The Best Places to Retire

couple sitting on a bench by the beach

Explore this Retirement Guide:

How to Decide Where to Retire

One of the things you must do when planning for your future retirement is to plan where you want to live when you retire. This is something you especially want to consider when buying a home. Ideally, you’ll finish paying off your mortgage before you retire, and since mortgages can take 30+ years to finish paying, it’s a good idea to consider how you want to retire before purchasing a home.

Other people might plan on moving later in life after their children have all flown the nest into a smaller, single-story home. Whatever you decide to do, the type of home you want to manage in your retirement days is something to think about sooner rather than later in life.

Some people might also want to live in a certain area to retire. Retirement allows for a lot of leisure time, which is why many retirees choose to live in warmer climates or near where they want to vacation like the beach.

But this isn’t all you have to consider when planning where to retire.

Cost of Living

You can calculate the cost of living on my many online cost of living calculators. The cost of living calculators will ask you where you currently live, where you want to live, and the amount of your current household income.

Once you enter the needed information, the cost of living calculator will give you several important insights:

How much you need to make each year to maintain your current standard of living in your new area and the higher or lower percentage costs for each aspect of living. This includes the cost of housing, transportation, food, entertainment, and healthcare.

Cost of living calculators are helpful because they allow you to easily compare the cost of living you’re currently used to with what the costs of things will be like in a different place.

Area Amenities

How do you know if a place will be fun or interesting to live in? The first thing you’ll want to think about is what you like to do and what kind of amenities and recreational activities you want to have nearby in retirement.

For instance, if you want to spend a lot of time golfing, then you should look up what golf courses are available in the area. Or maybe you want to live near parks and nature trails. These are also things you can ask your realtor to keep in mind for you when they are searching for homes to show you.

Here are some other recreational amenities you might want to consider when deciding where to retire:

  • golf courses
  • apartment complex amenities and activities
  • parks
  • nature trails and hiking
  • dog parks
  • the beach
  • swimming pools
  • restaurants
  • entertainment
  • local libraries and community centers

Something you cannot forget to consider when planning where to live when you retire is the tax environment. Not all states leave retirement income exempt from taxes. Some places also have high sales or property taxes.

When considering an area or state for retirement, look into all the taxes of that area that might affect you in retirement. For example, Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming currently don’t have personal state income taxes. Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania don’t tax all or most of your income in retirement. These are the types of tax laws you want to look into when researching where to live during retirement.

Climate and Geography

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to their ideal local climate and geography. Some people love the rain, others love the sunshine, some people love lots of snow, while others love more temperate climates.

Likewise, some people want to live near mountains where they can explore and go on frequent hikes. Other retirees will want to be close to the beach so they can enjoy the water and the sunshine anytime they like. Your preferences for climate and geography are also important things for you to consider when deciding where to retire.


If you have grandchildren, friends, and family members you want to be able to visit frequently then you’ll either want to live close by them or live where you can easily travel back and forth to visit them.

When considering where to live in retirement, you’ll want to look at how far away you’ll be from everyone and how easy it will be to travel to visit loved ones. This might also mean considering the cost of gas in your proposed retirement area.

Crime Rates

When you enter into retirement, the last thing you want to do is deal with high crime rates in your new neighborhood. Avoid this problem preemptively by finding the neighborhoods with the lowest crime rates to focus your retirement home searches.

There are a couple of resources you can use to learn about crime statistics in the area. City Data is a great website that lists all the states alongside a map of the US. Choose your state and then choose your city to find out more about the city crime statistics of that area.

If you want to compare crime statistics between your current place and where you want to move, then will let you compare both places at once. This website is great because crime is going to exist at some level almost everywhere, but you don’t want to move into an area with higher crime rates than your current city has.

Go on exploratory vacations. One of the best ways to figure out where to live when you retire is to go on some exploratory vacations to all the places you’re interested in!

How to Pick a Retirement Home

There are many reasons that bring some retirees to choose to live in a retirement home. Health concerns, the need for extra help or care throughout the day, mental or physical disabilities, and illnesses can be one smart reason to pick a retirement home with on-site caretakers.

But there are many other reasons besides physical health to pick a retirement home. Retirement homes can come with a lot of amenities, perks, and added benefits.

At a retirement home, you won’t have to worry about cleaning or upkeeping a house and yard. Many retirement homes also have regular activities, classes, clubs, and events that are fun, informative, and entertaining. Retirement communities can also provide a strong sense of community with your neighbors or fellow residents.

There are also many different kinds of retirement housing to choose from, each with different perks and levels of independence. Some retirement housing operates the exact same way as any other apartment or housing complex.

The only difference is that they only provide housing for the 55+ community and provide helpful HOA services like snow removal. Other retirement complexes provide even more features like on-site caretakers and medical staff.

Best Places to Retire in the US

  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Allentown, Pennsylvania
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Athens, Georgia
  • Bella Vista, Arkansas
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Columbia, Missouri
  • Fargo, North Dakota
  • Iowa City, Iowa
  • Lawrence, Kansas
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Rochester, Minnesota
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Wenatchee, Washington
  • Winchester, Virginia

Best Places to Retire in Florida

  • Sarasota, Florida
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Melbourne, Florida
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Lakeland, Florida
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Port St. Lucie, Florida
  • Fort Myers, Florida
  • Clearwater, Florida
  • Delray Beach, Florida
  • Palm Bay, Florida
  • Miami, Florida

Best Places to Retire in Arizona

  • Green Valley, Arizona
  • Sun City, Arizona
  • Litchfield Park, Arizona
  • Prescott, Arizona
  • Cave Creek, Arizona
  • Paradise Valley, Arizona
  • Cottonwood, Arizona
  • Golden Valley, Arizona
  • Scottsdale, Arizona

Best Places to Retire in California

  • Beverly Hills, California
  • Westlake Village, California
  • Rancho Mirage, California
  • Auburn, California
  • Laguna Woods, California
  • Oaji, California
  • Los Alamitos, California
  • Marina del Rey, California
  • Grass Valley, California
  • Indian Wells, California

Best Places to Retire in North Carolina

  • Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Brevard, North Carolina
  • Charlotte, North Carolina

Best Places to Retire in Tennessee

  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Maryville, Tennessee

Best Places to Retire in Texas

  • El Paso, Texas
  • Austin, Texas
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • San Marcos, Texas

Best Places to Retire in the World

  • Boquete, Panama
  • Cahuita, Costa Rica
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Medellin, Colombia
  • Arequipa, Peru
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Madrid, Spain
  • The Algarve, Portugal
  • Annecy, France
  • Bled, Slovenia
  • Canggu, Bali
  • Cascais, Portugal
  • Città Sant’Angelo, Italy
  • Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Fortaleza, Brazil


The Balance. “Where Should You Retire?” by Melissa Phipps.

US News and World Report. “The Best Places to Retire in 2020,” by Emily Brandon.

Forbes. “Best Places to Retire.”

Forbes. “The Top 10 Places In The World To Retire: 2 New Lists,” by Richard Eisenberg.

Smart Asset. “Best Places to Retire in California, Best Places to Retire in Arizona,” by Ben Geler.

Best Places Retire. “Where Are The 2020 Best Places To Retire In The US And Around The World?”

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