in quest of beautiful environment. The Vanderbilts built an enormous estate near here, the Biltmore Estate, which is the largest private residence in America with 250 rooms. Frederick Law Olmstead designed its famous gardens. For more information see our mini-guide to Asheville.
Walking around in downtown Asheville is a pleasure. It has a great collection of art deco architecture, antique stores, art galleries, and boutiques. Those who prefer the outdoor cafe or coffee house setting will enjoy its many cafes. The people are friendly. Asheville’s people range from artists and musicians to corporate executives, merchants and entrepreneurs. It is easy to park on street or on a parking deck, then stroll through the streets. Tucked between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Smoky Mountains in scenic western North Carolina, Asheville (population 90,000) is often hailed as a great place to retire and lands on many “best places to live” lists. Indeed, this small city is a mix of old and new has an interesting mix of retirees, artists, farmers, professionals, old hippies, young families, spiritualists, outdoor types and more.
Asheville is artsy and funky with a Southern sensibility but also has an emerging resort-like ambiance, sometimes giving the city a slight identity conflict. It has been “discovered” and has grown by nearly 50% during the last couple of decades. The median home price is $298,000, and the cost of living is 7% above the national average. Forty percent of residents are age 45 or better, and they lean to the left politically. The city is racially diverse, and the crime rate meets the national average. Tourists flock here year-round, with many coming to see the French Renaissance-style chateau Biltmore Estate that was built by George Vanderbilt II in the late 19th-century. The largest private residence in the world, it has 250 rooms, 8,000 acres and extensive gardens. Its presence is hard to ignore.
The downtown is nicknamed the “Paris of the South” and abounds with comfy cafes, intimate bistros, old fashioned arcades, art galleries, street buskers, antique stores, gothic spires, Art Deco buildings and breweries. In fact, Asheville has more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the U.S. The Grove Arcade is a large, nicely restored marketplace that dates from 1929 and is a great place to buy goods from local merchants.On the west side of town, the River Arts District is home to artists and musicians (mainly bluegrass), many of whom are renovating old warehouses and giving Asheville much of its creative vibe. Biltmore Village, originally a company town built at the entrance of the Biltmore Estate, is today a charming shopping district. Asheville Transit provides public transportation, and a couple of services offer van rides for people with disabilities.
- Share of the population age 60 or older: 28 percent
- Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,244
- Median monthly rent: $849
5. Port St. Lucie, Florida
- Quiet Port St. Lucie (population 182,000) sits between the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon on the southeastern Florida coast. It started in the mid-1950s as a planned retirement development and for much of its history was just a sleepy suburb. It was “discovered” in the 1990s and became one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. Then the housing market bubble burst in 2007/2008, and Port St. Lucie’s foreclosure rate became one of the highest in the country. These days Port St. Lucie’s foreclosure rate meets the national average, and the city has grown by more than 15% since the end of the Great Recession. The median home price has increased with the growth and now stands at $230,000. The cost of living meets the national average.
The city is racially diverse, and 43% of residents are age 45 or better. Politics lean to the left, and Port St. Lucie has been recognized as the safest city of its size in Florida with a crime rate below both the state and national averages. Twenty percent of locals hold a four year college degree. Neighborhoods on the west side of I-95 are the ones that were booming before the housing bust. Gated communities and mixed-use developments are the norm here. This area includes PGA Village Verano and beautiful, 8,300-acre Tradition, an all-ages community with a town center and an emphasis on New Urbanism. The east side of the city has established, non-gated neighborhoods with concrete block and modest Mediterranean style ranch ramblers. On the city’s southern end, Sandpiper Bay Club Med attracts tourists from around the world.
Tradition’s village center essentially serves as the city’s downtown. It has shops and mostly national chain restaurants. Otherwise, strip malls, including Town Center at St. Lucie West, are scattered here and there. In general, Port St. Lucie is a little non-descript. It also sprawls, but a new bridge over the St. Lucie River is under construction and should help tie the city together, easing traffic congestion. Public transportation is provided by Community Transit, which is a curb to curb, on demand service. Treasure Coast Connector has several fixed routes throughout the city. This part of Florida is known for its golf, and the PGA Village has been recognized as one of the “75 Best Golf Resorts in North America” by Golf Digest. The PGA Learning Center draws golfers from across the nation. A dozen other golf courses are within a short drive. The city is also the spring training headquarters of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets.
- Share of the population age 60 or older: 32 percent
- Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,392
- Median monthly rent: $1,074